In many circles, UCSB tends to hold a reputation for rowdy parties, sandy beaches and girls with sun-kissed skin, all relaxing in tropical temperatures hot enough to melt various frozen confectionaries. If you type “UCSB” into Google you’ll probably come up with more than a few “University of Casual Sex and Beer” innuendos.
But that’s not all the school encompasses — not by a long shot. This campus is home to multitudes of scientists and researchers from many fields, ranging from environmental science to quantum computing, microgeobiology to inorganic chemistry, developmental psychology to marine science and many, many more. These scholars are often some of the top thinkers in their fields, and often (when they aren’t lecturing rowdy classes) spend their time making notable achievements in their respective disciplines.
A History of Science
Albert Einstein visiting the Santa Barbara coastline was not the last time something of great scientific value occurred in Santa Barbara.
There are the UCSB physicists who built the Compact Muon Solenoid system for the Large Hadron Collider, biologists who discovered ways to control and produce stem cells, chemists who developed ways to produce thin films for solar panels and electronic circuits and marine scientists who massively improved commercial fishing practices to benefit both the environment and economy. Geologists and petroleum scientists were called from UCSB to the recent BP oil spill and played important roles in the study and cleanup of the breached well. We also have five Nobel Prize winners on our faculty to boot. That’s right; UCSB is a top-notch research university. Who knew?
No Science Department is an Island
Beyond being a great place to take a sabbatical, the campus’ facilities provide scientists with desirable conditions for all sorts of experiments, attracting world-renowned researchers — such as James Thomson, who led the first team to isolate embryonic stem cells — to the university and allowing a variety of scientific backgrounds to come together and perform interdisciplinary research. Interdisciplinary research is one of UCSB’s most prized specialties, and there exists little separation between the different science-based departments on campus. For example, organic chemists, materials engineers, environmental scientists and marine biologists have worked together to characterize natural compounds and create the next generation of materials from those characterizations. Economists and marine biologists have worked together to emphasize systems that produce fisheries which are profitable and sustainable. When it comes to science, there is room at UCSB for both specialists and generalists.
No Ph.D.? No problem!
Feel like your academic history doesn’t qualify you to perform world-changing, paradigm-shifting research? Well, UCSB has opportunities for you! Research is not restricted to professors and graduate students. Undergraduate research is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. If you are interested in joining the effort to further human knowledge, you can talk to your professors and researchers on campus about how you can get involved in their research. Many labs are looking for student researchers. Also, the Faculty Research Assistance Program directory located at http://www.ltsc.ucsb.edu/urca/ has a listing of professors looking for undergraduates to assist them in their projects.
Having Cake, Eating It Too
UCSB is not just the University of Casual Sex and Beer. It is also the university where one can fire powerful lasers, mix volatile chemicals, bombard samples with radiation, grow various cell cultures, synthesize new materials, analyze psychological effects, collect plant samples, study animal behavior, take mineral samples, build awesome robots, write useful programs, observe stellar phenomena, optimize profit accumulation and much, much, much more. And yes, we have the casual-sex-and-beer part too — that’s just not all we have to offer. So, fellow college students, go forth and do some science. You won’t regret it — unless you neglect to wear safety goggles and proper footwear.