Maximizing Success in the First Year

Beginning in 2015, GPB began a series of Fall Quarter workshops to facilitate transition of incoming students to graduate school. The series “Maximizing Success in the First Year” provides discussion of strategies for effective integration into a Ph.D. program (including lab and department) and offers a forum for students to share experiences with peers and build community. The series is facilitated by Dr. Azurdia, who leads student centered learning where participants consider a range of topics on academic culture and challenges. Additionally, it offers GPB an opportunity to assess the needs of its students in real-time to allow for intervention should a student experience difficulties in their first quarter. Some of the participants last fall commented that the workshops (especially “Imposter Syndrome”) helped by showing them that they were not alone in struggling with acclimation.

Upcoming dates and topics

Sept. 20th “Resilience and Imposter Syndrome” and Research Rotation Evaluation
Oct. 11th “Finding Potential Research Rotation Groups and Mentors”
Oct. 25th “Managing Commitments”
Nov. 8th “Managing Conflict”
Dec. 6th “How to Choose a Lab and Managing the Mentoring Relationship”

Light lunch will be provided, please RSVP a week before the workshop at:


Diana Azurdia, PhD

Dr. Diana Azurdia is the Associate Director for Inclusion and Recruitment for Graduate Programs in Bioscience. She also directs the UCLA Bridge to the Doctorate and Entering Mentoring training programs and serves as the SACNAS Chapter Advisor. She has directed several programs that broaden participation in science, served as adjunct faculty in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at CSU Los Angeles and performed postdoctoral research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, investigating the role of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling on histone modification and its role in metastasis and proliferation of triple-negative breast cancer cells. She earned her PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from UCLA, where she was a NIGMS Predoctoral Fellow (F31), and graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from CSU Los Angeles, where she was a NIH MARC trainee. Dr. Azurdia is a first-generation Guatemalan-American and the first in her family to attend college. She grew up in a low-income household with very limited resources and her first exposure to the idea that science could be pursued as a career came through the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) program. As the beneficiary of broadening participation programs, she believes that initiatives that promote access to STEM degrees are important for equal representation of all identities in science, the creation of innovations that serve all communities and income equity. Consequently, Dr. Azurdia has devoted her career to promoting initiatives that serve those causes. Additionally, she attributes her ability to navigate her academic career to key mentors and therefore a major focus of her work centers on the propagation of effective mentoring of underrepresented individuals in STEM.