Graduate Division

Graduate Alumni Speaker Series: Lessons Learned

Section 1

The UCI Graduate Division is proud to launch our Inaugural Graduate Alumni Speaker Series.

Our inaugural alumni speaker series will feature a monthly talk by a graduate alumni focused on their professional journey, perspective on leadership and personal adventures as they navigate life beyond UCI. Join us each month in the Graduate & Postdoctoral Scholar Resource Center at the dates and times listed below as we bring alumni back to campus for an hour presentation. Each session will feature a Q&A followed by a short hosted reception.

All talks will be held in the Graduate & Postdoctoral Scholar Resource Center (GPSRC) located on the third floor of the Gateway Study Center. The Gateway Study Center is located next to Langson Library, and across Ring Road from Aldrich Hall.

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Upcoming Speakers:

Feliza I. Ortiz-Lincon

Feliza Ortiz-Licon, Ed.D. Alum '08

Reflections of An Equity-Minded State Board Member of Education

Thursday, February 13 | 1:00 pm in the GPSRC

Dr. Feliza Ortiz-Licon has invested twenty years in the field of education, working in various capacities that have included teaching, research, school operations, educational policy, college access, and strategic planning. In her diverse work within the field of education, at the local, state and national level, Feliza has predominately focused on issues of access and equity, specifically as it relates to Latino students and English learners. 

A champion of equitable education and opportunities for all students, Feliza currently serves as the Senior Director of Education Leadership Development at UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.

In 2015, Governor Brown appointed Dr. Ortiz-Licon to the California State Board of Education to serve the 6.2 million students enrolled in California public schools.

This session will provide graduate students with an insight to the leadership journey of a first-generation, leader of color seeking to create opportunities, access and achieve educational equity through the policy-making process. Through her reflections, Dr. Feliza Ortiz-Licon hopes to share lessons learned and challenges encountered in her quest to help transform the public school system.

Past Speakers:

Desire Whitmore

Desiré Whitmore, Ph.D. Alum '11

From the Desert to the Bay: The Academic Adventures of Laserchick

Thursday, January 23 | 1:00 pm in the GPSRC

A Southern California native, Desiré Whitmore, aka “Laserchick”, attended Antelope Valley College and earned an A.S. in Physical Science before transferring to UCLA for a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Desiré then went to UCI to study Chemical and Material Physics, earning a M.S. and a Ph.D. She was a postdoc at UC Berkeley, before working with the Learning Design Group (LDG) at the Lawrence Hall of Science to create an all-digital K–8 science curriculum (Amplify Science) which aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. Dr. Whitmore went on to Irvine Valley College, where she taught physics and was the Director of their Laser and Photonics Technology program, which is a certificate program that focuses on training photonics technicians and placing them into technical careers. Currently, Dr. Whitmore is the Senior Physics Educator for the Teacher Institute at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, where she works with a team of Ph.D. scientists and veteran classroom teachers to support middle and high school teachers with developing hands-on, inquiry-driven lessons for their classrooms. Dr. Whitmore is heavily involved in mentoring underrepresented students through the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos, Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and the Council for the Advancement of Black Engineers (CABE).  

In her talk, Desiré Whitmore will discuss her career path beginning as a community college student to becoming the Staff Physicist for “the most important science museum to have opened since the mid-20th century” (NY Times, 2013). She will talk about how she utilized what she learned in graduate school (both science and soft skills) to excel in the several positions that she has held after leaving UCI, which include research, curriculum development, teaching, and museum science.   

Brett Goldsmith

Brett Goldsmith, Ph.D. Alum '08

Building a New Industry After Your Ph.D.

Thursday, November 21 | 1:00 pm in the GPSRC

Brett’s passion is applying nanoelectronics technology to products that change people’s lives. Brett was a post-doc at the University of Pennsylvania as an Intelligence Community Fellow and is now the lead researcher on landmark Field Effect Biosensing papers in Science and Nature Nanotechnology. Brett was part of an exciting new scientific field while he did his Ph.D. work at UCI. After working as a postdoc and at a government lab, he wondered whether anything in his exciting new field would ever benefit people outside the government funded research ecosystem

Ty Woolworth

Ty Woolworth, MBA Alum '13

How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey 

Thursday, October 17 | 1:00 pm in the GPSRC

Ty has a 20-year background in business development and sales, focusing on growing brand partnerships and leveraging mutual sustainable strategies for renewable revenue growth. Ty holds an MBA from UCI and is completing a doctoral degree in organizational strategy from Grenoble. Ty currently works in M&A’s at Synchrony (Fortune 100 list), and also teaches evening college courses in his spare time.


Oscar Gonzalez, Ph.D. Alum ‘11

Time Can Never Be Replaced and the Human Element is Everything 

Wednesday, May 8 | 1:00 pm in the GPSRC

Captain Oscar Gonzalez is a Research Psychologist recently assigned to  U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Fort Bragg, NC. He was previously stationed at the Uniformed Services University which is a health science university of the U.S. federal government. Dr. Gonzalez earned his Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine, with a focus on psychopathology. He has functioned in a variety of settings, including as a consultant for the Lawrence Livermore National Lab and as a research proposal reviewer for the National Science Foundation. His research has focused on military populations. More specifically, CPT Gonzalez has designed and executed theoretically-grounded research to examine the interplay psychological trauma and readjustment. He also developed a measure of veterans’ current emotions associated to their previous deployment experiences. His work has been published in a number of scientific journals and co-authored a book chapter. Off duty, his hobbies include exercising, cooking, and woodworking.  


"What Matters to Me and Why" Alumni event
6 pm | Newkirk Alumni Center
The 2018-19 “What Matters to Me and Why” Alumni Series returns with a captivating talk with guest speaker Oscar Gonzalez, Ph.D. ’11. This informal, conversational dinner series explores how student experiences have profoundly impacted career paths and life journeys of some of UCI’s many distinguished alumni. Oscar will field questions from Graduate Division’s very own Dean Frances Leslie. A light supper will be served. 

One-on-ones with Oscar at the GRC!
10 am - Noon | Graduate Resource Center 
Call the GRC at 949-824-3849 TODAY to reserve a 20 minute mentoring session with Oscar. Bring your resume, cover letter, and questions you may have. Act fast, we only have four spots available!


Christine Mallon, Ph.D. Alum ‘97

Career Path or Pathology: Career Planning May Stunt Your Professional Opportunities

Thursday, April 11 | 1:00 pm in the GPSRC 

Christine Mallon, Ph.D. has translated a love of learning into a life-and-career journey that led from advertising, to patient education, then university teaching, and ultimately academic administration—most recently serving as a senior assistant vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at the headquarters of the 23-campus California State University system. In that position, she nurtured degree-program development, opportunities for faculty to become better instructors and mentors, programs that inspired students to pursue doctoral education, and she guided legislation and policy development. In her retirement, she serves as a higher education consultant and sits on the board of directors for Meistersingers, a non-profit classical choral ensemble. 

Christine holds a BS in Communication Arts from Cal Poly Pomona and a UCI Ph.D. in Comparative Culture, an interdisciplinary social science degree.

Ron Broide

Ron Broide, Ph.D. Alum ‘95

My journey from book to bench to boardroom, while keeping my sanity

Wednesday, February 13 | 1:00pm in the GPSRC

“I hope to convey to the students how to find their niche in life…and be happy doing it.” Dr. Broide will focus on his professional path from premed student to accomplished scientist sharing with the group the decisions he made, the opportunities he was granted and, in particular, the network of people that helped him realize and appreciate his love for scientific research.

Dr. Ron Broide holds a graduate degree in Pharmacology and undergraduate degrees in Biology/Psychology, all from the University of California, Irvine. He is currently a Director of Neurotoxin Research at Allergan Pharmaceuticals. In that role, Dr. Broide studies the mechanism of action for one of the most potent compounds known to man, botulinum neurotoxin (BOTOX). He leads a group that helps develop and advance the next generation of neurotoxin molecules for treating various unmet medical conditions. In addition, Dr. Broide is an accomplished musician, avid gardener and father to three children.

Sherry Ryan

Sherry Ryan, Ph.D. Professor of City Planning & Director of the School of Public Affairs SDSU Alum ‘97

Planning the Un-Plannable

Wednesday, January 23 | 1:00 pm in the GPSRC 

Dr. Sherry Ryan teaches Geographic Information Systems (GIS), transportation planning and land use planning at SDSU.  She has published dozens of articles on these topics in journals such as Urban Studies, Transportation Research Record, and the Journal of Planning Education and Research.  She has participated in winning multiple grants from such agencies and foundations as the NIH, Caltrans, FHWA and the Walton Family Foundation.  In addition to her academic experience, she brings significant practice experience having served as project manager for multiple local and regional bicycle and pedestrian master planning efforts, including the award-winning San Diego Regional Bicycle Plan, the Downtown San Diego Mobility Plan, and the City of Carlsbad Pedestrian Master Plan.

Christopher Lay Ph.D., ‘11

Give Us What You’ve Got

Thursday, November 29th |  2:30 pm in the GPSRC

Chris is the Managing Partner at Second Wave Capital Management, a privately-held, entrepreneurial investment firm focused on high-growth, high-quality companies based in Seal Beach, California. He previously served as COO and CFO for 123 Home Care, a Bay View portfolio company. Prior to launching his firm, Chris accumulated fifteen years of experience in the neurosciences, including research fellowships with the University of California and the American Heart and Stroke Association.

Chris holds a BS in Biology from the College of Idaho, a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from UC Irvine, and an MBA from USC. He is the recipient of a University of California Distinguished Fellowship in Neurobiology, an American Heart Association Fellowship in Cerebrovascular Disease, and is a UC Irvine Public Impact Fellow.

Viorela Pop Ph.D., ‘08

No Regrets and No Excuses

Wednesday, October 31st  |  2:00 pm in the GPSRC

Viorela is a medical affairs professional working in clinical research. Her current role is a Medical Science Liaison with MacroGenics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing immunotherapy agents for the treatment of cancer, based in Rockville, MD. She holds a joint appointment with PRA Health Sciences, which is the clinical research organization for several projects at MacroGenics. Viorela has previously worked as a clinical research associate in oncology trials at Providence St. Joseph Hospital and as a senior clinical research coordinator for neurology studies with UC Irvine. Viorela has also accumulated years of experience as an adjunct teaching professor in the biological sciences, as well as participated in laboratory research in the neurosciences focusing on brain aging, disease, and trauma.

Viorela holds a BS in Neuroscience and English Literature from the University of California Los Angeles. She earned her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of California Irvine and completed her postdoctoral studies at Loma Linda University. Among her career accomplishments are numerous oral presentations at national and international conferences, over twenty research article publications, a pilot study award from the UCI Institute for Clinical and Translational Science and mentorship work alongside more than thirty science students.