About the GSA-DO

Programs Overview

During 2012, the programs engaged approximately 150 Ph.D. students via Ten-Week institutes, about 55 Ph.D. students received conference travel or research related funding, and approximately 700 other Ph.D. students participated in one-time, stand-alone seminars or panels. Nearly $150,000.00 in supplemental funding was also awarded by the program to participating students during 2012. The program plans to engage at least 100 students total through their participation in 2013 spring, summer, and fall institutes, as well as an additional 500 to 700 students via the program’s stand-alone seminar and panel series. 

The programs work with students from across the university. Most participants come from the following academic divisions: Dana & David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences; Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; Rossier School of Education; School of Cinematic Arts; Keck School of Medicine; School of Pharmacy; and the Viterbi School of Engineering.

The USC Graduate School Academic Professional Development (APD) and Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) Programs help cultivate Ph.D. students’ professional competencies, research experiences, and interdisciplinary networking opportunities. The programs have university-wide support from deans, faculty, and students. Annual assessments indicate that the programs’ academic, professionalization, and supplemental funding resources are needed, well-received, and helping USC to provide a rigorous and distinct graduate school experience. Throughout the academic year, including the summer, APD/EDGE provides supplemental research funds, conference travel grants, and professionalization stipends. In addition to funding opportunities, the programs offer students the following services: academic and career advising, faculty mentorships, research methodology seminars, academic writing and proposal writing workshops, communication development, research conference preparation, panels on publishing research, assistance with searching for and applying to external funding, and a series of career workshops including how to organize a CV/Résumé and prepare for a job talk. The program organizes a summer research and professional development institute, an annual symposium, special scholarly talks and social networking activities, and a national graduate school preparation and recruitment program for highly talented prospective Ph.D. students. The program is open to all students (all disciplines), including International students, and maintains a careful focus on students from underrepresented minority communities.

To supplement the funding we receive from the USC Office of the Provost and multiple USC academic departments, our programs recently submitted an NSF grant that will help augment existing funding resources for the next three to five years. We’ll learn whether or not we received the award by May 2013. This grant was written jointly along with other top-tier research universities including Stanford, UCLA, and UC Berkeley. USC is the lead institution of this West Coast Alliance.

To learn about some of the newest staff members that help facilitate the programs and resources mentioned herein, please refer to the bios at the end of this newsletter.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Richard Andalon,
Associate Dean, USC Graduate School, & Director, USC Office of Undergraduate Programs

Jesse S. Watson, Ph.D. Candidate (ABD)
Associate Director, USC Graduate School

Letisha R. Wyatt, Ph.D. 
Advisor, Coordinator, & Graduate Students’ Advocate for Diversity Outreach


Academic Professional Development Programming

Last spring semester, the USC Graduate School launched a new program for doctoral-level students called Academic Professional Development (APD). The inaugural APD program engaged over 150 Ph.D. students in programming and seminars with tailored curricula that enhances doctoral students’ professional experiences in writing grant proposals, writing for scholarly audiences, presenting research at conferences. Topics covered also included how to prepare for postdoctoral experiences and the academic job market, aiming to enhance academic and professional skillsets and to better prepare doctoral students for future careers. The APD offerings follow two formats: a ten-week institutes and individual, standalone seminars/panels with activities taking place on both the University Park Campus and Health Science Campus. 

Program topics include:
  • Learning about grant funding opportunities and how to write effective proposals to help secure fellowship funding, supplemental funds to support current research, and seed money to fund new research projects 
  • Persuasive Writing and Editing Strategies: Research Papers, Theses, Dissertations, Abstracts for Conferences and Publications 
  • Effective Oral Communication in Scholarly and Professional Environments, and How to Organize Research for Conferences, Panels, and Classroom Presentations 
  • Writing the Job Market Package: Cover Letter, Teaching and Research Statement, CV/Résumé 
  • Research Resources, Library Search Strategies, and Conducting the Literature Review 
  • Earning a Certificate of Completion (awarded by the USC Graduate School, Office of the Provost), and Becoming Eligible for Supplemental Research or Conference Travel Funding (awards ranging from $500 to $1000) 
Right now you can register for an upcoming seminar/panel: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?fromEmail=true&formkey=dGRydXVMY21DLVlZNnB5eXZiUHBTVXc6MQ
Be sure to check out all offerings for this semester and take advantage of these resources if you haven’t already! http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~uscapdev/prog_offer.html


Dissertation Writing Groups for Advanced Doctoral Candidates 

The Dissertation Writing Groups (DWGs) are small discipline-focused groups of 6 – 8 advanced doctoral candidates at the post-data collection stage. The three groups will be separated by discipline as follows: Social Science, Humanities, and Sciences, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) and meet approximately every two-weeks for three hours. The groups will use multiple writing strategies concentrating on moving each individual student’s writing process forward towards completion of the dissertation. Each group will be moderated by a writing professional who is experienced and well-qualified to work with advanced doctoral candidates. Participants will receive personalized attention and feedback from the moderators as well as support and input from their colleagues in the small group format. 

Participants will develop the following areas: 
  • Conceptualization of dissertation-related ideas 
  • Communicating the interpretation of the existing data & analysis 
  • Hands on experience with writing and editing of the dissertation 
The Social Science DWG will meet at UPC on Tuesdays from 11 AM – 2 PM, the Humanities DWG will meet at UPC on Wednesdays from 11 AM – 2 PM, and the STEM DWG will meet at HSC on Thursdays from 11 AM – 2 PM.

Past Events - A Recap

Summer Research Institute 2012 
This summer the USC Graduate School offered a research training and professional development institute for newly admitted and first- and second-year doctoral students. The institute included research methods seminars, academic writing and grant proposal classes, oral communication workshops, and career preparation sessions. Participants also received mentorship from faculty advisors and a supplemental research stipend. Combined from UPC and HSC, the summer research institute had a total of nearly 50 students! 


EDGE Fellows Fall 2012 Research Symposium 
This fall doctoral students from the Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) fellowship program had the opportunity to share their research findings with colleagues, faculty, and friends. The day-long symposium, held at the Davidson Conference Center, provided a forum for students to discuss their work, gain feedback from their peers, and prepare for future conference and departmental presentations. Featured presenters were Alexandrina Agloro, Ph.D. Student in Communication; Janeane Anderson, Ph.D. Student in Communication; Juvenal Cortes, Ph.D. Student in Political Science; Kai Green, Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies & Ethnicity; Alicia Gutierrez, Ph.D. Student in History; Hyeyoung Kwon, Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology; Priscilla Leiva, Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies & Ethnicity; Floridalma Boj Lopez, Ph.D. Student in American Studies & Ethnicity; Marcus Shepard, Ph.D. Student in Communication. 


Networking Mixer Events 
Each spring, the USC Graduate School, Diversity Outreach & Academic Professional Development, the USC Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, and the USC McNair Scholars Program, Office of Undergraduate Programs sponsors a well-attended networking mixer in the USC Doheny Library Lecture Hall. This event provides a chance for graduate students and postdocs engaged in research to mingle with their colleagues as well as with McNair Scholar undergraduates who are interested in graduate school. The event consistently has nearly 100 attendees, incorporating students from across many different departments and disciplines. Food and beverages are served while students share their experiences with one another. The positive feedback and requests for more events like this was noted and this will continue to be an annual event. If you couldn’t make it this year, be sure to join us next time! 


Partnering with the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs 
The USC Graduate School, Diversity & Academic Professional Development team has teamed up with the USC Office of Postdoctoral Affairs to provide a well-rounded experience for postdocs at the University. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs works closely with the academic units, the USC Career Center and USC postdoctoral scholars to disseminate university initiatives and policies, and to help make USC the university of choice for all postdoctoral scholars. It is the central resource on campus serving as a liaison between the Office of the Provost, postdoctoral scholars, faculty, and staff. An important role of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs is to encourage full integration of postdoctoral scholars into the Trojan Family and life at USC. 


2012 Preparing Future Faculty Summer Institute - June 6-9, 2012
Celeste Menchaca (American Studies and Ethnicity) and Genevieve Carpio (American Studies and Ethnicity) were selected to attend this year’s Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) Summer Institute. The PFF Summer Institute is designed to provide advanced doctoral students with intensive training and experiences to enhance their preparation for the professoriate. Institute sessions and workshops address topics such as the academic job search, learning outcomes assessment, the global classroom, writing a teaching philosophy, diverse teaching/learning strategies, professional networking, writing effective grant proposals, scholarship of teaching and learning, and teaching culturally diverse students. The students were nominated by their faculty advisors and department chairs, and each received competitive funding packages to facilitate their participation. This was a four-day, national-level Institute that took place in Washington, D.C. The USC Graduate School and National Science Foundation (NSF) annually awards a group of highly talented USC Ph.D. students, covering all related expenses to attend the event! 


USC Latino Student Empowerment Conference
The spring 2012 USC Latino Student Empowerment Conference took place on January 28th and featured participation from several students affiliated with the USC Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) and McNair Scholars Programs. Panels covering topics covering “Labor and Health Issues in Communities”, “Youth Contributions to Immigrant Families”, and “Youth Transitions to Adulthood” were presented and moderated by McNair Scholars Evelyn Larios (Sociology), Luis Maldonado (Health Promotion and Disease Prevention), Christina Wilkerson (Sociology), Nathaniel Gonzalez (Sociology), Juan Espinoza and EDGE doctoral student Emir Estrada (Sociology). 


Morehouse College Undergraduates Visit USC
Last spring USC hosted a total of forty (40) high-achieving undergraduates from Morehouse College interested in graduate programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Morehouse is an all-male Black/African American institution affiliated with the country’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU’s). The students spent their spring break in sunny Southern California, starting their week at UC San Diego and traveling up the state to also visit UC Irvine, UCLA, and USC. The USC visit involved meetings with faculty and graduate students, overviews of UPC and HSC departments and schools, topical workshops and panels, and campus tours.

Upcoming Events

Graduate Student Government Research Symposium 
The Graduate Research Symposium will be held April 2, 2013 and the first prize from each field (STEM and Social Science/Humanities) is $1500. Abstracts can be submitted to uscgraduateresearchsymposium@gmail.com


2013 Crossing Borders Conference
Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30, 2013 at the University of Southern California. Crossing Borders is a decade long collaboration to bring together graduate students from USC, UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, UCLA and beyond in the interest of initiating conversations across institutions and disciplines. This is a joint endeavor to foster intellectual community amongst graduate students pursuing degrees in Ethnic Studies, American Studies, the humanities, arts and social science programs in California. This year’s conference engages the theme of “crossing” as both a spatial operation that confounds and consolidates borders and as an analytic through which to reconceptualize politics, culture, and social movements. Exploring the concept of “border” beyond a singular understanding as geographic space, this conference encourages a multidirectional understanding of “borderland” as discursive, material, disciplinary, psychic, and imagined.

Academic and Professional Opportunities & Funding Resources for Graduate Students (Available to graduate students at multiple levels)

The opportunities available below are the most recent. Please visit "Listings" under "Opportunities for Graduate Students" to read more.
  • Proctor & Gamble - Ph.D. Internships (Deadline: February 15, 2013): Proctor and Gamble is currently accepting applications for its doctoral internship program. Graduate students pursuing Ph.D.s in Engineering (all disciplines), Chemistry (all disciplines), Life Sciences (all disciplines), Materials Science, and Mathematical Science are highly encouraged to apply. The program offers paid, full time summer internships at the Cincinnati, OH or Boston, MA research facilities. The preferred internship period lasts 10 to 12 weeks. No full-time employment commitments are made; however, depending on satisfactory completion of certain requirements, candidates may be considered for full-time positions upon obtaining their Ph.D. All interested candidates should apply online at www.experiencepg.com before February 15, 2013. Search jobs for keyword 'PhD Intern'. To learn more about the R&D organization, visit www.PGscience.com
  • Hispanic Serving Health Professions Schoools, Summer Training Programs (Application deadline: March 15, 2013). For students interested in working on Hispanic health research! Though programs are geared towards graduate or recent graduate students, we encourage fourth year undergraduate students to apply as well. Please note that programs are for individuals who would like to gain research experience and are committed to improving the health of Hispanics. If you are an applicant and have further questions about our programs, please visit our FAQ page by clicking here or by emailing programs@hshps.org. 
  • Pathway to Science: Resource for Research Opportunities! Pathways to Science is a project of the Institute for Broadening Participation (IBP). Pathways to Science supports pathways to the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We place particular emphasis on connecting underrepresented groups with STEM programs, funding, mentoring and resources. Use this website to find programs such as undergraduate summer research opportunities, graduate fellowships, postdoctoral positions, as well as resources and materials pertaining to recruitment, retention, and mentoring.

Postdoctoral Fellowships & Academic Job Opportunities (for students nearing completion)

The opportunities available below are the most recent. Please visit "Listings" under "Opportunities for Graduate Students" to read more.
  • Hispanic Serving Health Professions Schoools, Summer Training Programs (Application deadline: March 15, 2013). For students interested in working on Hispanic health research! Though programs are geared towards graduate or recent graduate students, we encourage fourth year undergraduate students to apply as well. Please note that programs are for individuals who would like to gain research experience and are committed to improving the health of Hispanics. If you are an applicant and have further questions about our programs, please visit our FAQ page by clicking here or by emailing programs@hshps.org. 
  • Pathway to Science: Resource for Research Opportunities! Pathways to Science is a project of the Institute for Broadening Participation (IBP). Pathways to Science supports pathways to the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We place particular emphasis on connecting underrepresented groups with STEM programs, funding, mentoring and resources. Use this website to find programs such as undergraduate summer research opportunities, graduate fellowships, postdoctoral positions, as well as resources and materials pertaining to recruitment, retention, and mentoring.

Opportunities & Funding Resources for Undergraduate Students (for students from various disciplines and at different levels)

The opportunities available below are the most recent. Please visit "Listings" under "Opportunities for Undergraduate Students" to read more.
  • During the seminar, full-time P&G Researchers will showcase various work areas, providing exposure to analytical labs, product formulation, process design and scale-up, products research, packaging, etc., to increase your understanding of Researcher career opportunities in science at P&G. As a participant, you will also be placed in the fast-lane with the opportunity to interview for a 2014 P&G Researcher Summer Internship prior to any other intern recruiting. All travel and accommodations will be paid by P&G for those selected to attend. 
  • California Forum for Diversity in Education: Each year USC organizes travel for undergraduate students to attend the California Forum for Diversity in Education, a national graduate school preparation program and recruitment fair. The next meeting will take place on SATURDAY APRIL 27, 2013 at UC Irvine. This all-day event draws representatives from over 150 universities from across the U.S. interested in promoting graduate education and recruiting underrepresented students for various graduate programs. Annually, over 1300 students participate from throughout Southern California. The event also includes graduate student preparation workshops and special presentations by faculty and graduate students. For more information, including participating universities, please visit http://www.ucop.edu/acadadv/forum-for-diversity/recruiters/. A registration link will be available closer to the event date. Stay tuned! 
  • Pathway to Science: Resource for Research Opportunities! Pathways to Science is a project of the Institute for Broadening Participation (IBP). Pathways to Science supports pathways to the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We place particular emphasis on connecting underrepresented groups with STEM programs, funding, mentoring and resources. Use this website to find programs such as undergraduate summer research opportunities, graduate fellowships, postdoctoral positions, as well as resources and materials pertaining to recruitment, retention, and mentoring.

Additional Links


Program Staff

Get to know Jesse S. Watson, Associate Director for Graduate Programs and Letisha R. Wyatt, Advisor & Coordinator, & Graduate Students’ Advocate for Diversity Outreach.

Getting to Know: Jesse S. Watson 
You may have seen him around - Jesse S. Watson is a Ph.D. Candidate and the Associate Director for Graduate Programs at the USC Graduate School, Diversity Outreach & Academic Professional Development Programs. Mr. Watson is a native Californian, born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. As a first-generation college student who attended Los Angeles Valley College before and the College of the Canyons after serving in the United States Navy, he received an A.A. in Social Science then transferred to San Diego State University (SDSU) where he received a B.A. in Psychology. While at SDSU, Mr. Watson had the opportunity to participate in the work study program in the Dean’s Office for Health and Human Services as well as become a peer advisor for the Psychology Undergraduate Program. These two experiences were his doorway into the field of student affairs. He then attended the University of Southern California (USC), Rossier School of Education and received his M.Ed. in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA). 

Mr. Watson is completing his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration in the Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education (HALE) Program at Michigan State University and is looking forward to defending his dissertation in the coming months. Mr. Watson’s research looks at the experiences of white students who negotiated participation in racial/ethnic minority student groups; centered on issues of equity and diversity. Additionally, his research interests include whiteness, Critical White Studies, community colleges and marginalized communities, and campus ecology. During his tenure at Michigan State, Mr. Watson served as the doctoral graduate assistant for the Association for the Study of Higher Education. As part of a small program office, he continued honing his programming skills by assisting in the planning, coordination, and execution of a large annual, national & international research conference. 

Here at USC, Mr. Watson works closely with Dr. Richard Andalon to provide stellar support to the EDGE Fellows. Beyond that, he has been instrumental in delivering the block of programming for the Academic Professional Development (APD) Program and helping deliver the Dissertation Writing Groups (DWGs)! The APD program provides a thematic block in multiple formats such as a 10-Week Program Series, Seminars, and Panel Presentations to the entire USC Doctoral community while the DWGs offer a personalized assistance and writing coach in a small group environment for students working toward completing their dissertations. He is excited about meeting, working, and getting to know the students as he advances the agenda of the Diversity Outreach and Academic Professional Development Programs! Check out the website for information about the services offered by the USC Graduate School, Diversity Outreach & Academic Professional Development Programs. 


Getting to Know: Letisha R. Wyatt
Letisha currently holds the appointment of Graduate Students' Advocate - Diversity Outreach (GSA-DO). In this role she serves as both a voice and a sounding board for the unique concerns that underrepresented graduate and professional students face. As a GPSA-DO, she works with continuing students to address concerns regarding funding, academic issues, and degree completion. She also serves as an advisor and coordinator with the USC Graduate School’s Academic Professional Development and EDGE Programs. She performs outreach to prospective underrepresented students on matters of graduate school preparation, admission criteria, the admission process, and financial resources. She helps foster scholarly, professional, and social networks on campus which are critical to integrating underrepresented students into the campus community. 

Letisha recently completed her Ph.D. studies in the Molecular Pharmacology & Toxicology Program at the USC School of Pharmacy, Health Sciences Campus. Her primary interest is in the science of addiction and is currently working in the Alcohol and Brain Research Laboratory on the Health Science Campus. Her interest in learning how the brain functions developed at the University of California, Davis where she earned a B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior with a Minor in Music. The focus of her dissertation project is studying the effects of alcohol on ATP-gated ion channels found within the central nervous system and the behavioral implications of an increased or decreased expression of these particular receptors, using cell culture and animal models. She hopes that her research will aid in a more complete understanding of the molecular targets of alcohol and their contributions to alcoholism as well as the development of novel therapeutic agents. 

Over the past few years, she has received internal research funding support as a USC Provost Fellow, USC College Diversity Enhancement Summer Fellow, and working as a Graduate Research Assistant with the USC Department of Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical Sciences. Receiving additional external support via the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education and National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) predoctoral fellowships has also been integral in facilitating her research program. Most recently she received a professional development award from the USC Graduate School and National Science Foundation (NSF), which made it possible to attend the Compact for Faculty Diversity, Teaching & Mentoring Institute. 

Letisha currently serves as an Advisor, Mentor, and Instructor with the USC McNair Scholars Program, Office of Undergraduate Programs, a Division of the USC Office of the Provost. Her responsibilities include advising on graduate school, teaching research methods and academic writing, editing student research papers, designing marketing materials, and assisting with special administrative projects. She also serves in a leadership capacity with the USC Graduate School.

In addition to working with undergraduates and graduate students, she is a mentor with the USC Science Technology & Research (STAR) Program, where she works with children in local community schools.

Web Page Links



Academic Professional Development: http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~uscapdev/prog_offer.html

Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education: https://grad-6.usc.edu/EDGE/currentStudents.aspx



Contact Us 

Graduate School, Office of the Provost 

Mailing address: 

University of Southern California 
3601 Watt Way, GFS-315 
Los Angeles, California 90089-1695 
Tel: (213) 740-9033 / Fax: (213) 740-9048 

Monday-Friday: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM 
(The office is closed for lunch from 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM)
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USC Graduate Diversity Outreach,
Nov 17, 2011, 2:05 PM
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