Raised in Santa Barbara, Chris Siefe may not have traveled from very far, but he sure has come a long way. Entering UC Santa Barbara as a chemistry major, he explored interests in chemistry, physics and math. After his first year, he decided to pursue all three by switching his major to chemical engineering. During his time at UCSB, Chris took many classes, but he says his favorite class was Chemical Engineering 132: Analytical Methods. “I really enjoyed how applicable it was,” he said. “It combined advanced mathematical analytics and complex chemistry with real-life situations.”
Throughout his college career, Chris worked his way up from a student lab assistant to the University of California Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees (UC LEADS) program. Chris completed research at the University of Oregon, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara. As for extracurricular activities, he now helps coordinate the Summer Institute in Mathematics and Science, a UCSB program with the goal of immersing students in research experience the summer before they attend. In addition, Chris worked as a resident assistant last year and was very proud to help incoming freshmen and share his experience. He also enjoys being a part of SACNAS (the Society for Advancing Chicanos and Native Americans in Science), which gives students of all backgrounds the resources they need for STEM fields and oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which promotes support for the LGBTQ community in STEM fields.
Chris says that one of the most useful skills he learned at UCSB pertained to conducting research. He found that, in research, there aren’t specific answers to the open-ended problems people face and solutions aren’t linear like in a textbook. He now plans to take this skill, plus the many others he attained from his education and research, to pursue a Ph.D. in material science and engineering at Stanford. “I’m very excited to continue my education at Stanford,” he said, “although I will really miss the wonderful community and the amazing people I met at UCSB.”
His advice to freshmen: “Explore outside of your comfort zone. Learn your limits, but remember, take care of yourself. We all want to save the world, but it can be really difficult if you haven’t been taking care of yourself.”
Written by Bret Rodriguez