Photograph of Francesca Gacho

Francesca Gacho – RUA Coordinator, UCLA

Francesca Gacho, Coordinator of Professional Development for Graduate Student & Postdoctoral Scholars, Division of Graduate Education, UCLA

RUA Affiliation: Coordinator of the UCLA RUA National Science Foundation (NSF) AGEP grant

What is your field of study and why did you choose it?

I work in Graduate Student & Postdoc Professional Development. I saw a real need, when I was in my doctoral program, for graduate students and postdocs to have access to resources that will help them use their training to cultivate a broad set of skills that will serve them beyond their academic programs/training. I spent a lot of time looking for these resources and opportunities for myself and met with other PhDs who expressed the same need, so I thought I could help make these resources and opportunities happen!

Why did you choose to participate in RUA activities?

I was intrigued by the Alliance model and saw lots of opportunities for R1 institutions to share knowledge, resources, and experiences for graduate students and postdocs. I felt that it was an initiative that I could really get behind, to improve the diversity of the professoriate in the MPSE fields. I also liked the idea of promoting professional development and sharing those opportunities across the other alliance institutions.

What is a highlight of your RUA participation?

Coming from the Humanities, I am enjoying learning a lot about how MPSE departments work, how graduate students and postdocs train in labs, and especially how they cultivate professional networks. I am learning a lot about the landscape of the discipline through my work in RUA.

What advice do you have for graduate students or postdocs?

Create a NETWORK of mentors. Just as you don’t expect to be everything to everyone, you shouldn’t expect one mentor or advisor to meet all of your needs. Every mentor or advisor has distinct skills that they bring to your relationship, so think about what their expertise may be and don’t be afraid to seek out other mentors/advisors who might have other expertise that you need.

What’s one thing that you think everyone should read?

I enjoyed Joli Jensen’s “Write No Matter What” when I was trying to figure out how to balance teaching with dissertation writing and with all the other commitments I had. The book had a lot of humane/human and practical advice.