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SoCal GPS (Graduate Pathways to STEM)

April 1, 2023


SoCal GPS (Graduate Pathways to STEM)

Welcome to the 2023 Southern California Graduate Pathways to STEM Conference (SoCal GPS)!

The GPS conference originated when two forward-thinking graduate students, Héctor Pérez and Maribel Jaquez, conceived the idea of bringing STEM communities together in the Bay Area. Since then, the initiative has evolved into larger inclusivity, with Sebastián Ojeda, Emily Anne Vargas, Armando Urbina and Diego Jácome taking the mantle at USC in 2020 and 2022.

SoCal GPS is a free conference on April 1, 2023 for attendees to participate in informative workshops bringing awareness to graduate school preparation and the application process. Here, attendees are also exposed to the professional prospects available after receiving an advanced degree post-graduation in both MS and PhD engineering disciplines.

The SoCal GPS conference is a one day event curated by graduate students for underserved undergraduate students to promote a higher education pipeline and pathway towards success in our fields. With our 2023 conference, we hope to continue expanding our reach from years past. We want to exemplify diversity, inclusion and belonging as pillars that belong and exist within the academic community. Through thoughtful and intentional planning, this year’s conference planning committee will inspire the next generation of leading innovators and scientists toward advanced degrees that may propel them to academia, industry, government, or even entrepreneurship.

Prepare yourself to be inspired by those trailblazers before you. Grad school is not only within grasp; it is a few resources short of success.

Daniel Pereira da Costa and Sandra Lara Galindo
Conference Committee Chairs, SoCal GPS 2023
Graduate Students, University of Southern California – Viterbi School of Engineering



SoCal GPS is an in-person conference on the campus of the University of Southern California. The address for SoCal GPS is:

MCB 101 & 102, University of Southern California
1002 Childs Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089
USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience (MCB)

Map of SoCal GPS Location Google Maps

Agenda for April 1

All times are Pacific Time (PDT).

  1. Open Registration & Coffee Hour

    9:00 AM - 9:55 AM

  2. Opening Remarks

    10:00 AM - 10:15 AM

    Dean Yannis Yortsos


    A welcome message by the Dean of USC Viterbi School of Engineering, and your 2023 conference chairs. Highlights of the importance of graduate study in engineering.

  3. Keynote Address

    10:15 AM - 11:00 AM

    Dr. Joaquin Camacho (SDSU)

  4. Introduction to Grad school

    11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

    Camillia Lee


    Learn about the basics. Why should you pursue a graduate degree? What are some of the things to consider as you get ready to embark on the application journey? Begin the application process. Learn how to apply and the various ways to receive funding for your degree. Everything from deadlines and requirements to how you can maximize the payment options for your graduate school investment.

  5. MS vs Ph.D. Panel

    12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


    Moderator: Chris Luthers

    Ph.D. Panel
    Juan Pablo de los Rios
    Jean Helder Marques Ribeiro
    Sandra Lara Galindo

    MS Panel
    Diana Pham
    Edward Lopez Arevalo
    Jorge Solis Galvan

  6. Lunch and Group Photo

    1:00 PM - 2:00 PM


    Walk over to the Epstein Family Engineering Plaza to get tacos!

  7. What to Do During Your Journey Through Graduate School

    2:00 PM - 2:30 PM


    Moderator: Nora Li

    Ph.D. Panel
    Jocelyn Mendoza Martinez
    Rudra Persaud
    Diamond Mangrum

    MS Panel
    Daniel da Costa
    Niraj Ganesh
    Shakira Cordova

  8. DEIA and Women in STEM

    2:30 PM - 3:00 PM


    Being a Woman in STEM with 13% female engineers, accommodation for Women in STEM, DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility), inclusion of people with disabilities.

    Shahd Bawarith
    Aleyeh Roknaldin
    Natalie Fung
    Malia Bowman
    Moderator: Sandra Balbuena

  9. Academia Panel Discussion

    3:00 PM - 3:50 PM


    The academia panel will talk about the expectations of graduate school, tips on how to reach out to faculty, open positions, and much more.

    Academia Panel
    Peter Wang (BME)
    Bruce Wilcox (ISE)
    Soheil Soltani (EE)
    Megan Fieser (Inorganic Chemistry)
    Thaiesha Wright (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
    Geena Ildelfonso (BME Postdoctoral Research Associate)
    Moderator: Tristan McPhail

  10. Industry Panel Discussion

    3:50 PM - 4:30 PM


    The industry panel will discuss the importance of a graduate degree when getting into industry. You will get the chance to hear the experiences of professionals in different fields.

    Nitin Mehta
    Diego Jacome
    Marlyn Diaz
    Paul Lu
    Kevin Peguero-Garcia
    Olufikunayo Famutimi
    Sairaj Patil Moderator: Natalie Fung

  11. Workshop on Statement of Purpose

    4:30 PM - 5:00 PM

    Elisabeth Arnold Weiss


    This workshop will be facilitated by the Associate Professor of Technical Communication Practice and Engineering in Society Program.

  12. Grad School Tips Workshop

    5:00 PM - 5:30 PM

    Juli Legat


    The workshop will help the attendees on what scholarships are offered in USC, summer research internships, visitation days, application fee waivers and interview tips.

  13. Closing Remarks

    5:30 PM - 5:45 PM

  14. Social Networking Event

    5:50 PM - 7:00 PM


    The social networking event will be hosted by SHPE LA Professional, in which attendees will get to socialize with current graduate students, faculty, and professionals!