Muriel C. McClendon , Ph.D., (History) — CHAIR
David MacFadyen , Ph.D. (Comparative Literature)
Frank A. Laski , Ph.D. (Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology)
Elizabeth A. Marchant , Ph.D. (Comparative Literature, Gender Studies)
William I. Newman , Ph.D. (Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy)


Marian H. Gabra, Ph.D. is the Director of Advising Professional Development & University Studies. In her role, she works collaboratively across campus to cultivate spaces of learning and growth for students and staff. As the Director of University Studies, she leads an instructional team in curriculum design and innovative pedagogy, and teaches courses under the program, which aim to help students to transition to, engage with, and navigate UCLA. As the Director of Advising Professional Development, she has created and implemented the Advising Communities of Excellence (ACE) Professional Development Program, offering interactive workshops and initiatives that bring together campus professionals to explore the relationship between advising theory and practice. ACE has collaborated with campus partners, librarians, the research center, and faculty to develop a culture of advising research at UCLA. Marian and the ACE Committee have been awarded the 2018 NACADA Region 9 Advising Innovation award. She has been a featured keynote speaker at various programs and conferences. Marian also advises students in College Academic Counseling. She earned her BA in English from Occidental College in 2002 and her doctorate in Comparative Literature from UCLA in 2010.

Jason Araújo is a doctoral student in the Department of Comparative Literature at UCLA. A first generation college graduate, he graduated summa cum laude with a BA in History from the University of San Diego (2009.) Upon graduating Jason spent a year teaching kindergarten in Oakland, CA. In 2010 he was hired by the Department of Navy and moved to Washington, D.C. where he worked closely with the Office of the Secretary of Defense to execute then-President Obama’s Veterans Employment Initiative (Executive Order 13518.) After several years with the federal government he moved to New York City where he worked on undergraduate education initiatives at Barnard College/Columbia University, specifically the role-playing curriculum Reacting to the Past. In 2014 Jason was admitted to the French and Francophone Studies MA program at San Diego State University. Upon finishing his MA he started the Ph.D. program at UCLA in 2016. Jason’s work traces the relationship between France and Latin America through the 19th and early 20th centuries. His dissertation examines the first decade of the Argentine magazine Sur, founded and financed by Victoria Ocampo, a Francophone Argentine by birth.

Ana Karen Gomez was born and raised in the city of Huntington Park, California and attended LAUSD schools before enrolling at UCLA for her undergraduate studies, where she majored in Psychology and minored in English and in Education. She is currently a doctoral student at UCLA’s Higher Education and Organizational Change (HEOC) program under the mentorship of Dr. Sylvia Hurtado. Ana’s research sheds light on the experiences of underrepresented students of color in higher education, including Latinx students in STEM fields and community college transfer students at R1 institutions. During her time in graduate school, Ana has also worked in the College Academic Counseling office, first as a College Academic Mentor and then as a University Studies instructor as part of the First Years Scholars Program (FYSP).

Sabrina Klein is a fifth year PhD student in the Higher Education and Organizational Change program here at UCLA. Her research and professional career are fueled by her experiences growing up as a first-gen, low-income student in rural, mountain community. As a former community college transfer student, she is also passionate about transitional experiences and supports for first-generation college and transfer students. Her research focuses on how rural students, communities, and higher education institutions participate in the college going process, and the role of regional labor markets in that process. She loves coffee, cooking, and finding treasures at thrift stores.

Jay Phelan has been on the faculty of the UCLA Life Sciences Core Program since 1997, specializing in evolutionary biology, human behavior, and genetics. He teaches the University Studies 10C seminar for life sciences students. He received a Ph.D. in Biology from Harvard, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Yale and UCLA. He is co-author of the international bestseller, “Mean Genes” (Basic Books; translated into nine languages), the author of the textbook “What is Life? A Guide to Biology” (Macmillan; now in its 5th edition), and dozens of technical publications both in biology and science education. Jay has given numerous training presentations for the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Program and Behavioral Analysis Unit since 2007. He has appeared on ABC’s Nightline, CNN, the BBC, and National Public Radio. His work has also been featured in USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, a TEDx talk, and Elle magazine, as well as in more than a hundred newspapers. He is the recipient of more than a dozen teaching awards, including UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011.

Alexandra Terrones, M.A. is an Instructor for the University Studies program and a current doctoral student in the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, in the Higher Education & Organizational Change division. Alexandra’s research focuses on the educational trajectories of Latinx undocumented students and more specifically, how these students navigate their college application process. She has previously served as a College Academic Mentor with College Academic Counseling and also has years of experience working with grades 6-12 in a counseling and advising capacity. Alexandra is a proud soon-to-be triple Bruin, having also earned her B.A. in psychology with minors in education studies and film studies and her M.A. in education at UCLA