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Did you know that the ten campuses of the University of California enable 26,000 doctoral students and 6,400 postdoctoral fellows to engage in original research that enriches the State of California (and beyond)?  That’s a lot of brain-power at work!

On June 4, I was glad to accompany 20 graduate students from UC campuses who joined graduate deans and government relations staff to meet with lawmakers in Sacramento.  By telling legislators about their research, graduate students aimed to “give lawmakers a better understanding of what they do, how they do it, and why it merits public support.”

Representing UC Berkeley were graduate students Brendan A. Shanahan and Kristina Hargraves.  Facilitating the meetings was Director of Government Affairs Advocacy and Institutional Relations, Michelle Moskowitz.

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Left to right: Michelle Moskowitz, Brendan Shanahan, Kristina Hargraves, Andrew Szeri

Brendan Shanahan is pursuing a Ph.D. in history. His research topic, “Citizens without the Rights of Citizenship,” examines the connection between laws concerning citizenship with those concerning marriage. Brendan focuses especially on a period early in the 1900s when women who married a foreign national would lose their citizenship. Given current debates in Washington, this was a topic that generated great interest among the Sacramento lawmakers.

Kristina Hargraves is pursuing a Ph.D. in endocrinology. Her research investigates the role of tumor suppressive microRNA in the anti-cancer effects of plant-based treatments. Therapeutically activating tumor suppressive microRNA could provide a novel means of cancer treatment. One day, this might lead to drug discovery — that was the case with the work that led to the development of the anti-cancer drug ipilimumab).  Amazingly, the last meeting of the day was with someone whose husband is being treated with ipilimumab!

That was a moving end to a busy and — we anticipate — productive day of advocacy for all the research conducted by UC students and their faculty.  Another report on the day is available from the University of California Newsroom.

I hope your summer is both rewarding and refreshing!

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Andrew J. Szeri
Dean of the Graduate Division
Professor of Mechanical Engineering