The University of California Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees (UC LEADS) program is designed to engage and educate California's future leaders by preparing promising students for advanced education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). UC LEADS is designed to identify upper-division UCSB undergraduate students with the potential to succeed in these disciplines, but who have experienced situations or conditions that have adversely impacted their advancement in their field of study.

Interested in joining the UCSB UC LEADS Program as a scholar or mentor?
Contact Karen van Gool, UCSB UC LEADS Coordinator and Assistant Director of Outreach



Imanol Ulloa







Imanol Ulloa
Aquatic Biology/Limnology
Bentson Scholar


Janae Gayle







Janae Gayle
Bioengineering Research Symposium Undergraduate Best Poster

Learn more about the UC LEADS Scholar experience

Once chosen as UC LEADS Scholars, the students embark upon a two-year program of scientific research and graduate school preparation guided by individual Faculty Mentors. Scholars are provided with an excellent opportunity to explore their discipline, experience a research environment, and improve their opportunities for future study in their chosen field. The Scholars gain valuable educational experience, the University develops a better prepared and more diverse graduate applicant pool, and ultimately, the state gets well-educated future leaders.


Program Offerings

Each Scholar is mentored by a member of the UC faculty, who assists the student in designing a plan of research and enrichment activities fitted to the individual interests and academic goals of the Scholar which includes:

  • Academic year research expenses and travel up to $1000
  • Summer research experience at UCSB ($5,000 stipend)
  • Summer research experience in your second summer at another UC Campus ($5,000 stipend)
  • Professional development workshops and research seminars during the summer
  • Oral and written science communication skills development
  • Academic and scholarly activities throughout the year
  • Participation in University-wide UC LEADS Symposium
  • Attendance at professional or scientific society meetings


The UC LEADS program is open to any students who meets ALL of the following requirements:

  • Participants should apply prior to their junior year and/or should be on track to receive the baccalaureate degree at the conclusion of the second year of the UC LEADS program
  • Student must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • AB540 students are eligible to apply​
  • Must be in a Mathematics, Science, or Engineering major
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA for consideration
  • Successful applicants must also demonstrate experiences, situations or conditions that have impacted their advancement in a STEM field of study, such as the absence of a role model in STEM; absence of a family member who received a four-year college degree; or graduation from a high school with poor financial or curricular support.
  • Applications from individuals who are underrepresented in the graduate student and faculty populations in STEM fields of study are strongly encourage. These groups include women, African Americans, American Indians, Filipino Americans, and Chicano/Latinos. However, in accordance with state law, preference in selection may not be given to applicants on the basis of race, color, gender, or national origin.


The UC LEADS program identifies students who have:

  • A commitment to and a strong potential for success in future pursuit of a Ph.D.
  • Experienced educational barriers to their academic progress, or who express a commitment to address the barriers that prevent participation of students from underrepresented groups in graduate academic programs
  • Experienced situations or conditions that impacted their advancement or ability to advance in a STEM field (e.g. the absence of a role model in the STEM field, absence of a family member who received a four-year college degree or graduation from high school with poor financial or curricular support)
  • Leadership potential to address the issues of underrepresentation of domestic minorities in the STEM fields
  • The potential to gain the personal and multicultural competency skills necessary to address the needs of a diverse State and global community through science and technology

Awardee Eligibility

Student awardees must stay within an Engineering, Science, or Mathematics major at UCSB throughout the entire duration of the award. Each quarter they must maintain a 3.0 major and overall GPA and complete a minimum of 12 units. Awardees experience and commit to two approximately 8-week summer research programs, the first at UCSB, and the second at another UC campus. Awardees are also required to attend periodic on- and off-campus events and activities as scheduled specifically for UC LEADS Scholars.

Karen van Gool headshot

For questions about the UCSB UC LEADS Program:

Karen van Gool
UCSB UC LEADS Coordinator
Assistant Director of Outreach

We want to thank the Microsoft Corporation and Karl Storz for their generous support of the UC LEADS (The University of California Leadership Excellence through Advanced DegreeS) here at UC Santa Barbara.


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