University of Washington   |  Site Index  |  News & Announcements  |  Contacts    
The Graduate School logo and picture of graduating Ph.d. students

Search the Graduate School


 |  Admissions   |   Resources for Students   |   Resources for Departments   |   About the Graduate School  


Sibrina Collins, Ph.D. Selected to Lead Graduate Diversity Recruitment Efforts

Despite increasing numbers of minority graduate and professional degree holders in the life sciences, medicine and business, the number of applicants in the science and engineering graduate pipeline remains a trickle.  This poses a challenge not only for academic institutions, but also in a very practical sense for the nation.  In particular, if the United States is to have a more representative workforce in higher education, we must be more effective in attracting a diverse student group to the science and engineering fields. 

To address this need, The Graduate School, in partnership with other University of Washington science/engineering-related programs, schools and colleges, has created a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Recruiter position to actively recruit diverse students in these disciplines.  Sibrina Collins, Ph.D. has been selected to lead the effort as Director of Graduate Diversity Recruiting.  Her role will enable The Graduate School to extend UW's visibility to numerous institutions for recruiting collaboration, while also refining the graduate recruiting and diversity student support programs.  This position was also created to engage more students and faculty from institutions that may not have a relationship with the UW and to bridge these programs to the UW in order to ensure a successful transition for students.

Collins states, "I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the UW as Director of Graduate Diversity Recruiting.  This position is truly 'tailor-made' for me.  My interest in diversity and recruitment issues really blossomed as a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemistry at Ohio State University.  During this time, I became more aware of the low participation of minorities and women in the STEM fields and I didn't quite understand why."

Collins explains that, "Early on in my career, I decided that I wanted to use my background and training to focus on the underlying factors that influence the lack of diversity within the sciences.  The UW provides the ideal environment for me to use my experience to further enhance the diversity and recruitment efforts already taking place on the UW campus.  In a nutshell, science is my pulse, but achieving diversity within the STEM fields is my true passion."

Collins' experience also includes writing for the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an Associate Professor of Chemistry position at Claflin University, a historically black college in South Carolina.

The development of this position continues an initiative spearheaded by the Graduate Opportunities & Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP) to heighten awareness of the need for a diverse graduate population, as well as enhance the academic experience for every student at the UW through diversity.

UW Press Publishes Noted Historical Fiction Novel by Former Seattle Post-Intellegencer Writer

The University of Washington Press, a division of the UW Graduate School, contributes to the cultural and intellectual life of the Pacific Northwest and to the enhancement of the University's reputation worldwide.

During the 85 years of its existence, the UW Press has played an important role as the major scholarly publisher in the Pacific Northwest and has published approximately 3,800 books, of which about 1,400 are currently in print. Today it publishes about 60 new titles each year.
From the beginning, the Press has reflected the University's major academic strengths. Building on those strengths, the Press has achieved recognition as the leading publisher of scholarly books and distinguished works of regional nonfiction in the Pacific Northwest. Titles cover a wide variety of academic fields.

The latest example of Press publishing comes from Solveig Torvik, former reporter, editor and columnist at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  Her recently published novel Nikolai's Fortune (University of Washington Press, 2005), is described by Kirkus Reviews as "a brooding, often beautiful tale of life in the Far North and the immigrant experience."

As a child, Solveig Torvik heard stories of a lost, mysterious great-grandfather who left Finland for America to make his fortune, leaving Torvik's great-grandmother and his unborn daughter behind. As a reporter, Torvik determined to discover the fate of the man who followed his dreams to Oregon. She uncovered not only the story of one man, but also the saga of an entire family. In Nikolai's Fortune, a tale of Scandinavian women, the journalist turns fact into fiction and shares the tales of her ancestors as she imagines they would have told them. Blending memoir and historical fiction, grandmother, mother, and daughter each share their own story: Kaisa, of her mother's love for Nikolai and her own 500-mile trek at the age of twelve from impoverished Finland across the snowy mountains of Lapland; Berit, of child slavery and an obsession with seeking out her grandfather's fortune for her mother; and Hannah, the voice of Torvik, of her childhood during the Nazi occupation of Norway and her family's emigration to Idaho. Torvik recaptures a dramatic story nearly lost to memory and inherits something worth more than a fortune in riches: a sense of her family history, her ethnic background, and the generations of remarkable women who came before her.

Torvik will read from and discuss Nikolai's Fortune at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane on June 7, 2006, at 7:30 pm, and at the Seattle Public Library (Central Library, Washington Mutual Room) on June 24, 2006, at 4:00 pm. Both events will be free and open to the public. For more information, contact Molly Wiznberg at (206) 221-4995 or

From Artist to Scientist: Studying the Biology of Vision

Neuroscience begins to decipher this thing we call consciousness. Other sciences can explain how our body functions to keep us alive, but neuroscience can explain what makes this life interesting, why and how we see things the way we do.

Photo of Felice DunnPursuing a Ph.D. in the Neurobiology & Behavior Graduate Program at the University of Washington, Felice Dunn belongs to a group of scientists undertaking one of the most important scientific challenges of the 21st century—understanding the exquisite complexity of the human brain’s chemical, physical, and electrical structure.

Like many students who decide to pursue this relatively new field of study, Felice’s interest in neuroscience had unusual beginnings. As a trained artist who learned to draw and paint through direct observation, she became fascinated in the biology of vision during an undergraduate seminar her freshman year at Brown University. Having never considered herself a “scientist,” Felice was completely surprised by her own interest and motivation in this area of study. For her, neuroscience is interesting because it “begins to decipher this thing we call consciousness. Other sciences can explain how our body functions to keep us alive, but neuroscience can explain what makes this life interesting, why and how we see things the way we do.”

Combining her two passions, Felice graduated from Brown with a B.S. in neuroscience and a B.A. in visual arts. After considering eight different neuroscience graduate programs, Felice decided to continue her studies at the UW to satisfy her desire to study the retina and because this program hosts the highest number of researchers studying in this field. As a result, Felice has had the opportunity to either rotate or collaborate with several labs in order to experience a broad spectrum of neurobiology research.

After her first year, she joined the lab of Fred Rieke and she speaks of her experience with enthusiasm. “It has been a great gift to have such a brilliant and kind mentor and to learn in a supportive lab environment. I remember thinking how fulfilling it felt to go home every day knowing that I had learned something new in lab and laughed at amusing interactions with my lab mates.”

Currently, Felice is working on two retinal physiology projects in the Rieke lab. She and other scientists in the lab are trying to answer the question, “How can our eyes function on a moonless night as well as under the noonday sun?” They hope to better understand how the mechanistic workings of the retina is related to the behavioral sensitivity of vision and are studying this general problem in both the rod and cone visual systems. The answer to their question involves the mechanisms of adaptation, the amazing phenomenon that allows our eyes to be sensitive enough to detect single photons yet prevent saturation when there are thousands of photons striking the retina.

What are Felice’s future goals other than understanding how our eyes adapt to light? After finishing her Ph.D. and completing one or two post-doctorates, Felice hopes to secure a faculty position. She says she “gets a thrill out of teaching,” and would like to provide other students with the same enriching and stimulating educational experience as the one she benefited from at the UW.