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expand-dark-cropped.pngThe EXPAND (EXperiential Projects for Accelerated Networking and Development) mentorship program provides undergraduate students with a choice of experiential projects, each of which has been designed by a graduate student mentor to develop industry-relevant skills. The program matches prospective mentees to a mentor-project pair that best suits their interest. Then, the mentees work closely with their mentor towards their project’s completion over the course of a quarter (10 weeks). In addition, each student presents their progress at two meetings with a committee comprised of their mentor, an administrator from The Center, and a local industry representative.

The benefits of EXPAND work both ways. The program provides graduate students with the opportunity to practice mentorship and understand its complexities. At the same time, EXPAND gives industry representatives the unique opportunity to get to know an undergraduate, understand exactly what preparation they have, and direct them towards the next step in their career.

The overall mission of EXPAND is to remove the barriers to opportunities in the physical sciences and equitably prepare students for successful careers.

Program Timeline


The program lasts for the 10 weeks allotted to the Fall/Winter/Spring quarter in the UCSD academic calendar.

Mentee Applications

  • Spring (pilot) 2020-2021: January 4th - January 29th
  • Fall 2021-2022: TBA

Mentor Applications

  • Spring (pilot) 2020-2021: October 19th - November 3rd
  • Fall 2021-2022: TBA


  • An EXPAND Expo is held on the first or second week of every quarter, where prospective applicants can meet next quarter’s mentors and discuss the program and their projects.
  • Venue:
  • RSVP: not available

Undergraduate Mentee Details


Undergraduate students who would like to participate in the program are expected to have little to no relevant experience, so we will focus on the following qualities when considering a student for selection:

  • In the earlier stages of their program
  • Selects skills from a given list that correspond to an available project
  • Is a good fit for their prospective mentor


An undergraduate student mentee must complete the following program requirements:

  • Work on their assigned project under the supervision of their mentor.
  • Prepare and present slides detailing their progress at the middle and end of the quarter:
    • Must prepare a set of slides for both presentations
    • Mid-term presentation is expected to take 10 to 15 minutes and should contain a brief discussion of the project's motivation as well as a summary of what has been done so far
    • Final presentation is expected to take 20 to 30 minutes and should discuss the motivation of the project, what was done/produced, and what was learned
  • Summarize their project and experience in a short (750 words), written report submitted at the end of the quarter
  • Must discuss their overall experience, their project, what they learned, and what challenged them
  • Mentees will not be expected to work more than 10 hours a week on their project.

Graduate Student Mentor Details


Graduate students mentors will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • At least 6 months of active participation in a research group
  • Communicates a clear passion for mentorship
  • Demonstrates sufficient mastery of the essential skill(s) necessary for their vocation
  • Provides a satisfactory, written plan for the quarter that must include the following:
    • Outline of project
    • Biweekly goals
    • List of deliverables (e.g. skills taught, items produced, etc.)
    • Signature of approval by Principle Investigator


Every graduate student mentor is contractually held to the following responsibilities:

  • Schedule at least one weekly meeting with their mentee
  • Maintain a reasonable schedule of availability:
    • Organize time slots for impromptu meetings on at least 3 individual work days that align with the mentee's schedule
    • Establish and regularly check a mutually reliable infrastructure for virtual communication (e.g. Zoom, Skype, Slack, etc.)
  • Ensure that the student is progressing or change the project plan to fit their needs
  • Attend the two committee meetings where the mentee presents their progress

Industry Representative Details


Industry representatives are contacted by EXPAND program coordinators after mentee selection. If you are interested in being an industry representative, please email us at


Industry representatives are responsible for attending two (~1 hour) meetings. At each of these meetings, industry representatives are tasked with evaluating the student’s progress as they might an intern or junior employee:

  • Mid-quarter meeting (April 19th to April 23rd): Mentee updates their committee on their timeline for their project, what challenges they are facing, and what they have learned so far. Industry rep. evaluates mentee’s plan, asking questions when possible to assess practicality.
  • End-of-quarter meeting (May 31st to June 4th): Mentee summarizes their project and presents results if possible. Industry rep. asks questions about the project to evaluate the mentee’s performance and understanding.

In addition, industry representatives and undergraduate mentees are expected to develop a professional rapport, with the goal of facilitating their transition into industry and/or their education on what industry opportunities are currently available -- specifically those that are relevant to the skills and interests they have developed through EXPAND.

Current Mentees


Allison Sou
Mentee | Biochemistry

Allison Sou is a first-year biochemistry major at UCSD. She joined the EXPAND program because she was interested in gaining research experience that can benefit her academic and professional career. Since she is still unsure of her career path, she hopes to not only gain experience but also explore specialties such as protein dynamics to see what a potential career could be for her. She would also like to listen to industry representatives’ stories about how they chose their area of study and the steps they took to get there. During her free time, she likes reading and drawing cartoons and on the weekends, she's either getting boba or playing games with her friends! She looks forward to working with everyone!

Mentor: Christian Seitz (project)


larry_lee-cropped.jpgLarry Lee
Mentee | Mathematics and Computer Science

Larry Lee is a first-year student studying Mathematics and Computer Science at UCSD. He is a first-generation college student and enjoys creative expression through photography and creating music, which helps foster his passion for intuition and discovery. Larry is interested in the field of computational biology. In his current project at EXPAND, Larry explores the simulation of biological mechanisms, a key research topic in the field that has a wide range of implications for public service. Larry joined the EXPAND program because it provides a solid opportunity to pursue this mission by taking on interdisciplinary research in the physical sciences alongside experienced researchers in their unique fields.

Mentor: Christian Seitz (project)


david_rovira-cropped.jpegDavid Rovira
Mentee | Mathematics: Applied Science

David is a first-year Mathematics: Applied Science major at UC San Diego, currently working as a Triton Health Ambassador. He was inspired by a particular teacher in high school, whose enthusiasm, encouragement, and bright demeanor fostered an interest in pursuing a degree in mathematics. While he works on this degree, David is supported and motivated to succeed by his family, and as a first-generation student, he feels a fundamental drive to always go above and beyond what is expected of him. Although mathematics will be David’s general focus, he hopes to explore an interdisciplinary approach involving science as well. Furthermore, he would like to learn how to apply this mindset -- through programs like EXPAND -- and ultimately bring both subjects to bear on real-world problems outside of academics.

Mentor: Jonathan Guiang (project


daniela_garcia-cropped.jpgDaniela Garcia
Mentee | Physics

Daniela is a first-year Physics student at UC San Diego. Growing up in L.A., her interest in science was sparked by visits to the California Science Center--the space shuttle exhibit, in particular. Since she is just beginning her college journey, Daniela is open to exploring other fields of science (in addition to Physics) and hopes to also get an understanding of how her skills can apply to research and industry through EXPAND. As a first-generation college student and a woman in science, Daniela continues to triumph against tremendous societal opposition. Thus, her ultimate goal is to become the person she needed: someone who will uplift and support those who are discouraged from pursuing science.

 Mentor: Jonathan Guiang (project


litiana_librando-cropped.jpgLitiana Librando
Mentee | Biology (major), Psychology (minor)

Litiana was born in the Philippines but had to relocate frequently to places all over the world for her father's job. Her experiences living all over the world have made her aware of the many problems that still need solutions, so she aspires to use science to give back to the world around her. She is currently majoring in General Biology with a minor in Psychology. As a first-generation college student as well as a young woman in science, Litiana has faced many obstacles while working toward her goals. Although she still keeps her original dream of practicing medicine close to her heart, she actively looks for new experiences that allow her to grow as a researcher also. Litiana has expanded her goals to include the translational aspect of medicinal research. After graduation, she intends to pursue additional opportunities that allow her to continue to contribute to both the research and medical fields. Litiana’s project with the Expand Program at UCSD will use computational approaches to investigate the protein-protein interactions that regulate the type II fatty acid biosynthesis pathway in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of the disease, tuberculosis. Through computational analysis, she hopes to unlock novel drug targets and create new treatments for this devastating disease.

Mentor: Desirae Mellor (project


savio_le-cropped.jpegSavio Le
Mentee | Undeclared

Savio Le was born to a family of Vietnamese immigrants living in Alaska. As a child, he was sent to live in Vietnam for 6 years before coming back to America to start kindergarten. Growing up in the wilds of Alaska, and in an oceanic-dependent community, inspired his love for the ecological sciences. However, here at UCSD, his interests have shifted towards human medicine and reconstructive surgery. Now, Savio’s goals are to enter the field of restorative surgery, particularly for pediatric practices. He aspires to help children who have been injured by burns or accidents or who have congenital anomalies. He also wants to conduct research that improves the scientific and technological capabilities for reconstructive medicine. Savio’s work with the EXPAND program will focus on another catastrophic human ailment, the disease, tuberculosis, and will use computational analysis to study biological pathways.

Mentor: Desirae Mellor (project

Current Mentors

christian_seitz-cropped.jpgChristian Seitz (project)
Mentor Chemistry and Biochemistry

Christian Seitz is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Chemistry & Biochemistry department at UCSD. Due to the steep learning curve and outdated stereotypes, the computational sciences have traditionally been populated by those you think of as "computer people." Democratizing computational chemistry and easing the transition into a new field for undergraduates is why he joined the EXPAND program as a mentor. Connecting mentees with industry professionals will further the mentees' acceptance in the computational community, and help them learn more about future career prospects. Outside of science, he can be seen playing in competitive soccer and tennis tournaments around San Diego, or planning his next travel adventure.

Mentees: Allison Sou and Larry Lee


jonathan_guiang.JPGJonathan Guiang (project
Mentor Physics

Jonathan is a second-year Ph.D. student studying Physics at UCSD and a co-founder of the EXPAND program. He primarily studies proton-proton collision data collected by the CMS detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) as a member of Professor Würthwein’s experimental particle physics group. At the same time, Jonathan works with UCSD Health radiologists, led by Prof. Albert Hsiao, to develop machine learning algorithms that interpret CT scans for diagnostic and prognostic applications in the clinic. In general, Jonathan is interested in doing good -- whether abstractly through science or directly in the clinic -- and helping people, as countless others have helped him. However, when he isn’t busy sifting through data, coding, or organizing EXPAND, Jonathan likes to play video games, exercise, and express himself through a variety of digital mediums.

Mentees: David Rovira and Daniela Garcia


desirae_mellor-cropped.jpgDesirae Mellor (project
Mentor Chemistry and Biochemistry

Desirae is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Chemistry & Biochemistry department at UCSD. Her research focuses on the protein-protein interactions in the fatty acid biosynthesis pathway of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of the disease tuberculosis. As a first-generation college student, a military spouse, and a mother to two small children, Desirae has faced countless barriers while pursuing higher education. Her experiences have taught her how invaluable mentorship and support is for the success of underrepresented students. It is also these experiences that made her eager to participate in the EXPAND program. She frequently participates in STEM outreach and led the development of an extracurricular STEM program at her children’s elementary school on base. Desirae enjoys activities like hiking, baking, and making additions to her vast collection of unicorns. Her favorite quote is “You have to be odd to be number 1,” and she hopes to inspire future scientists to change the world, one oddity at a time.

Mentees: Litiana Librando and Savio Le

Applications and Forms


  • Mentee application form: Not available
  • Mentor application form: Not available
  • Industry representative interest form: Not available


  • RSVP form: Not available

Mailing list

If you want to stay up-to-date on EXPAND (e.g. application period announcements), please subscribe to our mailing list by filling out this form. You can also unsubscribe using that same form.