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University of California Santa Barbara

UCSB - Smithsonian Scholars Program

Brief History

In 2015 UCSB, its regional community college partners, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) co-developed an innovative summer program to engage diverse students in experiential learning centered on multi-disciplinary conservation strategies, biodiversity research, and careers in STEM. To learn more...

Program Offerings:

Students gain access to a network of research opportunities in fields related to the conservation of biodiversity, including: ecology, botany, marine science, genomics, cultural anthropology, animal science, reproductive physiology, and others in STEM.

The program provides activities and multi-day workshops that engages students in hands-on, skill-building activities connecting them with ongoing research projects. The overall goal of the program is to give students early research experiences that will help them prepare and be competitive for internships in STEM and to encourage students to participate in post-graduate opportunities.

We provide a variety of activities such as:


To participate in the program students must:

  1. Meet eligibility requirements (first generation college-going and/or low-income) and be fulltime student from one of the colleges listed below (see Target Audience)
  2. Complete an enrollment packet (note: available October 31st, 2018)
    1. Student Information Application
    2. Waiver of liability
    3. FERPA Release
    4. Signed Student Contract
  3. Interview with program staff

Deadlines for Enrollment are February 1, 2019.

To learn more about the program, please join us for an information session during the Fall semester at your campus or contact the program coordinator Cristina Soto Balderas, or call 805‐893‐4789.

Please also visit our UCSB-Smithsonian Calendar page for upcoming activities.

Target Audience:

We are looking for 1st and 2nd year STEM students who are first generation and or low-income, specifically from UCSB, Oxnard College, Santa Barbara City College, Allan Hancock College, Ventura College, and East LA College. Participants must be willing to try new and challenging experiences.


Information Form:

If you would like to join our email/SMS text stream, please complete the Google form ( or email the coordinator:

  • First and Last Name
  • College/University
  • Alternate email
  • Major
  • Cell Phone number

Current NEWS on Project:

Summer 2018

  • Santa Cruz Island Field Techniques Workshop – Join us for a four-day excursion to the Santa Cruz Island UC Reserve. Gain hands on experience in research in diverse topics such as geology and biological communities of the island under the guidance of scientist from the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Early Research Experience for Students (ERES Program) – Undergraduates network in Washington D.C. with research scientists and connect to others via web-based seminars, featuring researchers and staff from Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

Ongoing Projects and Opportunities

  • Island Spotted Skunk Monitoring Project: The UCSB-Smithsonian Scholars, with the help of The Nature Conservancy and the UC Santa Cruz Island Reserve, have set up camera trap sets as part of an ongoing research project on the island spotted skunk to monitor and identify individual skunks to create a population model.
  • PanaMEX Project: The Pan American Experimental Initiative in Marine Macro-ecology is an experiment to assess gradients in interaction strength, focusing on effects of predation on development of marine fouling communities, at an unprecedented scale --- across the latitudes and two oceans of the Americas. One location being our very own Santa Barbara Harbor!
  • Internships and Fellowships are available to enrolled UCSB-Smithsonian Scholars
    • Smithsonian Minority Awards Program
    • Post-Bac

Please check out the images and the student storyboard project on the Channel Islands, created with support from our partners at the National Parks Conservation Association.

Contact us:

Cristina Soto Balderas ‐ Program Coordinator
Phone: 805‐893‐4789