Lauren Bustamante

Lauren Bustamante


 

Lauren Bustamante senior academic advisor, joined the Department of Mathematics in August 2021.

What was your previous job before you came to the Math Department?

I joined the U in 2020. Prior to my role here in the Math Department, I worked at the School of Medicine as the pre-medical laboratory science advisor. I have been working in higher education since 2016, and my first role as an academic advisor was in 2018 at Utah Valley University in the School of Arts.

What are your duties in your current position?

I advise all math majors in their academic planning. I am also a Bridge advisor with the U’s Academic Advising Center. This allows me to review general education exceptions for the College of Science undergrads, along with other responsibilities. Last but not least, I am on the curriculum, awards, and convocation committees.

What do you enjoy about working with students?

I enjoy interacting with students and seeing their drive and passion to succeed. I love helping and guiding students through all levels of their educational journey. Every student is unique, and working with each and every one of them presents a different challenge or obstacle to solve. The best part of advising is seeing my students grow and use the skills of self-efficacy—students recognizing that they have the ability to succeed at the tasks they take on. Advising students is more than telling them what classes to take—advising is guiding students to explore their wants, desires, and interests while attending the U. Helping students figure out who they are and what they are capable of brings joy to the work I do.

Hours and/or days when you can meet with students? Where are you located?

I meet with students Monday through Friday virtually at the moment; but, hopefully, one day I can meet with them in person. My hours vary but they are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I’m located in LCB 212.

To get the most from an advising session, how should students prepare for a meeting with you?

I always advise my students to come prepared. When I mean prepared, it’s best if you have some questions ready to ask me or concerns you’d like to talk about. Every meeting is different, but an effective meeting is accomplished when a student has an idea of what they need.

What was your undergraduate degree? Where did you receive it?

I received a master’s degree in academic advising from Kansas State University in 2020. My bachelor’s degree was in psychology from the University of La Verne (in Southern California) in 2015.

- by Michele Swaner, first published at math.utah.edu

Staff: Crystal Cory

Crystal Cory


Career coaching is a little bit of hand-holding and a whole lot of at-your-fingertips resources. A little bit of asking the right questions of your client (and asking them at the right time) and the uncanny ability to help someone see how cool they already are.

It’s a lot about helping someone find an occupational “fit,” not so that they can rest on their laurels in a static world where everything is customized, but as a stop on the continuum of work that is ever-moving and ever-expanding.

Crystal Cory, MA, is that kind of person, and she knows of what she speaks. She was originally an engineering student at Purdue University where she was studying biochemistry before a course in organic chemistry revealed rather awkwardly that her path led in a different direction than she first thought it would.

That she has a STEM  background, however, has come to the fore at the University of Utah, following her own circuitous route landing her in the U’s Career & Professional Development Center (CPDC). She is SBS’s go-to-professional for bridging your education with the vagaries of the work life.

And the vagaries are many.

An Indiana native, Cory had never been to Utah until she landed her job in the Career Office located on the third floor of the Student Services Building (SSB). A career coach is a professional who guides you during a job search or a career transition, or helps you improve and advance in your current position. They analyze your work and academic situation and learn what your professional goals are. They then work with students to come up with a plan to help you achieve your targets. Considering the holistic reality of job fulfillment, however, you might opt to call an outing this fluid “planned happenstance” rather than career planning.

Central to this work is excavating for the client the skills they’ve already obtained, either through school or work, and translate them to a new job opportunity. Have you been working at Burger King to get yourself through college? No problem. You’ve got the skills to enter a new environment whether you know it or not.

Technical knowledge and experience are found in on-the-job settings where training someone how to change out the oil in the fryer is going to happen. But other skill sets–whether they be knowing how to communicate with a customer or a fellow employee or how to de-escalate a situation embedded in conflict–are likely either already developed in you or soon can be.

Perhaps your skill is simply fierce tenacity—hanging in there, and getting back up in the ring after getting knocked about. Cory’s message: don’t underestimate your skills. And don’t underestimate yourself.

“When a student arrives in my office or calls me on the phone, they don’t need to have prepared anything,” says Cory. “This is a no judgment zone. My time’s exclusively for you. The agenda is set by the student.”

But what if the agenda is more like a cry from the heart, as in, “I have no idea what I’m doing”? That’s okay, too. And Cory will tell you that to your face.

She might ask you to start not with the “what?” but “the why?” The objective is to become more confident in taking your next step toward a gratifying career. Just one step at a time. You’re not here to dismantle the seemingly insurmountable wall of job and career. “That wall looks huge because it is, even when you’re half way up it.”

She is also quick to remind one that expecting to have “a single career your whole life isn’t realistic.” Most people make many job changes during the course of their life and you may be surprised to learn that folks aren’t just changing jobs–they’re changing careers: between five and seven times on average.

Asking yourself the why might look like this:

“Why am I drawn to a lab environment? Is it the excitement of unanswered questions? Is it the mice? The lab coat? Or, do I really do well in a highly collaborative environment where people feed off of one another’s ideas? Why do I identify with plants over animals in my studies? Why do I get jazzed when people crack an organic chemistry textbook?”

This particular career coach may not understand getting jazzed about carbon-containing compounds, but she can help you home in that enthusiasm towards careers that honor your excitement, regardless of what object that excitement has attached to.

“It has helped,” she says of her biology clients, “that I lived in that [STEM] world for a hot minute.” Again, there’s no judgement here, just a continuing conversation with someone who knows the right questions to ask of you.

And of course, you know—only you know—the right answers.

Anthropologist Joseph Campbell is credited with the phrase, “follow your bliss,” and if you talk to Cory very long her bliss comes roaring forth like a lion—or a bear.  She is an avid participant each year in Fat Bear Week, a single elimination tournament in which fans view bears in the wild on webcams and vote for which is fattest as the critters list toward hibernation.

The point isn’t that Cory wants to study bears; it’s that her bliss for them speaks to a larger area of interest which is conservation. But here’s the takeaway: enthusiasm for conservation (including over-indulgent bears eating salmon) doesn’t mean an end game of one job or one career. It can mean a job in policy, in fieldwork or in education… or even in career coaching. There’s no one right answer.

Cory’s bliss clearly extends from bears to helping others figure out their own bliss, their skill set and their next steps towards a gratifying career. And she is available for free at the University of Utah where she works mostly with science and STEM students (excluding engineering) and veterans.

You can expect to be asked to sign in to Handshake, the one-stop shop platform for career development where, at the U, no less than 15,500 high-quality jobs have been approved for your consideration using hand-picked criteria. In addition to job openings, Handshake provides events and other resources. (You can set up an appointment with Crystal Cory here.)

It’s been a long journey in some ways from flat Indiana where, as Cory says, “You can watch your dog run away for three days,” to mountainous Utah. But in other ways it’s been short but decidedly exhilarating for her. She loves meeting with students either in person or virtually. For those who might be a bit busy for an appointment, the CPDC also has a Career Studio in SSB 350 for drop in help on career-related topics.

Following her undergraduate degree at Purdue she earned her Master’s in Student Affairs in Higher Education and since then has found her home in Salt Lake City where she can help you draft (or re-draft) a resume, find an internship, or host you at a meet-and-greet with employers looking to hire. She can also help you apply to graduate school if you want to pursue another degree. In short, she can help with general job searching, interviewing, salary negotiation . . . basically anything related to careers.

And if you’re a graduate student, Cory can direct you to a coach who specializes in the post-graduate-student blues. As with undergraduates, it’s never too late to ask “Why?”

Let Crystal Cory help you.

By David Pace

Visit Crystal and her coach colleagues at the UofU’s Career and Professional Development Website here. Watch a video on how Handshake works here.

Staff: Cyri Dixon

physics advisor cyri dixon wins outstanding new advisor Award


 

The College of Science is pleased to announce that Cyri Dixon received the New Outstanding Advisor Award for 2021. Cyri is an advisor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy.

Comments from students and faculty:

Cyri is an incredible advocate for students. She is kind and thoughtful and makes you feel comfortable expressing your feelings about things. She is the best physics advisor I have had. ~student comment

Thanks for everything you do. People like you make the world turn.~Dr. Rich Ingebretsen, faculty

Whenever I am worried about a student, Cyri knows what is going on or knows what to do to address the problem. Thank you Cyri for your help, patience and for caring about all our students. ~Dr. Tugdual Stephan Lebohec, faculty

Cyri has been a terrific advisor for me. She has always been available for chats or emails and been quick to respond to all of my questions, even unusual or specific ones that are only tangentially related to completing a physics degree. After every meeting I’ve had with her I tell my wife, “she’s a great advisor.” I think Cyri absolutely deserves this award. ~student comment

Cyri is one of the nicest people I have ever met. She is very quick to respond to any questions, she’s always willing to help out no matter what. She has always been able to help me out with whatever I have needed. She’s very easy to talk to and she makes you feel like you can do just about anything. ~student comment

The College of Science and the Department of Physics & Astronomy appreciate the exceptional performance Cyri Dixon brings to her role every day. Her impact is felt through the College and across the University. Congrats, Cyri!

 

Staff: Jose Rojas

Facilities manager at the School of Biological Sciences for 20 years, Jose Rojas, probably knows more about the ins-and-outs of how labs operate than most principal investigators. Like the biology subjects U biologists examine—from cone snails to mitochondria, and from mammals to tiny round worms of C. elegans—Rojas’s work in retrofitting lab spaces requires prodding, perturbing and replicating.

Labs in the four biology buildings (Aline Skaggs [ASB], South Biology, Talmage Building and Life Sciences) are constantly in a state of flux: living organisms in their own right. With more tenure-line faculty/principal investigators than most academic units, Biology relies on Rojas and his team to be in a constant state of demolitions, bidding, implementing hazard waste abatements, and pricing and securing equipment like million-dollar microscopes, tanks, and cages, wind tunnels and centrifuges. Then there’s also that OTHER lab: BioKids, and NAEYC accredited, year-round Early Childhood Program located at the School in Building 44.

Rojas’ work also requires an artistic side, designing exhibits like the museum-grade cabinet that now houses the gene-targeting equipment Dr. Mario Capecchi used to do his foundational research in the School of Biological Sciences which led to the good scientist’s Nobel Prize. Currently Rojas is designing a display, “Biology Under Cover,” of selected journal covers over the decades by School faculty now memorialized in metal in the lobby of the Aline Wilmot Skaggs Building.

Rojas’ work also requires an artistic side, designing exhibits like the museum-grade cabinet that now houses the gene-targeting equipment Dr. Mario Capecchi used to do his foundational research in the School of Biological Sciences which led to the good scientist’s Nobel Prize. One of his last project was designing a display, “Biology Under Cover,” of selected journal covers over the decades by School faculty now memorialized in metal in the lobby of the Aline Wilmot Skaggs Building.

Rojas’ work has not gone unnoticed: in 2017 he received the prestigious District and University Staff Excellence Award in 2017. A native of Puerto Rico, he has made his home in Utah since 1983, but still returns to Florida and points beyond at least annually, bearing his signature bounty of local macaroons for the staff back at the U. He and his staff regularly host a BBQ on the roof of the South Biology building next to the expansive greenhouse.

Rojas could pretty much tell you everything that’s going on in there as well.

These are big, steel-toed boots to fill. At first blush you might wonder how an artist ended up as the new facilities manager here at the School of Biological Sciences. The job requires not only a thing for materials and construction, but a good dose of management and intuiting the quirky needs of faculty/principal investigators whose labs house everything from wind tunnels to million dollar microscopes; from mice to fruit flies; and plants to mammals. Never mind the anatomy lab: one of only two labs of its kind on campus, housing full cadavers.

Staff: James Muller

Staff Excellence Award


 

The College of Science is pleased to announce that James Muller has received an inaugural College of Science Staff Excellence Award in 2019. The Staff Excellence Awards were created this year to recognize the impactful contributions from staff in the College and will be an ongoing award in the future.

Jim is the Director of Chemistry’s Mass Spectroscopy Laboratory, and he oversaw construction of the Thatcher Chemistry Building for Biological and Biophysical Chemistry, and the Crocker Science Center. Both individuals have demonstrated an outstanding level of commitment to the educational and research missions of the College of Science for many years.

The College of Science has many truly wonderful staff who work tirelessly to assist students and faculty. Our sincerest thanks to this group for taking the initiative each day to make the College excellent in so many different ways!

 

Teaching Excellence

Kelly MacArthur, assistant chair and an instructor lecturer in the U’s Mathematics Department, has received two teaching awards from the U—the Career Services Faculty Recognition Award and the Excellence in Education Award. Both awards are given annually with students nominating faculty.

“An Amazing Teacher”

Career Services recognizes outstanding faculty who have made significant contributions to their students’ professional development in helping students find resources, guide their career paths, and realize their potential. Since 2005, the Latter-Day Saint Student Association has given the Excellence in Education Award.

“Kelly is an amazing teacher and role model,” said Shams Al-shawbaki in nominating MacArthur for the Career Services Faculty Recognition Award. “Not only is she great at her job and understands the responsibility behind what she does, but she shows passion and care towards her students. Kelly has affected me in positive ways in math as well as in my self-confidence and career at the University of Utah. We need more teachers like her.”

Aubrey Mercer, who nominated MacArthur for the Excellence in Education Award, was initially nervous about taking calculus as a freshman, but it turned out to be her favorite class. “Kelly creates such a welcoming environment,” said Mercer. “She really cares about our success.” Both students noted that MacArthur makes a point to learn the names of every student in her class—no small feat since MacArthur often teaches between 150-200 students each semester.

 Teaching Students to Fail

MacArthur said her teaching style has evolved over 25 years, especially during the last decade. Every day she writes the same sentence on the whiteboard: “This is a kind, inclusive, brave and failure-tolerant class.” She created the statement to encourage a sense of community and collaboration within the context of math class. “Failure tolerance is so important, and permission to fail often gets lost in math if students are only looking for the “right” answer,” said MacArthur. “It’s important to create an environment where students feel safe and free to make mistakes. My goal is to humanize the classroom and teach human beings. Teaching math is not the primary goal—it’s learning about my students and what speaks to them.”

In addition to teaching, MacArthur co-created and appears in the Math Department’s public lecture videos. She has developed math materials for elementary and secondary teachers; developed an online math course for non-STEM majors, organized the Math Department’s involvement in the Ndahoo’ah American Indian summer outreach project in the Mohave Valley on the Navaho Reservation; and created a math program for men and women at the Utah State Prison. She serves on the Math Education Committee and on the Undergraduate Mathematics Curriculum Committee. She is also chair of the U’s Senate Advisory Committee on Diversity, among other administrative positions.

MacArthur received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Arizona State University and a master’s in mathematics from the U. She is currently working on a Ph.D. in undergraduate mathematics education.

Staff: Mary Levine

Staff Excellence Award


 

The College of Science is pleased to announce that Mary Levine has received an inaugural College of Science Staff Excellence Award in 2019. The Staff Excellence Awards were created this year to recognize the impactful contributions from staff in the College and will be an ongoing award in the future.

Mary Levine joined the University of Utah 35 years ago, more than 20 years of this service being in the Department of Mathematics.  She is Assistant to the Chair of Mathematics, and provides administrative support to the faculty.

The College of Science has many truly wonderful staff who work tirelessly to assist students and faculty. Our sincerest thanks to this group for taking the initiative each day to make the College excellent in so many different ways!