The 2017 UC LEADS Symposium was held at UC Los Angeles on March 11, 2017


    UC LEADS scholars engage with faculty judges and fellow scholars as they present their research


    UC LEADS Scholars present their research


    UC LEADS Scholars present their research


    Scholars take in the research and experience of faculty keynote speakers


    Scholars race around UCLA on a team building scavenger hunt


    Scholars receive Top Honors and Honorable Mentions for their poster presentations

  • UC LEADS Scholars

    UC LEADS scholars celebrate a successful day



The University of California makes a unique contribution to the State of California by preparing future generations of leaders in industry, government, and academia. California's many economic challenges include the imperative to develop leaders with multicultural competence who can guide the State and nation in a global economy. The University of California seeks to educate dynamic leaders who can keep pace with the world's science and technological innovations and also work effectively in the cultural diversity of the global economy.


The UC LEADS (University of California Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees) program identifies, encourages, and trains undergraduates who have potential for leadership as graduate students and also as future leaders committed to address the educational and economic factors leading to underrepresentation of domestic minorities in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The UC LEADS program provides students with the tools that prepare them to meet California's continuing scientific, economic, and social challenges. UC LEADS scholars are empowered with research experience, advanced educational credentials and leadership skills. UC LEADS undergraduates prepare themselves to earn Ph.D.s in STEM fields offered by the University of California. UC LEADS scholars, as future leaders, will be:

  • Able to function with vision and sensitivity in a diverse society to lead others in creating an environment that meets the needs of a diverse workforce.
  • Able to assist the State through the creation of new knowledge, industries, and the development of a technically competent workforce.
  • Ready to assist in preparing future generations of students in the STEM fields at the University of California and reach out to the diverse talent pool that is available within the State of California.
  • Able to provide leadership in addressing the underrepresentation of domestic minorities in STEM fields.
  • Able to assume future leadership roles in industrial, governmental, and academic positions.


The UC LEADS program identifies students who have:

  • 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 por 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.


To be eligible for selection, applicants must be

  • Enrolled in a UC undergraduate degree program in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics major
  • Educationally and/or economically disadvantaged
  • Interested in research (note: you do not have to have previous research experience to apply to this program)
  • Seasoned UC sophomores or rising junior standing. Since this is a two-year program, UC LEADS scholars will need to be available to spend one summer performing research at their home campus and then a second summer performing research at another UC campus.
  • Intent to pursuit a PhD in a STEM field
  • In good academic standing in undergraduate degree program with a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Able to demonstrate potential for success in a graduate program
  • Citizens or permanent residents of the United States or AB540 students

Program Components

UC LEADS will achieve these important aims by providing faculty mentoring, experiential learning in summer and academic-year research programs, involvement in professional and scientific societies, exposure to the UC graduate environment, and participation in key academic enrichment programs, including leadership development activities.

  • Undergraduate Mentorship Experience - Scholars are matched with UC faculty members who serve as mentors. These mentors assist the scholars in developing a complete structured research plan. UC Coordinators also provide academic counseling in relation to the formulation of an educational plan, and challenges encountered in graduate school preparation as well as participation in professional and/or scientific society meetings.
  • Academic Year Research - The scholars will participate in an organized research program during each academic year, under the direction of the faculty mentor.
  • Campus Academic Enrichment and Leadership Development Opportunities - Scholars will participate in academic enrichment programs providing special training in areas critical to academic and professional success, such as scientific writing, preparing and making academic presentations, and development of specific research or research-related skills. By the end of the second summer, scholars will have participated in Graduate Record Exam (GRE) preparation training activities. During the second academic year of the program, scholars will prepare a graduate academic admission application and an appropriate fellowship application. Campus coordinators will assist scholars in developing leadership skills through participation in supervised experiential learning opportunities (e.g. occasions to lead or mentor scholars within or outside the program) or workshops (e.g. time management, communication, modes of working with and promoting diversity, course-work success).
  • Annual University-Wide Symposium - All UC LEADS Scholars will participate in the annual Koret UC LEADS Research and Leadership Symposium. The event features:
    • All scholars presenting their research results and methodologies with feedback from their colleagues, graduate students, and faculty members
    • Opportunities to network with fellow Scholars, graduate students, graduate program administrators, and faculty members
    • Scientific and academic presentations by leaders in the STEM fields of study, covering such topics as diversity in science, leadership in academia and industry, laboratory ethics, financing graduate education, and balancing family and graduate school
    • Presentations by national leaders in government, business, or industry addressing issues of leadership in an increasingly diverse STEM environment
    • Opportunities to learn about mentoring future generations of students who may face obstacles to participation in higher education similar to those that they may have experienced in their own life
  • Summer Research Program Experience - UC LEADS Scholars participate in two summer research experiences. The first takes place on the Scholar's home campus. Scholars must commit to working full time on a research project during the summer (40 hours/week). They receive a minimum summer stipend of $3,000. The second summer research experience occurs at another UC campus. Scholars must commit to working full time on a research project during the summer (40 hours/week). They receive a minimum summer stipend of $3,000 and housing or housing compensation.
  • Scientific Research and Presentations - In addition to the Koret UC LEADS Research and Leadership Symposium and their summer presentation, Scholars will be encouraged to present their work at national or regional scientific meetings.
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