Javier Read de Alaniz
What made you want to be a professor?
I didn’t consider becoming a professor until about halfway through graduate school, when I realized I liked all the aspects of being a professor—the teaching, freedom to research, and mentorship of students.
What are you most proud of accomplishing as a professor?
My most significant accomplishment is developing a new field of research in photochromic materials. It was a serendipitous discovery, but now we are able to make these smart materials which has lead us into an entirely new direction.
What is your favorite part of working with undergraduates?
I like working with undergraduates because they have the most ambitious dreams. It’s really fun to work with them; they don’t see any obstacles in front of them and ask questions that challenge you to think beyond restrictions.
How did you get involved with CSEP?
Throughout my own undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral years I had been involved with a variety of outreach programs, so when I arrived at UCSB as a professor I immediately got involved with CSEP since they run so many outreach programs. I began as a faculty lead for UCLEADS and have been involved with many projects since then.
How has CSEP contributed to you professionally?
I have been a partner with CSEP on two NSF funded proposals, which was critical since both proposals had a strong outreach portion. I’ve also worked with CSEP to run programs that attract underrepresented minorities into the sciences and developed mentoring programs for graduate students.
How is collaborating with the CSEP staff?
They are amazing. The reason I’ve continued working with them is because they are experts at what they do; I can just pitch an idea and they can execute it flawlessly.
What is the most rewarding part of mentoring student?
It’s great to see the progression of the students. Undergraduates come in who don’t think they want to be a scientist, or are not confident in their skills, and to watch their confidence be build through these programs is incredibly rewarding. I also see a progression in graduate students, their scientific curiosity and ability to be a critical thinker grows as they become more experienced in their field.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
In between undergraduate and graduate school, I went to Alaska with $50, lived in a tent for three months, and hitchhiked the entire state of Alaska.