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Spotlight

Mara Violanti

Materials Science and Engineering
Story originally published on Aug 2021
I love working with students because of their energy. They are full of great ideas and plans for their studies and their research.

It makes me enthusiastic to work with them. My favorite part of the job is helping students navigate Stanford at all levels: globally, within the School of Engineering, and within the Department of Materials Science specifically. I’m the person they can come to with general questions, but I’m also the person for questions specific to Materials Science.

You can imagine that I’m asked a lot of questions! There isn’t one top question, but I get different types of questions during certain phases in the academic year. During the spring I’m often asked: “How do I confirm my degree?” Or, “How do I set up my defense?” During the summer, questions are geared toward the upcoming school year, when a whole new group of incoming Master’s and PhD students will be arriving. “Where do I go for housing?” And sometimes it’s as basic as: “Where do I buy groceries?”

While I work specifically with graduate students at every stage of their Materials Science education, prospective students come to me with admission questions. Admission season opens in September and closes in December, so throughout that time there are many questions about deadlines and application process. Stage two is orientation for new students: giving them the Materials Science and Stanford overview. I welcome these students to their new home. It really is like a home, because they will “live” here for two to seven years.

My advice to all Materials Science graduate students:

  • Read the web page and handbook that is made available to you. A lot of the questions you have will be answered there. But if you can’t find the answer or you’re confused, then come to us with your questions.
  • Sit down with your academic advisor, or your research/dissertation advisor. Talk to them, even if it’s just once a quarter. This will help you stay on track.
  • Go to the BEAM (Bridging Education, Ambition & Meaningful Work) and VPTL (Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning) workshops.
  • Look for my emails and read them thoroughly. I provide you with calendars and important dates that you won’t want to miss.
  • Reach out for help when you need it.”

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