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Synthesis Program Team

Meet the Synthesis Program team! 

Program Staff

  • Jill Gladstein, Ph.D.

    Jill Gladstein, Ph.D.

    Director and Full Teaching Professor

    Pronouns: she/her/hers
    Meet Jill Gladstein! She earned a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from University of Wisconsin - Madison. She graduated with a M.S. Ed. in TESOL and a Ph.D. in Reading, Writing and Literacy from the  University of Pennsylvania.
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: I hope students will learn how to communicate in order to bring about change.
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Find a process that works for you!
    On the Playlist: Wherever my mood takes me.
    Recommended TV shows:  So many to list. 
    Favorite hobby/activity: Walking my dogs, spending time with family and friends, watching musicals. 
    Go-to-Food: French fries and chocolate
  • Brenna Gormally, Ph.D.

    Brenna Gormally, Ph.D.

    Associate Director

    Pronouns: she/her/hers
    Meet Brenna Gormally! Brenna went to Pomona College where she received a BA in Biology. She then went on to get a PhD in Biology at Tufts University. Most recently, she was a Teaching & Research Postdoctoral Fellow in the Grand Challenges Initiative at Chapman University. 
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: I hope that Synthesis students develop their passions while gaining the skills to tackle some of society's most pressing challenges. I also hope that students become confident working on open-ended projects in team settings. Finally, I hope that Synthesis students can communicate how systemic inequities have led to disparities in the effects of climate change.
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Getting the words on the paper is the hardest part. Do whatever you can to get your first draft down on paper and then revise, revise, revise. And read it aloud!
    Favorite hobby/activity: Playing with my dog Archie
  • Nathaniel Edds, M.Ed.

    Nathaniel Edds, M.Ed.

    Program Coordinator

    Pronouns: he/him/his
    Meet Nathaniel! He graduated with a B.A. from Denison University where he majored in Psychology with minors in Educational Studies and Philosophy. Nathaniel completed his M.Ed. in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs from the University of Southern California in 2021. 
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: I hope that students explore topics that excite them, instigate passion, and find connections across disciplines to create a meaningful interdisciplinary foundation for knowledge.
    Go-to-Food: Cha Siu Bao, Nasi Goreng, and Pulled Pork
    Recommended San Diego must eat/do: Explore the tide pools of La Jolla at low tide and enjoy the view from the top of Mt. Soledad.

Instructional Team (Spring 2022)

  • Aaron Chipp-Miller

    Aaron Chipp-Miller

    Instructional Assistant

    Pronouns: he/him/his
    Meet Aaron Chipp-Miller! Aaron has a BA in Philosophy and is currently in a Philosophy Ph.D. program. He specializes in issues regarding animal rights, leftwing political philosophy, and moral decision making under uncertainty.
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: I hope students learn to analyze/create compelling arguments. Additionally, a central goal of the program is to sharpen the student's writing ability and ensure they have the resources to succeed in their other courses at UCSD.
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Have a straightforward and interesting thesis statement
    On the playlist: Bo Burnham's "Inside", Stevie Wonder, Pat the Bunny, and Deep Purple
    Recommended TV shows: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Office, and Nathan for You
    Go-to-Food: Panang curry with Tofu
  • Aditi Kini, M.A.

    Aditi Kini, M.A.

    Instructional Assistant

    Pronouns: they/them/theirs, she/her/hers 
    Meet Aditi Kini! Aditi Natasha Kini writes prose and scripts. Her essays and cultural criticism have been published in the New York Times, Lithub, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. In 2021, she was named an Alternate for the Jerome Award in Literature, 2021-22. She is an MFA candidate at UC - San Diego, and holds an MALS in Humanities and BA in Psychology and Writing from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. 
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: I hope they gain key tools in how to think about, comprehend and confront difficult topics about the changing world, while also the habit of challenging themselves.
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Write with urgency, edit with care.
    On the Playlist: "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane
    Recommended TV shows: Enlightened, Peep Show, It's Always Sunny
  • Amy Knight, M.A.S.

    Amy Knight, M.A.S.

    Instructional Assistant

    Pronouns: she/her/hers 
    Meet Amy Knight! She graduated from Washington State University with a B.S. in Psychology. She received her Master of Advanced Studies in Climate Science and Policy at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is currently studying Sociology as a Ph.D.
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: A relationship with writing that embraces it as a process through which to think through complex, sometimes daunting issues. I hope for students to communicate this thinking clearly to others in a writing style all their own. student at UC San Diego.
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Writing is thinking! That helped me to let go of perfection in writing and see it as an active process. Instead of "What should I write about?", I began to ask myself, "How am I thinking about this?" It allowed me to be more open to the drafting process and receive feedback without spiraling into self-criticism. If you can re-think, you can re-write. No value judgment needed.
    Favorite hobby/activity: I used to teach barre classes, and love incorporating anything with ballet into my routine. I also recently completed a certification in sailing, so I'm looking forward to getting back into that. In the meantime, I've been indulging in lots of fiction reading with my book club.
  • Anran Tu, M.A.

    Anran Tu, M.A.

    Instructional Assistant

    Pronouns: she/her/hers
    Anran Tu is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Visual Arts, where she worked as a teaching assistant for 3 years. Prior to joining UCSD in fall 2018, Anran obtained her master’s degree from University of Alberta and the University of Edinburgh. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Her research focuses on East Asian art during the nineteenth and the twentieth century, with a special interest in the intersection of art and science, visual literacy and knowledge production, and environmental humanities.
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: The will and skills to express themselves
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Learn from your favorite reading
    Recommended San Diego must eat/do: A birding-tour at La Jolla Cove
  • Ashley Yung Batchelor, M.A.

    Ashley Yung Batchelor, M.A.

    Instructional Assistant

    Pronouns: she/her/hers, they/them
    Meet Ashley Yung Batchelor! Ashley is a Ph.D. Student in the EDS program who received her MATESL from the University of Arizona in 2020, her BA in Spanish Linguistics from the University of Arizona in 2018, and a BS in Learning, Literacy, and Leadership from the University of Arizona in 2018. For over 10 years she served the Tucson community through non-profit work as both a program coordinator and community educator.
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: Getting comfortable and confident with the writing process, feedback, and editing. No one is a perfect writer and no piece of writing is ever perfect.
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Just do it.
    On the playlist: Boards of Canada, Tycho
  • Ayush Jain, M.A.

    Ayush Jain, M.A.

    Instructional Assistant

    Pronouns: he/him/his
    Meet Ayush Jain! Ayush is a public policy graduate student in the School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) specializing in the tracks of Peace and Security, Program Design and Evaluation, and Inequality and Social Policy. He is from India and has previously also completed a Master's in Literature and a PG Diploma in Human Rights, International Humanitarian and Refugee Laws from there. He is interested in working with organizations that operate at the intersection of human rights and development.
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: I hope students gain a sense of the power and beauty of language that enables one to dwell in possibility.
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Just sit and write -- there's no better time than now to start.
    Favorite hobby/activity: Some of my hobbies include reading, writing, watching films and tennis.
    Go-to-Food: Indian
    Recommended San Diego must eat/do: Walking in Balboa Park
  • Christoph Rodrigo de la Torre

    Christoph Rodrigo de la Torre

    Instructional Assistant
    Pronouns: he/him/his
    Meet Christoph Rodrigo de la Torre! He earned a B.A. in Art History and Law from Universität Hamburg in Germany. He is currently a Ph.D. student at UC San Diego studying Art History, Theory and Criticism. 
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: New ways to engage with the world and oneself through writing.
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Listen to yourself.
    Favorite Hobby/Activity: Hiking with my dogs @dos_shibanos
    Recommended San Diego must eat/do: Visit Tijuana when possible. In SD: Take long walks on the beach from Torrey Pines through Black's Beach until La Jolla and reward yourself at The Taco Stand.
  • Kira Jacobson

    Kira Jacobson

    Instructional Assistant

    Pronouns: they/them/theirs
    Meet Kira Jacobson! They graduated with a B.A. from Reed College and are currently an M.F.A. student at UC San Diego. 
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: The goal of the Synthesis program is to help students learn to synthesize information from different disciplines to establish frameworks for learning about discussing & engaging with the subject of climate change. The Synthesis program focuses on the changing planet, and as students grow in this rapidly changing world, I hope that this program helps to empower students to see themselves as agents of change.
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: The best writing tip I learned is to use voice recordings as a way to jump-start your writing process. The most challenging part of writing for me is getting my ideas out and getting started on a project after doing the research. By first having a conversation with a friend about the paper I want to write, it's easier to get my thoughts out clearly and concisely without worrying too much about the details.
    Go-to-Food: My go-to snack is onigiri! And maybe also all kinds of pickles.
  • Leslie Meyer

    Leslie Meyer

    Instructional Assistant

    Pronouns: she/her/hers
    Meet Leslie Meyer! She grew up in the Midwest and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in Global Studies and Spanish. She is currently pursuing a MA in Latin American Studies. Her research is about the impacts of U.S. and Mexican immigration policies on the mental health of asylum seekers in Tijuana, Mexico. Using a variety of collaborative, ethnographic, and applied artistic methods, her work examines how asylum seekers cope with and make meaning of life in limbo, including through acts of altruism and protest, storytelling, and dance.
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: I hope students will learn to avoid comparing themselves to others, instead focusing on developing their own unique voice, interests, questions, and ideas.  Furthermore, I hope students will feel valued and like they're a part of a supportive writing community.
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Check in with your breath! Meditation taught me to be able to notice what's going on in my body and mind when I'm procrastinating on a writing project, which is a very helpful first step for me in overcoming writer's block.
    On the playlist: Lots of jazz, bossa nova, and hip hop
  • Lucien Spect

    Lucien Spect

    Instructional Assistant

    Pronouns: he/him/his
    Meet Lucien Spect! Lucien Spect writes and studies with Sundae Theory and in the MFA program in writing at UCSD.  For his undergraduate degree at The Evergreen State College  he focused on literary arts, theory, and ecological humanities. He's lived in the Pacific Northwest most of his life so far and likes to play music in bands and make up dances with friends. 
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: Connection to the pleasure of writing, reflexive engagement with science and art, and writing tools for many audiences. 
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Learn to write from a place of not-knowing. 
    On the Playlist: Otomo Yoshihide's New Jazz Orchestra 
    Favorite Hobby/Activity: Dancing
  • Lucky Murdock, M.F.A.

    Lucky Murdock, M.F.A.

    Instructional Assistant

    Pronouns: ze/hir/hirs
    Meet Lucky Murdock! Lucky was born in the Federal Republic of Germany on planet Earth, September 1987. Ze received hir GED from the State of Alabama, April 2004. Ze received hir Bachelor of Arts in English & Theatre, with a focus on Dramaturgy from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, December 2015. Ze completed a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from University of California San Diego, September 2020.
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: I hope that students leave the Synthesis program with a powerful and unique voice, one with which they are able achieve their wildest dreams.
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Taking regular breaks gives you time to think about what you're writing.
    On the playlist: I love music so much, it would be impossible to list everything I like. Here are five random songs I've liked on Spotify:
    "The Mollusk"- Ween
    "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See"- Busta Rhymes
    "Three Sixteens"- UGK
    "Planet Caravan"- Black Sabbath
    "The Killing Moon"- Echo & the Bunnymen 
    Recommended TV shows: Community, Rick and Morty, The Umbrella Academy, 30 Rock, Futurama, Atlanta, Black Mirror.
  • Monica Molgaard

    Monica Molgaard

    Instructional Assistant

    Pronouns: she/her/hers
    Meet Monica Molgaard! Monica Molgaard is a PhD student in Education Studies at UC San Diego. She is a Bay Area native and attended Whittier College where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Child Development and minor in Theatre Arts and Communication. Her research examines the impact of racism on early childhood education and how we can incorporate anti-racist and anti-bias practices in early childhood settings. A specific focus of her research is to move beyond just identifying and understanding racism within early childhood contexts, to reviewing and offering tangible solutions to addressing race and racism within the classroom. Monica is an animal lover, spending all her free time with her beloved cat, Theodore. She can also be found watching an A’s baseball game and munching on snacks.
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: Confidence to be successful in their writing endeavors throughout college
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Just start writing. Don’t worry about or aim for perfection. They’re called drafts for a reason, there’s always time to edit later.
    Favorite hobby/activity: Spending time with her cat, Theodore, and going for walks
  • Nour Hachem

    Nour Hachem

    Instructional Assistant

    Pronouns: she/her/hers
    Meet Nour Hachem! She double majored with a B.A. in History and Sociology-Anthropology from American University of Beirut. She is currently a Ph.D. student at UC San Diego studying Modern Middle Eastern History.
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: I hope students will gain confidence in their communication and critical thinking skills and use them for a good cause. 
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: The first draft is only a draft! Get as much feedback as you can, and give yourself time for multiple rewrites. 
    Recommended TV shows: The Wire
    Recommended San Diego must eat/do: The Taco Stand
  • Ryan Hayes, M.A.

    Ryan Hayes, M.A.

    Instructional Assistant

    Pronouns: he/him/his
    Meet Ryan Hayes! He is currently pursuing my PhD in Philosophy, with a focus on the philosophy of race, moral philosophy, and moral psychology. He received his M.A in Philosophy from Wayne State University in Michigan, where he focused on the metaphysics of race.
  • Ryan Rosenberg, M.A.

    Ryan Rosenberg, M.A.

    Instructional Assistant

    Meet Ryan Rosenberg! Ryan has lived a complicated life in many different countries, so he asks that you please come ask him about it (1991 > Hawai`i > Canada > Japan > Germany > New Zealand > Australia > California > 2021). Ryan received a B.A. from University of Hawai`i in  2012 and an M.A. from UCSD in 2020.
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: Confidence in their own writing process
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: "The smart thing to say, I think, is that the way out of this bind is to work your way somehow back to your original motivation -- fun." -David Foster Wallace on fiction writing.
    Favorite hobby/activity: Surfing
    Go-to-Food: Beyond Sausage hot dogs with chilis and green onions from my garden
    Recommended San Diego must eat/do: Best Pizza and Brew for $1.50 pizza slices (@ an hour before closing)
  • Wanshi Ma, M.A.

    Wanshi Ma, M.A.

    Instructional Assistant

    Meet Wanshi Ma! Wanshi is a PhD student in Art History, Theory and Criticism. Her current research is concerned with early twentieth-century visual modernism in China. Prior to joining UCSD, she received her BA in Art History from New York University and MA in Art History from Columbia University.
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: The rewarding experience of articulating and expressing new questions in a collaborative learning environment.
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Writing is a process of active investigation. It involves questioning, testing, and sometimes productive failure on the way to success.
    Recommended TV shows: How I Met Your Mother
    Favorite hobby/activity: Baking
    Go-to-Food: Banana bread
    Recommended San Diego must eat/do: Brunch at The Cottage

English Language Learner Tutor (2021-2022)

  • Elissa Bozhkov

    Elissa Bozhkov

    English Language Learner Tutor

    Pronouns: she/her/hers
    Meet Elissa Bozhkov! She graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Science from Queen’s University. She is currently studying her M.A. in International Affairs at UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy. 
    What I hope students gain from the Synthesis program: I hope students develop an interdisciplinary learning approach to address real-world social, economic, and cultural issues within our changing planet.
    Best writing tip I’ve learned: Always try to organize your thoughts before you begin to write!
    On the Playlist: Dermot Kennedy
    Recommended TV Shows: The Queen's Gambit
    Favorite Hobby/Activity: Yoga
    Recommended San Diego must eat/do: I'm new to San Diego so I'm definitely excited to explore the beaches and try all the different types of tacos :)