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Deborah De La Riva, UC LEADS 2010-2011, UC Riverside

Deborah De La Riva

SEPTEMBER 22, 2017

My name is Deborah De La Riva. I became a part of the UC LEADS program in 2010 as an undergraduate majoring in entomology. During that time, UC LEADS provided me numerous opportunities to develop as a budding scientist and researcher. The program ensured that I found the opportunity to conduct research under the direction of a faculty mentor, provided a summer stipend so that I could continue research year round, covered the cost of the expenses to present my research at on campus and off campus scientific symposia, organized workshops to assist us in preparing for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and invited senior scholars and faculty to impart their wisdom regarding graduate student-faculty relationships. The experience I gained while participating in the UC LEADS program was instrumental in my decision to continue pursue a higher degree, allowed for a much easier transition into graduate school, and gave me the confidence needed to dive into independent research of my own. In 2011, I became the first person in my family to graduate from college, but in June of 2016 I achieved my second goal of completing a doctoral program in entomology in one of the best programs in the nation. UC LEADS ultimately played a large role in making this goal become a reality.

I am now using the knowledge and skills gained during my studies to contribute to agriculture and the community while working in the San Diego County Entomology/Plant Pathology Laboratory. There I help to identify insect and plant diseases on agricultural shipments arriving from different counties or states, as well as help to ensure that pests currently present in San Diego County do not spread to other agricultural areas. The UC Riverside Entomology Department has a strong outreach program in which the students are encouraged to develop their skills of disseminating knowledge to the non-scientific community. I have enjoyed continuing my love of outreach through our service of providing free plant disease diagnosis, insect identification and pest management information to county residents. I have also had the opportunity to educate residents on pests of concern and create outreach materials for commercial growers as part of our citrus program. Outside of work, I continue to seek out opportunities to speak to school children about the importance of entomology, science and continuing education. I am currently looking forward to an upcoming opportunity to speak with some local high school classes enrolled in California Agriculture. Every day I am grateful to be learning and practicing entomology. I can’t help but be excited for what lies ahead for the current UC LEADS scholars!