Chancellor’s Club Profile: Jessica Dawn Pratt
A Chancellor’s Club Fellowship helped an aspiring Ph.D. get published, work on her dissertation, and raise a new infant daughter.
For a doctoral student, finding the time to finish your degree and get published before commencement is an extraordinary task.
Unlike many of her peers, Jessica Dawn Pratt was focused on achieving her academic goals during unpredictable nap times. During her final year of graduate school, Jessica found herself cramming her work into the small windows of opportunity that came when her daughter Maia, born just weeks before the start of the Fall Quarter of 2012, was asleep.
Jessica was finishing her degree in ecology and evolutionary biology and putting her research into practice as a founding member of the Orange County Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB). For a woman whose professional life was developing so quickly, the prospect of having to step back from her research, writing and outreach and take an additional job to raise Maia was not ideal.
Thanks to the Chancellor’s Club Fellowship, a $10,000 grant given to UC Irvine graduate students, what once seemed impossible was suddenly doable.
“Finding work-life balance while caring for a 6-month-old and trying to write a dissertation is daunting,” she says. “The support of the Chancellor’s Club enables me to meet my goals of publishing my dissertation work and graduating in 2013.”
During 2012-13, six students earned fellowships through the support of the Chancellor’s Club members, whose dues support the Chancellor’s Fund for Excellence. The students represent six schools and all have a desire to translate their academic achievements into a positive impact in the world.
As one of the Fellows, Jessica was recognized for her strong work in understanding how plant responses to environmental change scale up to affect animal communities. With the help of her fellowship, she didn’t just stay afloat professionally; she was published in Global Change Biology, got a second publication approved and became a better student.
“The fellowship has allowed me to set aside precious ‘work-only’ time that I now cherish,” she says. “I find my productivity during that time has greatly increased.”
For Jessica, the future presents professional and personal challenges, but the support of the Chancellor’s Club was a critically important start.
“The unique challenge that early career women face when starting a family while maintaining their professional status often requires great sacrifice,” she said. “This fellowship has taken much of that burden from me.”