Mission Statement

COMPASS-Life Sciences is a new centralized resource to help undergraduate students navigate through their education in the life sciences, mapping the best individualized route through coursework, research experiences, student support programs, internships, mentors, and alumni contacts so that they can reach their goals and explore exciting educational and career options they might not otherwise have known existed. This resource is especially relevant to students from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the sciences, first generation college students, those with socioeconomic hardships, and students who have faced significant life challenges.

In addition to helping students connect with on and off-campus opportunities, scholarships and jobs, mentors, clubs, and alumni, COMPASS-Life Sciences also plans to provide a personalized “trip ticket” that will update as each student advances through their degree.

About the Directors

Gina Rochelle Poe is a neuroscientist who earned her BA in Human Biology from Stanford University and her PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA. Her laboratory is funded by NIH grants to study the unique mechanisms at work during sleep to consolidate memories and update our knowledge stores. This research is relevant to learning and to mental health disorders like PTSD. She is a professor in Integrative Biology and Physiology with a joint appointment in Psychiatry.  She directs COMPASS Life Sciences and the Brain Research Institute Summer Undergraduate Research Program and co-Directs the MARC U*STAR program and two national programs for underrepresented neuroscience graduate students and postdoctoral trainees.

“My goal is for COMPASS to put a powerful tool into students’ hands so that they will waste no time and miss no critical opportunities at a place so rich in educational and career resources as is UCLA. I was a first-generation, economically-challenged black woman in the sciences who never took advantage of Stanford’s research opportunities because I did not know that participating could also help pay my mounting bills. It was pure chance that I lucked into my major,  hardly ever spoke to my professors, and sought no mentors. I want to make sure UCLA life science majors know how to take advantage of all the amazing opportunities and resources that this place has to offer”.

Megan McEvoy received her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Oregon. In June 2016 she joined the faculty at UCLA, where she is now a Professor in the Institute for Society and Genetics and the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics.

Dr. McEvoy is broadly trained as a protein biochemist and structural biologist, and her research work is primarily concerned with how metal ions are handled in microbial systems. She takes significant interest in the successful mentoring of underrepresented individuals, and in particular has served as the director of the NIH-funded T34 Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) programs at both the University of Arizona and UCLA. She says “As a co-Director of COMPASS-Life Sciences, I help shape the direction and vision for undergraduate programs that focus on enhancing the success of students from underrepresented backgrounds and hope to positively impact their future careers in the life sciences.“