Scripps Graduate Student Council Takes Initiative

Meet the 2021-2022 Scripps Graduate Student Council, an organization of students devoted to improving the quality of graduate student life on campus

The Scripps Graduate Student Council (SGSC) is dedicated to uplifting the student voice on campus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. 

Founded in 2017, SGSC is in its fifth year of operation. The council ensures that students are seen and heard, as it seeks to improve the student experience through action and change. The organization is headed by two co-chairs, and acts as a single entity representing the graduate student body at Scripps. 

The council is strategically divided into different committees, in order to create change in each realm of the student experience: Social, Student Life, Hiring, and Anti-Bullying. These committees aim to create change through hosting social events, pushing for accessibility for housing and resources, voicing their opinions in the faculty hiring process, and supporting the creation of a safe and positive environment for students. Action items for 2022 include obtaining CalFresh for Scripps students to receive food assistance and benefits, advocating for affordable housing, elevating student input though the faculty hiring committee, and various anti-bullying and accountability initiatives to foster support for students.

SGSC senior co-chair Gabriela Negrete-García spoke on the mission of the council, stating, “It was created in order for students’ voices to have a little bit more weight in certain decisions.”

Negrete-García currently works alongside junior co-chair Dante Capone, and previously served on the council last year as the junior co-chair.

“We just really want to, even if it's very little, create some change there to push the university to help students more, and to see them as the value that they bring to the university,” said Negrete-García.

Each curricular group within Scripps has one student representative on the council, as do the Master’s and Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) programs. The representatives act as delegates, communicating between their respective cohorts and the council in favor of promoting the interests of the students.

Applications to take part in the Graduate Student Council take place annually, at the end of the school year. 

Get to know the 2021-2022 council members and learn more about the student representatives below:

Gabriela Negrete-García

Gabriela Negrete-García is a fourth-year PhD student in marine ecologist Andrew Barton’s lab, studying the impacts of climate change on phytoplankton communities in the Arctic Ocean. Negrete-García was born and raised in Mexico, and moved to the United States in middle school. Through her move, she realized the importance of peer support and accountability. She joined SGSC to help make the graduate student experience a more inclusive and supportive one. Her main role as senior co-chair is to organize meetings between students, the academic administration, and committees within the student council. 

Learn more about Negrete-García in her previous student spotlight here.

Dante Capone headshot

Dante Capone is a second-year PhD student in biological oceanography in the lab of oceanographer Moira Décima, where he studies the effects of California wildfires on marine plankton and carbon cycling. The science of studying wildfires requires collaboration and interdisciplinary thinking spanning biology, atmospheric chemistry and even social science. With so many different flavors of research at Scripps, he believes that forging connections across campus is beneficial both scientifically and socially. Capone is the junior co-chair of SGSC, and previously served as a representative for the Graduate and Professional Student Association on the Social and Mentor Expectations Committees. Originally hailing from the small rural town of Sebastopol in Northern California, it was in this tight-knit community that he learned the value of connection and engagement. As co-chair, Capone seeks to engage with the Scripps community and work to bring cohesion back to campus as we emerge from the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he is most motivated by hearing about issues and desired changes directly from students so that SGSC can mobilize and take action. The co-chair serves as a liaison between graduate students and the faculty department chairs, and Capone strives to connect with a broad range of his peers so that rampant issues can be given a voice. Outside of graduate school, Capone enjoys all forms of physical activity, but is most passionate about running as he is a member of the San Diego Track Club Elite group. He also enjoys making art, baking sourdough, and enjoying beverages, conversation and vegan food in good company.

Austin Barnes headshot

Austin Barnes is a second-year PhD student at Scripps, studying the coastal impacts of sea-level rise on vulnerable communities. Barnes is from Hawai‘i, where he received a master's degree in ocean and resources engineering from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa before working at UC Santa Cruz for five years in STEM higher education, and most recently for UH Mānoa as a geospatial analyst working on sea-level rise and beach erosion. As the Applied Ocean Science (AOS) curricular group representative to SGSC, Barnes will support student initiatives and concerns, especially around issues of community inclusion, and is working on AOS-specific action items.

Hannah Bone headshot

Hannah Bone is a first-year PhD student in marine chemical biology, who received her bachelor’s degree in environmental science from UC Santa Barbara. For her research, Bone is investigating the intersection between human health and marine systems. She is particularly interested in looking at secondary metabolites in brown algae, specifically in Native Hawaiian species. She is currently a graduate representative for Scripps and hopes to serve as a liaison between her fellow students and the administration, as well as aid in creating a supportive network for all Scripps students.

Austin Carter headshot

Austin Carter is a second-year PhD student in the geosciences curricular group. At Scripps, he studies mineral dust entrained in ice cores from Antarctica. By looking at the different chemistry, shape, and amount of mineral dust trapped in ice, he can understand more about what the earth’s surface conditions looked like in the past, and hopefully paint a better picture of what they may look like in the future. Carter is the geosciences student representative for SGSC, and a member of the social committee where he helped to organize a Self-Care Sunset event at Surfside. He is also one of the co-leads for the Queer@Scripps organization, where he hopes to connect and foster community for LGBTQ+ individuals on campus. He is looking forward to organizing more events on campus and representing the geosciences curricular group to the best of his ability.

Hayden Johnson headshot

Hayden Johnson is a third-year PhD student in physical oceanography. His research focuses on using passive acoustics to study submarine melting of tidewater glaciers and marine-terminating ice sheets. Johnson is the physical oceanography curricular group representative on SGSC. In addition to representing the interests of physical oceanography students, his goals for the council are to help improve the graduate student experience and restore the sense of community at Scripps by working to bring back opportunities for more in-person interaction where appropriate.

Bethany Kwoka headshot

Bethany Kwoka is a climate science and policy MAS student, studying the effects of intensifying climate impacts on energy systems. Before coming to Scripps, she worked as a writer and editor for a nonprofit law firm that focused on climate and clean energy policy. As the master's student representative for the MAS program, she hopes to help integrate her fellow MAS students into the broader Scripps graduate community during this transitional time between remote and in-person learning. She also serves on the council to advocate for the needs of current and future MAS cohorts. 

Matt Luongo

Matt Luongo is a third-year PhD student in climate science, studying large-scale climate dynamics through the lens of coupled atmosphere-ocean processes. Understanding how the ocean and atmosphere interact and impact the climate system in the face of a changing climate motivates his research interests. Originally from the Boston area, Luongo completed an undergraduate degree in earth and planetary science and environmental engineering at Harvard University. After graduating, he spent a few years working at both a corporation and a non-profit before returning to graduate school. Luongo is on the Student Life Committee in SGSC, in order to try and positively impact the Scripps graduate experience, leaving students to focus their concerns on their science.

Nate Marshall headshot

Nate Marshall is a first-year PhD student in physical oceanography, interested in investigating the relationship between small-scale ocean turbulence and productivity. Before moving to San Diego, he studied environmental systems engineering at Stanford. He is one of the Scripps representatives in the Graduate and Professional Students Association (GPSA). In that role, he seeks to ensure that Scripps is represented in UC San Diego campus decisions and relays information and opportunities from the broader campus to the community at Scripps. 

Emmet Norris headshot

Emmet Norris is a second-year PhD student in geosciences, where he studies the global transport and deposition of airborne mineral dust using isotope geochemistry. He is interested in the effect of dust fertilization on marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and how climate change and human land-use cause changes in the dust cycle, and how this affects human communities. Prior to joining Scripps, he completed a bachelor’s degree in geology at Middlebury College, where he began his study of dust and isotopes. Afterwards he spent a year working as a designer at Studio Roosegaarde, exploring the space between art and science. Norris has worked off and on as a farmer starting in his childhood in Colorado, and is always wanting to learn more about Earth's surface systems and the role of humans in them. His research includes studying dust emissions from retreating glaciers in Alaska, and the dynamics of dust transport from Southern California anthropogenic land-uses and transoceanic sources such as the Gobi Desert. He is particularly motivated by confronting the impact of European Colonialism on human and environment communities. He works with organizations on the Mexico-United States border that defend human rights and support people getting access to safe and free lives.  

Monica Thukral

Monica Thukral is a fourth-year PhD student in marine biology serving on the Scripps Graduate Student Council for her second year, representing marine biology and marine chemical biology students. She hopes to advocate for the students' needs who she represents and serve as a liaison between students and administration. Learn more about Thukral in her previous student spotlight here.

Sabrina Ufer

Sabrina Ufer is a first-year PhD student, researching the impacts of anthropogenic aerosols on climate. She recently graduated from the University of Miami, where she researched dust and wildfires as a source of nutrients for the ocean. As a new student, she has fresh ideas for SGSC and serves as the marine chemistry and geochemistry representative. This year, she hopes to help improve graduate student life by getting Scripps graduate students involved with CalFresh (in the works!) along with a few other projects. If you have any hopes for the year, please reach out to Ufer via email

Zoe Yin headshot

Zoe Yin is a third-year PhD student in geophysics, studying earthquake hazards. She was born and raised in Austin, Texas, and earned her bachelor’s degree in geophysics from the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating, she started work for a non-profit organization called the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) in the Bay Area. At EERI, she developed an appreciation for the importance of multidisciplinary collaborations in natural hazards science and the intersection between science, engineering, policy, and social impacts. She also worked on issues of education and inclusion in STEM. Yin continues this work in graduate school through high school and college-age mentorship and by advocating for equitable seismic policy in California. Her non-science time goes towards biking, rollerblading, petting dogs, and trying new beers.

Morgan Ziegenhorn headshot

Morgan Ziegenhorn is a fifth-year PhD student in the Scripps Acoustic Ecology and Scripps Whale Acoustics labs, studying toothed whales in Hawaii using passive acoustic monitoring. This is her second year serving as the biological oceanography curricular group representative on SGSC. Ziegenhorn is a California native who grew up in Sacramento before moving to Berkeley for college and San Diego for graduate school. Throughout her college experiences, she has found there is incredible value in students supporting students. She joined the graduate student council to do just that—help her fellow students and advocate for their interests. Ziegenhorn is available to Scripps students at any time to answer questions, offer emotional support, help provide resources, or hear grievances that students would like the council to consider. Interacting with other students is one of her favorite parts of her job. This year, she is excited to be working with fellow council members on anti-bullying initiatives and building support for students in student-advisor conflicts. She firmly believes that students are what make Scripps run and are what make it great, so supporting and respecting them should be one of the administration's top priorities. Apart from her work in the sciences, Ziegenhorn is a published poet and enjoys running, singing, doing escape rooms with her fiancé, and playing with her dog, Kodiak.

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