Skip to main content


The Jerri-Ann and Gary E. Jacobs Endowed Fellowship

As an undergraduate student, Gary Jacobs, ’79, was drawn to UC San Diego for the opportunities available in the social sciences. What he found was that he benefited from many aspects of his experience at the university.

Gary E. and Jerri-Ann Jacobs
Gary E. and Jerri-Ann Jacobs

“At UCSD, I acquired the ability to write from my humanities courses, the ability to think logically from my economics courses, and a global perspective that was reflected in the general attitude of the campus,” he said.

After graduating with a degree in management science, he went on to establish Jacobs Investments, Inc. In 2006, Gary and his wife Jerri-Ann created the Jerri-Ann and Gary E. Jacobs Endowed Fellowship with a $1 million gift to the School of Social Sciences (then called the "Divison of Social Sciences")—one of the largest single gifts given to Social Sciences by an alumnus.

"UC San Diego and the Social Sciences division are important parts of the community from which I've benefited" said Gary. "It's essential that I provide resources back so others may have the same opportunities I had."

The fellowship provides an important incentive to attract talented graduate students to UC San Diego and the social sciences. A highly competitive award, the fellowship is granted exclusively to top students whose scholastic achievements and commitment to advancing the field of social sciences is clearly demonstrated.

Jerri-Ann and Gary E. Jacobs Fellows

Jessica Sullivan, Psychology

Jessica photo

Jessica earned her B.A. in Religious Studies from Wesleyan University before joining UC San Diego’s Department of Psychology in 2009. Her research focused on how we learn the meaning of abstract language, through tracking the development of number language use from early childhood into adulthood.

Jessica Thierman, Psychology

Jessica photoJessica earned her B.A. with Highest Honors, Cognitive Science, University of California, Berkeley before joining UC San Diego’s Department of Psychology in 2010. During her time as a PhD Student and Researcher, Jessica’s research focused on Experimental Psychology. She explored the dynamics of judgment and decision-making behavior, attribute framing, the theoretical explanation of such effects, and problematic test cases for such explanations.

After graduating in 2014, Jessica went on to work as a Cognitive Scientist at Pacific Science & Engineering as well as a User Experience Researcher at Google before entering her current role as a Principal Researcher for Amazon Lab126.

Liam Kavanagh, Psychology

Liam photoLiam completed a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Economics at the University of Illinois before joining UC San Diego’s Department of Psychology in 2008. His research areas include body language, embodied cognition and understanding how humans come to empathize with one another. Liam’s work has implications for deepening our understanding of how humans come to empathize with one another and could allow autistic people to develop more effective social skills.

Liam now serves as a Research Lead for Life Itself, a Civic and Social Organization that strives to enable the discussion of inner life on matters of public importance through creating hubs, starting businesses, and conducting research.

Nathaniel Smith, Cognitive Science

Nathaniel photoNathaniel Smith earned his B.A., Cognitive Science & Mathematics at University of California, Berkeley before joining UC San Diego’s Department of Cognitive Science in 2004. His research used probabilistic modeling and large data sets as a way to gain insight into the mechanisms and processes by which our brain understands language. His motivation to further understand how we process language was rooted in their potential impacts on education, marketing, and areas of public benefit like urban planning, health, and transportation.

Ryan Darby, Psychology

Ryan photoRyan completed his B.S. in Psychology at Brigham Young University before entering UC San Diego’s Department of Psychology in 2006. During his time as a PhD Student, his research focused on the effects of emotional and social conflict on decision-making and behavior. He published multiple peer-reviewed journals and book chapters in major outlets such as "Cognition and Emotion”, "Memory and Cognition”, and "Basic & Applied Social Psychology.” His research has been featured in major news outlets such as The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, Medical News Today, LiveScience, Wired, and PC Magazine.

Ryan is the Founder of Habit Technologies, a company which strives to help other businesses improve through psychology, computer science, coaching, and consulting. He is also the Co-Founder of Course to Client, an E-Learning company that specializes in online business services digital.

Brigitte Seim, Political Science

Brigitte photoBrigitte received a BA in Public Policy, with honors, from Stanford before joining UC San Diego’s Department of Political Science in 2009. During her time as a PhD Student, she worked with Clark Gibson and Karen Ferree at the Center for the Study of African Political Economy. Her research analyzed the causes and consequences of government corruption in Africa, where she spent several months of the year running experiments and surveys with politicians as part of the center’s research team.

Brigitte is now an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where she continues to examines the relationship between citizens and political officials. She partners with government institutions, international organizations, and policy makers, as well as other academics to investigate how accountability mechanisms can be perverted or disrupted when states are developing politically or economically.

Jeremy Karnowski, Cognitive Science

Jeremy photoJeremy graduated with two B.S. degrees from Indiana University Bloomington, in Mathematics and Cognitive Science. He then spent two years in the Peace Corps (Tanzania in East Africa) teaching high school mathematics. He joined UC San Diego’s Department of Cognitive Science in 2010, where he worked with the Distributed Cognition and Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory as well as the Computational & Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory. His work focused around optimal decision-making models in perception, multi-agent interactions and joint perception.

After graduating in 2015, Jeremy joined InSight Data Science as a Fellow and before going on to become the VP of Product.

Jonathan Mahlandt, Psychology

Jonathan photoJonathan earned his BA in Psychology from Elon University, where he conducted research on implicit learning and completed a semester abroad at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. He completed his MA in Cognitive Psychology at the University of California at San Diego while he worked as a Researcher in Behavioral Sciences. His research focused on indecision, predictive reasoning, and the role of attention in decision making.

He is currently the Interim Chief Deputy for Business Services for Multnomah County.

Konstantin Ash, Political Science

Konstantin photoKonstantin earned a BA and MA in Politics from New York University before joining UC San Diego’s Department of Political Science in 2010. During his time in the department, his research examined the impact of political violence on regime transitions in non-democratic countries through the use of protests, terrorism, civil war and the impact of state failure and disintegration on the occurrence of these phenomena. Konstantin remained actively involved in the department for years through his work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and Associate-Instructor of Political Science before moving on to his current role as an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida.

Luke Miller, Cognitive Science

Luke photoLuke received a BA from Purdue University in Behavioral Neuroscience before joining UC San Diego’s Department of Cognitive Science in 2010. During his time in the department, he studied how patients with Parkinson’s disease comprehend action verbs and investigated how individual differences in personality contribute to the ability to perceive biological motion. In current times, Luke conducts Postdoctoral Research in Lyon, France for the INSERM U1028 ImpAct Team.

Mark Myslin, Linguistics

Mark photoMark holds a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics (socio-cultural emphasis) and Spanish from UC Santa Barbara. He joined UC San Diego’s Department of Linguistics in 2010, where he worked in the Computational Psycholinguistics Lab as a Research Engineer while completing his Master’s degree. His research focused on the intersection of language, cognition, and social interaction, primarily studied from a computational probabilistic point of view.

Mark now serves as a Principal Data Scientist at LexisNexis, an Information Technology and Services company where he manages a team of data scientists, data engineers, and content analysts.

Adam Dede, Psychology and Cognition


Adam graduated from Middlebury College in 2011 before joining UC San Diego’s Department of Psychology. His previous research looked at the differences between false memories and true memories using both behavioral techniques and EEG’s, helping him to better understand how the brain itemizes memories, with a range of implications that can affect knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease to childhood learning/education.

The Jacobs Fellowship not only led Dede to attend UC San Diego, but also allowed him to immediately engage in research upon his arrival. With less financial worries, Dede was able to concentrate on research and grow alongside some of UC San Diego’s foremost memory researchers.

 “The fellowship allows me not to worry about money and to simply focus on research. This is an amazing luxury, that I already appreciate.”

Adam continued his examination of memory during his time at UC San Diego before graduating in 2013 and going on to the University of Washington, Seattle’s Department of Physiology and Biophysics.

Benjamin Ellerby, Anthropology

Benjamin Ellerby

Ellerby is interested in the positive effects that leisure and recreation have for adults and its counteractive influence on stress. Beginning his studies at Arizona State University, after one year he transferred to UC Santa Cruz, where he graduated magna cum laude. While at UC Santa Cruz, he studied under Dr. Dan Linger, an alumnus of UC San Diego who suggested he pursue his PhD degree here in the Department of Anthropology.  At UC San Diego, Benjamin works with Professor Steven Parish to study psychological anthropology; specifically, research into games, play, and creativity. 

“The Jacobs Fellowship has been invaluable in making it possible for me to attend the university. Coming from constrained financial circumstances, the Fellowship has made it possible for me to secure housing and other necessities of life without taking on work outside the university, which would certainly impinge upon my ability to pursue my studies.”

Thanks to the Jacobs Fellowship, Ellerby was able to conduct field work regarding the influence of games, creativity and play, particularly among prisoners and within employee management systems.


Scott Seyfarth, Linguistics


A musician at heart, Seyfarth learned to play the clarinet at 6 years of age and developed an “ear for music.” Now, he applies his talents to studying the sounds made by syllables in language. 

The Jacobs Fellowship was the deciding factor for Seyfarth when choosing a graduate school, determining that UC San Diego was the strongest match and best opportunity for his particular research interests: a focus on language development and theory, with mentorship from linguistics professor Farrell Ackerman.

Scott graduated from Northwestern University in 2010 with a B.A. in Linguistics and a B.M. degree in Musicology. In 2011, he joined UC San Diego’s Department of Linguistics where he focused on language research including theories of language development and how verbal vocabularies evolve.

After graduating from UC San Diego with his PhD in 2016, Scott continued his research at The Ohio State University and now serves as a Data Scientist for Amazon Web Services.

“I want to express my gratitude for the very generous fellowship that I was offered. I am very excited for the opportunity that it provides me to study at UC San Diego.”

Yelena Gluzman, Communication

Yelena photoYelena is a doctoral student in UC San Diego’s Department of Communication, the Science Studies Program, and the interdisciplinary Cognitive Science Program. She is an experimental theater director and filmmaker and recently completed her dissertation “Cognitive Neuroscience and the Experimental Theater of Other Minds.” Her work draws upon theater and centering ethnomethods to explore how experiments are conceptualized, enacted, and interpreted. Yelena’s publications contribute to discussions on performance as research (PaR) and consider the promises of experimental reflexivity and 'research as theater' (RaT). She is a founding member of Ugly Duckling Presse, a founding editor of Emergency Index: An Annual Compendium of Performance Practice, and founding co-editor, with Matvei Yankelevich, of the Emergency Playscripts series.

“I know that this last year [2020] has been insane and difficult for everyone…..I want to thank you for all of the amazing work that you’ve done in the community, at the university, and in our public school system.”

Krys Mendez, Ethnic Studies

Krys photoKrys received a B.A. in Sociology and Neuroscience from Brown University in 2010 before joining UC San Diego’s Department of Ethnic Studies in 2014. He is a Graduate Student Researcher and aims to examine the intersections of race, space, health, and the political economy through his work. Krys also hopes to study migrant subjectivities in borderland cities across the Americas and has served hundreds of students through his previous experience in the field of education.

Ramsey Ismail, Anthropology

Ramsey photoRamsey earned his B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Rochester in 2013 before going abroad to teach English in Japan. He joined UC San Diego’s Department of Anthropology in 2016 and is currently a doctoral student and researcher. His interests lie in exploring the intersections between mental health and labor in Japan.

“I’ve been working towards qualifying as a PhD candidate and published my first article based on some of the research I was able to do with the Jacobs’ Fellowship….Thank you so much, this fellowship makes studying at UCSD so much more possible and allows us to do so much more with the time that we’re given here at UCSD.”

Shane Xuan, Political Science

Shane photoShane received his B.A. is Mathematics from Wabash College and is a PhD candidate in UC San Diego’s Department of Political Science. He is currently working on a project to design a strategy to measure public opinion in China in regards to things like the support for the regime, preference for democracy and thoughts on constraints on the leadership. He aims to collect information on these sensitive topics in an ethical manner that allows respondents to participate safely.

In 2020, he served as a Data Scientist for Facebook, where he worked to address safety issues such as fake news and misinformation on the social media platform. He is currently a Research Engineer Intern for the company and will be entering his final year at UC San Diego in the fall.

“I am really thankful that I was being supported by the Jacobs Fellowship during my entire tenure at UCSD. Thank you again.”

Patrick Hulme, Political Science

Patrick photoPatrick received his B.A. in Economics from UC Davis before earning his J.D. in International and Comparative Law from UC Los Angeles—School of Law. His background is in the legal field, where he has served as an Intern for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs.

He is currently a PhD student in UC San Diego’s Department of Political Science and is examining the war powers relationship between the President and Congress in his dissertation. Patrick also works with the School of Global Policy and Strategy to examine U.S.-China relations.

“I want to say how grateful that I am—and I speak on behalf of my family as well—for this fellowship. It’s definitely given me a lot of opportunities I would not have otherwise.”

Anita Caduff, Education Studies

Anita photoAnita is a Ph.D. Student at Department of Education Studies, University of California, San Diego.

She was born and raised in Switzerland where she graduated with a B.A. and an M.A. in Teaching at Secondary School Level 1 (7th to 9thgrade) from the University of Fribourg. During her work as a teacher in Switzerland, Togo, and the U.S., she experienced diversity along various dimensions. This experience has sparked her research interests in multicultural classrooms, teaching in inclusive and heterogeneous classrooms, tracking and de-tracking, as well as cooperation between parents and school representatives. Anita is convinced that applying social network analysis and understanding social capital can help to generate new insights to improve education towards more equity and social justice.

Kathryne Metcalf, Communication

Kathryne photoKathryne is a second-year student at UC San Diego in the joint Communication and Science Studies Program. In recent times, she’s worked to reposition her research to be able to give back to the university community and provide support for equitable and just implementations of COVID-19 mitigation programs. She worked with Dr. Lilly Irani to study the privacy politics of workplace contact tracing at UCSD over the summer and has been able to provide evidence-based recommendations about how these programs have functioned and where they might be improved. She presented this work at the Future of Privacy Forum’s conference on pandemic technologies, and contributed to the development of their white paper, which has been used in the development of contact tracing and other COVID mitigation tools around the country.

“Particularly in the midst of an extremely difficult year, the financial stability your gift has provided me has been profoundly important--I cannot thank you enough, or express how important that has been in keeping my work moving forward and my family supported through quarantine. Thank you!”

Marwa Abdalla, Communication

MarwaMarwa is a PhD student and researcher in the Department of Communication at UC San Diego. Marwa recently worked with the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a national research and education organization whose data-based works to help challenge bigotry and advance religious pluralism within the U.S.. Last year, she presented two papers at the National Communication Association’s Annual Conference and also published a paper in the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, looking at how parents communicate with their children about their intersectional identities.

“This fellowship has meant so much to me. Its really been such a blessing and such a great opportunity to focus on some of the work that I hope to accomplish while here at UCSD.”