Raja GuhaThakurta
Founder and Faculty Director

Raja GuhaThakurta

Raja GuhaThakurta (PhD, Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton Univ.) is a Professor and Department Chair of Astronomy and Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. He founded SIP in 2009. He and his students and postdocs have mentored many SIP interns. Raja also has a parent’s perspective: his daughter was a SIP intern. He launched the Global SPHERE Network in 2017 with help from Google, New York Academy of Sciences, and others to enhance STEM research opportunities for high school students, especially underrepresented students, around the world. In 2018, he and his students started PyaR (Python and Research), a free online programming tutorial. Raja teaches astrophysics for UCSC COSMOS, algebra for Project for Inmate Education at Santa Cruz County Jail, introductory astronomy at UCSC, and is active in outreach. He studies galaxy formation, mergers, dark matter, etc. using the Keck and Hubble telescopes. His webpage contains links to a selection of his public talks, media coverage of his research, publications, and art.

Alexandria Leckliter
EPC K–12 STEM Outreach Director

Alexandria Leckliter

Alexandria Leckliter serves on the SIP management team, and also as the K–12 STEM Outreach Director for UC Santa Cruz’s Educational Partnership Center. She oversees program operations, mentors, and facilitates SIP’s collaboration with other K–12 outreach programs at the university. She also works with other Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) outreach programs for youth including the MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) Schools Program, COSMOS (California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science), and GIE (Girls in Engineering). Alexandria is passionate about STEM education and working with youth. She earned her BA in Environmental Studies and BS in Biology from UCSC. She is a former science teacher and has worked in STEM education for the last 15 years. She loves working with students and spending her summers with SIP. Alexandria’s favorite activities outside of work include playing with her two kids, going to the beach, and camping with her family.

Marlee Perez
Operations Coordinator

Marlee Perez

Marlee Perez has been a member of the SIP team since she joined as the Program Assistant in the spring of 2019 while completing her undergraduate studies at UC Santa Cruz. She has a BA in Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in Education, with her background in the field of education extending to include work with youth of all ages at several different recreation programs throughout the Bay Area. Marlee was drawn to SIP because she is extremely passionate about improving the education system to better suit students’ needs, and believes in the efforts SIP is making to provide opportunities to students to expand their academic pursuits beyond what their high schools are currently able to offer them. Outside of the office, Marlee enjoys reading, baking, walking around Santa Cruz on sunny afternoons, and spending quality time with her friends and family.

Sierra Schneider
Assistant Director

Sierra Schneider

Sierra Schneider comes to SIP with 20+ years of experience in residential and outdoor science education, including 7+ years in support of several pre-college outreach programs at UCSC’s Educational Partnership Center. Her BA in Environmental Studies from the Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, and her MA in Holistic Counseling Psychology and Buddhist Psychology from John F. Kennedy Univ. are reflective of her background working with students in nature, and her commitment to the support of the whole student. She believes in the power of the residential life learning community to ground SIP interns in their emerging identities as scientists, researchers, and young adults. Outside of her work with SIP, Sierra is an artist and a writer, and has exhibited her work in galleries around Santa Cruz and Northern California. She draws great inspiration from the mountains and coast of Santa Cruz County.

Christy Tall
Assoc. Director of Development

Christy Tall

Christy Tall brings 20+ years of non-profit management and fundraising experience to SIP and Educational Partnership Center (EPC). She has worked with various education, health and social service organizations toward the shared goal of building social equity and justice. An active community volunteer, she serves on several planning committees and non-profit boards of directors. She believes that our communities are strongest when all members are encouraged to participate. Christy works with program alumni, family members, community members, corporations and foundations to build enduring relationships and sources of revenue for SIP and EPC. She earned her BS in journalism with a minor in Political Science from California Polytechnic State Univ., San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly SLO). She enjoys spending time with her family, running, stand up paddle boarding, reading and traveling.

For questions about the Science Internship Program, please contact the program staff at ucsc-sip@ucsc.edu.

For urgent or time-critical matters only, the program staff may be reached at: (831)459-4440, but please keep in mind that email is likely to be answered more promptly than voicemail.

Special Thanks

We appreciate the excellent contributions of the following individuals toward the building and maintenance of the SIP application management system, website, and program infrastructure:

  • Nina Arnberg (Menlo School; SIP mentor liaison)
  • Emily Entress Clark (Castilleja School; SIP and Global SPHERE Network partner liaison)
  • Bob Stillerman (RS International Consulting; SIP application management system)
  • Jessica Barron (COSMOS, UCSC; SIP operations)
  • Abbi Davis (SIP fundraising)
  • Susan Grasso (MESA, UCSC; SIP administration)
  • Gina Hernan (Math department, UCSC; SIP administration)
  • Peter Minogue (Office of Research, UCSC; SIP website)
  • Ana Rodarte (MESA, UCSC; SIP housing)
  • Brian Tuan (SIP alumnus; SIP website)
  • Atticus Woodbury (former UCSC student; SIP operations)
  • Joanne Yamaguma (retired; SIP administration)
  • SIP team 2019

    The SIP team at the 2019 reunion