Contact Information

Pennathur Lab:

Engineering Science Building (ESB), Room 2328

University of California, Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, CA 93106


Prospective Graduate Students

Note About Applying for Graduate Study

Like other professors, I get a very large number of email requests about applying to graduate school. Because of the volume, if you write to me about this in general I probably will not be able to reply, and for this I apologize. It does not reflect on your abilities as a researcher, or even on my interest in having you as a graduate student; it is simply a result of an inbox overloaded by bulk emails about graduate school applications. On the other hand, if you have a specific question about my research, I am more than happy to engage in a conversation. In any case, do not be discouraged. You should still consider applying to UCSB. The application procedure and details can be found on the ME department graduate admissions web page. Good luck with your application.


FAQ's About Applications

Is financial aid available?

There are very few students that can afford to attend graduate school and pay for it themselves. This is particularly true of foreign students. The ME department commonly offers teaching assistantships (TA) to incoming graduate students in their first year. After the first year they will typically become involved in a specific research project and be supported directly from that project as a graduate student researcher (GSR). Exceptional students may be offered a fellowship. The fellowship decisions are usually made by the UCSB Graduate Division and notification of them may come after the letter of admission.

Is the financial aid sufficient to live on?

The amount of aid varies, and details are given in the official letter from the department offering financial aid. Financial aid typically covers the tuition fee costs and provides a small salary. This is sufficient for typical living expenses. We have hundreds of graduate students who are supported entirely in this way.

What is the difference between TAs/GSRs?

TAs require some teaching duties; typically 15-20 hours per week. This typically involves grading homeworks, running laboratories, and helping the students with the technical material. GSRs are employed on specific research projects, under the guidance of a faculty advisor. This research is intended to lead to a PhD. New graduate students are rarely offered GSRs in their first year.

When will I hear about the status of my application?

Admission offers are typically made from February through April, and sometimes May, for admission in September of the same year. The official admission letter comes from the UCSB Graduate Division even though the admission decisions are made by a committee within the ME department.

How are the admissions decisions made?

There is a committee that handles all incoming applications. The committee members often contact other faculty for advice on specific applications in their research area. The committee, in conjunction with the rest of the faculty, identifies the best matches between excellent students and the research opportunities available. Admissions offers are made to the selected students. In some cases students decline the admission offer and we may make a second round of offers to additional students. This procedure takes several months.

What area do I select?

If you have specific research interests, then mentioning them on the application will mean that your application will be seen by the faculty in this area. If you can be specific in this it will help. If you are interested in any of my research areas then make sure you list "control" on your application. Don't worry if you are not sure what area of research most interests you. There is plenty of opportunity to investigate different research areas once you begin graduate study.

How do I apply?

Your official application is made online through the UCSB Graduate Division Please note that some materials are sent to Graduate Division and some are sent directly to the ME department.

I've already applied to your program. What is the status of my application?

I don't actually have this information because the final decisions are made by a committee. The ME department will contact you if you have paid your application fee, but something is still missing from you application. This will allow you to send/resend the missing information. Admission decisions with financial aid are usually made by the end of March. If you haven't heard from the Department by then you may be able to email the graduate admissions office to ask about the status of your application.


A final comment.

The procedure is competitive; we receive many applications from highly qualified students and we can only admit a small number. Every application is given full consideration. I recommend that you provide as much relevant information as possible in your application.

... and a disclaimer.

This information is my own personal view; it is not an official ME department statement.