Academic Programs: Communication Center

Bren School Communication Center

Bren Hall 3310

Writing consultants e-mail
Quantitative consultant e-mail
Reference librarian e-mail

Mission: The Communication Center helps Bren School master’s and PhD students to improve their written and spoken communication skills, which are essential for academic and professional success.

Communication Center staff can help you generate ideas, organize information, visualize data, revise drafts, and polish your documents in a supportive one-on-one environment. We also offer workshops to enhance the clarity of your writing. A variety of writing tasks may be reviewed at the center, including class assignments, research proposals, funding applications, and project presentations.

Link to Writing Workshop information for Fall 2016 orientation

Spring Quarter 2017 Hours

  • Monday: 9:00 - 11:30 am (General Writing); 12:30 - 1:30 pm (Research Librarian Kristen Labonte)
  • Tuesday: 12:30 - 4:30 pm (Career Writing)
  • Wednesday: 9:00 - 11:30 am (General Writing); 12:30 - 4:30 pm (Career Writing)
  • Thursday: 12:30 - 3:30 pm (Career Writing)

Appointment Scheduling and Format:

  • To schedule an appointment with a writing consultant, please contact us by e-mail.
  • To schedule an appointment with the quantitative consultant by
  • To schedule an appointment with the reference librarian, please send e-mail to Kristen Labonte.
  • Drop-in sessions are also available.
  • Most sessions last about 30 minutes.
  • Priority will be given to students who have not received more than three sessions per quarter.

What to Bring:
Your session will be more productive if you bring:

  • The assignment
  • Drafts, outlines, sketches, or brainstorm notes
  • Any comments or feedback you have received from your instructor

Note: The Communication Center staff does not copy-edit papers; rather, we help students to develop their own writing and editing skills.

Academic Integrity at UCSB

Communication Center Staff

Lillian Mirviss (Career Writing Consultant) is a second-year Bren School master's candidate specializing in Energy & Climate with a focus in Strategic Environmental Communications and Media. She is available to meet with Bren students to review any writing related to career development, including cover letters, resumes, applications, proposals, etc. After graduating from Brown University with a degree in geology-biology in 2012, Lillian worked at the California Energy Commission managing energy-technology research contracts under the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC). While there, she oversaw development of multiple environmentally related energy-research solicitations and edited two annual reports to the legislature highlighting EPIC research accomplishments.
Rick Thomas (General Writing Consultant) is a second-year master's candidate specializing in Corporate Environmental Management. He is available to meet with Bren graduate students to review papers, presentations, and other written assignments at any stage of development. Rick received dual degrees in ecology and the humanities from UC San Diego. He collaborated on climate change and sustainable-agriculture research projects at several universities. Since coming to Bren, he has become interested in the human ecosystem, specifically the mental-health benefits provided by spending time in nature. He works in the UCSB English Department as part of the Environmental Humanities Initiative.
Laura Urbisci (Quantitative Consultant) is a fourth-year Bren PhD student in Professor Hunter Lenihan's lab. She is available to all Bren students, faculty, postdocs, and visiting researchers to consult on statistical analysis at any stage of the investigation. Note: questions related to course homework and labs should be directed to TAs. Laura's research is focused on new approaches for analyzing fisheries data sets. She completed an MA in applied statistics at UCSB and has a BS in environmental science and a minor in Spanish from UC Davis. She is proficient in R and LaTeX and knowledgeable in SAS and Python.
Kristen LaBonte, Life & Environmental Sciences Librarian
Kristen is a UCSB research librarian. She holds office hours in the Communication Center but can also be reached at any time for consultations. She earned her bachelor's degree in geography from UCSB in 1999 and worked in the Sciences and Engineering Library for 11 years. In 2004, she received a Master of Library Science degree from Southern Connecticut State University and joined the California State University, Channel Islands faculty as the Digital Resources and GIS Librarian. In September 2011, she returned to the UCSB Library as the Life Sciences librarian and has since taken the role of the Life and Environmental Sciences librarian.

When to Use the Communication Center for Cover Letters and Resumes

Cover Letters — First-year students should attend the Career Development Cover Letter Workshop held in fall quarter. Students who need further assistance with the look, marketability, or content of their cover letters should seek help from the Career Development staff during scheduled office hours. The Career Development staff will focus mainly on how students can more effectively market and present themselves. Students who need help with writing skills (sentence structure, transitions, coherence, etc.) should seek tutoring from the Communication Center.

Resumes — First-year students should attend the Career Development Resume Design Workshop during orientation week. Students who require further assistance with their resumes should seek help from the Career Development staff during scheduled office hours. Students should not have the Communication Center staff review resumes unless the Career Development staff refers students to the center or students have questions or concerns about their writing skills. Resume critique should be conducted by the Career Development staff.

Past Workshops

Please visit our blog for slides, summaries, and handouts.

Helpful Handouts

Our workshop handouts can be a valuable addition to your writing practice. Use our "Common Mistakes" guide as a quick reference, or our memo-formatting handout to help with your next assignment. Check here after our workshops to download the handouts we've used:

Useful Links