In Their Words: Natasha Buck, Chancellor's Award for Undergraduate Research recipient

May 27, 2015

Natasha Buck, a student in the division's Anthropology department, received a Chancellor's Award for Undergraduate Research for her paper, "Debugging the Industry: An Ethnography of Exclusion in the Technology Workplace."

Congratulations Natasha!

Department:  Anthropology

What year are you? Senior (class of 2015)

 College:  Porter

Where do you call home?  Fairfax, CA

With all of the choices for college, what made UC Santa Cruz stand out?

I’ve always loved being in nature, and the beautiful campus of UCSC really set it apart from other schools when I was looking for my next step after community college. Although I mostly made the decision based on the campus itself, it was definitely a pleasant surprise for me to discover how passionate and involved in social activism the school environment was. The students here definitely want to change the world.

What is your field of focus?

Although technically, I majored in Anthropology and minored in Education, I would say that after the work I’ve done this year, my specialty has become technology industry cultural analysis. My anthropology and education studies both helped me find a professional niche I was really passionate about.

What do you hope to do once you graduate from UC Santa Cruz?

I will be moving back to the Bay Area and getting a job before I apply to graduate schools in the fall. I hope to take the work I started this year to the next level once I’m in graduate school, and eventually hope to work in the nonprofit sector or in education in some capacity (ideally a board of education.) 

What is one memorable moment that stands out for you as a student here?

My favorite moment of the day is always when I get out of my last class and get to bike down the mountain. I live downtown, so it’s pretty much all downhill, and from both sides of the campus on the outer loops you can see the whole Monterey Bay. The light is always beautiful, and it’s the most peaceful feeling in the world. It feels like flying. That time of day always makes me so grateful that I chose UCSC.

What is your one piece of advice for incoming students about life at UC Santa Cruz?

I can’t stress enough what an amazing resource your professors can be if you take the time to get to know them and ask for what you want. The professors in the Anthro department and the Education department have given me so many opportunities to pursue my own interests, and I could not be more humbled or grateful to have had their support. I know that they were under no obligation to take time out of their busy schedules to advise me in my independent projects. Thanks to them, I have been able to dedicate a large portion of my senior year to independent research and graduate with a specialty, making it easier for me in the future to talk about my college achievements in job interviews and grad school applications. For most of college I was too intimidated to go to office hours, but once I got over it, I was so glad that I had that opportunity. Everyone should go!

How will this scholarship impact your academic life /research?

In a way, this award was an affirmation that all of the hard work I put in over the last year was worth it. I basically lived in the library, especially in winter quarter, devoting so much of my time and energy to constructing this giant project, most of which was self-directed. Although I was really excited about it the whole time, and proud of what I accomplished, being recognized for the work I produced definitely gives me some validation. I hope that this also gives me some credibility when I go on to the next step in this very particular specialty, something I can point to in a job interview to show that I know what I’m talking about.

The two projects I completed this year can be found available for download at The project that won the award is called “Debugging the Industry: An Ethnography of Exclusion in the Technology Workplace.” Its companion project, a six-month curriculum for high school girls, is called “Spark Club.”