As a first-year graduate student that is also a first-generation student, I found the Catalyst Program to be very helpful in guiding me through my first year of graduate school. Stephanie, my mentor, has been amazing! She is constantly making sure I am doing well mentally and has also provided feedback and advice that I am really thankful for. – Patricia Armenta



When I started graduate school, my Catalyst mentor helped me a lot by talking me through the process of joining a research group and checking in on me when I was writing a fellowship application. However, the most important thing he did was to help me feel like I belonged here. Now, as a mentor myself, I’ve enjoyed getting to help other students in similar ways. It’s rewarding to focus on someone else’s success and happiness, and the friendships I’ve developed have made my own graduate experience richer. My sense of belonging has only grown through my mentoring experience.


Catalyst was such a nice way to get to know older students in the department, and to get great advice on group joining/Madison and some perspective on grad school in general! – Kaylin Xu


Being a Catalyst mentor is gratifying! I can impact student’s journeys by sharing resources and advice, and by being one person with whom mentees can share their experiences as openly as they feel comfortable. At the same time, I grow my mentoring skills by receiving formal training and by experiencing how each mentoring relationship is different. – Stephanie Oliveras Santos

Catalyst Leadership Team

Desiree Bates

Position title: Computational Chemistry Leader


Phone: 608.262.6936

9307 Chemistry

Stephanie Oliveras Santos

Credentials: Materials

Position title: Graduate Student

Brittany Trinh

Credentials: Materials

Position title: Graduate Student

Subi Thakali

Credentials: Analytical

Position title: Graduate Student

The Catalyst program is generously supported by the UW-Madison Graduate School and PPG.