How does the Library help students transition to the real world?

An interview with recent alumna, Hayley Bricker

Hayley Bricker graduated from UCLA in 2018 with a B.A. in Earth and Environmental Science. We recently caught up with Hayley to hear about her life after school, and to get her thoughts on how the Science Libraries helped her, then and now.


Hayley pictured in front of 'Chewie.' Her lab uses Chewie, a mass spectrometer, to analyze abiogenic & biogenic calcium carbonate samples. Hayley uses Chewie to study snail shells for environmental signals. 

Can you tell us about your current field of work?
I currently hold two jobs! At UCLA, I work as a lab assistant in a biogeochemistry & climate lab full-time. I also work at Griffith Observatory part-time as a Museum Guide.

What are your long-term goals for school and/or work?
I have many goals for myself, in no particular order. I would like to go to graduate school in Archaeology, Geology, and Biological Oceanography; participate in NOAA Corps; work as a science writer & environmental justice advocate.

How did you use the library's spaces, services, and collections as a student?
The Library provides access to many different online journals and databases for UCLA students, faculty and staff. For all of the projects I have ever worked on in my undergraduate research position, I have had to utilize these journals. 

What are some of the research skills you used as a student that help you to exceed in your current position?
I definitely had to learn how to use boolean operators, which was a little confusing at first. Today, that helps me figure out mentally how to categorize information that I might be looking for, and also to get creative about how to look for what I think will give me the best answer. As a museum guide, it also gives me some insight into what's relevant information for a non-science person.  

How does your current work environment share research/information? Or conduct library research?
We currently use Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box (through UCLA) to share documents and make article recommendations. We also use the library! In fact, just the other day, my post-doc mentor and I had to physically check out a book on terrestrial molluscs because non-print is sort of rare in that category. 

What are some things you learned about the library as a student that you didn’t know before coming to UCLA?
I think the biggest thing I learned is that while it seems superficially daunting on the outside to get into database searches, it makes all the difference in the world to learn how to use these databases. It really is a great skill to have, and one that not many people ever become comfortable with. 

How did you become more comfortable using the databases? Any tips for inexperienced students?
It's really just practice! For boolean operators, it really helped to look at visual representations about what they mean-- so Venn diagrams, etc. I practiced a lot about how to narrow down searches, really just through trial-and-error. It's the best way to learn, even if it's not the fastest way. If it's really something that you're finding tricky, you can always ask the Reference Desk Assistants at the Library!

What is your favorite memory or experience as student using the Library?
I don't have one specific memory, but in general I always really enjoyed the Library staff. I always looked forward to coming into the Biomedical Library and being greeted by my friends and coworkers, and also being guaranteed a really nice study space if I needed one. There aren't many places on campus that consistently have a welcoming atmosphere, but Biomed and SEL are definitely two that I felt endlessly comfortable in. 

Do you have any thoughts or advice for incoming Bruins about the Library?
Definitely to use the library spaces, take advantage of what they offer because you will miss it once you're out of here!

Thanks, Hayley!