Meet the Staff


Alex Phan, Ph.D. (he/him/his)

Executive Director for Student Success | 858-822-4636

Office hours: By appointment

Responsibilities: Dr. Alex Phan provides leadership and direction for student success-centered initiatives, programs, and curriculum refinement. He works closely with IDEA Center staff to optimize resources, create access points to programs within Jacobs School of Engineering and general campus, and develops strategies to foster students’ personal, academic, and professional excellence. As the EDSS, Alex strives to synergize the six departments within the Jacobs School of Engineering through programs, initiatives, and research focusing on areas vital to student success in engineering.

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Jackie Duerr, Ed.D. (she/her/hers)

Director | 858-246-5268

Office hours: By appointment

Responsibilities: Jackie provides leadership, supervision, and direction to the IDEA Engineering Student Center team to ensure students are supported academically, personally, and professionally. Through an equity-minded, student-centered lens, Jackie works closely with the team by providing management, strategic planning, and oversight of student programs. As the Director, Jackie strives to ensure the IDEA Engineering Student Center is pioneering cutting-edge retention and professional development programs, ensuring the pathway to engineering is possible to all students. 

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Sara Eckardt (she/her/hers)

Assistant Director | 858-822-3780

Office hours: By appointment | Schedule a Meeting

Responsibilities: Sara manages and coordinates the center's academic success programs: Engineering Learning Communities, Guided Engineering Apprenticeship in Research, and Academic Achievement Program.

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Jessica Baldis, M.S. (she/her/hers)

Strategic Initiatives and Assessment Senior Analyst | 858-534-6779

Office hours: By appointment

Responsibilities: Jessica develops and implements methods for assessing the impact of IDEA Engineering Student Center initiatives on student retention and success. 

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Ruben D. Rodriguez, M.A. (he/him/his)

Program Coordinator | 858-534-9939

Office hours: By appointment

Responsibilities: Ruben manages the IDEA Scholars program and serves as the instructor for the ENG 5 course. He coordinates the Engineering Overnight Program for admitted students and co-coordinates the Summer Engineering Institute.

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Alejandra Arguelles, M.A. (she/her/hers)

Program Coordinator | (858) 822-3778

Office hours: By appointment

Responsibilities: Alejandra serves as an advisor for the Triton Engineering Student Council (TESC) and diversity student organizations NSBE, SHPE, SWE, oSTEM, WIC, and SASE. She oversees resources for engineering student organizations including Matching Funds, Project Spaces, Engineering Leadership Summit, and DEI Requirements. Alejandra also coordinates the Jacobs School Scholars program and WISE Sessions, and co-coordinates the Summer Engineering Institute.

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Gwen Maley (she/her/hers)

Operations and Events Coordinator | 858-246-1556

Office hours: By appointment

Responsibilities: Gwen provides administrative, logistic, and fiscal support for the IDEA Engineering Student Center's programs and activities. She also oversees the IDEA Center's communications, office operations and courses. Gwen coordinates the Student Travel Fund, Transfer Prep, Welcome Week Engineering Fair, and Ring Ceremony.

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Sinai Cota, M.A. (she/her/hers)

Sloan Scholars Program Assistant | 858-534-1335

Office hours: By appointment

Responsibilities: Sinai supports the Sloan Scholar Program with the nomination process of the awarded scholar, and organizes professional development events for the STEM scholars. She also promotes community among graduate students at the Jacobs School of Engineering by coordinating the STEM Graduate and Postdoc Professional Talks, Jacobs Undergraduate Mentoring Program, and Transfer Engineering Academic Mentorship program.

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Student Interns

Sky Li

Photographer and Videographer Intern

Mery Phung

Administrative and Events Intern

Chanta Chea

Social Media and Graphic Intern


Caroline Huynh

Design and Graphics Intern

Hou Wan

Transfer Assistant Intern






Contact Us

Campus Location: Jacobs Hall (EBU-1), Room 1400 
Map and Directions » 

Mailing Address:
IDEA Engineering Student Center, UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0429
La Jolla, CA 92093-0429

Phone: (858) 534-6105