The Big Bang Theory Graduate Fellowship

For entering masters or doctoral students who received the Big Bang Theory Scholars undergraduate scholarship at UCLA, and who wish to pursue graduate education in the STEM fields within the University of California system. Eligible students may receive up to $20,000 per year, for up to five years.

Eligibility & Requirements

Students must be admitted to a UC graduate program such as:

  • Research-based masters or PhD in a STEM field
  • Medical School (MD)
  • Dental School (DDS or DMD)
  • Master of Public Health (MPH)

Applicants must have participated and completed the Big Bang Theory undergraduate scholars program and received their qualifying degree from UCLA within two to five years* of applying to the Big Bang Theory Fellowship program.

Maximum of five years of funding from the Chuck Lorre Foundation, as administered by UCLA Graduate Division. Eligibility for annual renewal will be based on the following:

  • student remains in good academic standing as defined by their specific degree program;
  • maintains “full-time” status or meets minimum unit enrollment as defined by degree program; and
  • remains within the University of California.
  • continuing students submit annual progress updates via the Office of Scholarships and Student Support Initiatives(SSI)

Apply

  • Deadline for first-year applicants is May 1. The Big Bang Theory Graduate Fellowship Application will be provided by, and must be submitted to the Office of Scholarships and Student Support Initiatives at UCLAScholarships@support.ucla.edu
  • Deadline for continuing graduate students’ funding is May 1. All continuing scholars must submit annual progress updates.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • I graduated from UCLA 1, 2, 5 years ago, can I still apply?
    Students are welcome to apply for funding after a gap year, as long as they have notified the Office of Scholarships and Student Support Initiatives that they intend to take the gap year/s. Students with more than one gap year will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • My program is part-time. Am I still eligible for this fellowship?
    You are eligible to apply for up to $20,000 in funding per year. Applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • I am waitlisted for my graduate program. Should I still apply and am I still eligible?
    Yes, you should submit your application with the normal funding cycle for the academic year with a note that you are waitlisted. Notify SSI as soon as you are accepted from the waitlist or notified that you will not be added.
  • I have completed my master’s degree as a Big Bang Theory Fellow and am now pursuing a PhD. Can I apply for this fellowship again?
    Yes, you are eligible to apply for the fellowship.

Meet the Big Bang Theory 2020 Fellows

Christopher ChenChristopher Chen
BS Electrical Engineering, 2019
Graduate Program: UCLA Electrical and Computer Engineering PhD Program

What has been the focus of your research for this academic year?
My research focus is in high frequency circuit design. I have worked on numerous projects this year in order to gain experience. Most of these circuits are related to biosensors. Through my work on one such project, I am a co-author on a paper that was accepted into a microwave circuit conference this year. I have also been involved in multiple chip tapeouts which I will be testing once they return later in the year.

How does your grad program tie into your career plans and dreams?
My graduate program provides a learning experience in circuit design that would be difficult to get in industry. It also allows me some freedom to pursue projects that I am interested in. After I graduate, I plan to go to industry and continue circuit design.

What have you found to be the most challenging and most rewarding part of your graduate education so far? Please also list any notable accomplishments and any pending publications.
The most challenging part of my graduate education so far is learning as much as I can so that I can hopefully start doing my own research soon. Currently, I am taking my MS coursework, so I am still learning a lot of the fundamental circuit blocks. Despite this, I have been involved in multiple different projects, which has allowed me to get some practical experience that will be valuable to my research. The most rewarding part of my graduate education is finishing a chip tapeout because it is the culmination of weeks of research and work. The process can also be quite stressful since once it is sent out, you won’t know exactly how it will work until you test it months later, but it still always feels like an accomplishment. This year, I am a co-author on a paper in a microwave circuit conference.

What extracurricular are you involved with (if any) such as work, hobbies, tutoring, etc.?
I have been a TA for a couple lab courses this year. Outside of my academics, I enjoy reading and running.


Quincy ZlotnickQuincy Zlotnick
BS Aerospace Engineering, 2019
Graduate Program: UCLA, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Master’s Program

What has been the focus of your research for this academic year?
I’m doing a coursework-only masters focusing on fluid mechanics with a secondary focus on structures, so I’ve undertaken no official research.

How does your grad program tie into your career plans and dreams?
My foremost goal in my career has always been to do conceptual aircraft design, and this MS program has helped me fill my engineering toolbox and attain the knowledge I feel I need to reach that point at a prominent company.

What have you found to be the most challenging and most rewarding part of your graduate education so far? Please also list any notable accomplishments and any pending publications.
Perhaps my greatest and most fulfilling challenge in graduate school has not actually been officially school-related, but has involved application of my engineering education to the greater good. I’ve spent these trying past few weeks working with other students and faculty to make emergency personal protective equipment for hospitals, spending countless hours designing and manufacturing face shields and powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) that can be made in quantity with available supplies and manufacturing methods. Thousands of the face shields I worked on are already being distributed to hospital staff, while the PAPR design I’ve been working on is approaching its final state. It feels only fitting that given how much my engineering education has benefited from the charity of others, I should use it to do what I can to give back in a time of need.

What extracurricular are you involved with (if any) such as work, hobbies, tutoring, etc.?
I’ve spent this year advising and mentoring the UCLA Rocket Project liquid-fueled rocket design team, while also building rockets on my own time. In addition, I’ve traveled and practiced aerobatic flying as much as my finances have allowed.


Michael ZshornackMichael Zshornack
BS Mathematics, 2019
Graduate Program: UCSB, Mathematics PhD Program

What has been the focus of your research for this academic year?
I haven’t began research yet as most people in the program here start researching in their 2nd or 3rd year. I hope to begin research soon, probably with the focus on Algebraic Geometry. My interests in research largely lie within the interaction between topology and algebra, and whatever I do end up researching will most likely be within those fields.

How does your grad program tie into your career plans and dreams?
This graduate program is essential for my career plans. I hope to be a professor one day and teach and contribute research in the development of mathematics. Being able to pursue this PhD is an essential stepping stone towards that overall goal.

What have you found to be the most challenging and most rewarding part of your graduate education so far? Please also list any notable accomplishments and any pending publications.
The level of work has certainly been challenging, but it’s been extremely rewarding to be able to collaborate with so many amazing minds in the department here, despite those challenges. I have access to so many amazing seminars and workshops put on by researchers and getting to attend them is always exciting to do.

What extracurricular are you involved with (if any) such as work, hobbies, tutoring, etc.?
I’m really mostly focusing on my own teaching and learning, and eventually working towards being able to start research within the next year.