Samara Foster, Ph.D.

Managing Director, Student Success Evaluation & Research Center

SSC Campus System Manager


As the Managing Director, Sam is the administrative head of the SSERC, overseeing SSC Campus and associated data management and reporting, leading other campus student success initiatives, and managing the operations, budget and grants administration, personnel, programs, and communications of the SSERC. She also assists with supervision/mentorship of undergraduate student interns and GSRs, as well as provides research and grant writing support for the Faculty Director. 

Sam's work focuses on practices and policies that promote student retention and persistence to degree, particularly for underrepresented students. She has a general scholarly interest in equity and social justice in educational policy and practice rooted in feminist epistemologies and collaborative approaches to research. Sam has worked at UCSC since 2007 and was previously the Assistant Director of the University of California Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California (CCREC). Sam received a joint Ph.D. in Educational Research and Evaluation Methodology and Educational Foundations, Policy, and Practice from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Rebecca London, Ph.D.

Faculty Director


As the Faculty Director, Rebecca is the research head of the SSERC, originating and overseeing research and program evaluation projects, engaging with faculty, students, and staff who partner with the SSERC on such projects, supervising/mentoring GSRs and undergraduate interns, and serving as Principal Investigator for securing external funding.

Rebecca is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department. Her research focuses on understanding the challenges faced by disadvantaged children and youth and the ways that communities and community organizations support young people to be healthy and successful. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, she has conducted research in multiple fields, including: K-12 and post-secondary education, health and wellness, afterschool programs, welfare reform, the digital divide and children's living arrangements. Her research has been published in numerous journals, edited volumes, and policy briefs as well as presented at professional conferences, in community forums and in legislative testimony. 

Amy Hyler-Essig

Senior Systems Analyst, Student Success

SSC Campus System Tech & User Support


As the Systems Analyst, Amy is the primary technical and user support person for SSC Campus, which includes: report writing, ensuring student success data integrity, data validation, updating security roles, systems testing, generating reports and extracts, assisting with systems configuration and implementation, creating business process documentation, creating user-specific documentation and resources, providing systems training of various kinds for users, and responding to help requests from systems users.

Amy is a long-time UCSC employee with very deep institutional and technical knowledge and skills. She worked at the ITS help desk as an undergraduate student and then joined the UCSC professional staff in 2002. In her 14 years as an UCSC staff person, she's been involved in and has had a leading role in a number of large-scale (full campus) enterprise systems implementations, including testing, managing timelines and deliverables, developing/changing business processes, change management, user training, documentation development, and facilitation, ongoing user support and the connected process systems, and vender interactions and collaborations.

Brandon Balzer Carr

SSERC Graduate Student Researcher

Social Psychology Doctoral Student

Brandon Balzer Carr is a PhD student in social psychology. Brandon studies gender and sexuality with an emphasis on the social conditions that lead to the marginalization of women and LGBTQ people (e.g., gender roles, biological essentialism). He is also intimately invested in student success, and as such, he studies undergraduate academic performance and retention, with an aim toward identifying and strengthening student-focused university support systems. Brandon's recent research is the convergence of these two fields of inquiry: the study of LGBTQ students' well-being, experiences of marginalization, and community organizing in higher education. Brandon is also an avid cyclist, devoted father to his dog, nature-lover, and amateur chef. 

Ethan Chang

Chancellor's Graduate Intern

Doctoral Candidate, Education Department

Ethan is a doctoral candidate in the Education Department's Social and Cultural Contexts of Education program with a designated emphasis in Sociology. He is interested in school reform, critical policy studies, and equity-oriented collaborative community-based research. His dissertation investigates the case of education technology to examine how power and equity are invoked and play out within current policy and reform contexts. Ethan taught special education at Waialua High and Intermediate School on the North Shore of O'ahu. He holds a B.A. in Government from the University of Redlands and a graduate certificate in special education from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.