The Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society commemorates the first African American to earn a doctorate degree from an American university (Physics, Yale University, 1876). The Bouchet Society seeks to develop a network of scholars who exemplify academic and personal excellence, foster environments of support, and serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy—exemplifying the spirit and example of Dr. Bouchet.
One national charter with two chapters was inaugurated by Yale University and Howard University on September 15, 2005, in commemoration of Dr. Bouchet’s birthday. The University of Wisconsin–Madison Graduate School formed a chapter in 2010. Each year, the Graduate School sponsors a limited number of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to become members of the national Bouchet Society. Meet our previous UW–Madison inductees in the biographies at the bottom of the page.
The purpose of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society is to recognize outstanding scholarly achievement and promote diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate. The Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society seeks to develop a network of preeminent scholars who exemplify academic and personal excellence, foster environments of support, and serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy. In the spirit of Edward Alexander Bouchet and the scholarship, character, leadership, service and advocacy he exhibited both inside and outside academic realms, inductees into the honor society bearing his name must also exhibit these same outstanding qualities.
Five qualities of Bouchet Society members
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The Bouchet Graduate Honor Society is a learned society that is committed to the goals of lifelong education, as well as the production and the dissemination of knowledge in the humanities, social sciences and sciences. Members are scholars who are committed to contributing to the development of their field(s) of study and who seek to ensure excellence and innovation in these fields.
Bouchet Graduate Honor Society members must exhibit the highest values of their university, through their integrity, honor, and exemplary conduct and behavior. Character may be exemplified through an individual’s emotional courage, principles, endurance, and the ability to follow through long after the excitement of the task is over. He or she must be reliable and consistent. At each member’s core must be an awareness of the importance of contributing to society and working for the good of society.
The Bouchet Graduate Honor Society is comprised of scholars who take personally their responsibility for their departments and their academic fields on local, national, and international levels, as necessary. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society leaders are the embodiment of the ideals of their respective universities. They not only represent the mission of their university but they must also demonstrate strong initiative.
Each member should actively contribute to the well-being of society by giving, remaining involved in the community, sharing of personal gifts and talents, and exhibiting a Bouchet-like commitment to the service of others.
Each member should actively support and advocate for broader access to graduate education and other resources within the academy. Activities might include advocating for the concerns of diverse faculty members and students, serving as a mentor, helping to address the needs of communities, and educating others on the issues that may be at the heart of the continued inequities and disparities in our society, particularly in education.
- October 4, 2023: Self-nomination application available
- October 29, 2023: Deadline to submit nomination materials
- December 4, 2023: UW–Madison Induction Ceremony
- December 2023: Announcement of UW–Madison new members
- April 5-6, 2024: Bouchet National Induction Ceremony and Annual Conference at Yale University
Inductees are expected to attend the UW–Madison Induction Ceremony and present at the Annual Bouchet Conference (travel will be covered by the Graduate School).
Bouchet Society News
Jimena González is a physics PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison specializing in observational cosmology. Her research centers on searching and characterizing strong gravitational lenses in the Dark Energy Survey. These rare astronomical systems can appear as long curved arcs of light surrounding a galaxy. Strong gravitational lenses offer a unique probe for studying dark energy, the driving force behind the universe’s accelerating expansion and, consequently, a pivotal factor in determining its ultimate fate. During her graduate program, Jimena has received the Albert R. Erwin, Jr. & Casey Durandet Award and the Firminhac Fellowship from the Department of Physics. Additionally, she was honored with the 2023 Open Science Grid David Swanson Award for her outstanding implementation of High-Throughput Computing to advance her research. Jimena has contributed as a co-author to multiple publications within the field of strong gravitational lensing and has presented her work at various conferences. In addition to her academic achievements, Jimena has actively engaged in outreach programs. Notably, she was selected as a finalist at the 2021 UW–Madison Three Minute Thesis Competition and secured a winning entry in the 2023 Cool Science Image Contest. Her commitment to science communication extends to a contribution in a Cosmology chapter in the book AI for Physics. Jimena has also led a citizen science project that invites individuals from all around the world to inspect astronomical images to identify strong gravitational lenses. Jimena obtained her bachelor’s degree in physics at the Universidad de los Andes, where she was awarded the “Quiero Estudiar” scholarship.
PhD, Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis
Carl “CJ” Greer is a PhD candidate in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis with a doctoral minor in Qualitative Research Methodology in Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Leveraging critical qualitative approaches, Greer’s research explores three areas: (1) the relationship between community-based educational spaces and PreK-12 schooling institutions, (2) how youth display leadership and activism in and outside the classroom, and (3) Critical Race Theory in education. Greer is a University Council for Educational Administration Barbara L. Jackson Scholar, Institute for Research on Poverty Fellow, and Morgridge Center for Public Service Fellow. Through a year-long critical ethnographic case study approach that takes up his and Welton’s (forthcoming) extension of Critical Race Theory, coined Youth-Centric Critical Race Theory, his dissertation offers insights into the limited exploration of the greater Milwaukee area PreK-12 education landscape and Midwestern youth education activism. Recent publications include “Conjuring the Devil: Historicizing Attacks on Critical Race Theory and white saviorism,” which explores white supremacy’s perpetual attacks on Critical Race Theory and other equity-centered discourses, and “We in this thang together?: Black first-year doctoral students transitioning COVID and recreating community virtually”, which captures how Greer and two colleagues transitioned into graduate studies virtually during COVID-19 and publicized anti-Black racism. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Greer earned his bachelor of arts degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and a dual master’s of Educational Leadership and Policy and Social Work at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor. Greer’s youth worker background inspired him to pursue becoming a community-focused tenure track professor.
MD-PhD, Cellular and Molecular Pathology
Mayra Betancourt Ponce is a sixth-year MD-PhD student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison who aims to become an academic physician-scientist bridging the fields of dermatology and cancer immunology. She received her bachelor’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. As an undergraduate student, she participated in the National Institutes of Health-funded Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) training program, through which she developed an interest in deciphering how biological pathways are disturbed during pathological processes. She explored this interest by successfully completing two summer research programs in laboratories studying cancer biology and presenting her work at various conferences, which motivated her to pursue cancer research. For her thesis project, she studies the effects of oxidative phosphorylation inhibition in solid tumor immunogenicity in Drs. Lisa Barroilhet and Manish Patankar’s laboratory. She obtained an R01 Diversity Supplement to support this research. She has presented her work at local, national, and international conferences, including the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting and the Stress Proteins in Growth, Development, and Disease Gordon Research Conference, and has two first-author manuscripts in preparation. She aims to contribute to the growing body of knowledge regarding combination strategies to improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapies to provide better options for her patients as a dermatologist. She is committed to making academia more welcoming and inclusive to underrepresented populations, which she has begun doing as the president of the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center Trainee Network.
MD-PhD, Cellular and Molecular Biology
Ashley Scott is a MD-PhD trainee and a PhD candidate in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Ashley strives to understand key processes of cardiovascular disease to improve the health of patients who suffer from cardiovascular-related morbidities. She earned a bachelor of science in Biology from University of Maryland, Baltimore County, graduating cum laude in 2016. As an undergraduate researcher Ashley worked at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health on estrogen receptor mediated sex differences in myocarditis. This work resulted in two co-author publications. In her current dissertation work, Ashley works under the direction of Kristyn Masters to use tissue engineering techniques to model aortic valve disease. Ashley uses these systems that closely recapitulate aortic valve disease conditions to investigate key underpinnings of aortic valve disease progression, including the sexual dimorphic nature of this disease, wherein males have more calcification and females have more fibrosis. Her dissertation work has resulted in two publications thus far. Ashley is also passionate about facilitating inclusive scientific training environments and reducing bias mediated health disparities through curricula changes. In recognition of these efforts Ashley has received UW–Madison’s Outstanding Women of Color Award (2022), the Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Program’s inaugural Diversity and Equity Impact Award (2022), UW–Madison’s Bucky Award for Graduate Student Commitment to Engagement and Activism (2022), and the UW–Madison Medical Scientist Training Program Diversity and Equity Champion Award (2022, 2023).
Jairo Villalona is a PhD candidate in Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research focuses on engineering enzymes through an iterative process called directed evolution for synthesizing non-canonical amino acids (ncAAs). The synthesis of ncAAs is a common challenge for producing new medicines, materials, and probes for bioactivity. Jairo received his bachelor of science in chemistry from Westfield State University. As an undergraduate student, he participated in the investigation of Lyme disease in western Massachusetts by monitoring the prevalence of B. burgdorferi, the causative bacteria found in deer tick populations. Jairo is a recipient of the American Chemical Society Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship. This fellowship prepares students from underrepresented groups for a doctoral program through advanced coursework, mentoring, and research. A published case study involving the fellowship can be found in the Journal of Chemical Education, where Jairo is a co-author. His thesis research has resulted in the publication of his first-author work pertaining to the biocatalytic synthesis of α,β-diamino acids, an underexplored class of amino acids that can serve as unique building blocks for chemical biology and medicinal chemistry. In addition to his research, Jairo is committed to scientific outreach with the long-term goal of addressing societal problems as a scientific advisor in the public sector, such as the federal government.
Dr. Lisandra Flores-Aldama
Postdoctoral Fellow in Neuroscience
Lisandra Flores-Aldama is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Neuroscience of the University of Wisconsin–Madison working in the laboratory of Dr. Gail Robertson. She earned her bachelor of science degree in biochemistry at Universidad de La Habana, graduating summa cum laude in 2011. As an undergraduate student, she worked at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Havana, Cuba, focusing on defining the molecular mechanism underlying the antitumoral effect of synthetic peptides by proteomics approaches, work that contributed to a publication. In 2014, Lisandra enrolled in a PhD in cell and molecular biology at the Universidad Austral de Chile. Guided by Dr. Sebastian Brauchi, her dissertation work contributed to understanding the evolutionary structural-functional correlation of the calcium-dependent inactivation of TRPV5-6 channels. She also collaborated in defining the transport mechanism of the human AE4 Cl-/HCO3- exchanger. She contributed as the first (co)-author of three articles and was awarded three scholarships and two grants as principal investigator. After graduating with her PhD summa cum laude, Lisandra joined Dr. Gail Robertson’s laboratory to pursue ion channel biophysics in cardiovascular research. Her postdoctoral work aims to uncover the biogenesis of hERG1 channels and the molecular mechanism underlying this channel gating at the plasma membrane. As a postdoc, Lisandra earned a slot on an institutional T32 grant. She co-founded Black in Biophysics and co-organized Black in Biophysics Week, an initiative aiming to highlight black biophysicists. She also volunteers at the Biophysical and General Physiologist Societies. Lisandra aims to become a successful scientist in biophysics and cardiovascular research.
PhD in Counseling Psychology
Pilar Gauthier is a PhD candidate in Counseling Psychology. Her Native American worldview and service to the community are evident in her research approach. She advocates for Indigenous ways of knowing and doing as legitimate sources of knowledge and scientific inquiry within academia. Pilar developed an epistemic framework and methodology that centers on her Menominee cultural values. In doing so, her research practices respect Menominee tribal sovereignty and linguistic and cultural intellectual property. Pilar’s research aims to improve psychological practice among underrepresented populations, including exploring racial and gendered experiences of Native and non-Native women across life roles, career readiness among BIPOC students, and decolonization within psychotherapeutic practice and education. Her dissertation proposes that the vocational lives of Native American women require an expansion of current Western/European vocational theories to capture the complex histories and nuanced social contexts these women experience as they engage in work while taking into consideration the history of racism, sexism, economic structures and exploitation implicated in Western research. She is also working on a collaboration project with the Native Justice Alliance to explore how Native people living in the Great Lakes region experience and heal from racial injustice. In addition, she collaborates with the Great Lakes Native American Elders Association and academic allies at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veteran’s Hospital to support culturally congruent care to elders and older adults experiencing end-of-life concerns, including dementia. Her research has been formally reviewed and endorsed by her tribe’s legislative body.
PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology
Aicha Quamine is a PhD candidate in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her research focuses on combining cancer biology and immunology approaches to develop a multimodal immunotherapy by enhancing innate immune effector cells called Natural Killer (NK) cells for the treatment of relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma. Aicha received her bachelor of science degree in pharmaceutical sciences with a specialization in medicinal and biological chemistry from Cleveland State University. As an undergraduate student she joined the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program where she participated in phytochemical drug synthesis and small molecule inhibitor optimization which led to co-author status on two peer-reviewed papers. Aicha is a recipient of the Science and Medicine Graduate Research Scholars (SciMED-GRS) fellowship, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Wisconsin Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (WiscAMP) Fellowship, and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Her thesis research has resulted in four additional co-authorships and a first-author review on enhancing NK cell-based immunotherapy. In addition to her research, Aicha is dedicated to scientific outreach and communication with the long-term goal of broadly increasing scientific literacy and making STEM accessible to her community at all ages, backgrounds, and education levels.
PhD in Health Services Research in Pharmacy
Adati Tarfa is a pharmacist and Health Services Research in Pharmacy PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW–Madison) School of Pharmacy. She earned a doctorate in pharmacy from Drake University with academic and leadership honors. Adati’s research integrates health equity, substance use disorder (SUD), medication adherence, and digital health into examining the care of people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). She was selected by the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a research Health Equity Fellow. Her research addressing the national priority of ending the HIV epidemic using interdisciplinary perspectives of pharmacists and social workers has been published in key pharmacy journals. Adati is mentored by Dr. Olayinka Shiyanbola, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Disparities Research Scholar, on the design and implementation of a culturally tailored peer support intervention – the Peers Supporting Health Literacy, Self-Efficacy, Self-Advocacy, and Adherence (Peers LEAD) program – to improve medication adherence among African Americans. Using her training in medication adherence support, Adati’s dissertation is exploring medication adherence among people with HIV and SUD using a computer-mediated discourse analysis of participants using the Addiction Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-CHESS) mobile health application. In addition to her research, Adati is passionate about mental health. She regularly facilitates National Alliances of Mental Health (NAMI) support groups and was awarded the NAMI Dane County 2022 Award of Excellence. Adati also received the UW–Madison Graduate Women in Science Award for her research, academic, and leadership excellence.
PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis
Paris Wicker is a PhD candidate in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis with a doctoral minor in sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Using multi and mixed methods, her research explores three areas: (1) the connection between education and well-being, (2) The role of racism and anti-racism within higher education policy and practice, and (3) relational frameworks for organizational change. She is a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow and incoming Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at The State University of New York at Buffalo. Her dissertation is a social network analysis of well-being for Black and Indigenous college students, with the aim to elevate well-being and relationships as primary components of student success, and to uncover how institutions of higher education aid or impede the well-being of their constituents. Recent publications include “Well-being consciousness and college access borderlands,” which explores how college access program staff used well-being practices to prepare Black and Indigenous students for higher education, and “A Critical Policy Review of Well-Being and Equity Policy at Historically Black, Tribal, and Predominately White Colleges and Universities.” Before the doctoral journey, Paris had 10 years of experience as a practitioner within college admissions and student affairs, facilitating student success and building relationships and supportive campus climates. Paris holds a bachelor of arts degree in vocal music and French and Francophone studies from Lawrence University, a master of science in education in professional counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and is originally from Chicago, Illinois.
Kennia Coronado is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her research interests lie broadly at the intersections of race and ethnicity, political behavior, and political communication. In her dissertation, she investigates the processes and mechanisms under which Latinxs are mobilized to participate in U.S. elections—even when many are ineligible to vote. Coronado’s research interests are motivated by observations she made as a former immigrant rights organizer and as a former Spanish-language radio host. In addition to research, she mentors underrepresented students in on-campus research programs intended to help students obtain experience and guide those interested in graduate programs. Coronado was first introduced to the idea of pursuing a PhD in political science through the Ralph Bunche summer program at Duke University. While an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she was also selected as a McNair scholar. These experiences cemented her commitment to mentor underrepresented students and create more welcoming college environments. Kennia is committed to equity on campus and off campus. She actively participates in ways to better support underrepresented students in her department and the classroom. Coronado received a campus-wide Early Excellence in Teaching Award for her teaching in the “Politics of Multi-cultural Societies” course in the Spring of 2020. She is an active member of her community and sits on boards and committees that advocate for the equity of BIPOC communities across diverse issues.
Kendra Greendeer is a PhD Candidate in Art History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and working on her dissertation “Rematriating Indigeneity in Contemporary Native American Arts” which looks closely at the impact of contemporary Indigenous American women artists and place-making practices in their art. Greendeer’s research is informed by her Indigenous ancestry, Ho-Chunk and Red Cliff Band Ojibwe, and considers the role of Indigenous women makers and their art practice as decolonial acts in the reengagement of Indigenous people to land in the United States and Canada. Her research is focused on three contemporary Native women artists that live and work in the United States and Canada.
Her publications include “The Land Remembers Native Histories” which analyzes the markers and monuments of the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus, and “Ho-Chunk Bandelier Bag” which is an essay focused on a Ho-Chunk-made beaded bandelier bag from the Fenimore Art Museum.
Linda Park is a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Implementation Science and Engineering Lab in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH) at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Linda received her PhD (UW–Madison) in the School of Human Ecology, Human Development and Family Studies with two minors—Research Methods in Cultural Studies and Social Welfare. She has two Master of Science degrees—Social Work and Business (UW–Madison). She received her BA in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from The College of William and Mary. She is a National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) Scholar and a NIMHD Health Disparities Research Institute participant. Linda conducts interdisciplinary research with her mentor, Dr. Andrew Quanbeck (PhD Engineering/DFMCH faculty) on projects implementing mobile health technologies into healthcare settings. As a postdoc and project manager, Linda focuses on ensuring a mobile health app focusing on alcohol and wellness could be a useful tool for those in the BIPOC community as well as the majority White population in Wisconsin. But Linda’s passion for health equity drives her own research focusing on health disparities and cultural determinants of health for immigrant and refugee families. She recently completed a pilot study exploring challenges for older Hmong patients with limited English proficiency and Type 2 Diabetes, while identifying their caregivers’ support needs. Linda is currently working on a grant to adapt an evidence-based mobile health app to educate Hmong caregivers about diabetes so they can better support the older Hmong patient.
Bo Peng is a current sixth year MD/PhD student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and ultimately aims to become an academic physician-scientist in the field of neurosurgery and a principal investigator in translational neuroscience research. She has extensive molecular biology research experience beginning as an undergraduate researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she spent three consecutive summers identifying a novel conserved protein epitope on the surface of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes. Her work was presented at multiple conferences. Concurrently at the Department of Neuroscience at Duke University, she built a mechanistic foundation in neuronal development and differentiation using Drosophila as a model organism. Her work there resulted in a co-authored publication and a senior thesis where she received High Honors in the Department of Biology. As a post-baccalaureate fellow at the NIH, she spearheaded a project investigating the molecular pathway of multidrug-resistant malaria. She presented her findings at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) virology seminar. These formative experiences solidified her desire to pursue a MD/PhD degree where she is using her clinical training to guide research, and vice versa. As a third-year graduate student in Dr. Darcie Moore’s laboratory, her thesis project focuses on understanding novel post-transcriptional regulation mechanisms during mammalian neural stem cell (NSC) quiescence exit, a key step in replenishing neurons in aging and neurological diseases. Her work has resulted in a published co-authored article, and two first author publications in preparation. She has also presented her work at internal seminars and national conferences as talks, invited talks, and posters.
Whitney A. Stevens-Sostre is a PhD Candidate in the Neuroscience Training Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison working in the laboratory of Dr. Gail Robertson. Whitney earned her BS in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, where she participated in the National Institutes for Health (NIH)-funded Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE-2-BEST) and Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) training programs. After graduating, she worked as a research technician at the University of Chicago through the NIH-funded Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP), where she developed her passion for ion channel research. Whitney’s dissertation work aims to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which the intracellular domains of KCNH voltage-gated potassium channels modulate gating to control excitability in neurons and cardiomyocytes. Her dissertation research has led to two publications thus far. Whitney is a Science and Medicine Graduate Research Scholars (SciMed GRS) Fellow and a Yale Ciencia Academy Fellow. As a graduate student, she earned slots on two institutional T32 grants. In addition, Whitney founded Black In Biophysics and co-organized #BlackInBiophysicsWeek, an international social media initiative that highlighted and celebrated Black scholars in biophysics and related fields. She recently received the prestigious NIH Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award (F99/K00). Her professional goal is to become a tenured professor at a major research institution who studies channelopathies primarily affecting the nervous system, while also being a mentor and active advocate for underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.
Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology
Kristal L. Gant is an Associate GEM Fellow, a former TEAM Science Scholar and a PhD candidate in Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She conducts interdisciplinary research with Dr. Manish S. Patankar in the Obstetrics and Gynecology department and Dr. Paul J. Campagnola in the Biomedical Engineering department, exploring collagen reorganization during High Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer (HGSOC) progression. Her dissertation aims to elucidate overall tumor biology and extracellular matrix (ECM) alterations in gynecological disease. Gant earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Chemistry minor from Elizabeth City State University (ECSU). While at ECSU, Gant was introduced to graduate-level research as a Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Scholar. Following graduation and denied acceptance into more than eight graduate programs, she was accepted into the NIH/NIGMS-funded Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at the University of Missouri-Columbia and used the experience to catapult her on her STEM trajectory. She continues to pursue her passion of educating, motivating, and supporting students and is involved with several outreach activities geared towards STEM advocacy and minority participation in STEM. Following an interaction with undergraduate students of the WISCamp EXCEL Program, Gant founded STEMming PhorwarD, LLC, a supportive network and podcast that focuses on encouraging underrepresented minority students to pursue advanced degrees in STEM and providing them with advice and insight on the graduate school experience. Gant has dedicated her career to discovering new advancements in gynecological cancers and inspiring higher education for all students.
Cellular and Molecular Biology
Katie Mueller is a PhD candidate in the Cellular and Molecular Biology program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her research focuses on developing next-generation cell and gene therapies across broad applications, including brain cancer and retinal disease. She developed a strategy to efficiently generate therapeutic immune cells that are trained to recognize and kill cancer cells. Katie is also interested in creating tools to track and model the behavior of these gene edited cells, to better understand and predict the ways that they behave inside the human body. She played a leadership role with the NSF Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing Technologies, including a year as Student Leadership Council Chair, serving over 100 trainees across the institution. Katie holds a traineeship with the NIH Biotechnology Training Program and is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Katie is a passionate advocate for an intersectional understanding of mental health concerns in academia. She co-founded an organization focused on peer support and skill building to address social and environmental challenges in grad school. Through this group, she designed a climate survey for her institute in partnership with the LEAD Center, and she has co-developed over 20 case studies tackling topics ranging from racism and sexism in STEM labs to mentor/mentee relationships. She is a committed mentor to a dozen mentees ranging from high school research interns to junior graduate students, with a particular focus on supporting her fellow queer scientists. She plans to defend a DELTA certificate in teaching and learning this spring.
Educational Policy Studies
Tarsha Herelle is a PhD candidate in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her interdisciplinary scholarship is situated at the intersection of educational policy, Black Studies, gender studies, and sociology of education. As a qualitative scholar of education and the Black diaspora, her research is centered around two questions: First, how do politics of belonging, racism, and other large-scale structures of inequality inform educational policy and shape the daily experiences of marginalized groups in academic spaces? Secondly, how do marginalized groups, particularly Black women, navigate and resist oppressive and exclusionary practices across educational contexts? Her dissertation analyzes how women across the Black diaspora experience diversity and inclusion policies and the spaces of resistance they create to contest exclusionary practices in academia in the United States and Brazil. She is committed to producing critical research that foregrounds Black women’s experiences across educational contexts. To this end, her article, “To protect and to prepare: Black mothers’ school-selection decision-making processes,” currently under review with Race, Ethnicity, and Education, examines how Black mothers’ positionality and past experiences with racism inform their school selection decision-making processes. Tarsha is a recipient of the Phi Kappa Phi Zillman Research Award, Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Center for Research on Gender and Women’s Mary Washburn Willets Award.
Edrees Rashan is a PhD candidate in the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research focus is to understand the biological functions of poorly characterized mitochondrial proteins and how their activities influence intermediary metabolism at a mechanistic level. As a collaborative scientist, Edrees has contributed to discoveries of how alternative splicing controls liver maturation and regeneration as well as the development of mass spectrometry methodology that measures lipids and proteins simultaneously. Edrees’ long-term goal is to become a professor and lead a research program to investigate how diet and genetics affects the progression and treatment diseases like cancer. Since arriving at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Edrees has been actively involved in increasing equity and inclusion for underrepresented minority scholars. As a SciMed GRS Peer Mentor, Edrees works with first-year trainees and helps with their acclimation to graduate school. Edrees also serves as an IPiB representative at the National Conferences for Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. As part of his involvement with an ad hoc student diversity committee, he helped establish travel awards that support members of his academic community to attend and participate at annual diversity conferences to empower young scholars from minority backgrounds. In spring of 2020, Edrees served as a volunteer for the New York Biomedical Technician Rapid Response Team, a coalition of scientists with a goal to provide accessible COVID-19 testing to low-income neighborhoods in New York.
Sofia Romero Ferrufino
Sofia is a PhD candidate in the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a focus in molecular virology. She is also a first-generation college graduate from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Sofia’s dissertation focuses on understanding the subcellular trafficking dynamics of hepatitis B virus (HBV) Core protein during replication and packaging of viral genome; using a combination of single-molecule detection systems as well as live, and fixed cell techniques. Applying the Sherer’s lab microscopy skills, Sofia’s work has revealed novel findings for how the subcellular distribution of HBV Core protein is regulated during replication. In addition to science, Sofia is equally passionate for advocating for and increasing diversity in science. At UCSC, Sofia worked with the Society for Advancement of Chican@s and Native Americans in Science to help foster a community for underrepresented students in STEM. Sofia brings that same motivation to the University of Wisconsin–Madison through teaching and advocacy. Sofia is motivated to increase the accessibility of science to marginalized students by creating community through peer-mentorship and advocating for better support networks within her program. Moreover, Sofia welcomes opportunities to share her scholarship with her community by participating as a science fair judge for high school students, leading science Saturday science events at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and teaching virology to middle and high school students in Madison for the annual Virology Olympiad in Wisconsin. As a developing scientist, Sofia aims to continue advocating for underrepresented students in science and to improve science-to-public engagement.
Corri Hamilton is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Plant Pathology at UW–Madison. Her research focuses on how the environment, specifically the xylem, governs pathogenic bacterial-plant interactions, with an emphasis on bacterial metabolism and host resistance. This work elucidates the problems of food insecurity caused by bacterial wilt disease in the tropical highlands. Along with plant pathology, Corri pursues scholarship in teaching. She is passionate about being a professor leading an undergraduate-driven research lab, aligning with her dedication to improving student access to research experiences and the process of science. She has taken a scholarly approach to teaching within her field. This work includes publishing peer-reviewed course materials.
During her time at UW–Madison, Corri has welcomed the challenge of promoting diversity and inclusivity. She serves as Vice Chair of an outreach organization called “What’s Eating My Plants” which attends at least two events per month serving K-12 students. She is a mentor for the PEOPLE program, a pre-college pipeline for students of color and low-income students; BioHouse, a first-year living-learning community for biology undergraduates; and two graduate student peer mentoring programs. She is also a part-time instructor at Madison College at the south campus, which primarily serves underrepresented students. In these positions, she creates learning environments that convey that race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic background, nor sexual orientation limit excellence in STEM.
Jasenia Hartman is a doctoral candidate in the Neuroscience Training Program at UW–Madison. Her research interests include language processing, audiovisual integration, and cochlear implants. She received a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Language and Linguistics in 2014 from Brandeis University. She works with Dr. Ruth Litovsky and Dr. Jenny Saffran examining factors that influence word learning in listeners with cochlear implants (CI). Her dissertation assesses whether learning from multiple talkers and receiving audiovisual information could improve word learning outcomes in CI listeners. She is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Science and Madison Graduate Research Scholarship.
At UW–Madison, Jasenia has been actively involved in the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association (BGPSA) and the Science and Medicine Graduate Research Scholars program. She continues to work to diversify the STEM field and to advocate for students of color.
Nancy Herrera is doctoral candidate in the Counseling Psychology program and an Education Graduate Research Scholar. As a first-generation college student, she earned bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Social Behavior and Chicanx/Latinx Studies from the University of California, Irvine. As an aspiring bilingual psychologist, supporting the mental health and educational success of historically minoritized communities through research and service are her personal and professional passion. She primarily utilizes the psychosociocultural (PSC) framework to conceptualize research on the educational processes and well-being of Latinx high school and college students, the effects intimate partner violence (IPV) and wellness for women of color, and the decolonization and ancestral healing of survivors of trauma. Her dissertation pays homage to Latinas who are both college students and survivors of IPV, through exploring how they thrive through personal, cultural, and historical strengths and wellness, despite their trauma. She recently submitted a clinically-focused paper on the cultural considerations for college mental health professionals to support Latina survivors of trauma, and a chapter that reconceptualizes Selenidad through a higher educational context. As a woman of Mexican decent, scholarly work is her means of advocacy and educational resistance to challenge historical and deficit notions of mental health and working against the ideology to decolonialize the educational processes of Chicanx/Latinx communities.
Nancy’s commitment to serve students manifests in her teaching and leadership roles. For two years, she supported students on academic probation as an instructor and lead for the Academic Enhancement Seminars. In her current role as the co-director of UW–Madison’s Greater University Tutoring Service, she oversees the development and success of academic, language, and study support programs for undergraduate and graduate students. In her third year as a co-director, she also supervises and mentors 16 student staff to assist them in providing quality assistance to the campus community. Finally, she has provided mental health support to underserved students and monolingual Spanish speaking Latinx families in community, college, and medical settings. For the Fall 2020-Spring 2021 academic year she will move to El Paso, Texas, to complete her predoctoral internship at the University of Texas at El Paso, primarily supporting children and college students migrating from Juarez, Mexico.
Dominic J. Ledesma
Dominic J. Ledesma is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis (ELPA). Following the completion of a BA from UW–Madison, he went on to pursue a master’s in translation and interpretation from the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara (Mexico). His professional identity as a scholar-administrator draws from legal and critical educational research to examine aspects of organizational behavior and culture within predominantly white institutions. His research focuses on the strategic and systemic management of multilingual communication in federally funded activities and the socio-cultural factors that contribute to language-based forms of institutional power and privilege. Dominic is a published translator and recently served as principal investigator on Project Hais Lus: Perspectives on Language Access, Cultural Barriers, and Multilingualism in Wisconsin’s Hmong communities.
Given Ledesma’s expertise on language access policies and practices, and its implications for promoting educational leadership that is equitable and inclusive, ELPA faculty have invited him to share his research and administrative experience with their students in three different courses.
Dr. Fátima Sancheznieto
Dr. Fátima Sancheznieto is a postdoctoral researcher at UW–Madison in the Division of General Internal Medicine. She completed her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Oxford University, where she studied the environmental signals important for blood stem cell formation during development. Fátima was trained as a peer supporter by the Oxford University counseling center and has since advocated for systemic and cultural changes to improve the mental health and training environments of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. She has served on a working group for the Next Generation Researchers Initiative at the National Institutes of Health and is currently the president of Future of Research, a nonprofit organization that advocates for, empowers, and champions early career researchers. She is currently doing her postdoctoral research training with Dr. Christine Pfund and Dr. Angela Byars-Winston to study STEM training environments with a focus on underrepresented minority PhD and postdoc training.
Molecular and Environmental Toxicology
Folagbayi Arowolo is a doctoral candidate in the Molecular and Environmental Toxicology (METC) program. His research focuses on understanding the biological impact of dietary (exogenous) oxidized lipids on gastrointestinal immunity and adipose tissue biology as well as its effects on chronic disease outcomes. He holds a bachelor’s degree obtained in 2014 from the University of Pittsburgh where he majored in biology and minored in chemistry and Africana studies. He joined Dr. Dhanansayan Shanmuganayagam’s lab in the same year where he began to conduct biomedical research aimed at evaluating the impact of dietary oxidized lipid products on atherosclerosis.
At UW–Madison, Fola has been active in the academic community and in the local Madison area. As treasurer for Catalysts for Science Policy (CaSP), he has participated in events that emphasize improving scientific communication and scientific awareness in the local community. He has won several grants from the university and the community to host community building events and science advocacy workshops. As a member of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association (BGPSA), Critical MASS and the MellowHood Foundation, he has embraced the challenge of promoting diversity initiatives on and off campus. He continues to work towards creating an inclusive atmosphere for high school, undergraduate and graduate students.
Roxanne Etta is a doctoral candidate in the Human Development and Family Studies program at UW–Madison. As a devout Badger, she has completed both her BS and MS at UW–Madison in Human Development and Family Studies. Her research interests broadly include young children’s cognitive development and media effects on learning and family interaction. Most recently, Roxanne has studied how preschoolers learn from various books formats (e.g., eBooks vs. print books, interactive vs. noninteractive books), and parent perceptions of children’s media. Her dissertation project will examine whether children’s book format influences how parents read books aloud to their children, how preschoolers engage with various book formats, and how preschoolers learn novel words and story structure. She hopes to provide parents with the principled and practical answers they seek on navigating eBooks with their young children.
As a first-generation student from the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin, Roxanne has devoted herself to advancing her education and sharing it with others. She is a board member for the Dane County chapter of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association. She has created and disseminated materials for parents on using media with young children, which was funded by a UW–Madison Baldwin Grant. Roxanne is a recipient of an Advanced Opportunity Fellowship from the School of Human Ecology and has received grants from the university to conduct and disseminate her research. Roxanne was recently selected as a Millennium Scholar from the Society for Research in Child Development and received a Top Paper Award from the International Communication Association.
Pa Her is a PhD candidate in the Counseling Psychology program. She is passionate about working with underrepresented college students. Her research examines students’ of color experiences in higher education and focuses on topics such as persistence, vocational development, social class, self-efficacy, and racial discrimination. Her research projects have resulted in eight peer-reviewed publications, a three-year research intervention program designed for Hmong parents, and more than 17 peer-reviewed presentations. Her dissertation focuses on how perceived social status and experiences with racial discrimination impact students’ of color self-efficacy and persistence intentions.
Pa has worked as an academic advisor with the Center for Academic Excellence assisting underrepresented students to transition to UW–Madison. She was also the student lead on the Hmong Research Team through the Department of Counseling Psychology leading the team to research Hmong students’ experiences and to examine Hmong parents’ support of their undergraduate child. Lastly, Pa has served on many committees throughout her tenure at the UW–Madison.
Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis
Jamila Lee-Johnson is a PhD candidate in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis Department with a concentration in Higher Education. She is a critical educational scholar that utilizes critical theories and methods to disrupt the narratives around students of color. Her research focuses on the access and success of students of color in college. She has conducted and is currently engaging with research projects on: Black women’s leadership experiences at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs); mentoring practices that foster success for students of color in their transition into graduate programs; and, how to conduct research in critical ways that humanize students of color as study participants.
Jamila recently published a co-edited book, Critical Theory and Qualitative Data Analysis in Education (Routledge, 2019) which illustrates what critical theory is, what the missing link behind critical theory research is, and how to apply critical theories in qualitative data analysis in education. In addition to the book, Jamila has engaged in multiple publications and book chapters that center the experiences of students of color in higher education. One of her forthcoming collaborative papers, to be published in The Review of Higher Education, is a longitudinal analysis of undergraduate students of color and the bi-directional academic socialization and career development for underrepresented students. Another forthcoming book chapter explores what it means to be Black graduate student on a predominantly white campus, and the importance of building community with other graduate students that create space through writing groups.
Esteban J. Quiñones
Agricultural and Applied Economics
Esteban J. Quiñones is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and a predoctoral trainee at the Center for Demography and Ecology. His primary field is development economics while his secondary fields are migration and demography. His research focuses on migration, responses to climate change, poverty, social protection, and gender. Prior to joining UW–Madison, he worked at the International Food Policy Research Institute and at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Esteban holds an MA in international development from American University’s School of International Service and a BA in economics from Tufts University.
Esteban’s research portfolio examines hypotheses at the intersection of development and labor economics along with demography and environmental sciences. In the lead chapter of his dissertation, “Anticipatory Migration and Local Labor Responses to Rural Climate Shocks,” he examines how individuals in rural, agricultural communities in Mexico cope with climate change. This study provides credible identification of a widely held but rarely tested hypothesis that households adapt in anticipation of future destabilizing climate events. The second chapter of Quiñones’ dissertation investigates how migration and return migration influence occupation outcomes for women and men from coffee producing communities in southern Mexico (a revision has been requested by the Journal of Population Economics). In his third chapter, he studies asset accumulation and poverty traps for rural households over a 21-year period in northern Nigeria. Quiñones’ previous works on migration and rural income generating activities has been published in World Development and Food Policy.
Alyssa Marie Ramírez Stege
Alyssa Marie Ramírez Stege is a PhD candidate in the Counseling Psychology program. Her research focuses on the cultural factors that influence psychological training and practice. Alyssa grew up in a low-income household in Mexico where healing practices often reflected her folk beliefs and limited access to resources. For medical care, they sought healing with local practitioners such as hueseros (traditional bone healers), and used their ties to spirituality to cope with a myriad of concerns such as alcoholism, family disruption, and even financial concerns. Alyssa’s view of healing from a young age was integrative as it accounted for restoration of mind, body, and spirit within the context of interpersonal relationships and roles. She did her undergraduate studies in Mexico where often Western psychological theories were taught and applied to a population that was very different to the ones in which the theories had developed.
Her graduate studies in the U.S. have encouraged her to continue to reflect on the meaning of being a healer within and across cultural contexts. Alyssa’s research has focused on how to increase cultural competence, apply culturally congruent psychological interventions, understand culturally diverse perspectives on what constitutes mental health and healing, and recognize the broader role as psychologists in advocating for the clients and systems they work with. The goal of her research has been to increase access to psychological care for groups that are most marginalized, and challenge assumptions within the field to help increase access to care that is congruent to the beliefs and values of diverse groups.
Lorraine Rodriguez-Bonilla is a PhD candidate in the Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program. Originally from Puerto Rico, Lorraine obtained her bachelor’s in industrial microbiology and a master’s in biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. Currently, she works in the Cranberry Genetics and Genomics laboratory assessing the genetic diversity of wild populations of cranberry in their native range. This work is aimed to provide recommendations to the USDA for the establishment of conservation areas containing plants with unique traits.
Her passion for conservation is only rivaled by her dedication to increasing diversity in the sciences. Lorraine served as the chair of CULTIVAR, a USDA and Texas A&M initiative aimed to increase the number of Latinos in agricultural-related graduate degrees by providing mentoring and professional development tools to aid in their careers. In addition, she has served on the SciMed Peer Mentoring committee for three years; guiding incoming first-year underrepresented graduate students into graduate school. Most recently, Lorraine participated in an internship with the USDA National Institutes for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in Washington, DC where she wrote articles that highlight the impact of research developed by grantees funded by the agency. In addition, she was involved in identifying novel funding priority areas and the Food Safety Education and Extension Materials website. In the future, Lorraine wants to pursue a career in conservation of agricultural resources where she can work with both researchers and farmers and continue to empower underrepresented students to pursue higher education.
Sarah Stefanos is a joint PhD candidate in Sociology and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her dissertation explores land deals in Ethiopia and biofuels in Uganda. Sarah’s research interests include political economy, natural resource management, the global South, waste, and state/business interactions in the development of inclusive and sustainable cities and towns.
Sarah is co-author of two publications and has presented her research at international conferences of the American Sociological Association, American Anthropological Association, the Rural Sociological Society, and the Society for the Social Studies of Science. She won the 2017 A.C. Jordan Prize from the UW-Madison African Studies Department for the best graduate student paper, the UW-Madison Grand Prize in Globally Engaged Scholarship, and has been a NSF-IGERT, Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad, Advanced Opportunity, and Borlaug Global Food Security Fellow. Stefanos is deeply committed to helping underrepresented students succeed. She has mentored eight undergraduates, half at UW-Madison and half at Makerere University in Uganda, as well as a Master’s student and high school student. She has also served as the graduate student representative for the Diversity and Equity Committee for the Nelson Institute. She loves teaching and is pursuing a Delta Certificate in Research, Teaching and Learning. In parallel to her academic interests, Sarah co-founded and has served as CFO of W2E Ltd, a waste-to-energy research company in Uganda that specializes in biogas systems and technological/business innovations at the intersection of energy and agriculture.
Diamond Howell is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is pursuing her PhD in Curriculum & Instruction with a concentration in Multicultural Education. Diamond earned her BA in human development from Connecticut College where she also participated in elementary education and policy in community action certificate programs. Her research interests include social justice education, school/institutional climate, educational access for marginalized students, and identity development within schools. Diamond is a recipient of an Advanced Opportunity Fellowship from the School of Education. Her dissertation research examines experiences of students of color and international students at elite boarding schools in the United States. Specifically, she examines how students’ identities influence their interaction with school settings, and raises important questions about what dreams, desires, aspirations, and sacrifices these institutions represent for students.
During her time in Madison, Diamond has served as a support for graduate students in her roles as a Resident Manager for University Housing and an assistant teacher at Eagle’s Wing Childcare Program. She also volunteers for Freedom Inc. of Dance County. Diamond loves to teach and has experience with students that range from infants to adults. After completing her PhD program, Diamond’s goal is to become a tenured professor where she can continue to teach and conduct research. In doing so, she is committed to encouraging students to examine educational disparities, create research opportunities, and be a mentor for graduate students and undergraduate students, specifically students of color, on their journeys to complete their studies.
Karla B. Hall
Karla B. Hall is a Graduate Engineering Research Scholars (GERS) fellow and PhD candidate in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She conducts interdisciplinary research with Dr. Gerald Kulcinski in the Nuclear Engineering department, exploring the effects of energetic helium ions on tungsten with the aim of finding a crystal orientation that is less susceptible to radiation damage for fusion reactor divertors and first walls, such as ITER. Hall earned her bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Chemistry from Tennessee State University (TSU). While at TSU, Hall had her first engagement with public education, running a summer camp teaching the next generation about nuclear energy. Before coming to UW-Madison, she worked as a research scientist at TSU in collaboration with the United States Geological Survey mapping the radon gas levels in the greater Nashville, Tennessee area and educated the public about air quality.
She continues to pursue her passion of educating others at UW-Madison and is involved with several outreach activities geared towards STEM. Hall helped establish the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association on campus, which supports and provides a community for Black students. Through her fellowship (GERS), Hall interacts with underrepresented and underserved elementary and middle school-aged children teaching science concepts in a hands-on way. She has won several grants from the university and community partners to support her science outreach, student mentorship, and to recognize women in STEM. Hall has dedicated her career to discovering new advancements in science and inspiring a love for learning in all students.
Albert Burgess-Hull was an Advanced Opportunity Fellow at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and achieved a PhD from the School of Human Ecology. Albert studied how an individual’s social network influences substance-use behaviors. In addition, he is interested in the use of advanced quantitative methods to inform behavioral research. In this area, he is particularly interested in classification methods such as finite mixture modeling as a way to uncover individual heterogeneity in a population.
Dr. Rastafa I. Geddes was born in St. Thomas, Jamaica and raised in New York City. Dr. Geddes, or Ras, is a product of several socially-driven educational programs aimed at reaching an underrepresented portion of the population (i.e., poor young black males). Armed with a passion for his discipline and a determination to improve “how we educate our biomedical professionals and the masses”, Dr. Geddes has dedicated his career not only to researching therapies for neurological diseases, but to providing similar opportunities that were afforded to him as an impoverished youth. Dr. Geddes is an underrepresented minority in the biomedical field, and as such continues to be in communication with, and hopes to provide ample opportunity to, youths with a similar backstory that are interested in learning more about biomedical research, more specifically TBI and aging-related neurological disorders.
Natalie Guerrero Cofie
Natalie Guerrero Cofie achieved a PhD in Population Health Sciences from UW–Madison. Her research interests include racial/ethnic health disparities in maternal and child health, as well as poverty and immigrant health. Natalie has been the lead author of manuscripts in these research areas, publishing her work in multiple peer-reviewed journals, including the Wisconsin Medical Journal and Preventing Chronic Disease. She has presented her research at national conferences of the American Physician Scientist Association and the American Public Health Association. In her dissertation, she examined the relationship between maternal depression and child problem behavior.
Evelyn Hammond achieved a PhD at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Her dissertation explores public perceptions of frac sand mining in western Wisconsin. Preliminary results of her research were presented at the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management last summer. Hammond’s research findings will not only inform state and national policy on frac sand mining, but will also worldwide policy on mineral and non-mineral resource management. In April 2016, she was inducted into the UW–Madison Teaching Academy as a Future Faculty Partner.
Nadia Khan achieved a PhD in the Cellular and Molecular Biology graduate program at UW–Madison. She was a member of Dr. Avtar Roopra’s lab where she focused on how gene expression in the brain can become reprogrammed after events like traumatic brain injury, which can lead to epilepsy long-term. She currently holds three publications with Dr. Stephen J. Gray in the journals Gene Therapy and Discovery Medicine. She was an active member of the SciMed GRS Peer Mentoring Committee where she helps first-year underrepresented students navigate the first year of graduate school.
Alexandra MacMillan Uribe
Alexandra MacMillan Uribe achieved a PhD in the interdisciplinary graduate program in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her experience interning for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and her commitment to resolving health disparities inspired her to shift her research focus to maternal and infant nutrition among low-income populations. She worked for Dr. Beth Olson and investigated how to increase the effectiveness of maternal and infant nutrition education to positively affect behavior change. Within this focus, she investigates the mother-infant dyad relationship and how the food environment, created and controlled by the mother, influences maternal and infant nutrition and health outcomes.
Catasha holds an MA in Journalism and Mass Communication and Afro-American Studies. Her research interests are in the areas of media effects, race, health communication, health disparities and social marketing. Catasha uses her background in critical/cultural studies to inform quantitative research on the relationship between race, stereotypes and health disparities. Her dissertation research examines the way media can be used to mitigate health disparities associated with stigma experienced by Black gay men. Throughout graduate school, Catasha has worked in service to the Madison community and her department.
Charee Peters achieved a PhD in astronomy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her research focuses on energetic phenomena in the universe that change in brightness over time, known as transient and variable events. Charee’s thesis work includes answering questions concerning the variability of transient events in radio wavelengths using a new survey called CHILES. As a Yankton Sioux tribal member, Charee was brought up to be proud of her heritage. She strives to create and support inclusive environments for underrepresented people in the fields of physics and astronomy.
Jalissa Wynder is a doctoral candidate in the Molecular and Environmental Toxicology (METC) graduate program. Her research focuses on the role of environmental estrogens in prostate disease. She is a member of Dr. William Ricke’s laboratory where she investigates the role of environmental estrogens in benign prostate hyperplasia. While at UW–Madison Jalissa has been involved in the METC’s student led committee (SLC) where she serves as Personal and Professional Development Officer and she participates in the Science and Medicine Graduate Research Scholars program for underrepresented graduate students.
Maichou Lor is a PhD candidate in the School of Nursing at University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has distinguished herself as one of a very small group in the Early Entry PhD program. Her research focuses on reducing health disparities of non-English (NES) speaking older adults. Specifically, Maichou’s work focuses on the development and implementation of innovative, culturally and linguistically appropriate care practices aimed at improving quality of care and quality of life for NES immigrant older adults, beginning with Hmong older adults. Maichou is a co-founder of the Multicultural Student Nursing Organization, dedicated to improving the experiences of students and care of culturally diverse populations across care settings at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing.
Sarah Franco achieved a PhD from the Cellular and Molecular Pathology (CMP) program at UW–Madison. Her research examines the molecular mechanisms of vascular disease with the goal of identifying new therapeutic targets to prevent restenosis. As a first-generation college student and Hispanic scientist, Sarah was dedicated to improving the inclusion of underrepresented students in science. She served as the graduate co-president of the SACNAS UW–Madison Chapter, whose goal is to help foster opportunities in STEM for underrepresented students.
Dr. Yashdeep Phanse is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at UW–Madison. His interdisciplinary research work in immunology and nanobiotechnology in the lab of Dr. Lyric Bartholomay at UW–Madison focuses on novel nanoparticle approaches to design therapeutics for protecting shrimp, a major food source in developing countries, against pathogens. Another area of his research focus is developing next-generation tools to control mosquito-borne diseases through vector control. While pursuing his PhD in the labs of Drs. Michael Wannemuehler, Bryan Bellaire and Balaji Narasimhan, he worked on developing single dose nanovaccines for human and veterinary applications.
Saili Kulkarni achieved a PhD and MS from the Department of Special Education at UW–Madison. Her research examines teacher beliefs and intersections of race and ability. As a special education teacher, Saili helped create the district’s first Inclusive Teacher Network which enabled special education teachers to share resources and build partnerships with universities to increase inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities. For her dissertation, Saili looked at how beliefs about disability, race and culture inform special education teachers’ retention in urban school districts.
Alexandra is a doctoral candidate in Cancer Biology at UW–Madison pursuing research on the Human Papillomavirus and HPV-associated cancers. As a member of Dr. Paul Lambert’s lab she is investigating the role of a specific cellular oncogene, EGFR, that has been implicated in causing HPV-associated cancers. While at UW–Madison Alex has been involved in the Science and Medicine Graduate Research Scholars, a community for underrepresented graduate students in the sciences, as well as in the Ford Foundation Fellowships. Alex is Mexican-American and also suffers from moderate-to-severe hearing loss. Alex hopes to continue to advocate for underrepresented and disabled students and encourage them to pursue scientific research careers.
Patrice Leverett received an MS in the School Psychology Program in the Department of Educational Psychology. Her dissertation, Redirecting the Pipeline: Behavior interventions and treatment acceptability with African American middle school males, explores the cultural relevance of Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) in school settings. Additionally, Patrice worked at the Center for Women’s Health Research (CWHR) on a National Institutes of Health grant examining the impact of mentoring relationships on the outcomes of underrepresented students in STEM fields.
Most of Gerardo’s research has revolved around the area of the “leaky-education pipeline”, which is based on the fact that only 46% of Latinos will graduate from high school. Therefore, his work has focused on what can we do to support Latino students, through a focus on how to build school connectedness for Latino youth at the middle school where he teaches and helping to develop the Latino Youth Summit to encourage Latino middle school students to explore college and careers. In the Madison area, he also serves as the Post-Secondary Chair of the Latino Education Council, Secretary of Nuestro Mundo Incorporated Board, and Secretary of the Vera Court Neighborhood Center Board. He exemplifies the Bouchet qualities by being the first person in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree and hopes to inspire his cousins to believe in themselves so that they will also graduate from college.
Dr. Debraj “Raj” Mukherjee received his medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School, where he was named a C. Everett Koop Scholar, Rhodes Scholar finalist, Gold Humanism in Medicine Honor Society member. He served as a health policy fellow under Surgeon General Richard Carmona while at Dartmouth. Dr. Mukherjee is also leading burgeoning efforts in comparative genomics within neurosurgery, with a focus on more personalized and targeted neuro-oncological care.
Kelli Brianna Pointer
Kelli Pointer achieved a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology as well as a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Kelli joined Dr. John Kuo’s lab at SMPH and her project currently focuses on studying the tumor microenvironment in glioblastoma. She hopes that combining a clinical practice with research will provide her the ability to recognize unanswered questions that arise in clinical medicine and use those questions to develop research aims that are translatable.
Marla achieved a PhD and MS in Counseling Psychology at UW–Madison. Her research examines psychological, social, and cultural factors that influence academic persistence for marginalized communities in higher education. Specifically, she has examined Latina/os in higher education. Her dissertation explores psycho-sociocultural processes within mentoring relationships that influence academic persistence decisions for Latina/o undergraduates. She has been a product of mentoring which has influenced her research.
Utibe received a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Pathology at UW–Madison. She gained her first research experience in the summer of 2005 at UW–Madison through the Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP). This and other research experiences that followed solidified her decision to enroll in the Cellular and Molecular Pathology graduate program where she was a dissertator in the laboratory of Dr. Timothy Yoshino. The laboratory investigates several aspects of schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease caused by infection with parasitic worms and is regarded as the second most devastating parasitic disease worldwide, after malaria.
Shannon received a PhD and MS in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. She believes in supporting and advocating to ensure diversity exists in STEM fields. Shannon served the academic community through activities associated with Graduate Engineering Research Scholars (GRS) program and through the WARF Ambassador Program to promote and encourage underrepresented students to enter the STEM fields.
Michelle received an MS in the Department of Sociology. Her research explores the construction and reproduction of educational inequality. With this research she has explored the impact of data-driven school reform on student achievement, the importance of teacher and parents perceptions of one another for understanding parent engagement and the role of family and school characteristics for unpacking the causal effect of social capital and childrearing.
Patrick Brown, a doctoral candidate in cellular and molecular biology and a medical student. Brown recognizes the need to bridge the research/practice gap. Brown says he was also fortunate to work with Wan-Ju Li on a stem cell and cartilage regeneration project. As an MD/PhD student, Brown has continued to be a part of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). As the chapter president, he helped organized a voter registration drive and grant writing efforts, helping nine SNMA students at UW–Madison attend the national conference. In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Brown also volunteers as a pianist for the Madison Allied Community Gospel Choir.
Sharee Light received a PhD and MS in psychology studying the neural correlates of mental health states such as creativity and empathy. She is also interested in investigating how these systems operate in individuals who have a mental disorder, such as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). In addition to her research, Light led courses for disadvantaged high school youth and has served as a teaching assistant for personality psychology. Alongside her clinical neuropsychology supervisor, Carey Gleason, she provided free dementia screenings at community centers such as the Warner Park Community Recreation Center in Madison.
Gregory Mosby received a PhD and MS studying astronomy. He studied galaxies in which some of the most massive black holes reside. He is an award-winning presenter at the American Astronomical Society and National Society of Black Physicists conferences and has a zeal for learning and knowledge dissemination. Mosby served as a graduate student faculty liaison, often bringing together diverse opinions in his department. Beyond campus, Mosby was involved in hosting solar system viewing sessions at state parks around Wisconsin.
Chidi Obasi achieved a PhD in clinical investigation and an MS in population health in his clinical investigation studying the severity of acute respiratory illness. He was born in Madison, and then completed his medical education in Nigeria. During his time in Nigeria, he evaluated prescription patterns of antimalarial drugs among doctors in a teaching hospital. Obasi served as a reviewer for articles in the Wisconsin Medical Journal and worked as a TRICARE representative, ensuring that military personnel and their families understood and obtained appropriate healthcare.
Myeshia Price achieved a PhD and MS in psychology studying sexuality. As a former McNair Program scholar, Price was first introduced to research eight years ago, and published two peer-reviewed articles with her academic advisor, Janet Hyde. Through her work as a sexual health scholar at the Center of Excellence for Sexual Health’s community leadership program, Price gained community leadership skills that carried her forward in her research and educational goals. Among her peers and colleagues, she is known as “Switzerland” for her neutrality and objectivity.
Edward G. Cole
Edward G. Cole achieved a PhD and MS in mechanical engineering. In the advanced manufacturing lab of professor Frank E. Pfefferkorn, Cole’s research within friction stir welding (FSW) has examined welding forces influenced by tool design features and the thermo-mechanical responses of various aluminum alloys. Beyond alloy specific measurements and tool design, Cole also has contributed experimental results to funded research objectives for both the U.S. Navy and an industrial research partner in Wisconsin.
Abiola O. Keller
Abiola O. Keller holds a master of public health from UW–Madison, a master of physician assistant studies from the University of Iowa, and received a PhD in the Population Health Sciences program. Her graduate research with Whitney Witt focuses on better understanding the social, behavioral, and psychological factors that contribute to disparities in health and mental health outcomes across the life span. Her dissertation examines the impact of patient-provider communication on the receipt of adequate treatment for depression among women in the United States and to what extent patient-provider communication impacts disparities in quality treatment. Keller has received several awards including an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) T-32 Pre-doctoral National Research Service Award (NRSA) Traineeship.
Doug Kiel studies American Indian history, federal Indian law and policy, and the history of the American West. He is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and recieved a PhD and MA in history from UW–Madison. His dissertation, “Routes of Resurgence: The Wisconsin Oneidas and the Long Red Power Movement,” examines 50 years of tribal revitalization efforts in the United States prior to the advent of casino gaming and traces the extraordinary renascence of the Oneida Nation following the devastating federal policies of the nineteenth century. While the 1920s represented a historic low point for the Oneidas characterized by insufficient access to healthcare, education, and employment, by the 1990s the Oneidas not only had achieved cultural and economic security, they had also become one of the largest employers in northeast Wisconsin.
Michael J. Dockry
Mike Dockry is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and was born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Since 2005 he has been the USDA Forest Service’s Liaison to the College of Menominee where he facilitates sustainable forestry research, education, and technical assistance of interest to tribal communities. Mike received a PhD in the Forest & Wildlife Ecology Department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research interests include understanding social aspects of forest management, sustainability, indigenous community forestry, and environmental history. Mike’s dissertation explores how an indigenous community in lowland Bolivia and the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin have used forestry to control their territories, maintain their forests, and sustain their cultures.
Crystal Marie Moten
Crystal Marie Moten achieved a PhD in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She was enrolled in the Program in Gender and Women’s History and her area of specialization is 20th Century African-American Women’s History. Her dissertation, “Unfinished Business”: African-American Business Women and the Civil Rights Movement in Milwaukee, WI 1940s–1970s, explores the impact of African-American businesswomen on struggles for social justice in the urban north, using Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a case study. Her dissertation argues that these female organizers sought to change the lives of African-Americans in Milwaukee through community development and empowerment. The institutions they created still serve the needs of African-American Milwaukeeans today as the struggle for justice and equality for African-American Milwaukeeans is still “unfinished business.”
Gilbert G. Jose
Gil Jose is a Filipino American, Baltimore native and a brother of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. He achieved his PhD in Microbiology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His dissertation research revolves around determining how a novel antiviral peptide restricts the entry of Herpes Simplex Virus Type I (HSV-1) into host cells. Studying how antiviral peptides function could unlock novel therapeutics for human viral pathogens as well as inform our knowledge of how a virus enters a cell and causes disease. Gil is also interested in working in the field of science policy, specifically around the intersection of science and politics as well as improving the quality of science education and the public understanding of science.
Kimberly J. Turner
Kimberly Turner achieved a PhD and MS in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her primary research interests lie at the intersection of work and family, particularly for disadvantaged men. Kimberly’s dissertation investigates the link between men’s labor market and family experiences, stressing employment-related characteristics and resources that influence fathers’ involvement and fathers’ wellbeing. As a NICHD pre-doctoral trainee at the Center for Demography and Ecology, she has worked with Marcia J. Carlson on the “Trajectories and Consequences of Nonmarital Fathering” project in recent years. She worked on projects that consider the context in which fathers enact their fathering role (resident vs. non-resident fathers) as a mechanism of inequality and whether fathers’ economic and time investments in children operate as complements or supplements across residential contexts.
Dyani Reynolds-White Hawk
Dyani Reynolds-White Hawk achieved an MFA in the Fine Art Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Through her research and artwork she explores the dilemmas, contradictions, and confusion as well as the joys and blessings of a cross-cultural existence. As a woman of Lakota and European ancestry raised among Native American communities within urban American environments her work focuses on the investigation of communal and personal definitions. By utilizing the visual histories of both Western and Lakota arts, she is able to examine their commonalities and disparities, critically evaluating the tendency of mainstream art communities to segregate or overlook culturally based Native arts. Her paintings and mixed media works dissect and patch together elements of traditional Lakota symbolism and motifs with styles and symbols of Western modernism and the urban environment.