Graduate Student Service Scholarships

The Graduate Student Service Scholarship recognizes and honors the graduate students who volunteer to take on service roles in addition to their research, work, and family obligations. While service can come in many different forms and all service to the university is appreciated, priority for this scholarship is given to students who conduct multiple service activities and/or whose service activity is notably impactful.

The Graduate School recognizes that graduate students belonging to underrepresented groups disproportionately engage in unpaid service to the academy. While a scholarship alone does not rectify historic and current disparate expectations and obligations, this award is designed to reward and value graduate students’ service roles that shape the university’s future.

Service Scholarship Awardees

Morgan Cacic

Morgan CacicGerman

Morgan Cacic is a disabled academic, children’s book author, #OwnVoices writer of fiction and nonfiction, and social justice activist. She has taught German and English literacy and literature in a variety of capacities in the greater Madison area over the past ten years and has a master of science degree in Education: Teaching & Learning, with Wisconsin teaching licenses in Alternative Education and German Language. She is currently working to finish her PhD with research in the intersections of disability justice, German Literature, and cultivating communities of care in higher education classrooms. On the UW–Madison campus and in its surrounding communities Morgan creates and facilitates workshops and trainings on disability, ableism, mental health, and social justice. The main focus of her work is creating safe spaces for people to discuss and disclose mental health disability, as part of an effort to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness that often acts as a barrier to receiving critical support services.

Kela Caldwell

Kela CaldwellGeography

Kela Caldwell is a PhD student in the Department of Geography, passionate about creating decolonial and anti-racist futures. During her graduate career, Kela has advocated for advancing department reckoning with discriminatory and inequitable practices, served on numerous department committees (Community Coordinator, DEIC, Curriculum, Graduate studies) as a graduate representative, and been at the forefront of creating department policy and policy change. At the university scale, Kela has leveraged her own experiences to advocate for undergraduate and graduate students of color and served on numerous university committees and communities within the College of Letters and Sciences (Teaching Mentor, Teaching and Learning Advisory Council, Honors Program Demystifying Graduate School Panelist) as a graduate representative. These opportunities and others have given Kela the chance to work with students, faculty, and staff in improving her department and the broader UW–Madison community climate and working environment. Dedicated to anti-racist scholarship, Kela seeks to leverage her research on historical abolitionist data practices to challenge the State’s power to define racial violence and inform concrete change around contemporary policing and surveillance practices in Black communities. Through her advocacy, service, leadership, teaching, and scholarship, Kela’s sustained commitment to equity and community has made a profound impact within her department and beyond.

Steph Adler

Steph AdlerKinesiology

Steph Adler is a second year PhD student in the Department of Kinesiology. She serves as president of the KinEqT Mentorship Program, which provides not only mentorship, but resources, and support to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Department of Kinesiology. In this role, Steph coordinates professional development workshops as well as panel events with faculty and staff in Kinesiology graduate programs and healthcare professionals for networking opportunities for KinEqT members. She also serves as a student representative of the Equity, Climate and Diversity Committee for the Department of Kinesiology, which strives to maintain a welcoming and engaging environment within the department.

Being at a large university, it can often be difficult to find resources. Steph’s goal is to help as many students as she can navigate the many resources UW campus has to offer to help them become successful. She hopes to improve the students’ experience by sharing past experiences, creating positive change within the Kinesiology Department, and giving students new and exciting opportunities to thrive.

Outside of the Kinesiology Department, Steph works for RecWell, hosting weekly athletic training clinics available at no cost for all UW–Madison students seeking injury evaluation, treatment planning, rehabilitation, sports medicine education, and injury prevention.

Steph is part of the Wisconsin Injury in Sport Laboratory, where her research is focused on providing resources and tools for athletic trainers working in the secondary school setting to help mitigate barriers associated with social determinants of health in patient populations to improve overall health outcomes.

Sadie Dempsey

Sadie DempseySociology

Sadie Dempsey is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. As a political sociologist, she studies democracy, social movements, and civic life. Her dissertation is an ethnography of engaged citizenship that interrogates two interwoven paradoxes: Why do engaged citizens increasingly distrust political institutions and the people in them? Why do they continue to participate in a system they do not trust? This research has important implications in this time of democratic crisis – where concerns of plummeting trust, declining participation, and democratic backsliding abound – challenging us to rethink the structure of our political institutions in pursuit of a more just, democratic future.

Sadie is engaged in departmental service to build a more collaborative community within academia. She is also the co-founder of the Qualitative Methods Workshop and the graduate student coordinator for the Wisconsin Center for Ethnographic Research (WISCER). In this space, she runs writing groups, hosts professionalization workshops, and was the lead organizer for the 2022 Chicago Ethnography Conference. She is also on the mentoring committee for incoming graduate students in sociology and serves as a mentor for numerous graduate and undergraduate students throughout the university.

Sadie is also a community-engaged scholar. She is a 2023-24 Mellon Public Humanities Fellow, where she works with the League of Women Voters in Dane County to build a civic education curriculum to make politics more accessible to all Wisconsin residents. She is also working with two undergraduate students to create a workshop on the relationship between art and activism with high school students involved in Leaders Igniting Transformation in Milwaukee. This work will culminate in a community gallery night where students can share their vision for a more just school system with parents, neighbors, principals, school board members, and district administrators.

Alexis Avery

Alexis Avery


Alexis is currently a PhD candidate in the Management and Human Resources (MHR) Department at the Wisconsin School of Business (WSB) and a UW Institute for Diversity Science Fellow. She brings over a decade of experience from her roles at U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the federal government, where she spearheaded and contributed to numerous organizational transformative initiatives. Alexis earned a master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Georgia and is a member of The PhD Project, Blacks in I-O, the Academy of Management, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologists, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Using a macro- and micro-level perspective, Alexis examines how and why skin tone discrimination within the workplace influences employee outcomes and experiences. She also studies how increases in demographic diversity impact behavior within the organization as well as its impact on society.

Alexis has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to service at the university, contributing her time and expertise in various capacities. Alexis’ leadership as a co-chair of the WSB PhD DEI committee has been instrumental in organizing events and programming that promote inclusivity within the business school’s PhD program for faculty and students. Additionally, her role as one of two liaisons for the WSB PhD Research committee underscores her commitment to representing the voices of her fellow students. Furthermore, her involvement as a representative for the MHR department highlights her commitment to expanding access to education for underrepresented groups, as evidenced by actively participating in recruitment efforts such as attending PhD Project events virtually and in Chicago. She has also served as a panelist for the McNair Scholars Program at UW and for teaching assistants, which highlights her dedication to education, mentorship, and supporting the professional development of her peers.  She has served as a guest lecturer for undergraduates in the African American studies department on DEI in the workplace and has taken the initiative to organize several social events throughout the years to bring together Black PhD, law, and medical school students across the university, fostering a sense of community and support among her peers. Alexis has made a significant and lasting impact on the UW community.

Haley Weaver

Haley WeaverPsychology

Haley Weaver is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology. Her research examines how infants learn words through their experiences with objects. As a first-generation student, Haley is passionate about supporting students and improving their experiences at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. To this end, she has participated in several service roles within the Department of Psychology. She served as the Graduate Student Representative at faculty meetings, a peer-elected role. She is a member, and former co-chair, of the Colloquium Series Committee, where she helps provide engaging presentations for the department and opportunities for graduate students to network with visiting scholars. Additionally, she serves on the Accommodations Committee, collaborating with faculty and student members to create a set of equitable guidelines for graduate-level accommodations. Beyond her commitment to the graduate experience, Haley is dedicated to mentoring. She has mentored three undergraduates to develop and present independent projects and has served as a panelist at the L&S Honors Program’s Demystifying Graduate School. Haley’s service roles have been deeply meaningful to her, and she hopes that her efforts have contributed to a positive climate within both the Department of Psychology and the broader UW–Madison community.

Indrani Dey

Educational Psychology

Abhishek Gupta

Abhishek GuptaMechanical Engineering

Abhishek is a PhD candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a research assistant in Thevamaran Lab, focusing on developing advanced structured materials for protective applications in extreme environments. In addition to his research, he is actively involved in various student societies. He was a dedicated member of the Paleontology Club and currently serves as the President of the Graduate Engineering Mechanics Society (GEMS) in the College of Engineering.

GEMS, under Abhishek’s leadership, initiated the annual 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition for Engineering Mechanics graduate students, recognizing the underrepresentation of engineering students in the university-wide 3MT competition. The Engineering 3MT was highly successful this year, and Abhishek plans to expand it to all College of Engineering graduate students next year.

Abhishek has also played a significant role in securing funding support for GEMS from the department, which has enabled the organization to provide food at events and establish a bank account for managing funds. Additionally, he has mentored prospective graduate students and guided the research of undergraduate scholars in his lab. In recognition of his mentorship, he was awarded the “Exceptional Mentorship Award” from the Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) program at UW–Madison.

Abhishek is a strong advocate for scientific thinking and reasoning. His ambition is to become a tenure-track faculty member to continue his applied research and educate future generations.

Jae Weller

Jae WellerLanguage Sciences Program

Jae Weller (they/them) is a PhD student in the Language Sciences program who studies phonetics and phonology (speech sounds). They started graduate school in the fall of 2021 and became the Co-President of the Linguistics Student Organization (LSO) in the fall of 2022. In that position, they have led the organization of numerous events with the goal to enrich the educational experiences of students in linguistics and related fields at UW–Madison. Some of these have been social events, such as study nights, game nights, and craft hangouts. Others have been professionalization events, including an organization trip to the Linguistics Society of America (LSA) conference, and two iterations of the annual Workshop on General Linguistics (WiGL) student research conference. They are passionate about building community at the university and creating new opportunities for students.

Leah Awkward-RichLeah Awkward-Rich

Social Welfare

Leah Awkward-Rich (she/her) is a PhD student in the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work studying early childhood education policy. Previously, Leah served as the student representative on a faculty search committee and on the Admissions Committee. She currently serves on the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion for the School of Social Work, and she collaborates with fellow students to address equity issues within the school. Leah hopes that her service to the School of Social Work will help to promote a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive environment for current and future students.

Cynthia Baeza

Curriculum & Instruction

Cynthia BaezaCynthia Baeza is a doctoral student in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and a Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) and School of Education Graduate Research Scholars (Ed-GRS) Fellow. Her research focus is on the making of difference in the teaching of science in two-way dual language immersion programs. She is interested in learning how to best support bi/multilingual students classified as English Learners without reinscribing raciolinguistic perspectives that position them as a different kind of learner. Cynthia is currently involved in a range of research projects that focus on serving Latine students in the context of science, language, and rural education. She also serves as the Graduate Chair for the School of Education Latine/x Affinity Group, where she leads group meetings and helps coordinate events and outreach opportunities. Supporting the initiative to co-create this space for self-identifying Latine students has been a rewarding experience as she aims to build community for students across departments.

Cynthia joins the University of Wisconsin–Madison with seven years of teaching experience in the Dallas Independent School District. She is a founding member of a single-gender STEAM-focused school in Texas, where she served the roles of Dual Language Lead, Dual Language Teacher, and Language Proficiency Assessment Committee (LPAC) Chair. Cynthia has extensive experience providing professional development for teachers and presenting at local, national, and international conferences. She strives to be a colleague and ongoing learner in every space she is a part of.

Savannah Gentry


Savannah GentrySavannah Gentry is a PhD candidate in the Department of Botany passionate about creating communities of support for underrepresented graduate students in STEM. During her graduate career, Savanah has advocated for graduate students to be included in, and protected by, department and university policies, served on numerous department committees (DEI, Financial, Graduate) as a graduate representative, and been at the forefront of bringing graduate concerns and needs to the department’s faculty and staff. These opportunities have given Savannah the chance to work with other students, staff, and faculty in improving the department’s climate and working environment. Additionally, Savannah is dedicated to community-engaged scholarship and lowering the barriers for communities of color to engage with the scientific community by working to repair the historical mistrust between the university and the Madison community through the fusion of art and science. Through her advocacy, service, leadership, and mentoring, Savannah has been able to share her experiences navigating academia and STEM as a woman of color. Beyond having a successful research career working with fungal pathogens of wildlife, Savannah’s fierce commitment to equity and community has made a profound ripple within her department such that she hopes it will lay the foundation for incoming students to succeed uninhibited.

Marissa Gurtler

Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies

Marissa is a graduate student in Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies.

Naomi Isenberg


Naomi IsenbergNaomi is a graduate student in social psychology studying psychological mechanisms for promoting inclusive attitude and behavior change. She is particularly interested in examining misperceptions that people have about public opinions related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and then correcting these misperceptions as a means to influence more positive intergroup relations. Naomi also enjoys applying her research and skills to serving her community. She currently serves in her department’s Climate and Diversity Committee (and has served on this committee previously for two years) where she helps design and administer the department’s graduate student climate survey and translate the results into new initiatives. She also serves in her department’s Graduate Student Social Events Committee where she helps plan and host social events for graduate students. Additionally, she is a member of the Antiracism Learning and Action in Neuroscience group, which aims to increase antiracism in the academic community and promote greater access to science for individuals belonging to marginalized groups. Naomi also enjoys designing and facilitating diversity-related training sessions on campus and in the broader Wisconsin community. Her motivation for this work largely stems from her experience growing up in a biracial and working-class family and being a first-generation college graduate.

Sean Kraus

Cancer Biology

Sean KrausSean Kraus is a PhD student in the Cancer Biology program whose research is devoted to improving responses to cancer immunotherapy. Sean lost both his mother and stepmother to cancer, so improving outcomes for cancer patients is particularly important to him.

Sean began graduate school in 2019 and just three months into joining a lab the pandemic started. This created many new and unique challenges for him and many other graduate students. As such, he has spearheaded the creation of a student committee dedicated to improving the quality of life of graduate students in his program. This committee has planned numerous social events, such as picnics and tailgates, as well as events geared toward professional and scientific development. The overall goal of these events is to instill a bigger sense of community in the department, as well as create connections between individuals that were lost to the pandemic. Additionally, this committee has also worked to support the mental health of students by organizing a seminar with University Health Services to improve knowledge of the resources available to trainees, as well work to establish a mental health ambassador specifically dedicated to the Cancer Biology program. Mental health awareness is extremely important to Sean, who believes that we cannot be successful in graduate school or other aspects of life if we don’t take care of ourselves first.

Ultimately, Sean believes that while graduate school is very difficult at times, improving communication with fellow graduate students and faculty can make graduate school more manageable and potentially even fun!

Stephanie McFarlane


Stephanie McFarlane is a sixth-year doctoral candidate who is preparing to defend her dissertation. As a first-generation college student and a mother to three children, Stephanie is passionate about creating a welcoming and inclusive community for all. Stephanie works to dismantle the patriarchal stereotype of a scientist through mentorship. She mentors with honesty and vulnerability about the obstacles in her own academic journey, creating a culture that allows her mentees to safely ask questions and to gain confidence on their own unique paths. In addition to mentoring 12 undergraduate students, Stephanie has served on numerous departmental committees during her tenure as a graduate student: the Equity, Diversity, and Climate Committee, the Graduate Committee, the Social Committee, the External Relations Committee, and a faculty search committee. Stephanie also spent the past two years organizing the Botany Informal Talk Series (BITS), which builds the departmental community and provides early career scientists the opportunity to share their research in a safe, friendly environment. After Stephanie finishes her degree, she will continue working as a post-doctoral research scientist on campus, conducting research that evaluates the outcomes of ecological restoration in grassland ecosystems, seeks to advance the predictive capacity of restoration ecology, and aims to understand the mechanisms that attract pollinators to restored prairies.

Patrick Monari


Patrick MonariPatrick Monari is a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. They study the endocrinology and functional neuroplasticity that impacts social behavior, specifically communication and coordination. During their time at UW–Madison, Patrick founded the Antiracism Learning and Action in Neuroscience group (ALAN), a community of students, professors, and staff who explore how the institutions within academia oppress people of color, in particular Black and Indigenous folks. ALAN focuses on unpacking the active and tacit participation of individual academics in these racist systems, and what those academics can do to address this participation. With the other members of ALAN, Patrick implemented a number of initiatives including a university-wide catalog of life science labs that prioritize hiring undergraduate researchers of color, a yearly Science Expo at a local high school that brings over 70 university scientists to speak with students to foster science identities, DEI panels at a science society conference, and a published commentary on leveraging privilege to improve racial equity in academia.

Christopher Stevens

Pharmaceutical Sciences

Christopher StevensChris (he/him) is a fourth year PhD candidate in the School of Pharmacy with research focusing on developing targeted protein degradation platforms. Since joining the program in 2019, Chris has been a board member of the school’s graduate chapter of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences (AAPS). During his time with AAPS, he has served first as the Chair for Professional Development, and currently as the President of the chapter. Through this, he has helped to develop several workshops for the department’s graduate students focused on a variety of topics, such as project management and scientific communication. In addition, he developed a merit-badge camp for the local scout district, through which he helped a team of graduate students lead courses on various health and science related topics. As president of AAPS, Chris has helped to guide the chapter in supporting graduate student professional development, including bringing in a professional development grant from the Graduate School.

Beyond his work with AAPS, Chris has served on the School of Pharmacy’s Assessment Committee and helped with several analyses and refinements of the tools used to assess course performance. He is also invested in undergraduate education and developing future scientists, and has mentored several undergraduate students and volunteered for several instructional positions. As a bisexual male, Chris has spoken to students about the impact identity has on one’s science, and how important it is to acknowledge your own bias and background. He is dedicated to helping increase representation of all minoritized groups in scientific research and encourages others to do so as well. Chris is passionate about helping both undergraduate and graduate students develop the tools and skills they need to succeed in their profession and helps show them how to do so in an authentic manner. He hopes to continue to advocate for students and ensure they receive the support they need in their education as he moves forward in his career.

Jennifer Tran


Jennifer TranJennifer (she/her) is a fifth year PhD candidate in the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program (MDTP) and a member of the Science and Medicine Graduate Research Scholars (SciMed GRS) and Biotechnology Training Program communities. Passionate about inclusion and community, Jennifer previously served on her program’s Student Recruitment Team and Student Retreat Committee, creating spaces where current and future students can build community, find support, and have fun. She was also a founding member of MDTP’s Diversity and Inclusion committee and currently serves as a student representative for her program’s steering committee. In this capacity, she hopes to be a source of support for her peers and influence tangible change by bringing in speakers and financial resources and proposing program changes that improve students’ experiences. Additionally, Jennifer has engaged with the larger Madison community, participating at Day at the Capitol, continuing education seminars, and science outreach events.

Jennifer is also passionate about helping grad students in their professional lives. As a member of the organizing committee for the 2023 Life Sciences Careers Day, she brought in guest speakers, made graphics, and helped plan and organize the event. She has also served as a consultant, project manager, and Director of Engagement for WiSolve Consulting Group, a nonprofit organization of UW–Madison grad students and postdocs focused on professional development opportunities like workshops, networking events, and client-facing consulting projects.

Overall, Jennifer hopes she leaves graduate school having uplifted and made positive impacts for other students and plans to continue her efforts into the next step of her career.

Alexius Lampkin

Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology

Alexius LampkinAlexius (she/her) is passionate about creating more diverse and inclusive spaces for students who are underrepresented and/or limited in opportunities to pursue STEM research, learning, and careers. Since arriving at UW–Madison, she has served in a variety of positions of service to her program, college, and community. She has supported the Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology program by serving as a graduate student representative on both the steering committee and the recruitment committee. This opportunity has allowed her to talk to students about her experiences and to provide insight into how she navigates her career choices in science while being a voice of change for the students’ needs. Additionally, as a graduate intern for WISCIENCE, she serves as the program coordinator for the Biological Interactions Summer Program and the Research Peer Leaders Program. Through these positions, she works with underrepresented undergraduates from across the U.S. who are interested in pursuing research careers and/or doctoral degrees by providing professional development seminars and community-building activities within the program and by facilitating mentor-mentee relationships. As a graduate student mentor in the BioHouse learning community, she mentors first semester undergraduates interested in biology-based majors through navigating the first semester of college and exploring biological research. Alexius understands the need for positioning herself as mentor for the next generation of STEM scholars and her service to these programs has and will continue to make a lasting impact in the UW–Madison community.

Mark Koranda


Mark KorandaMark is a new PhD graduate who studies the brain behavior of talking. His thesis investigates cognitive short-cuts that lead to saying what we don’t mean. His advocacy work is to fill the gap in your assumption that sound is the only way to hear others.

Mark Koranda grew up listening for three. He is a child of deaf adults (CODA), a native translator of Deaf rights. At UW–Madison, he served twice on a cross-disciplinary committee for hiring a researcher in Deaf Studies/Sign Language. He has regularly guest lectured across campus on Deaf culture and American Sign Language. He also served on the Psychology department’s inaugural graduate student Climate and Diversity Committee.

Change begins within. Lately Mark’s passion has been directed at developing self-directed cognitive exercises that foster broader thinking. The primary venue of this project is a new campus journaling club, Skilled Reflection, where students address writing prompts to reconcile contradictions between their ideals and the reality they live in. Mark is currently trying to reconcile the incompatibility between his own ideals and current job prospects.

Haleigh Ortmeier-Clarke


Haleigh Ortmeier-ClarkeHaleigh Ortmeier-Clarke is a PhD student in the Department of Agronomy with research devoted to increasing the diversity of small grains grown in Wisconsin. As a disabled scientist, her advocacy is fueled by her own experiences both in and outside of academia. Haleigh has been a member of her department’s Climate, Equity, and Diversity Committee since the fall of 2019 and has taken leadership on many initiatives, including organizing and hosting a department retreat, coordinating round table discussions to address graduate student concerns, and administering a building accessibility survey. These efforts have produced actionable steps and measurable impact that are already seen and felt throughout the department. Haleigh recognizes the hidden curriculum within academia that perpetuates systemic barriers for underrepresented students. To combat this, she has worked collaboratively with other students and staff to develop documents such as a field work safety guide to create a safer and more equitable environment for graduate students. Outside of the department, Haleigh is also a mentor for disabled and chronically ill undergraduate students through Chronic Health Allies Mentorship Program (CHAMP). She consistently challenges the status quo and holds space for difficult conversations, making her an ally for her peers and a resource for faculty and staff. Haleigh’s emotional, mental, and physical labor in service to her communities, department, and the university will have an impact long after her time at UW ends.

Maxwell Chibuogwu

Plant Pathology

Maxwell ChibuogwuMaxwell, in addition to his research on silage corn diseases and mycotoxins, is very passionate about leadership, community building, and community development. His community-building efforts have led him to get involved with a few groups and organizations on the UW­–Madison campus. As an international student from Nigeria, a lot of Maxwell’s activities have revolved around helping international students. With International Student Services (ISS), Maxwell is a very active member of the REACH program (a team of cross-cultural speakers who share their culture with communities in Madison). Maxwell has given several talks to a variety of groups of people living, working, or schooling in Wisconsin. In addition to speaking, he currently serves as the student representative in the recruitment committee to employ a couple of engagement staff for the ISS.

As an executive with the Plant Sciences Graduate Student Council, he volunteered to help and support high school students and teachers at a minority and agriculture focused high school (St. Vincent high school) in Milwaukee. In his department, Maxwell is involved with the What’s Eating My Plants (WEMP) program which also performs outreach to local communities. WEMP educates different groups of people about what types of diseases are affecting their plants and crops. Maxwell is also an active member of Mentorship Opportunities in Sciences and Agriculture for Individuals of Color (MOSAIC). Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) is also another organization where Maxwell has found a niche and is helping build the UW–Madison chapter.

All these activities he engages in are important to him as they connect him to people from all walks of life. With those connections, he shares life’s experiences and learns from them while building community. Helping people, carrying them along, and making sure they understand what is going on is very key to his life and work. He deeply believes that science for science’s sake may not be very useful. But if we use science to impact and improve the lives of those around us, the world will be better for it. His research focuses on the development of field-based management practices that will minimize toxins in silage corn. He will also explore the biology and epidemiology of Gibberella zeae (Fusarium graminearum) during the colonization of silage corn hybrids that leads to Gibberella ear rot and Gibberella stalk rot.

Adam Beard

Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology

Adam BeardAdam Beard is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology (ERP) Graduate Training Program and a Research Assistant in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences. His research focuses on using the cow and young calf as a model of ovarian and endocrine function in women and prepubertal girls. The multidisciplinary approach to his research has fostered numerous opportunities for him to serve UW–Madison and the surrounding community. After years of involvement, he currently serves as the Chair of the ERP Graduate Student Committee, where he works alongside his peers, graduate coordinator, and program directors to plan professional development and social events for current students, new-student recruitment efforts, and the program’s Annual Research Symposium. He is also the current Vice President of the Animal Science Graduate Student Association (ASGSA) which strives to build community for research assistants and postdocs that are affiliated with the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences. Involvement with this organization and department has provided him opportunities to “ag-vocate” for Wisconsin’s dairy industry; a favorite of his being “Cows on the Concourse”. He thanks his parents for raising him and his sisters to be of service to people.

Serena Wisner

Neuroscience Training Program (NTP)

Serena WisnerAfter enjoying her interview weekend with the Neuroscience Training Program (NTP) two years ago, Serena made it her goal to help other interviewing students have the same experience and strengthen the NTP student community. Since joining the NTP in 2020, Serena has most certainly done that. For the past year, Serena has served the NTP community as the Student Chair of the NTP Recruitment Committee and Manager of the NTP Peer Mentoring Program. As manager of Peer Mentoring, she organized the Peer Mentor Kick-off Event, the Peer Mentor Fall Semester Event, the Peer Mentor Winter Semester Event, and Mentor-Mentee Meets which pairs incoming graduate students in the program with more senior students. These events increased collegiality amongst the NTP community and enabled new students to feel welcome within the program. When interview season came around, Serena served as the Student Chair of the NTP Recruitment Committee, spearheading the organization of virtual and in-person networking events, scheduling faculty lab tours, organizing current NTP students to host recruits and hosting networking dinners and city tours. By managing and coordinating three recruitment weekends, two virtual and one in-person, Serena demonstrated exceptional leadership, executive presence, and the rare ability to amicably work with scholars across different career stages. The result was an incredibly successful NTP recruitment. In keeping with her goal of strengthening the NTP community, Serena created a server on the messaging platform Discord that was initially used to share information with recruits, but which later served as a platform to create student social clubs that enhanced teambuilding amongst the NTP students and kept students informed of their colleagues’ accomplishments. Outside of her retina research and NTP commitments, Serena has also participated in NTP community service events, volunteered at outreach events aimed at inspiring young students to love science, and represented the NTP at graduate school fairs.

Emma Lazaroff

Educational Psychology

Emma LazaroffEmma Lazaroff is dedicated to the Wisconsin Idea, using her research expertise in developmental science and STEM learning to benefit those across the university and in the broader community. She has served as President of the Educational Psychology Student Association, where she organized events that provide social and professional support for graduate students in her department. She has also volunteered as a consultant, project manager, and the Director of Operations at WiSolve Consulting Group, a non-profit organization of UW–Madison graduate students and postdocs that is committed to strengthening the entrepreneurial climate within the university and the Madison community. At WiSolve, Emma conducted market research and grant preparation for individuals inside and outside of the university (across disciplines including education, healthcare, and biotechnology) to help them make data-driven business decisions. As part of the Science Alliance/Morgridge Institute for Research, Emma volunteered at local science fairs and spoke to groups of children statewide about her career path and her research, encouraging them to get involved in STEM. Emma hopes that her service will inspire future generations of historically underrepresented scientists.

Alexandra Barber

Educational Psychology (School Psychology program area)

Alexandra BarberAlexandra Barber studies culturally responsive mental health supports for racially and ethnically minoritized children and families. Over the last three years, she has led the Educational Psychology department’s Diversity and Inclusion Association (DIA) where she has worked with students, staff, and faculty to create an inclusive academic and professional climate; educated the department through trainings and dialogues aimed at advancing cultural responsiveness and social justice; and advocated for systemic changes to promote equity in and outside of the department. Beyond her work with DIA, Alexandra has served as a student representative on the Educational Psychology’s Diversity Steering Committee and Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) Strategic Planning team. Additionally, as the student co-chair for the School Psychology area’s Practicum Committee, she led a systematic transformation of the School Psychology clinical training sequence. Specifically, the committee worked to incorporate new training activities, didactic content, and resources that focus on building students’ cultural self-awareness and cultural humility. As a former teacher, psychologist, and multiracial woman of color, she recognizes the power of infusing social justice work into mental health care for minoritized people to support individual and community healing. Across her four years in Madison, her work with faculty, staff, students, and clients reflects her steadfast commitment to reimagining how schools care for all youth and families.

Emily Mixon


Emily MixonEmily Mixon (she/her) is a PhD student and National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow in the Department of Geoscience, where she uses isotope geochemistry to answer questions about the history of our continents. Emily finds joy in building coalitions across career levels to improve geoscience diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by facilitating data-driven and action-oriented policy changes.

Motivated by community-wide instances of exclusion, burn-out, and minoritization in the broad field of geoscience, Emily co-led the development and implementation of the first Department of Geoscience graduate workplace climate survey in 2019-2020, leading to institutional changes including broad departmental participation in Unlearning Racism in Geoscience (URGE) training and re-allocation of funding to support student-led DEI efforts. The climate survey is now a biennial process that longitudinally tracks workplace climate and evaluates departmental initiatives. In 2021, Emily leveraged the previous survey results to inform her leadership of a Department of Geoscience DEI committee of faculty, staff, and students in drafting a code of conduct.

Supporting an initiative to diversify departmental faculty, Emily served as the graduate student representative on the search committee charged with identifying Geoscience candidates for the Faculty Diversity Initiative Target of Opportunity hiring effort from 2020-2022. In this role, she facilitated interactions between students and visiting candidates and gathered community feedback to improve equity and inclusion in the overall hiring process.

She has also served the UW–Madison community through engagement as a founding member of UW–Madison GeoPath and participation as an advising scholar on the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery “Life as We Don’t Know It” art-science initiative. Emily also engages in community-building work beyond UW–Madison. Her efforts beyond campus include founding an online resource aimed at educating geoscientists about racial justice (GeoReadingForEquity) and advocating for student voices in her role as a student representative for both the inclusive early career network “PetroNet” and the Geological Society of America Geochronology Division.

Alexandra Villa


Alex Villa (she/her/ella) is a graduate researcher in the Department of Geoscience and a College of Letters & Science Advanced Opportunity Fellow (AOF). She has made positive and lasting changes to her department, college, and communities through her leadership and engagement. Alex created a cross-departmental group hosted in Geoscience called GeoPath, aimed at broadening participation through professional development, enhancing social networks, and educating departments on barriers to the retention of students of color. She received a grant through WISELI to recognize women of color, be a part of her department’s research colloquium, and engage in a seminar topic that revolved around diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice including topics like First-Generation Students and Intersectionality. She was selected as the graduate student representative to find the next Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the 2020-2021 academic year. Alex is now working with Associate Dean DeVon Wilson as the DEI graduate intern where she works with faculty leadership in L&S and is the program coordinator for the AOF community. In the last year, Alex has also been selected to work with Dr. Erika Marín-Spiotta for the HEAL-STEM project funded by the Mellon Foundation. Her work with collaborators was recently accepted as a chapter in a book focused on developing an intersectional praxis in higher education through pedagogy, advising, and mentorship. Alex has been a part of numerous efforts and although she has experienced harm as a first-generation Latina in a predominately white field and community, she continues to speak out against injustices and offer substantial solutions. Through her leadership, service, and fierce advocacy, Alex is transforming the student experience at multiple levels, and in her legacy is inspiring others to empower the next generation.

Ruby Bafu

PhD Candidate in Sociology

Ruby BafuDuring her short time in Madison, Ruby has made a lasting impact in her department, campus, and broader community. As a critical scholar, her research on race, gender, and education has shaped her ability to offer suggestions to her department which, like other departments, is committing itself to improving the experiences of historically marginalized students. Ruby is also the current president and previous social chair of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association (BGPSA) at UW–Madison. Through her role as president Ruby worked with BGPSA’s executive board to organize general body meetings and several social and academic events. Ruby’s involvement in the BGPSA is instrumental for building community amongst and improving the retention of Black students. Although she does not consider it a service to speak out against racism or emotionally support a friend, Ruby’s unpaid service is particularly notable. Ruby is a Black woman whose emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical health has been harmed by racism and sexism and yet, she has continued to support her community during a pandemic. Her service as an advocate for racial justice within and outside of her department has made a lasting impact.

Talia Cohen

PhD Candidate in Clinical Psychology

Talia CohenTalia (she/her) is passionate about increasing accessibility in higher education. She co-founded and directs the Chronic Health Allies Mentorship Program (CHAMP). CHAMP pairs undergraduate student mentees with chronic pain, chronic illness, and/or disability with graduate student mentors who experience similar challenges. CHAMP establishes a community for its members through one-on-one mentorship support, resources with regards to disclosure and attaining accommodations, optional opportunities for advocacy work on disability inclusion in academia, and group events. In just its first year, CHAMP has paired more than 20 undergraduates with mentors. Talia is also a graduate student member of the psychology department’s Climate & Diversity Committee through which she has contributed to a variety of initiatives including: creating a buddy system for incoming PhD students during the pandemic, forming a social committee to decrease isolation, updating the diversity statement and resources on the psych department website, and administering and analyzing a graduate student climate survey aimed at providing an opportunity for students to anonymously express their concerns about their experiences in the department. Separately, she spearheaded an anti-racism town hall for the clinical psychology area group and took part in the diversity panel for the department’s recruitment day.

Becca Honeyball

PhD Candidate in Horticulture

Becca HoneyballBecca Honeyball (she/her) is working on fungal research in cranberries. As the 2021 Journal Club Chair, Becca fosters an environment of collegiality for new students, engaging graduate students in scientific, professional, and personal development topics, as well as incorporating this spring’s College of Agricultural & Life Sciences Lunch & Learn series, “Our Shared Future.” Becca is a founding administrator of the Mentorship Opportunities in Science & Agriculture for Individuals of Color (MOSAIC) mentorship network alongside Korede Olugbenle and Jenyne Loarca, working to bring together mentors of color to create a network for BIPOC students in CALS. She serves on the Advising & Mentoring branch of the Horticulture Anti-Racism Working Groups, attending workshops on behalf of the group and bringing back ideas and strategies to use going forward. Becca is currently working with WISCIENCE and the Horticulture Equity & Diversity Committee to develop specialized mentorship training for both her department and MOSAIC. With Korede, Becca is also current co-facilitator of the Plant Science Anti-Racism Coalition (ARC), a weekly sounding board and problem-solving team, where students can bring for discussion any hurdles or issues of bias that they might be facing.

Jenyne Loarca

PhD Candidate in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics

Jenyne LoarcaJenyne Loarca is passionate about creating spaces that prioritize honesty, safety, and connection. In 2020, she served as the Journal Club Chair for the Plant Sciences Graduate Student Council (PSGSC). She broadened the club’s scope to include discussions on professional development. After the highly public murder of George Floyd (and others), she broadened the space further to serve the changing needs of the community – to provide antiracism education for allies by amplifying the voices of BIPOC antiracism educators. Fellow graduate student and council member, Korede Olugbenle, brought to light the absence of Black faculty in their community, the lack of support in the face of national racial trauma, and the wish for more visibility of BIPOC mentors. Along with Becca Honeyball, the three cofounded the organization MOSAIC (Mentorship Opportunities in Science & Agriculture for Individuals of Color) – a mentorship network in the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences (CALS) for BIPOC researchers, graduate students, and postdocs. It is her hope that readers feel empowered to create safe, honest, antiracist spaces in their own departments, and that any CALS affiliates reading this will join the MOSAIC listserv and attend their community-building Lunch & Discuss events. Jenyne also serves on the Horticulture Equity Diversity Committee and will finish her PhD in Plant Breeding & Plant Genetics in 2021.

David Menendez

PhD Candidate in Psychology

David MenendezDavid has served in multiple committees in the psychology department including being a member of the departmental colloquium committee for five years, being the graduate student representative in the climate and diversity committee for two years and being the graduate student representative to the faculty for one year. David is also part of the Department of Psychology workgroup on improving the department’s public messaging around diversity and inclusion. Through these committees, David has facilitated several departmental events such as a Title IX information session tailored for graduate students. David has helped draft several letters from graduate student to the psychology faculty around issues of diversity and inclusion in the department. David has also spoken to several student groups on how to get involved with research at UW–Madison and how to apply to graduate school, including UW–Madison’s Psychology Club, and students at Hispanic serving institution such as Northeastern Illinois University and University of Texas, San Antonio. David has also served as a mentor to many undergraduate students, including those in the PREP, IRES, and PASOS programs (programs designed to mentor students from different groups traditionally underrepresented in academia).

Joshua Mitchell

PhD Candidate in the Integrated Program in Biochemistry

Josh MitchellJosh has been a long-standing member of the Graduate Leadership and Development Committee in the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB), first as an outreach chair and then serving as the chair of the committee. As one of the outreach chairs, Josh designed and hosted biochemical science experiments to demonstrate the incredible science around us, from biofuels to cryoprotectants. As chair, Josh worked to build a strong and resilient community to help support graduate student mental and emotional health. During the pandemic, Josh facilitated and hosted the StoryPiB seminar series, which was designed to foster deep, rich relations amongst the faculty, staff, and students by inviting members of the IPiB community to talk about their life. He also served on the IPiB admissions committee, helping recruit a diverse and talented group of new graduate students to the program. Josh has served as a graduate student representative on the Council on Academic Advising for the past three years. He wants to thank the incredible IPiB graduate students who have supported all this work, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Korede Olugbenle

Korede Olugbenle

MS Candidate in Agroecology

Korede is one of the administrative members of Mentorship Opportunities in Science & Agriculture for Individuals of Color (MOSAIC). Korede along with the other administrative members bring together mentors of color to create a mentoring network for BIPOC students in the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences. Korede assists with the formation of beneficial relationships, increasing a sense of community and belonging, and hosting lunch and discussion events.

Molli Pauliot

PhD Candidate in Anthropology

Molli PauliotMolli Pauliot is an L&S Advanced Opportunity fellow for the past four years and actively participated as a graduate student facilitator with interviews for the AOF Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with AOF students in February 2021. Pauliot assisted in meeting with potential Native American graduate student recruits for the Department of Anthropology and the Design Studies department through School of Human Ecology in spring 2020. Pauliot is currently working as a part-time project assistant on the Humanities Education for Anti-racism Literacy in Sciences and Medicine (HEAL-STEMM) project, curating teaching and materials on the history of Indigenous communities and federal land grant policies at UW and Midwestern schools in general. In addition to working in spring 2021 on oral interviews through the Madison Public Library Living History Project-Stories from a Distance by interviewing and sharing the Madison Ho-Chunk community members’ experiences on the Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, Pauliot enjoys collaborating with teams at the university and in the Madison community to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion to improve relationships and cultural understandings.

Bryan Rubio Perez

PhD Candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Bryan Rubio PerezOutside of his scientific research in optical engineering and photonics, Bryan is interested in making education accessible to everyone regardless of race, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic status. Bryan did not know what a PhD student was until he started his undergraduate education. For this reason, he spends his free time involved with STEM outreach and mentoring. As a McNair Scholars Program alumnus, he continues to support the McNair Scholars Program at UW–Madison by participating in graduate school application workshops and in graduate student panels designed to answer questions undergraduate students have about graduate school. Outside of UW–Madison he is a mentor for the Juventud Program, a program started by the Centro Hispano of Dane County, and through this he provides bilingual academic support and mentorship to Latinx and Spanish-speaking youth. Bryan is also an officer for several student organizations including the Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Student Association, the Society for Photonics and Instrumentation Engineering (SPIE)/Optical Society of America (OSA) Student Chapter at UW–Madison, and the Graduate Engineering Research Scholars’ Outreach Committee. Through these organization he has been able to engage with students at all levels by planning seminars, professional development events, community-building events, and STEM educational outreach events for elementary school school-aged students.

Taylor Tai

PhD Candidate in Integrative Biology and Entomology

Taylor TaiTaylor Tai is a graduate researcher studying bumble bee ecology in the Integrative Biology and Entomology programs at UW–Madison. Upon experiencing the exclusion and marginalization of non-white voices in her programs here, she co-founded a campus organization dedicated to providing community and social support for underrepresented graduate students in STEM fields. In addition to providing programming through this interdepartmental group, she designed and led a graduate course on coping with white supremacist culture in the academic work environment. Taylor finds joy in creating support networks among graduate students, as she believes there is incredible power in collective action and mutual aid. This philosophy has also led her to organize with the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA) for more just and equitable policies at the university level, such as the remission of segregated fees and fair compensation for graduate labor. Other services she has given to UW include coordinating the graduate mentorship program in Integrative Biology and serving on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee in Entomology in order to make these programs more welcoming and supportive of diverse members. She believes work like this is urgent and essential and hopes that in the future it is done by administration and faculty rather than falling on unpaid BIPOC graduate students.

Patricia Tran

PhD Candidate in Freshwater and Marine Sciences

Patricia TranPatricia Tran studies aquatic microbial ecology in lakes. During her time at the UW–Madison, she has been involved in service around the themes of diversity, equity and inclusion, community-building, and mentoring. In the past year, Patricia has co-chaired the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee at the Center for Limnology, implementing initiatives such as consistent and transparent progress reporting of DEI initiatives. She also served as a graduate representative for the Center for Ecology and the Environment, where she connected students in the field of ecology across campus by organizing student-centered events. Patricia initiated and organized a cross-departmental research group to facilitate collaboration of Lake Mendota research. She participated as a panelist in the Department of Integrative Biology’s events for undergraduate and prospective graduate students, sharing honest personal experiences that will enable students to make informed decisions. Patricia also co-led a weekly yoga session at the Microbial Sciences Building, which promotes community-building and a break from work for folks in the department. Finally, Patricia has provided meaningful mentoring and research opportunities to undergraduate students of various majors. Patricia hopes that her service can make the campus a more welcoming, inclusive, and safe environment for all.

Claudia Triana

PhD Candidate in Educational Policy Studies

Claudia TrianaClaudia M. Triana is a scholar of comparative and international education, her research focuses on the inequities of im/migration and education policies, displacement, and resistance. Claudia has supported graduate and undergraduate students in the Educational Policy Studies (EPS) department as a teaching assistant and a graduate student representative. In addition to her academic and research roles, she advocates for minoritized students through her participation in the School of Education’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, and the Dean’s Student Council. She has also served in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) DEI Change Team and currently for the Center’s Strategic Planning Initiatives. Outside of the university, she challenges the legal and social exclusion of immigrant youth and families, working with community organizations and advocates.