Graduate Peer Mentor Awards 2017

Back row left to right: Shahrose Rahman, Kevin Cope, Johnny Uelmen. Front row: Hannah Graham, Meena Syamkumar.

The annual Peer Mentor Award is co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Funding, and the Office of Professional Development and Communications in the Graduate School. This award recognizes graduate students who have made positive impacts on their research-mates, advisors, program staff, undergraduates, and many others with whom they interact.

This year's Peer Mentors were recognized at the 2017 Bucky Awards in a ceremony held April 9 at Union South.


Meet the 2017 Awardees –

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Her research focuses on the socio-relational contexts of classroom learning and reading epistemologies. Prior to coming to UW–Madison Hannah worked as an educator and consultant in a variety of school, after-school and nonprofit settings. She completed her M.S.Ed at the Bank Street College of Education, her A.M. at the University of Chicago, and was the recipient of the Dorot Fellowship in Israel.

During her time at UW–Madison Hannah has taught courses and supervised teacher candidates in both the Secondary and Elementary Education programs. She has also worked as a core member of the Portfolio Project, a team dedicated to facilitating reflective inquiry on teaching practice and professional identity across programs in C&I. Through her work in the department, Hannah has had the chance to teach, supervise and mentor hundreds of students preparing to the enter the field of K-12 education, an opportunity she takes on with great responsibility, care, and joy.

Shahrose Rahman

Shahrose Rahman was born and raised in Chicago and came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for college where he double majored in biology and political science. As a kid, he remembered his father always saying, “The most important thing in life is an education.” During college, he learned that this meant more than just sitting and studying; instead, it meant to take every opportunity you can to learn something new. Today, he is a second year medical student at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health with the goal of becoming a general surgeon.

During his undergraduate experience in Madison, he spent over two years working as a medical assistant at the University Health Services Student Clinic and over three years researching Parkinson’s Disease at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center.

One of the highlights of his time at UW-Madison was working with the Doris Duke Surgery and Clinical Research Program through the Department of Surgery at UW–Hospital. It is an internship for disadvantaged minority high school students with the goal of exposing them to medicine and research. During his three years with the program, Shahrose has worked with an incredibly talented group of students who have all been accepted to or are currently enrolled in college. It has been incredibly rewarding to help disadvantaged students become the first in their families to attend college. Shahrose knows far too-well the struggles of having limited resources, but he always found ways to advance his education. Helping disadvantaged students is something he plans to do throughout his career as a medical student and, one day, as a surgeon.

Kevin Cope

Kevin R. Cope is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the Cellular and Molecular Biology program. He works in the lab of Dr. Jean-Michel Ané and, as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, he studies the molecular mechanisms regulating the symbiotic association of poplar trees and mycorrhizal fungi. Prior to pursuing a Ph.D., he earned his B.S. in plant science from Utah State University where he completed a senior thesis on developing an optimized light spectrum for plant growth and development. At both USU and UW–Madison, Kevin has noticed a significant lack of interest in the plant sciences, not only among undergraduate students while serving as a teaching assistant for plant biotechnology, but also among youth that he encountered while serving as a scoutmaster to a local Boy Scout Troop. He believes that this lack of interest is due to a lack of knowledge about plant science. To remedy this, Kevin has committed himself to actively recruit and train the next generation of scientists in the field.

He is achieving this goal by mentoring multiple undergraduate students that work on independent research projects with him. In addition, he developed a Plant Science Merit Badge workshop for Boy Scouts that he has put on at UW–Madison for over 120 scouts so far. Beyond these mentoring activities, Kevin is also serving as a mentor for honors students at USU through the Honors Alumni Mentoring Program. In this role, he helps students create résumés, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles, and prepare for professional interviews. At UW–Madison, he mentors students preparing to apply to the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program by organizing an annual fellowship application workshop.

Meena Syamkumar

Meenakshi Syamkumar is a Ph.D. candidate in computer sciences, specializing in Internet measurements research. Her research is directed towards robust identification of Internet level outages using passive measurements. She will also be obtaining a Master of Science in Computer Sciences from UW–Madison. Prior to her graduate studies, Meenakshi worked at Citrix Systems. She completed her Bachelor of Engineering in Information Technology at PSG College of Technology in India. Meenakshi is the President of WACM (Women’s Association of Computing Machinery, UW–Madison chapter), where she is involved in encouraging women to pursue a computer sciences major. She strives to create a fostering environment for women to excel in computing. She is also one of the organizers of WACM + Madhacks hackathon (UW–Madison) where she has mentored several women participants and teams.

Johnny Uelmen

Johnny Uelmen is a Fox Cities native, hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and a proud triple-Badger! He has master’s degrees in both epidemiology and entomology, as well as a B.S. in biology. He is in his second year of his Environment & Resources Ph.D. program through the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Under the mentorship of his advisor Dr. Jonathan Patz, Johnny’s research interests revolve around the effects of climate change and human health. More specifically, Johnny is interested in understanding infectious diseases as they proliferate within changing environments, incorporating the health of humans, the environment, and wildlife (One Health triad) as equally important components of this complex cycle.

His current project evaluates mosquito- and tick-borne diseases in the U.S. (West Nile, Zika, and Lyme) as well as zoonotic infectious diseases abroad. He hopes to develop new and innovative predictive models for helping both public health officials and populations most susceptible to harmful infectious diseases prepare for, mitigate, and eventually eradicate, mortality and morbidity stemming from diseases. Johnny continues his public health work and advocacy at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services,  conducting interviews with individuals affected by foodborne, waterborne, and vector-borne infectious diseases as well as investigating outbreaks in our state. Johnny serves as the New York 4 & New York 6 STEM Mentor with the Posse Program. As a graduate student, he plans to continue his love of mentoring into his teaching and research career, especially among underrepresented and multicultural students in STEM fields.

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