GEM Fellows

Gem Fellows 2017
In 2017, five GEM fellows were pursuing their graduate degrees in engineering and biosciences at UW–Madison. Shown (left to right): Hector Fuster, Patrick Cervantes, Margo Batie, Andrew Lambert, and Edward Westerband. Photo by Dakota Mace.

The National GEM Consortium is a network of universities and employers committed to achieving greater diversity in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) by supporting the careers of talented graduate students from underrepresented groups.

As part of a cohort of competitive research institutions, UW–Madison has helped fund more than 3,000 students working toward their master’s and doctoral degrees since the consortium first launched in 1976. Each year, approximately 1,400 prospective graduate students apply for GEM Fellowships, with 100 selected to receive fellowship offers nationwide.

Students who receive full fellowship will also connect with a GEM Employer Partner, ranging from corporations to non-profits to government agencies, who will sponsor the student during their graduate study. Employer Partners provide their GEM Fellow with at least one internship, allowing students to see how research related to their graduate degree can be applied in both academic and non-academic settings. UW–Madison also hosts GEM Associate Fellows, who have access to the on-campus GEM network and student resources while holding fellowships through their academic department or a Graduate Research Scholar (GRS) Community.

UW–Madison GEM Fellows

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Elise ChavezElise Chavez

Elise is a PhD student in Physics and a new GEM fellow for the 2020-21 academic year. She graduated from Florida State University (FSU) with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Applied Mathematics. Her research interest is high energy physics, and she hopes to investigate the standard model and dark matter using the compact muon solenoid (CMS) at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Elise has previously interned at Fermilab and also has research experience from her undergraduate institution. At Fermilab, she studied the neutrino beam and simulated its hadron production to simplify the process of updating the neutrino flux. She also studied the possible backgrounds the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) would have for neutrinoless double beta decay in hopes that DUNE may be able to detect it. At FSU, she studied the CMS detector and her senior thesis examined a new search method exploiting track multiplicity for low mass SUSY splitting

Currently, Elise is a member of the Society of Physics Students. She was also part the undergraduate math club Society of Undergraduate Math Students.


McKinley Sconiers-Hasan


Theodore AgbiTheodore Agbi

Currently a PhD candidate in the Chemical and Biological Engineering department, Theodore is researching under the guidance of Professor Ive Hermans. His research focuses on catalysis engineering and sustainable chemistry in order to make industrially relevant reactions less energy and capital intensive, while seeking to reduce harmful waste. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Yale University, Theodore interned, through GEM, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with Dr. Susan Habas, researching routes to catalytically upgrade biomass into valuable chemicals and fuel substitutes. A proud queer black man and child of immigrants, Theodore seeks to enable economically and environmentally sustainable solutions that can positively impact disadvantaged communities and make various resources more accessible.

Britney Washington

Britney WashingtonBritney Washington is a GEM Associate Fellow, a Graduate Engineering Research Scholar (GERS), and a trainee in the Biotechnology Training Program (BTP) funded through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). Britney is pursuing her PhD in biomedical engineering at the UW–Madison. She is a member of the Randolph Ashton Stem Cell Bioprocessing and Regenerative Biomaterials Laboratory at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID). There she is actively researching the effects of current cryopreservation techniques on cell isolates and manufactured therapeutic phenotypes for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center for Cellular Manufacturing Technologies (CMaT). Britney aspires to bring diversity to the ever-growing field of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) regenerative medicine, and future government policies concerning iPSCs.

Maria Prado

Maria Prado is a GEM Associate Fellow pursuing a degree in physics.


Margo BatieMargo Batie

Following a double major in physics and nuclear engineering, Margo Batie chose UW–Madison to pursue her PhD in Medical Physics. At UW–Madison, she works under the guidance of Professor Ron Wakai in a lab that uses biomagnetism to study fetal heartbeats. There, Batie performs clinical tests of devices designed to capture and analyze more sophisticated information about heartbeats than ultrasound machines can. As a GEM fellow, Batie not only funded her coursework, but also supplemented it with valuable internship experience. After completing her master’s degree, she spent the summer at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Now, Batie continues to look forward – and her experiences as a queer woman of color inform her vision for the future. For Batie, Achieving meaningful diversity within the university requires hiring faculty who can serve as role models for members of underrepresented groups.

Andrew LambertAndrew Lambert

As a GEM applicant, Andrew caught the attention of Intel Corporation, whose sponsorship in turn gained the attention of graduate programs. As a master’s student in electrical engineering, Lambert focuses on microelectronics within cell phones, as well as quantum computing. Developments in these fields depend on interdisciplinary work, and UW–Madison appealed to Lambert for precisely this reason. Before beginning his degree, Lambert completed an internship at Intel as part of his GEM Fellowship package.


Patrick CervantesPatrick Cervantes

Patrick Cervantes is a GEM Associate Fellow and a PhD student in Medical Microbiology and Immunology and the graduate program in Cellular and Molecular Biology. As a member of Laura Knoll’s lab, Cervantes investigates host/pathogen interactions and focuses on a parasite called toxoplasma. By studying the mechanisms toxoplasma uses to manipulate a host’s immune response, Cervantes hopes to discover better treatments for the disease it causes. In the process, he oversees undergraduate students working on projects designed to support his own. With luck, they will also get “hooked” on research.


Edward WesterbandEdward Westerband

Barely halfway through his first semester at UW–Madison, the environmental engineering master’s student was already actively involved in student chapters of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Engineers Without Borders, as well as the Solid Waste Association of North America. As Westerband explains, his commitment to these communities mirrors the commitment the university made to him, by selecting him as a GEM Associate Fellow and funding him through the Graduate Engineering Research Scholars (GERS) program. Now, Westerband focuses on the environmental impacts of nano-silver particles working with advisor Andrea Hicks.


Hector FusterHector Fuster

Hector Fuster, a PhD student in chemical & biological engineering, spent the summer before graduate school at 3M in the Twin Cities. There, he investigated methods of processing raw materials more effectively, building from undergraduate research experience in a laboratory working on next-generation cell phone materials. As a member of the Nicholas Abbott lab, he contributes to a research project that bridges disciplinary boundaries. Specifically, he examines how liquid crystals like the ones in LCD screens change when they react to surfaces. Fuster barely hesitated when asked whether he would pursue a career with his GEM sponsor: “I would work at 3M in a heartbeat.”