GPP topper

Khaled Adjerid is a Ph.D. student in Virginia Tech’s Engineering Mechanics graduate program. A home-grown Hokie, Khaled graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2009. His passion for research and life-long learning led him to continue his education at Virginia Tech’s Center for Vehicle Systems and Safety where he earned a master’s degree. His thesis focused on the use of active engine mounts to reduce fatigue for commercial truck drivers. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in the Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics Department, studying bio-inspired design. His research interests are in safety technologies and medical advancements that can be made on the micro- and nano-scales by learning from and applying designs in nature. In his spare time, Khaled enjoys traveling and staying fit by exercising and eating healthy. He is also active in his local community, showing the more moderate side to American Muslims.

Ashish Agrawal is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He was born in Dalsinghsarai, a small town in the eastern part of India. He completed his B-Tech in Electrical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee and then worked in various fields, including education and policy. He earned a certificate in Liberal Arts and leadership development through the prestigious Young India Fellowship in New Delhi, the capital of India, and later earned a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Virginia Tech. He is passionate about teaching and works to incorporate critical and liberative pedagogies in the first year engineering classes he teaches. His research interests include understanding the experiences of foreign instructors and students, and the differences in academic cultures around the world. As part of his service to the Virginia Tech community, he is actively involved with several LGBTQ groups on campus. In his spare time, he enjoys watching movies, playing and watching tennis, reading books and cooking.

Marian Alicea is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Charles E. Via, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She earned a master's degree from the same department in 2017. Her master’s degree research focused on the bioremediation of chlorinated solvents in groundwater resources. Her current research project is working with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to determine the human health risks of leaking underground storage tanks of home heating oil through vapor intrusion or contamination of private drinking water wells. Originally, from Puerto Rico, Marian hails from Atlanta, Georgia, a city she considers her second home. Her passions include the environment, environmental inequality, and increasing the representation of women and minorities in STEM advanced degrees. Marian enjoys traveling, meeting new people, learning of, and experiencing new cultures. In her spare time, she is planning her next trip, running her own business, or playing with her two adorable Chihuahuas, Henry and Gracie.

Katie Ayers is a Ph.D. student in Sociology, with a focus on Women’s and Gender Studies. Her interest lies primarily in gender embodiment, or how individuals understand and experience their gender on a daily basis. Her dissertation research focuses on the experiences of “detransitioned women,” women who transitioned to men, lived for at least some time as transmen, then decided for various reasons to de- or retransition to women. Katie is also the Sociology ambassador to the Graduate School, a member of the VT Graduate Academy of Teaching Excellence, and the president of the Recovery Community at Virginia Tech (RC@VT), a student organization dedicated to helping support students in recovery from alcohol and/or substance use. She has also helped organize the annual WGS conference at VT for the last 3 years. Her passion lies in teaching undergraduate students, so she will be curious to see what teaching preparation exists for higher education faculty members, if any, and how that training differs from what happens in the United States. She is also interested in learning how the roles of faculty members and students differ abroad from those in the United States. 

Alleyne Broomell is a Ph.D. student in the Psychology Department studying developmental neuroscience. She completed her master’s degree at Virginia Tech and earned her bachelor’s degree from Emory University in Neuroscience and Biological Anthropology. Prior to coming to Virginia Tech she spent two years working as a behavioral therapist in Austin, Texas. Alleyne’s research interests include how social cognition and executive functions develop in early childhood and are modulated by the brain. She works with typically developing and non-typically developing children and adults using EEG and fMRI to study neuroconnectivity and cognition. She plans to pursue a tenure track position to incorporate her love of research and pedagogy into a single career. In her free time, Alleyne enjoys yoga, cooking, and going on long walks with her husband and their dog.

Chad Clem is finishing his master's degree in English Literature. His research interests are 20th Century media, film, and literature, as well as the intersection of language and culture in the composition classroom. Originally from Buckhannon, West Virginia, Chad has previously worked in various fields including journalism, television production, theatre, and education.

Rachel Kinzer Corell is a master’s degree student in English with a focus in rhetoric and writing, in addition to completing the Preparing the Future Professoriate certificate as a GPP scholar. A word nerd with an eye toward helping others find ways to communicate in context, she is interested in the practical application of technical writing strategies to “real world” experiences. Rachel is currently Lead GTA for the Engineering Communications Program, where she provides in-house writing feedback and technical writing instruction to students in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering. She earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she focused on composition & rhetorical studies. Her research at VT considers how professional writing consultants can use technical writing strategies through practical application, and how that writing instruction functions when it occurs outside its traditional home in English studies. Before coming to Virginia Tech, she worked in a number of administrative capacities both within and outside of higher education, although they all share a common thread with respect to professional communication. These experiences influenced her research interests regarding ways people use the means available to them to communicate more effectively, especially in professional contexts. When she isn’t helping humans, she spends time with her dog, and in her dream universe, Rachel would have all the time and resources in the world to help rescue and train dogs.

Abram Diaz-Strandberg is a Ph.D. student in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Virginia Tech, researching acoustic material design. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Abram earned a bachelor’s degree from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, a small engineering university with roughly 2,000 students. As an undergraduate student Abram was struck by the disparity between NMT and the local population. Almost nobody that grows up in Socorro attends NMT, or any four-year college. As the first person in his immediate family to earn a college degree, Abram has worked hard to set an example for his younger brothers to follow. Abram hopes to broaden his worldview and discover how the countries that will be visited promote education, especially in impoverished communities. He is interested in what the economic diversity looks like in other higher education systems. Finally, Abram would like to explore how students in other cultures measure their own success and define happiness. His interests include art, music, and being outdoors. Growing up, he played the trombone and conga drums and this passion for music is what drives him in his studies of acoustics. 

Alex Jardon is a Ph.D. student in the Counselor Education and Supervision program. Alex has always had an interest in multicultural awareness. Growing up in Montana, Alex was home schooled, so the flexible schedule allowed for travel to the far corners of the world including over 40 U.S. states and 50 countries. Alex earned an associate’s degree from Helena College, University of Montana and bachelor’s degree from Carroll College. He earned a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. He also worked as a mental health counselor on that campus. Alex wishes to take what he has learned about each university experience both in the U.S. and abroad to improve education at institutions he encounters in the future. He is a proponent of people experiencing diverse cultures and locations in order to learn and grow, and his teaching and research interests focus on how personal experiences of diversity can affect counselors in training. Being able to experience or understand how other people and cultures make meaning of the world is extremely vital to promoting social justice and helping advance the field of counselor education and higher education in general.

Rebekah Martin is a Ph.D. student in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus on Environmental and Water Resources Engineering. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Bucknell University along with a semester abroad at the University of Nottingham, England. Her research experience at Bucknell included investigating the presence of disinfection byproduct precursors in surface waters, performing a spatial analysis of hydraulic fracturing waste transport routes, and comparing the nitrogen and phosphorus content of runoff from a green roof system. In graduate school, her interests in water quality have developed to focus on drinking water systems specifically focusing on the presence of opportunistic pathogen growth and persistence in plumbing systems. Rebekah is also a member of the Flint water study team at Virginia Tech. Rebekah has completed the Preparing the Future Professoriate certificate, which inspired her to explore the pedagogical methods and techniques used to teach engineering. After finishing her degree, she plans to pursue a faculty position at a university where she can apply the techniques she has learned in this program to better engage undergraduate engineering students alongside a global perspective built on her experiences and education in other countries.

Karen Raymond, LPC, NCC, is a Ph.D. student in Counselor Education and Supervision. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor in North Carolina and a National Certified Counselor. Karen completed her undergraduate studies at Guilford College and earned a master’s degree North Carolina A&T State University. She has worked as a mental health professional counselor in outpatient agency settings, intensive in-home settings, in-patient hospital settings, psychiatric emergency crisis settings, and has managed her own private practice in counseling. Karen also has worked as a paralegal and an information technology analyst. As a future professor, she hopes to create a learning environment which makes everyone feel welcome to share their thoughts and ideas. Karen aims to provide educational opportunities from a strengths-based, relational-cultural theory with a focus of working towards encouraging students to reach their fullest potential. With a decade of various counseling experiences, Karen is committed to continue contributions to her profession by training, inspiring, and mentoring both the next generation of counselors and others within higher education. 

A view of Switzerland during a Global Perspectives Program visit

Julio Roa is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He earned a master’s degree from Virginia Tech and worked as a project manager and later a vice president of engineering at a civil engineering company in the Dominican Republic for several years before returning to graduate school. While there, he worked on projects ranging from transportation infrastructure construction to aggregates production and mining operations. He is passionate about studying sustainability and resilience in infrastructure systems. His current research examines transportation engineering, including air transportation systems, wake turbulence separation, and airport capacity. Specifically, he is investigating dynamic factors that generate high/fatal wake vortex strength and how to effectively distance aircraft for this hazard in order to increase airport capacity and operations. He recently taught computer applications in civil engineering and co-instructed the construction management course in Punta Cana during the 2017 winter semester. He has also completed the Preparing the Future Professoriate Certificate at Virginia Tech and hopes to pursue a faculty position after graduation where he can help students prepare to contribute as vibrant members of the engineering workforce as well as collaborating with faculty on research projects related to construction, transportation and engineering education. In his free time, Julio enjoys hiking, kayaking, and spending time with his family and colleagues. He is also working towards becoming a private pilot.

Michelle Soledad is a Ph.D. student in Engineering Education. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Ateneo de Davao University in Davao City, Philippines, where she is a faculty member in the Electrical Engineering Department. Michelle began teaching in 2008. Upon receiving her license as a Registered Electrical Engineer in 2009, she also taught professional Electrical Engineering courses. She eventually served as Department Chair of the Engineering Sciences and Mathematics department and the Electrical Engineering Department, and was a member of the University Research Council before pursuing doctoral studies. Prior to joining AdDU, she was a senior team lead for Accenture, where she worked for six years as a software engineer and project manager for systems maintenance and enhancement projects. She is passionate about the role of educators in fostering student success, and her research interests include faculty development and data-informed reflective teaching practices.

Anthony Szczurek is a Ph.D. candidate in the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT). He earned his master’s degree in International Affairs from the New School. His work is generally centered in international relations theory, the politics of climate change, and non-western political theory and his current research focuses on how clashing temporalities and imaginations of history affect positions on state responsibility for climate change at the United Nations and other international forums.

Rabih Younes is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Engineering. He earned his bachelor’s and master of science engineering degrees at the Lebanese American University. Rabih has finished the requirements of the Future Professoriate Certificate Graduate Certificate. Besides his research, Rabih works as a Graduate Assistant at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT), an interdisciplinary research institute. There, he works at their Create Studio with 3D-printers, laser-cutters, PCB and soldering machines, and other “maker” equipment. He also gives workshops and teaches in camps for middle school students about electronics, 3D-printing, and motion capture. He loves teaching and interacting with students. His research interests include wearable computing, machine learning, engineering education, and Middle Eastern politics. His hobbies include: skydiving, guitar, pool, Aikido, ping pong, traveling, karting, laser tag, paintball, and a range of other activities.