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Bouchet Graduate Honor Society Scholars

Giuseppe Cotardo is a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics. Cotardo earned his Ph.D. at University College Dublin, Ireland. His research interest is algebraic coding theory, the mathematical theory behind reliable digital communications. His work mainly focuses on rank-metric codes and their algebraic and combinatorial properties. This research area is highly interdisciplinary and connects mathematics with information theory, cryptography, electrical engineering, and computer science. He is one of the organizers of an international seminar for Ph.D. students and postdocs and is committed to inviting speakers of different ethnicities, genders, and geographic areas to create a diverse and inclusive community of junior researchers. He was and is currently involved in organizing academic events for women in mathematics to inspire students to pursue a mathematics career and equip them to be thrive in the discipline.

Catherine L. Cotrupi is a Ph.D. candidate in Higher Education. Her research focuses on how and to what extent white faculty members resisted upholding Whiteness and white supremacy culture during a critical event in their service learning and community-engaged (SLCE) practice. She works as a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) with two faculty members on their community-engaged research and outreach efforts: one funded by an NSF CAREER award contributing to knowledge of students’ pathways into engineering influenced by collaborations between P-12 schools, industries, and higher education; and the other funded by an NSF CIVIC award supporting the planning and implementation of innovative civic technology-based efforts to improve organizational capacities of communities to respond to the problem of extreme heat events, which disproportionately impact low-income communities. Cotrupi’s life’s work focuses on educating herself and others on how to have a positive, sustainable, and critical impact through the shared work of campus-community engagement. She has taught an undergraduate course on the best practices of SLCE for the past eight years, a graduate-level course for two, and she is currently the only non-faculty member of a team working to develop a graduate certificate in community engagement at Virginia Tech.

Tuwanda L. Green is a postdoctoral fellow in architecture focusing on human-centric design theories and methods (HCD) at Virginia Tech. She was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in Architecture and Design Research. She teaches at the Washington, D.C.-Alexandria Architecture Center.  Her self-created HCD course is based on theories, basic biology, scientific methods, and design processes to help justify the need for human focused built environments, while simultaneously promoting empathy and equity in design. She is also an Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA) member and educator actively working with her cross-disciplinary colleagues. She is working with Washington, D.C., public schools to develop a volunteer program that provides a broader exposure of architecture careers to underrepresented elementary through high school students. Her architectural vision is a world where design of every built environment promotes human health and equity.

June Ann Jones is a doctoral candidate in the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) program. She holds a master’s degree in political science from Vanderbilt University and a bachelor’s degree in government and psychology from the University of Maryland. She has taught courses in political science, philosophy, and environmental issues. Her research focuses on food systems and environmental politics, with her dissertation pertaining to farmer representation and settler colonial institutional power in agriculture in the United States. June continues to combine her practical agricultural experience, her research, and her teaching, as they all inform her perspective on sustainable agriculture policy and the issues facing the prospects of post-industrial society in the face of climate change. Her background in agriculture, as a small farmer, has motivated her advocacy for this community and has led to advocate for farmer wellbeing in her scholarship and in the Maryland State Assembly in drafting legislation. Her critical approach to research aims to empower small farmers in dealing with climate justice issues, fighting against the corporatization of the food system, and protecting access to agricultural land.

Kelsey Reed is a Ph.D. candidate in horticulture and previously received her bachelor’s degree in plant biology from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Her dissertation research focuses on plant tissue culture and genetics, specifically how to enhance single cell plant regeneration using morphogenic transcription factors. She is a leader in both the university and community, currently serving as co-president of the Translational Plant Sciences Center (TPSC) graduate student group as well as encouraging her lab to volunteer at local events, including science fairs. Reed has been recognized as a Fulbright scholar, TPSC Graduate Mentor of the Year, and her department’s Outstanding College of Agriculture and Life Sciences PhD student nominee. She has been an advocate for mentoring, having mentored 8 undergraduate and 2 high school. Additionally, she has been awarded for her science communication skills during poster presentations, receiving first place at the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences poster competition in 2022 and second place at the TPSC Symposium in 2023. In the future, Kelsey plans to continue working at the forefront of scientific communication either in industry or government to help provide solutions for global food security.

Joao F. Santos is a postdoctoral researcher investigating software-defined wireless networks at the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, a research institute headquartered at Virginia Tech. His research interests include radio resource management, radio virtualization, network slicing, and end-to-end network orchestration. He is an advisory board member of Virginia Tech's Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL). He received his Ph.D. in electronic and electrical engineering from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, where he mentored STEM students from underrepresented minority communities, and was an avid volunteer at the DU Gamers Society. He earned a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications engineering from Universidade Federal Fluminese, Brazil, where he was a recipient of the CAPES Science Without Borders Scholarship. Ultimately, Joao aspires to make higher education and high-impact research more accessible to disadvantaged students, filling skill gaps from members of underrepresented minority communities to build an equitable and inclusive cyber-ready workforce.

Welington Santos is a postdoctoral fellow working in the Applied Algebra Research Group at Virginia Tech. His research focuses on fractional decoding of algebraic geometry codes, codes in the NRT metric space, and applications of algebraic-geometry codes to secure distributed matrix multiplication. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the Federal University of Paraná, Brazil, in 2019. Since starting his postdoctoral appointment, Santos has participated in and led outreach programs around coding theory and cryptography to increase underrepresented groups' representation in mathematical sciences graduate programs. He also organized research events for young researchers where they can meet, talk and collaborate with outstanding researchers. Ultimately, Santos aspires to work at the intersection of research and education, with a passion for learning and sharing new ideas and experiences to include more students in the scientific research life.

Isil Anakok is pursuing a Ph.D. in the Department of Engineering Education. She holds a master’s degree from Virginia Tech and a bachelor’s degree from Kocaeli University, Turkey. Her main research interest is engineering ethics education in design courses. She earned the Graduate School’s Preparing Future Professoriate certificate and is a graduate assistant for the Graduate School Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion. She also is a Graduate Ambassador, partnering with the Support Hub of Inclusive Practices to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. She has been recognized as a 2022 Diversity Scholar with a project focused on enhancing international graduate students' sense of belonging in higher education in the United States.

Gabriela L. Carrillo is a Ph.D. candidate in the Translational Biology, Medicine and Health program with concentrations in the neuroscience and immunology and infectious disease tracks. She is investigating the neuroimmune mechanisms underlying the loss of neuronal connections in long-term parasitic brain infection. She has been recognized by numerous professional organizations and is the recipient of several awards for her work. She is passionate about making science and higher education accessible to students from underrepresented backgrounds and has served as a mentor to numerous students through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia, the Women in STEM Mentorship Program at Virginia Western Community College, and the neuroSURF translational Neurobiology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. She has been recognized with a F99/K00 D-SPAN fellowship by the National Institute of Health, as well.

Anaid D. Shaver is a candidate for a Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision in the School of Education. Her research focuses on counselor wellness, school counseling clinical supervision, and implementation of comprehensive school counseling programs. Shaver has been recognized as a Michele Dowdy Emerging Leader by the Virginia Counselor Association. She received her bachelor’s degree from Siena College and her master’s degree from the University at Albany. Shaver presently provides outreach to school divisions on implementation of comprehensive school counseling programs to support preK-12 student achievement and success through monthly meetings and workshops. She also collaborated to develop, implement, and serve as a mentor for the American Counseling Association mentorship program, a multicultural leadership development opportunity to advance the counseling profession. Shaver aspires to serve as a facilitator of learning for counselors to promote antiracist, multicultural, and social justice sustaining and evidenced-based practices that are inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible in the development of their counselor identity.

Michelle White is a Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics program (BEAM). Her research seeks to understand microglia-induced inflammatory responses following both blast and impact-related traumatic brain injury. She has been recognized as a Virginia Tech Joseph Frank Hunkler Memorial Scholarship recipient and a Virginia Tech New Horizon’s Scholar.  She also serves as a graduate student representative on the Dean of the College of Engineering’s Student Advisory Board and BEAM’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She also has been a peer mentor for graduate, undergraduate, and high school students. White earned her bachelor’s degree at George Mason University and aspires to work at the intersection of neuroscience, engineering, and health equity, with a passion on improving science communication, advocacy, and health care within the Black community. 

Johnny C. Woods Jr. is a doctoral candidate in the higher education program in the School of Education. He earned his master’s degree from Makerere University, Uganda, and his bachelor’s degree from A.M.E. Zion University, Liberia. He concurrently is a graduate assistant for the Graduate School Global Perspectives Program, a graduate teaching assistant for the Preparing the Future Professoriate course, and serves as a graduate student researcher in the Engineering Education and Higher Education programs. He is a recipient of the Diversity Scholar Award and Don G. Creamer Research Award, is a fellow of VT Graduate Academy of Teaching Excellence, was vice president of the African Graduate Students Organization, and was a member of the School of Education diversity, equity, and inclusion committee. His broader research focuses on inclusive academic environments for marginalized populations through the praxis of assets-based frameworks. He focuses on access and equity in STEM education, the internationalization of higher education, and the experiences and outcomes of Black Sub-Saharan African collegians.

Karis Boyd-Sinkler is a doctoral candidate in engineering education. Her dissertation research is focused on the interpersonal relationships of Black men in undergraduate engineering programs. She has been recognized as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program recipient, a Virginia Tech New Horizons Graduate Scholar, and a Virginia Tech Diversity Scholar. She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering science with a concentration in nanomedicine engineering from the University of Virginia, where she was a recipient of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium scholarship. She earned a master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech. After graduation, she will begin her role as the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University.

Renata C. Vieira Carneiro is a Ph.D. candidate in food science and technology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Her research focuses on sensory evaluation and consumer studies to support the development of new edamame varieties for domestic production. She is a graduate student representative for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Department of Food Science and Technology and is affiliated with the Water INTERface Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program. She has been recognized as a Global Perspectives Program scholar, a Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation graduate student fellow, and a Food Studies Program student associate. She has been an active student leader and currently serves as president of the Latin American and Iberian Graduate Students Association and the Virginia Tech chapter of Phi Tau Sigma, the Honor Society of Food Science and Technology. She earned her bachelor’s degree in food engineering from the Federal University of Viçosa, Brazil, and her master’s degree in project management from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. She earned a master’s degree at Virginia Tech, where she was a scholar of the Fulbright Foreign Student Program and the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program. Ultimately, Renata plans to continue to work on consumer-driven food product development and innovation.

Mahtot Gebresselassie is a Ph.D. candidate in planning, governance, and globalization in the School of Public and International Affairs at the university’s Arlington campus. Her research focuses on wheelchair accessibility of transportation service hailed through Uber and Lyft in the United States. She has been recognized as a Virginia Tech Diversity Scholar for her work that assessed Virginia Tech’s greater Washington, D.C., metro area campuses for accessibility to persons with a disability. She is also a fellow with the Virginia Tech Graduate Academy for Teaching Excellence. She has received several awards, including the Americans with Disabilities Act 25th Anniversary Scholarship by the American Public Transportation Foundation. Her service activities include outreach work to encourage diversity in the planning profession in her role as the American Planning Association Ambassador for Virginia. She earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture and planning from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, and her master’s degree from University of Waterloo, Canada.

Katelyn A. Greene is a biomedical engineering Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University. As an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral fellow, she develops engineering tools that use medical images to measure bone strength and assess fracture risk among obese older adults undergoing intentional weight loss. She has served as a graduate research mentor for more than 20 undergraduate and high school students, several of whom have presented their projects at conferences and pursued graduate degrees. Beyond research, she is extensively involved with scientific communication and public engagement, with the goal of increasing science literacy in underserved school districts. As a Morehead Planetarium and Science Center IMPACTS ambassador and leader in her community, she has facilitated dozens of STEM outreach events with K-12 schools, robotics competitions, and national organizations. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree from Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University. She is fully committed to using her scholarship, compassionate leadership, and enthusiasm for outreach to create space for diverse voices in STEM.

Jeannie M. Purchase is a Ph.D. candidate in environmental and water resources engineering. Her research investigates the efficacy of lead-certified pitcher and faucet filters, which are often distributed during lead-in-water crises. She tests the effectiveness of these filters in removing contaminants under extreme corrosion conditions and her work helps examine the barriers to filter adoption in at-risk communities. She has been recognized as a Charles Via Ph.D. Fellow, New Horizon Graduate Scholar, and a Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program Graduate Scholar. She has worked with a dozen undergraduate researchers and was awarded the Virginia Tech Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year in spring 2020. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Clemson University in biosystems engineering and her master’s degree in construction engineering and management from Virginia Tech. She switched her engineering focus in pursuit of finding ways to better serve communities by designing solutions to relevant everyday problems. As a member of the U.S. Water Study Team, she has been an advocate and partner with citizens from Denmark, South Carolina, in their fight for safe water. Ultimately, she aspires to work at the intersection of infrastructure, water quality, community engagement, and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

The students listed below are members of the 2020 class of Bouchet Graduate Honor Society scholars.

Jeanette Danielle Barber is a Ph.D. candidate in agricultural, leadership, and community education in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Her research explores the intersection of basic psychological needs and motivation with the goal of understanding what motivating factors help to improve feelings of inclusivity for underrepresented minorities in professional agricultural careers. Barber, a George Washington Carver Scholar, co-authored Relationships between Eco-leadership and Problem-Solving Styles of Gifted and Talented Youth, published in the Journal of Leadership Education. She has been an avid volunteer with the Looking Forward with STEM program, a tutoring and mentor initiative that exposes underrepresented minority students in grades 6-8 to STEM careers. Barber aspires to work with senior leaders within agricultural organizations develop policies that may lead to satisfying work environments, greater productivity, and retention among minorities within the agricultural profession. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University.

Devon Lee recently completed his Ph.D. in sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Lee studies the nuances of Pan-Africanism through the lens of critical race theory. Through his research, he has worked with independent political parties and Rastafarian organizations and has built transnational relationships with scholars and activists who attempt to advance the standard of human rights. He currently is a director for diversity and inclusion at Touro University, California. Lee plans to continue to promote social justice alongside institutions, activists, and communities. His teaching and leadership recognizes activism as professional development. He earned bachelor’s degrees at the University of California, Davis, and a master’s degree from the University of Kansas.

Anurag Mantha is a Ph.D. student in civil engineering with a concentration in environmental engineering in the College of Engineering. For his research, he is investigating the decision-making and system design parameters influencing the growth of opportunistic pathogens in residential water heating systems. He is an Ut Prosim Scholar, has participated in the Global Perspectives Program, and has received the Graduate Student Service Excellence Award. He serves as the chair of the Graduate Honor System, represents graduate student concerns at various levels of university governance, and currently receives funding from the Graduate School to work with the Graduate Student Assembly and the Contemporary Pedagogy course. Recently, he has been an advocate for improving food security and co-founded Food Access for Students, a nonprofit providing food access resources for all Virginia Tech students. Ultimately, he plans on a career in academia as an educator and administrator working to improve student wellbeing and success. He earned his bachelor's degree from GITAM University, India.

Elizabeth M. Spingola is a Ph.D. candidate in engineering education in the College of Engineering. Her dissertation focuses on understanding and designing accessible online learning spaces for disabled engineering. She is an accessibility and inclusion advocate on campus and serves as the Disability Caucus co-chair and the Disability Alliance president. She is the treasurer of Iota Delta Rho, an interdisciplinary research honor society, the recipient of the Sally Bohland Award for Exceptional Leadership and Innovative Service in Access and Inclusion, a member of the Academy for Graduate Teaching Assistant Excellence, and a representative on the Commission for Equal Opportunity and Diversity. She has accepted a position with IBM working as a data solutions consultant in the federal sector. She earned her master’s degree at Virginia Tech.

The 2019 members of the Bouchet Honor Society were inducted in April at Yale University. The class includes:

Mayra S. Artiles is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education. 

Erika L. Bass is a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in English Education. 

Racheida S. Lewis is a candidate for the Ph.D. in Engineering Education. 

Ashley R. Taylor is a candidate for the Ph.D. in engineering education and she serves as director of Pathways for Future Engineers, a program in the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity designed to support first generation students and their families on the pathway from high school to an engineering degree. 

Ayesha L. Yousafzai is a candidate for the Ph.D. in Higher Education. Her research focuses on identity performance experiences of Muslim international women. 

The members of the 2018 Bouchet Honor Society will be inducted in April at Yale University. The class includes:

Dannette Gomez Beane received her Ph.D. in counselor education at Virginia Tech. 

TeAirra Brown is a candidate for the Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a concentration in Human Factors of Systems and Product Design at Virginia Tech. 

Adwoa Baah-Dwomoh is a Ph.D. candidate in the in materials science and engineering program with a concentration in materials for medical applications and biomechanics. 

Darren Maczka is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech and has received a graduate certificate in Women and Gender Studies from Virginia Tech. 

Mary Ryan, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) program, with concentrations in Social and Ethical Thought, at Virginia Tech. 

Chantel Simpson is a Ph.D. candidate in Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education at Virginia Tech. 

Michelle Soledad is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on understanding the teaching and learning experience in large foundational engineering courses. 

Martina Svyantek, of Auburn, Alabama, is a Ph.D. candidate in a self-designed and highly-individualized interdisciplinary program exploring how disability identity is situated within higher education. 

Shelby Ward is a Ph.D. candidate in the ASPECT program , where she teaches for the Political Science Department. 

The members of the 2017 Bouchet Honor Society class were inducted in April at Yale University. The class includes:

Sreyoshi Bhaduri, of Pune, Maharashtra, India, a Ph.D. candidate in engineering education

Adrien DeLoach, of Blacksburg, a Ph.D. student in higher education administration through the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

Amanda Halliburton, of Yorktown, Virginia, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology, with a concentration in clinical science. 

Jordan Laney, of McDowell County, North Carolina, a doctoral student in the interdisciplinary Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) program, with concentrations in social and cultural thought. 

Erin S. Lavender-Stott, of Blacksburg, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Human Development with a family studies concentration. 

Shekila Melchior, of Dale City, Virginia, recently earned her Ph.D. in counselor education

Saul N’Jie, of Churchill’s Town, The Gambia, a Ph.D. student in planning, governance, and globalization program in the School of Public and International Affairs

Jennifer Turner, of Goochland, Virginia, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology with a concentration in women’s and gender studies. 

Atiyeh Vahidmanesh, of Tehran, Iran, earned her Ph.D. in economics in February. 

The members of the 2016 Bouchet Honor Society class were inducted in April at Yale University. The class includes: 

Michele Deramo, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Science’s Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) program.

Anna Erwin, of Wilmington, North Carolina, a doctoral candidate in the School of Public and International Affairs’ Planning, Governance and Globalization program.

Homero Murzi, of San Cristobal, Venezuala, who earned his Ph.D. in Engineering Education in the College of Engineering.

Jamie Sanchez, of Farmington, New Mexico, a Ph.D. candidate in the ASPECT program.

The inaugural class of the Bouchet Honor Society chapter members was inducted in April at Yale University. The class included: 

Christian Matheis, from San Antonio, Texas, who earned his doctoral degree from Virginia Tech in the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought program.

Ashley Robinson, from Chesapeake, Virginia, a doctoral candidate in candidate in Computer Science and Applications.

Elizabeth “Eli” Jamison, from Roanoke, Virginia, a doctoral candidate in the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought program with concentrations in social and political thought.

Kelly Cross, from Blacksburg, Virginia, a doctoral candidate in engineering education.

Nikhil Jain, from New Delhi, India, a doctoral candidate with the Bradley Department of Electrical Engineering.

Nicole J. Johnson, from Searcy, Arkansas, a is a doctoral candidate in Higher Education with certificates in Education Research and Evaluation and Preparing Future Faculty.

Monica Motley, from Danville, Virginia, a candidate for a master's degree in public health and a is a doctoral candidate in biological and veterinary sciences.