Congratulations to the 2023 Recipients


Graduate School Doctoral Fellows Award

The Graduate School Doctoral Fellows Award is designed to recruit highly competitive students who will advance the research and scholarship mission of the University. Selected recipients come from various disciplines across campus.

Ayse Hilal Avci
Gifted and Creative Education Ph.D. Program, Department of Educational Psychology, Mary Frances Early College of Education

Ayse Hilal AvciAyse Hilal Avci was born and raised in Turkiye. She has been living in Istanbul for more than 10 years. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Preschool Teaching Program at Bogazici University in 2018, and her Master’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies, International Learning Styles at State University of New York Buffalo State in 2022. She has been working as a kindergarten teacher in Istanbul for 5 years.

Avci’s research interests lie in social emotional development and learning of both students and teachers. During her graduate studies at SUNY Buffalo College, she conducted research on teachers’ wellbeing in the pandemic era. She has participated in various conferences and seminars, both as a participant and a speaker. Her teaching career with a diverse set of students, including children with different needs has offered her experience with social emotional development in educational settings.

Avci also volunteered at AÇEV, a Turkish NGO which develops and implements educational programs for disadvantaged children, especially from lower-income and/or immigrant families. She worked with families with no Turkish or English literacy. Her responsibilities included program development, fieldwork in the disadvantaged areas of Istanbul, data collection/input, and program revision.

Avci is joining UGA as a Ph.D. student and a research assistant in the Department of Educational Psychology. She was awarded an assistantship and graduate fellowship by UGA. She will be working in the Gifted and Creative Education program under the supervision of Dr. Sakhavat Mammadov. She is excited about the upcoming journey!

Makenna Burslie
Integrated Life Sciences, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Makenna BurslieMakenna Burslie was born and raised in a small town in Minnesota that’s not far from the Canadian border. Burslie was a first generation undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota – Duluth where she graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology with an emphasis on genetics, cell, and development. While she attended UMD, Burslie was an NCAA Division II student-athlete that played on the UMD Bulldogs Varsity softball team and was also a research fellow in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and the Biology Undergraduate Research in Science and Technology (BURST) program. Burslie is now excited to further her education and attend school at the University of Georgia where she will pursue her PhD in the Integrated Life Sciences Program at the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Burslie’s undergraduate research at UMD was under the mentorship of Dr. Briana Gross and was focused on two native plant species to Northeastern Minnesota found along the North Shore: bilberries and lingonberries. She researched the relationship between pollen loads received in a population to the fruit set produced in each species’ populations. Burslie worked alongside a graduate student researching the same plant species and traveled all around Minnesota’s North Shores and Northern State Forests doing fieldwork and surveying bilberry and lingonberry populations for this research project.

While Burslie’s undergraduate research was focused on plant biology, she is very interested in working with different model organisms such as vertebrates. Burslie is a very curious individual that is particularly fascinated with genetic and cancer studies driven by some personal experiences with cancer in her family. She hopes to one day use her knowledge to go work in industry either as a geneticist or a lead in a clinical research laboratory.

Anna Grace Bushong
Ecology, Odum School of Ecology

Anna Grace BushongAnna Grace Bushong was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Environmental Sciences at Centre College in 2021. Despite the pandemic altering opportunities, she was able to begin developing as a researcher early through the STEER program at the Center for Excellence in Environmental Toxicology of the University of Pennsylvania and explore the implications of environmental quality on human health. However, she realized her passion for research lay in examining questions related to environmental health not through a human-focused lens, but an ecological one. Anna’s alma mater supported this shift and her pursuit to research the effect of multiple environmental stressors on freshwater snails through the John C. Young Scholars program. This work solidified her commitment to investigating the effects of environmental pollutants on aquatic wildlife and clarity necessary to pursue graduate education to build her toolkit for a career in research. 

Anna recently obtained her M.S. at Purdue University from the Department of Forestry & Natural Resources through the Interdisciplinary Ecological Sciences and Engineering program. Her thesis focused on investigating the potential sublethal, metabolic effects of perfluoroalkyl substances on amphibians during metamorphosis. She will continue specializing in amphibian ecotoxicology during her Ph.D. through the Odum School of Ecology under Dr. Stacey Lance at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. Anna’s dissertation will investigate the influence of water chemistry on the development of native amphibians across contaminated and uncontaminated wetlands through altering food resources, specifically considering the composition of microbial communities.

Nishtha Chauhan
Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Nishtha ChauhanNishtha Chauhan was born and brought up in India. She went on to earn her BS in Life Sciences from University of Delhi, India where she studied three major subjects including Botany, Zoology and Chemistry. For her future she wanted to get knowledge of more technical aspects so went on to earn her MS in Biotechnology from Amity University, India. During her master’s she did her major project on “Analytical Characterisation of Virus-like Particles” at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Alongside her master’s she was also working on “Unique enzymatic consortium for enhancement of bio-ethanol production” at Amity University. 

Proactively, Nishtha was involved in co-curricular activities and was the class representative for her BS and MS. She was also a part of the student’s union in her BS which helped her to learn team work and become the person she is today. 

She got accepted to UGA and was also awarded the Graduate School Doctoral Fellowship. She will be working with Dr Yiping Zhao whose lab focusses on nanofabrication, plasmonic, metamaterials, chemical and biological sensors, photocatalysts, nanomotors and biological applications. She is very excited to be at UGA and looks forward to having an academically good time here.

Ghazal Darougheh Daftar Owen
Department of Mathematics, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Ghazal Darougheh Daftar OwenGhazal is a graduate student in Mathematics at University of Georgia under the direction of Prof. David T. Gay. She is very topology oriented and is strongly interested in problems concerning topology and geometry of manifolds and knots in 3 and 4 dimensions. 

Prior to UGA, Ghazal was a fellow (a non-degree scholar) at Harvard University under the guidance of Prof. Clifford Taubes. With Prof. Taubes, Ghazal conducted her first study on mathematical gauge theory, building her way up to the Seiberg-Witten equations on 3-dimensional manifolds. She then continued to explore the relation between Floer homology, i.e., topological invariants of 3- manifolds with spinc structures, and the geometry of Riemann surfaces. Her other independent research projects involve hyperbolic structures and geometric knots. She plans to further investigate the interaction between low-dimensional topology, differential geometry, and analysis in her graduate research.

Ghazal completed her undergraduate studies at University College London (UCL), earning an MSci (a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree).  In her Master thesis, she explored the structure of the solutions to the partial differential equations that modeled the physical theory to understand the geometry and topology of manifolds. The faculty awarded her project as the best Master Thesis of the graduating class.

Ghazal’s initial interest in mathematics developed during high school where she participated avidly in math competitions. Among other awards, she earned a silver medal in the national Iranian Mathematics Olympiad qualifying her for the prestigious Math Olympiad Summer Program.

Lauren Gingerella
Forestry and Natural Resources, Warnell School Forestry and Natural Resources

Lauren GingerellaLauren Gingerella is pursuing a PhD through the Warnell School Forestry and Natural Resources, where her research will examine the conversion of golf courses to wildlife-friendly natural habitats. Lauren is a Certified Wildlife Biologist with strong interests in land protection, management, and restoration, which were developed when working as Assistant Conservation Director and Wildlife Biologist for North American Land Trust. Most recently before starting a PhD, she worked as a Biological Planner for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Inventory and Monitoring Branch, providing science support to refuges in the southeast region. She has worked a variety of field-based positions, including shorebird research, protection, and management in Cape Cod, MA and Cape May, NJ, invasive plant management in Death Valley National Park, and salt marsh bird surveys in Rhode Island. Additionally, Lauren spent nearly four years living and working on Little St. Simons Island, GA, (LSSI) as Ecological Coordinator and Naturalist. She collected data for her M.S. thesis on LSSI as well, where she studied the effectiveness of predator exclosures on Wilson’s Plover nest success and productivity. She received a M.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Georgia, and a B.S. in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from the University of Rhode Island. Lauren currently serves as conservation chair of the Georgia Ornithological Society. She hopes to apply the research and collaboration skills gained through her doctoral pursuits in a leadership position with a conservation nonprofit organization.

Gabriela Greilinger
International Affairs, School of Public and International Studies

Gabriela GreilingerGabriela Greilinger was born and raised in Vienna, Austria, and is half-Austrian and half-Hungarian. Throughout the past years, she has studied, worked, and lived amongst others in Hungary, The Netherlands, Belgium and the United States. 

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Hungarian Studies and a Master’s in European Studies from the University of Vienna, Austria. She also holds a Master of Science in Political Science from the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In the past, she completed several internships at NGOs and IGOs, such as the United Nations and the European Parliament. In 2020, she co-founded a youth platform for young writers interested in international affairs. 

Most recently, she has worked as a Community Engagement Manager at the Austrian Daily Newspaper Der Standard. In the past year, she has also published several articles in the New Eastern Europe Magazine, The Diplomat and Social Europe, amongst others. 

In August, Gabriela will join UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs as a PhD student in Political Science. She is interested in populism, specifically the populist radical right, as well as democracy, political behaviour, and political psychology. In the future, she hopes to work in research and focus on threats and challenges to liberal democracy.

Kaili Gregory
Integrative Conservation, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

Kaili GregoryKaili Gregory was born and raised in Washington, DC. Inspired by her mother who worked at the Environmental Protection Agency, Kaili has been interested in wildlife and the environment from a young age. She went on to earn her BS in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences with minors in Climate Change and Development Sociology from Cornell University. She completed research on oysters in the Hudson River Estuary during her final two years. Gregory was also a Division 1 athlete as a member of the Cornell Women’s Soccer Team during her four years. Gregory recently completed her MS at the University of Florida in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. Her thesis focused on developing a predictive population model to predict the future extinction risk of the northwestern and southwestern pond turtle. Her work was integrated into the Species Status Assessment for the species, which serves as decision support science for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s listing decision under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. 

Kaili’s interests center around the application of quantitative methods to conservation decision-making. Her ultimate career goal is to work at the interface of science and policy. At the University of Georgia, Gregory will be part of the Integrative Conservation PhD program and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. She is excited to learn more about interdisciplinary methods and new ways of thinking about conservation. Gregory will work with her advisor, Dr. Kelly Robinson, to develop decision support tools for multiple species and systems as part of her research at UGA.

Rachel Hill
Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Rachel HillRachel Hill is a first-year student in the straight-to Ph.D. program at the Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics at UGA Tifton. After growing up on a cotton farm in northwest Tennessee, Rachel knew that she wanted to pursue a career in agriculture. She discovered her passion for plant breeding and genetics before beginning her undergraduate career at Mississippi State University. During her time there, she double majored in Agronomy with a concentration in Integrated Crop Management and Biochemistry with a concentration in Plant Pathology. She was involved in research that cumulated in an undergraduate thesis and determined the efficacy of using imaging analysis software to measure the root length of both fibrous and taproot crops. As Rachel plans for a career in cotton breeding, UGA and Dr. Peng Chee’s lab were the perfect fit. Not only were both highly recommended by industry professionals, Dr. Chee and UGA also offer the knowledge, experience, and research goals she was looking for in a graduate program. Because of her education in plant pathology, she is looking forward to working with cotton diseases from a plant breeding aspect in her graduate studies. Rachel is very thankful to have been awarded one of the Graduate School Doctoral Fellowship awards and is excited to become a Georgia Bulldog!

Tarikul Islam
Polymers, Fiber, and Textile Sciences, College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Tarikul IslamTarikul Islam was born in Bangladesh. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Textile Engineering at Jashore University of Science and Technology, Jashore-7408, Bangladesh. He has completed his B.Sc. in Textile Engineering from Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University, Tangail-1902, Bangladesh, and his M.Sc. in Textile Engineering from the Bangladesh University of Textiles, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 

After graduation, he worked as a Management Trainee Officer at Vertex Group (Nov 2015-April 2016). In 2016, he joined a faculty position (Lecturer) at Port City International University, Chittagong, Bangladesh (April 2016-March 2018). After that, he joined as a Lecturer at BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh March 2018 (March 2018-November 2018). 

He is a highly motivated, achievement-oriented textiles and materials researcher with over 06 years of experience in academia, industry, and research organization. He has fiber, polymer, composites, protective clothing, natural dyes, and sustainability expertise. He managed multiple Government research projects, including funding from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) Bangladesh, University Grant Commission (UGC) Bangladesh, industry collaboration, budget management, data analysis, and reporting.

His research interest is fiber and polymers, composites, nanocomposite materials, green chemistry, synthesis of natural dyes, functional fabrics, conductive textiles, flame retardant textiles, and wearable textiles.

This Fall, He will join as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising, and Interiors at the University of Georgia, Athens. He was also awarded a graduate fellowship from the University of Georgia, Athens.

Zara Jilani
Department of Sociology, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Bio info not available

Jaesung Lee
Social Work, School of Social Work

Jaesung LeeJaesung Lee was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. Jaesung Lee earned a Bachelor of Social Welfare from Chung-Ang University, Seoul, South Korea, and earned a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, United States. While at BSW, he served two years in the Republic of Korea Navy. After completing his Master’s degree, he worked for about 5 years as a social worker and researcher to experience the social work field. Through his experiences in academia and the field, he wanted to go to a doctoral degree and study more deeply about the subject of his interest, older adults.

His research interest is based on older adults; life after retirement, and gerontechnology. Jaesung Lee is most interested in improving the quality of life of older adults through quantitative research. He has participated in various researches regarding social engagement of older adults and retirement. He focuses mainly on verifying stylized facts by using various statistical models and verifying theories. He is looking forward to learning and exchanging opinions with social work experts while executing his Ph.D. at the University of Georgia. In addition, he expects to collaborate with students of various majors as well.

Ananya Malik
Higher Education, Louise McBee Institute of Higher Education

Ananya MalikAnanya Malik, MEd (she/her) is an incoming doctoral student in the McBee Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia. Prior to attending UGA, Ananya attended the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of North Texas. 

Ananya’s research interests include the intersection of higher education policy and college access, as well as the historical moments and trends that influence policy choices. 

Ananya has presented at NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) about university marijuana policies and restorative justice, and at the UNT Diversity and Equity Conference about APIDA (Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi American) students, their specific needs, and the role of data disaggregation in student affairs. 

This summer, Ananya is a TACUSPA (Texas Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators) Fellow, working with the Student Affairs on Campus journal. In the fall, Ananya will be the McBee Scholar for 2023-24 and a Research Assistant in the McBee Institute with Dr. Tim Cain.

Jennifer McCann
Integrative Life Sciences, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Jenny McCannJenny earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of Georgia. She spent the next decade traveling the country and teaching science in high schools in both rural Mississippi and urban Tacoma, Washington. Though the culture differences and education policies were quite different, students in both school districts shared similar challenges when moving from high school science to college science. This observation led to a passion for improving collegiate science education to make science accessible for a more diverse group of students. 

After earning her MS in Biology at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, Jenny moved from the high school classroom to a college classroom as an adjunct professor, bringing with her the skillful and compassionate teaching that she had developed throughout her professional career in secondary education.

While earning her master’s degree, Jenny also realized an interest in pursuing research. She joined the lab of Dr. Travis Hagey where she completed a project and publication investigating parallel evolution in gecko toe pad morphology.

Now, as a mom of three, Jenny is excited to return to the University of Georgia as a PhD student in the Integrative Life Sciences PhD program. She plans to take part in a hybrid program through the Department of Genetics where she will be a research assistant in two labs—one focused in genetics research and the other in biology education research. The University of Georgia is unique in their offering of this hybrid PhD option, and Jenny is thrilled that she can make meaningful contributions and gain expertise in the field of genetics while also continuing her passion for science education by researching actionable ways to improve collegiate teaching.

Jordan Parker
Veterinary Scientist Training Program, Comparative Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine

Jordan ParkerJordan L. Parker was born and raised in Marietta, Georgia, but has lived around the southeastern United States. For the past 6 years, she has lived in Lexington, KY, where she graduated magna cum laude with her BS in Equine Science and Management from the University of Kentucky. While there, she was involved in the University’s IHSA Hunt Seat Team, held groom positions for several show barns, and worked at various veterinary practices. 

Parker entered UK’s Veterinary Science Master’s Program in 2021 under Dr. Emma Adam and Dr. Allen Page at the Gluck Equine Research Center. Her microbiology-focused thesis worked on exploring the multi-faceted relationship between the gastrointestinal microbiota communities, the host, and antibiotics. While working with Dr. Adam and Dr. Page, Parker participated in multiple projects. She conducted the 2021 and 2022 Rotavirus B epidemiology survey, participated in pilot Leptospirosis work, and assisted with equine inflammation models. Parker has had the privilege to work with multiple undergraduate students and visiting veterinary students during her two years at Gluck. 

Parker was accepted into a dual DVM-PhD program at the University of Georgia. The UGA Graduate School awarded Parker a graduate fellowship to pursue her PhD, and the CVM awarded her a matching assistantship to help fund her research. Parker will work under Dr. John Peroni, whose lab focuses on regenerative medicine research. She is extremely excited to continue her academic career at the UGA CVM. She hopes to one day work in academia, educating the next generation of veterinary scientists.

Ernie Ramos
Department of Statistics, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Bio info not available

Matty Ray
Department of Communication Studies, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Matty RayMy name is Matty Ray, and I am an incoming student for the Fall 2023 semester at the University of Georgia. I will be studying Interpersonal and Health Communication as a PhD student. I am originally from DFW, Texas, and my background is in communication—I earned my bachelor’s in Speech Communication Studies from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2019, and my master’s in Communication from UT Arlington in 2020. While obtaining my master’s degree, I worked extensively as a graduate research assistant with Dr. Grace Brannon, and published papers on health communication and public health as a co-author in journals such as Health Communication, American Journal of Health Promotion, Digital Health, and Journal of Patient Experience.

My research interests focus mainly on health communication, and specifically patient- provider communication. I want to explore the ways medical professionals communicate with LGBTQ+ patients, as well as examining any potential bias in patient- provider interactions. Additionally, I am interested in how LGBTQ+ health needs are framed in media—as well as how LGBTQ+ individuals communicate interpersonally about health with family, peers, and coworkers, and the social support they may receive. I am so excited to be moving to Athens, to explore my research interests further, and to begin teaching courses in the Department of Communication Studies! I greatly appreciate and am honored to be a recipient of a Graduate School Doctoral Fellow Award.

Sahar Saadat
Department of Entertainment and Media Studies, Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication

Sahar SaadatSahar Saadat was born and raised in Shiraz, Iran. She has been highly interested in cinema and Television from a young age, especially since she looked at them as a source of inspiration and motivation to overcome the obstacles found in an oppressive country like Iran. She did her BA in Theater Directing at the Islamic Azad University of Shiraz, finding her passion for research and analysis in the field of Arts. She chose the play Wit (1995) by Margaret Edson for her bachelor’s dissertation. The dissertation discusses the stigma that society imposes on feminine traits, considering them weaknesses.

Sahar continued her studies at the University of East Anglia, England to get her MA in Film Studies. She explored different aspects of mass media and did her dissertation on Female Representation in AI Science Fiction under the supervision of Dr. Christine Cornea. In this project, she analyzed the female AI characters’ portrayal in the genre of science fiction. After the completion of her MA, Sahar returned to Iran and participated in multiple production projects to expand her knowledge and experience in the field of media.

Sahar got accepted to UGA and was awarded the Graduate School Doctoral Fellowship. She will be doing her PhD in Mass Communication, focusing on the politics of gender and sexuality in the media. She is thrilled to continue her studies and to get closer to her career goals at UGA. She hopes to one day become a scholar in mass communication and to help her students, the media industry, and associated technologies grow and prosper.

Christopher Edgardo Padilla Sandoval
Department of Mathematics, Mary Frances Early College of Education

Christopher SandovalChristopher Edgardo Padilla Sandoval, a native of San Salvador, El Salvador, is an aspiring mathematician and an incoming PhD student at the University of Georgia, starting in fall 2023. Born in October 1998, Christopher has spent the majority of his life in his hometown. Both of his parents are also of Salvadoran descent.

Christopher embarked on his academic journey in 2017 by pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at the University of El Salvador, where he graduated with honors in May 2022. During his time as a student, Christopher actively participated in the Mathematics Student Seminar, a forum where
members presented and discussed various topics and theorems, allowing them to deepen their understanding of mathematical concepts. He also pursued other enriching opportunities, such as attending programs like the Sampling Advanced Mathematics for Minority Students program at The Ohio State University in 2018, gaining exposure to diverse areas of mathematics. In 2019, he explored Mathematical Logic and Gödel’s incompleteness theorems during the EMALCA Costa Rica program. Christopher also attended the course “Fundaments of Algebraic Geometry” organized by professors
from the Autonomous University of Zacatecas, which provided his first introduction to algebraic geometry. In the realm of mathematical competitions, Christopher achieved a Silver Medal in the Iberoamerican Interuniversity Mathematics Competition in 2021 and a Bronze Medal in 2020. He also
got a bronze medal in Iberoamerican University Mathematics Olympiad in 2021. Within the realm of mathematics, Christopher’s primary focus broadly lies in Number Theory, particularly in the domains of algebraic number theory and p-adic analysis.

Brittany Shivers
Journalism, Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication

Brittany ShiversBrittany Shivers’ research focuses on the psychological processing of disinformation and conspiracy theories, as well as the societal implications of information disorder exacerbated by social media. She is also interested in researching the growing threat of disinformation spread through artificial intelligence technologies. 

Shivers completed her Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications concentrated in journalism from the University of West Georgia in 2021. During her time there, she served as the Editor-in-Chief of UWG’s newspaper, The West Georgian, and connected with the campus and local community to report on important local issues. In 2019, Shivers completed an internship serving as a local reporter for The Newnan Times-Herald, and shortly after did some freelance work for the Times-Georgian. As recognition for her journalistic and academic work, she received The Gordon R. Watson Award for Excellence in Mass Communication, which is one of the highest honors awarded to one outstanding student in mass communication each year. She also received the Excellence Award in Convergence Journalism in 2021. 

For the past two years, Shivers studied at the University of Georgia in pursuit of a Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication conducting research with the Crisis Insights and Analytics Lab team under the direction of Dr. Yan Jin and the Digital Media and Cognition Lab team under the direction of Dr. Bart Wojdynski. In 2022, she worked at The Red & Black as the Senior Editor of Special Publications. Shivers will continue to pursue her research interests at UGA and will start her PhD in the journalism program at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in August 2023.

Amit Talukder
Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors, College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Amit TalukderMr. Amit Talukder holds a Bachelor of Science in Textile Engineering from the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh, and a master’s in business administration from Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh. He recently completed his master’s in fashion design and merchandising at Mississippi State University. He has more than four years of industrial experience and has been working on a commercial fishing project since 2021. Now, he will pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Fiber and Polymer Science in the fall of 2024.

As a graduate research assistant and grad lead, he works with Human science and athlete engineering professors on a protective fishing shirt project for commercial fishermen. Also, he is collaborating with the kinesiology, industrial engineering, and athlete engineering team on a project to incorporate wearable technology-based smart socks with stretch sensors with the virtual immersive test to determine the safety status of the postural control system. His thesis on wearable flexible solar cells recently received a grant from the AATCC Foundation. Besides, He joined as a student leader in MSU Athletic Engineering team to lead the day-to-day activities in the labs and help to ensure undergrad students are engaged with AE research work. He, along with his professor, was awarded a teaching grant, Ottilie Schillig Special Teaching Projects Program Award 2022, supported by MSU.

Christopher Washburn
Department of Linguistics, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Christopher WashburnChris Washburn was born in New Hampshire and raised in a bicultural household. His father was born in the midwest, while his mother was born and raised in Japan. Chris’ path to graduate school was not always clear. Chris went to Saint Mary’s College of California in the Bay Area, and immediately upon graduating went to work for a cloud computing services provider in Silicon Valley. After a few years of working in the tech sector, as well as exploring several other interests such as film production and sports management, he returned to New Hampshire where he enrolled in linguistics classes at Dartmouth College. With this added academic experience, he went on to Queen Mary University of London where he received a master’s degree.

Chris is primarily interested in language variation and change, but also has interest in phonetics and phonology. Because of his family background, he has a long term interest in researching both English linguistics and Japanese linguistics. While at Queen Mary, Chris assisted with research on the shifting vowel space in Received Pronunciation (posh) accent in British English speakers. His independent research includes phonetic analyses of strategic accent shifting by pop and rock singers across various regions in the UK, and a master’s thesis on exploring generational differences in the usage strategies of sound symbolic words among Tokyo Japanese speakers. Chris’ goals at the University of Georgia are to further his theoretical understanding of various linguistics subfields, especially sociolinguistics, and to continue developing research skills in order to pursue a career in academia.

Jack Wood
Communication Studies, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Jack WoodJack Wood is a doctoral student in Communication Studies studying the rhetoric of cities. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Wood grew up in a working-class family that valued labor as the principal human ethic. Wood served eight years in the US Marine Corps infantry, learning organizational skills that would assist his later career in organizing labor unions. Wood has taught at Texas Tech University, where he also earned a Master’s degree in Communication Studies working under Dr. Catherine L. Langford. Additionally, he served as the editorial assistant for Rhetoric & Public Affairs. In 2023, the International Semiotics Institute invited Wood to travel to Prague and lecture on spatial enthymemes and psychoanalytic concepts of space.

Stemming from a long working-class tradition, Wood believes labor is generative of our material experience, and this informs his studies into rhetoric and spatial production. Thus, his studies into urban rhetoric seek to understand how the organization of labor within cities helps to shape the everyday rhetorics experienced by its residents. By adopting psychoanalytic views of the subject, Wood argues for the non-distinction between a subject and the space they inhabit based on the externality of the unconscious that mutually constitutes both subject and space. 

Wood will teach various courses in the Communication Studies department at the University of Georgia. Attending UGA complements his interests in materialist rhetoric, psychoanalysis, and urbanism. Moreover, his interests lead toward an interdisciplinary route in conceptual fields in rhetoric, sociology, and philosophy and more practical orientations in human geography, urban planning, and urban design.


Graduate School Master’s Fellows Award

The Graduate School Master’s Fellows Award is designed to recruit highly competitive students who will advance the research and scholarship mission of the University. Selected recipients come from various disciplines across campus.

Richard Augenstein
Department of Kinesiology, Mary Frances Early College of Education

Richard AugensteinRichard “Richie” Augenstein will be a first year Exercise Psychology M.S. student in the Fall 2023 term. He is studying under Dr. Patrick O’Connor in the Department of Kinesiology, on a thesis track. Richie graduated from UGA in 2023 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Exercise & Sport Science. During his 4 years as an undergrad, he was a proud member of the UGA Redcoat Marching band, where he played tenor saxophone and experienced back to back CFP national championships for his beloved Georgia Bulldogs. 

Richie’s research interests include strength training and competitive sports, and how these both relate to and rely on brain functioning. He plans on developing a thesis that explores the high level mental and physical functioning necessary to make a great athlete. He is very grateful for his mentors that have helped along the way. These include, but are not limited to, Dr. Patrick O’Connor of UGA, Dr. Melissa McGranahan of Emory University, and Dr. Jay Hegdé of Augusta University, who all graciously offered him opportunities to work and learn in their labs. 

Richie is very excited to teach students this coming year, to continue his education at this fantastic university, and explore the many opportunities that are possible in his program. Go Dawgs!

Clay Cook
Department of Communication Studies, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Clay CookClay Cook is an incoming first-year graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree in Interpersonal and Health Communication within the Department of Communication Studies. Clay completed his undergraduate degree in May 2022 at the University of Georgia where he graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Psychology and minors in Public Health and Health Policy and Management. While studying at UGA, Clay served on the Board of Directors for University Union, the student programming board on campus, and helped plan large-scale events as an Entertainment Coordinator.

After graduation, Clay took a gap year to gain relevant work experience and travel. During his gap year, he worked for the UGA Department of Recreational Sports as the Challenge Course Manager, where he helped facilitate team-building and communication among groups through the use of high and low-rope initiatives.

Clay has several wide-ranging research interests, including conflict in pop culture and media, vaccine hesitancy, and the politicization of public health messaging campaigns. However, he is particularly interested in studying misinformation in politics and the associated implications on disease incidence, especially with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With training from the UGA Interpersonal and Health Communication program, Clay hopes to be a part of the conversation surrounding public health messaging, whether that be through academia or government service.

Blazie Gilder
Child Life, Department of Human Development and Family Science, College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Blazie GilderBlazie Gilder is an incoming first-year graduate student pursuing a M.S. in Child Life. She graduated from the University of Idaho in 2023 with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies and Minors in Human and Community Engagement and Pre-Health Studies. With the ultimate goal of working as a Certified Child Life Specialist, UGA was a clear choice for her in terms of finding a program that would give her the necessary knowledge and skills to best serve her future patients. While studying on the non-thesis track, she looks forward to learning more about the hospitalized child and their family. The Department of Human Development and Family Science offers opportunities for her to learn about the therapeutic benefits of play and what it is like to be on the front line of reducing the impact traumatic healthcare events can have on children and their families. In addition to studying inside the classroom, she will also be able to apply these concepts in the hospital setting. She is also very grateful for the opportunity to conduct research at UGA under the mentorship of Dr. Diane Bales. Her passion for helping others stems from her experiences as a childhood cancer survivor and the help she received from her family, community, and healthcare professionals during treatment. She hopes that her unique perspective, coupled with the outstanding curriculum and mentorship from faculty and staff will help her make a difference for children and their families during potentially traumatic life events.

Jonathan Henson
Department of Plant Pathology, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

Jonathan HensonJonathan Henson is an incoming master’s student in the Department of Plant Pathology. Under the guidance of his advisors, Dr. Phil Brannen and Dr. Marin Talbot Brewer, he will be focusing on studying Glomerella leaf spot, an emerging fungal pathogen in apples. Jonathan aims to enhance our understanding of the disease by characterizing the fungal species responsible and testing management strategies that may assist Georgia apple producers.  

Originally from Herrin, Illinois, Jonathan recently graduated summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University (SIU) obtaining a B.S. in plant biology, accompanied by minors in chemistry and music. Throughout his undergraduate years, he actively participated in the Horticulture Association and the Plant Biology Student Organization, where he helped organize trips and competitions. It was during his time at SIU that he first delved into research in a plant genetics lab. While he greatly enjoyed this experience, it was the Cornell AgriTech Summer Scholars Program in 2022 that introduced him to the fascinating field of plant pathology. With this newfound interest and direction, he set his eyes on graduate school as the next step in his journey toward becoming a researcher. 

Aside from his passion for science, Jonathan’s foremost interest lies in playing the viola. He has performed extensively as the coprincipal violist of the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra, an artist of the Southern Illinois Music Festival, and a member of various chamber ensembles, including string quartets.

Jonathan is very grateful to the University of Georgia and especially his advisors for the opportunity to pursue his research interests. Ultimately, he hopes to conduct research in the agricultural industry at companies focused on fungicide or seed development.

Courtney Keeler
Department of Chemistry, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Courtney KeelerCourtney Keeler is an incoming graduate student to the Master’s of Chemistry Program at UGA. She grew up in Mebane, NC, but now calls Seneca, SC home. She graduated from the University of Montevallo in Alabama, where she earned her BS in chemistry with a minor in mathematics. While there, Courtney was a student athlete and competed for the cross country and track teams. She enjoys playing disc golf, hiking, and spending time with friends. She has performed undergraduate research in the field of organic chemistry under direction of Prof. Tidwell of University of Montevallo, and Prof. Kim of Clemson’s University. Courtney’s work focused on diversification of antibiotics to try to develop new therapeutics. Her research interests include organic and analytic chemistry with a focus on biological application. She is looking forward to diving into exciting research this year, with the hopes of working in the pharmaceutical industry in the future.

Eva Kerr
Forestry and Natural Resources, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

Eva KerrEva Kerr is am an incoming Master’s student at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. She is originally from Fredericksburg, VA, and has a very sweet puppy named Remi. She graduated this spring from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, and majored in Biology and Environmental Science and Sustainability and minored in mathematics. While at Allegheny, she ran cross country and track and worked in environmental education. Her hobbies include hiking, finding good coffee, and being on the water. Eva developed a strong interest in amphibians and their conservation through field research experiences and independent studies with Allegheny, the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL), and the Mims Lab in remote southern Arizona. At RMBL she researched how tiger salamanders impact the macroinvertebrates in a beaver pond. In Arizona, she researched environmental drivers of the presence or absence of the Arizona Tree Frogs, a vulnerable species. Her Master’s project will focus on gopher frogs and their conservation. She would love to continue this research and become a professor in the future.

Pratiksha Kotar
Department of Food Science and Technology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Bio info not available


Shayla Manwill
Department of History, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Shayla ManwillShayla Manwill is an incoming first-year graduate student pursuing an M.A. in History. She is focusing her efforts on Public History courses with the hope of obtaining UGA’s Certificate in Museum Studies. Ultimately, her goal is to use her M.A. to find new ways to make United States history more interesting and meaningful to the larger population as well as make it more accessible to rural communities. 

These dreams began in her undergraduate studies at Idaho State University (ISU) where she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s in History and a minor in Business. While at ISU, Shayla had the opportunity to present her original research on nineteenth-century New Orleans Voodoo at the American Historical Association’s (AHA) annual conference in Philadelphia, PA. This work was also presented at the annual Phi Alpha Theta Northwest Regional Conference as well as at ISU’s Undergraduate Research Symposium. To travel to these locations, she was the recipient of numerous grants and scholarships. Moreover, under Dr. Sarah Robey, Shayla participated in archival research about Idaho’s role in the nuclear arms race and was able to assist with the promotion of Dr. Robey’s novel.

Outside of education, Shayla is an avid reader who also enjoys live music, movies, hiking, and hanging out with her friends. She is excited to work with UGA’s history faculty, fellow graduate students, and undergraduate students this Fall semester.

Caitlin McCann
Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Bio info not available

Sarah Moore
Department of Linguistics, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Bio info not available


Jessica Mysliwski
Integrative Conservation and Sustainability (ICAS), Odum School of Ecology

Jessica MysliwskiJessica Mysliwski received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh where she majored in environmental studies. She is joining UGA’s Odum School of Ecology this fall to pursue a master’s degree in Integrative Conservation and Sustainability (ICAS). This program will give Jessica the opportunity to conduct environmental policy research regarding more sustainable agricultural practices. Jessica has a passion to better understand how to most effectively incorporate more sustainable practices into the industrial agriculture setting. She wants to learn directly from farmers about obstacles and potential solutions to this issue. 

Most recently, Jessica served in AmeriCorps NCCC for 10 months between her undergrad and grad school. She and her team traveled the country and served various non-profits. Projects included affordable home construction, helping to run a large food pantry, free income tax preparation, natural disaster relief with the American Red Cross, and trail building and maintenance. Their last project was with two non-profit farms that use sustainable farming techniques which provided great real-world experience with sustainable agriculture.  

Jessica grew up in Wisconsin, but she is looking forward to experiencing life outside of the state. All of her family lives in the Midwest, including her mom, dad, twin brother, and the family dog, Lenny. Outside of the academic and professional world, Jessica enjoys making healthy snacks, going for walks, binging a new TV series with friends, and watching sports.

Maya Peters-Greño
Department of History, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Maya Peters-GrenoMaya Peters-Greño is an incoming first-year graduate student pursuing an M.A. in History. She graduated from Idaho State University in 2022 with a B.A. in History, where her research focused on material culture, identity, and colonialism. At UGA, she wishes to expand on these themes and understand how people living in 19th-century North America used dress and fashion to form/inform their often heterogeneous identities. 

During her undergraduate studies, Maya was awarded the North American Conference on British Studies (NACBS) Undergraduate Essay Prize for 2022. She was also accepted to present the essay at the NACBS conference in November of 2022. Additionally, Maya has presented historical research at the Baylor McNair Research Conference (August 2022), the Phi Alpha Theta NW Regional Conference (April 2022), and the Idaho State University Undergraduate Research Symposium (May 2022). She looks forward to attending more friendly conferences during her time at UGA, where scholars can learn from each others’ research techniques and employ them to collectively advance their understanding of the ‘pasts’ that have created our present world. Notably, Maya is enthusiastic about finding creative ways to uncover the lives of the subaltern and bring to light the truths of their experiences.

Maya primarily grew up in Barcelona, Spain, but has been living in Idaho for the past eight years. What a change! She’s excited to experience life in Athens, where she will get to do  her favorite things–eat, go on long walks, and people watch–for the first time in a new environment.

Skye Remko
Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Skye RemkoSkye Remko, a first-year M.S. student in Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics, is currently conducting research at Dr. Parrott’s lab, focusing on genetically transforming switchgrass for biofuel production. 

Originally from Ringgold, GA, she graduated Magna cum Laude from the University of Georgia with a B.S. in Ecology and a minor in Genetics this past May. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Skye actively participated in the Ecology community as an ambassador and undergraduate peer mentor. Additionally, she completed a senior thesis, “4 Years After Tropical Storm Nate: The Recovery of Macroinvertebrate Community Composition in a Neotropical Stream in Costa Rica”. She dedicated 2 ½ years to working in Dr. Merkle’s lab at the Warnell School of Forestry, where her research focused on genetically modifying American Chestnut to develop resistance against chestnut blight, and this was the work that inspired her to continue studying biotechnology. 

Following the completion of her degree, Skye plans to pursue a career in the biotechnology industry. She aims to join an environmentally conscious company with the ultimate goal of making a significant impact on climate change.

Christopher Saunders
Department of Anthropology, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Chris SaundersChristopher Saunders is a first-year graduate student pursuing an MA in Anthropology. He previously graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Anthropology and minors in Religion, Art, and Archaeological Studies. Since graduation, Christopher has worked as the Senior Research Technician at the UGA Laboratory of Archaeology and the Georgia Archaeological Site File (GASF).

His research is focused on the development of collaborative methodologies in archaeology in attempts to intertwine researchers, the public, and descendant communities into the process. Christopher’s thesis centers on low elevation settlement patterns in the Macon Plateau region of Georgia, in alignment with the archaeological interests of the Muscogee Nation (MCN). Along with survey work, he plans on integrating GIS StoryMaps and visual anthropological components into the application of his research and outreach. After his MA, Christopher hopes to further his education through a doctoral program and to teach at a university level.


Basil Senso
Ecology, Odum School of Ecology

Basil SensoBasil Senso is an incoming graduate student pursuing a MSc. Ecology at the Odum School of Ecology. He received his undergraduate degree from the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania where he pursued a BSc. Biotechnology and Laboratory Sciences (2017-2020), a program which equipped him with a lot of veterinary lab techniques. 

Currently, Basil is a lab manager for the Savannah dynamics project which is conducted in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania (lead institution: University of Georgia). He developed most of interests in the field of ecology after joining this project in 2021, where he is applying his laboratory knowledge to address different ecological questions like how ecological behaviors and processes impact disease dynamics within animal populations.

Through a master’s degree from the UGA, Basil would like to develop his knowledge in the fields of community and disease ecology which could be the cornerstone in his career goals of becoming a leading researcher in the field of disease ecology in African systems.

Kristina Simons
Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

Kristina SimonsBio info not available


Morgan Thoem
Department of Communication Studies, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Bio info not available


Annabelle Wilson
Department of English, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Annabelle WilsonAnnabelle Wilson is a first-year graduate student pursuing her MA in English. She graduated from New College of Florida in 2021 with a BA in English and a minor in anthropology. Her academic interests primarily concern postcolonial theory and global literature. Her undergraduate thesis, “Exploring Identity and Culture Through the Overlaps of Anthropology and Literature in the Works of Amitav Ghosh and José María Arguedas,” combined her interest in both English and cultural anthropology, offering an interdisciplinary approach to postcolonial literature. 

At the University of Georgia, Annabelle will continue her literary studies with a focus on cross-cultural encounters, transformations of identity in cultural and literary forms, subaltern theory, and critical theory. She is very excited to have the opportunity to work at UGA’s Willis Center for Writing as she develops a path in pedagogy and, eventually, teaching at a university level. It is her goal to continue her passion for literature at the PhD level.

In her spare time, Annabelle loves spending time with her family in Florida and Tennessee, traveling, movies, and (not surprisingly) reading. She is very excited to join the literary community in Athens and can’t wait to see what her future at UGA holds.

JaQuira Wallace
Child Life, Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, College of Family and Consumer Sciences

JaQuira WallaceJaQuira Wallace was born and raised in Sumter, South Carolina. She is an incoming graduate student pursuing a degree in Child Life, M.S. As a 2021 graduate of the College of Charleston (Public Health, B.S.), JaQuira continues to demonstrate her passion of working with children and families through her experience as an Early Intervention Specialist and her philanthropic work.

 In pursuit of becoming a Child Life Specialist, JaQuira is excited to continue her education at the University of Georgia. When researching Child Life programs, she knew she wanted to be a part of an environment that prioritized creating inclusive and diverse spaces that allow students to feel welcome, learn, grow, and gain skills that’ll be applicable post-graduation. JaQuira hopes to diversify the field of Child Life. In doing so she believes this will create a space for deeper trust amongst families and professionals. She also believes it will impact quality of life, care the patient/family receives, and patient health outcomes. Creating a space that is inclusive to all ethnicities and beliefs ensures that adequate representation is present for families.

Audrey Young
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Audrey YoungAudrey Young is a recent graduate of the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She received her bachelor’s degree in Agriscience and Environmental Systems. Audrey is currently a master’s student in Crop and Soil Sciences under the advisement of Dr. Gerald Henry. Her project focuses on turfgrass sports fields and how painting affects those systems as well as player safety.


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