Congratulations to the 2023 Recipients


SEC Emerging Scholars Award

The SEC Provosts established the SEC Emerging Scholars Program to aid in preparing future faculty members. The program is designed to provide professional development and networking opportunities for current doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers who are considering careers in higher education.

Oluwayomi K. Paseda
Doctoral Candidate ABD, School of Social Work

Oluwayomi PasedaOluwayomi Paseda, better known as Yomi, is a Ph.D. candidate. Yomi earned her BSW at Morgan State University in 2014 and her MSW, focusing on clinical social work at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2015. Yomi is a Licensed Master’s Level Social Worker in Georgia. Before entering the Ph.D. program, she acquired experience working in the mental health field with adults in outpatient, inpatient, and residential treatment settings as well as providing social and mental health services to individuals involved in the criminal justice system. These experiences have strongly influenced her research interests, including reentry programs, interventions, and services for women transitioning from incarceration to the community. Yomi’s research interests also include Black feminist thought and criminal legal reform. She seeks to study programming and access to treatment among Black women involved in the criminal legal system. In her expertise, Yomi aspires to become a researcher, consultant, advocate, and educator.

Yomi strives to be a role model for future minority females by demonstrating the value of minority women in academia. She hopes to obtain a faculty position in higher education, allowing her to work with female students with multiple minority identities, such as herself. As an educator, she aims to mentor and train the next generation of social workers and create more opportunities for female students of racial/ethnic minority groups to thrive and succeed in academia. She seeks this pursuit to advance equity, diversity, and opportunities for minority women in academia.

Asia Passmore
Doctoral Candidate, Hugh Hodgson School of Music

Asia PassmoreOriginally from Buford, Georgia, Asia began studying piano at the age of 15. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and her Master of Music in Piano Performance from the University of New Mexico. Currently, Asia is a doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia where she studies piano performance and pedagogy.

Her career highlights include recent performances at the 2022 National Association of Negro Musicians Convention, a recent performance with the Metropolitan Atlanta Musicians Association in a concert highlighting African American women composers, presenting at the 2022 Georgia Music Teachers Association Conference on solo piano works by African American composers, participating in the 2020 Dark Water Women in Music Festival, participating in the 2019 Klavierfestival in Lindlar, Germany, and her current internship with the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy where she works to promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the field of piano pedagogy as well as provide children’s resources. Currently, she teaches private and group piano in UGA’s Community Music School.

Asia’s greatest passion as a performer, teacher, and scholar, is to emphasize the solo piano works of African American composers. Her doctoral research focuses on the solo piano music of Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) and his connection to musical artists across the African Diaspora, particularly in the United States. Asia hopes to continue contributing research on this very important subject, as well as highlighting these works on the concert stage and in teaching.

Megan Tomamichel
Doctoral Candidate, Odum School of Ecology

Megan TomamichelMegan Tomamichel is an infectious disease ecologist with a love for aquatic systems. She is a Ph.D. candidate in the Infectious Disease Ecology Across Scales (IDEAS) program, and is advised by Drs. James (Jeb) Byers and Richard Hall. Megan has also earned a M.S. degree at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in the Conservation Sciences program and a B.A. degree at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Megan’s research combines lab- and field-based experiments with statistical and simulation modeling to explore the feedbacks between the environment, host population cycles, anthropogenic forces and infectious disease. Her research balances practical considerations such as fishery management and scenario forecasting with theoretical applications. Megan hopes to use her research to answer the big questions in aquatic infectious disease ecology while conserving the sociological and ecological systems in which she works.

While earning her PhD, Megan has been an active member of the graduate student community, where she is working towards promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Georgia, enhancing expertise in various scientific topics at the Odum School of Ecology, and advocating for graduate students in the program. She has also mentored several undergraduate students and has served as a lecturer and teaching assistant in undergraduate level courses. Megan’s career goals center around continuing to do research, with her ideal position being a tenured faculty member at an R1 university. She also plans to carry through my efforts to promote DEI and excellence in undergraduate mentorship throughout her career.

Sergei Makaev
Postdoc, Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors, College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Sergei Makaev

Sergei Makaev is a postdoc at the Department of Textiles, Merchandising, and Interiors at the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, with Prof. Sergiy Minko and Assistant Prof. Vladimir Reukov, working on two US NSF projects. He received a master’s degree in material science from the Moscow State University in Russia and earned a PhD degree in physical chemistry from the Russian Academy of Sciences on the topic of hydrothermal (high-temperature, high-pressure) chemistry. Afterward, he worked as a researcher on the water treatment using polymer membrane technologies in the Institute of Petrochemical Synthesis (Russian Academy of Sciences). At UGA, his research centers on material science with emphasis on synthesis and characterization of polymers for biomedical applications. Sergei hopes that the technology they are developing will be used in the industry for sorting soft colloids or live human and animal cells, and also for tissue growth and transplantation.

Since joining UGA in September 2022, he became one of the PostDoctoral Association board members, where he serves firstly as a secretary/treasurer and now as a vice-president. Sergei’s hobbies include cycling, sailing, and board games.


Raissa Nogueira de Brito
Postdoc, Department of Anthropology, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Raissa Nogueira de BritoRaissa Nogueira de Brito holds a Ph.D. in Health Sciences (major: Infectious and Parasitic Diseases). Currently, she is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Georgia (UGA). Raissa has dedicated her efforts to researching Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and other zoonotic, infectious diseases that disproportionately impact disenfranchised people, primarily focusing on the control and surveillance of these diseases. She advances this research by fostering collaborations between academic institutions, local/state health departments, and the affected communities.

Raissa’s research has made significant scholarly contributions to the field. These contributions include the implementation of population-based surveys, surveillance systems, and longitudinal studies for emerging infectious diseases (EID), such as COVID-19. She has also developed tools for the surveillance and control of vector-borne diseases, including a smartphone app for the identification and reporting of Chagas disease (CD) vectors by non-specialist users, as well as a statistical modeling approach to advance CD risk assessment.

Raissa’s work engages in new debates to overcome challenging issues for diagnosis, surveillance, and control of infectious diseases. Her research also spans the understanding of fundamental aspects of the biology of vectors, such as the factors contributing to the emergence of vector-borne diseases beyond their current distribution ranges due to the vectors’ responses to environmental changes. Currently, she is working along with UGA and Panama’s Gorgas Memorial Institute of Health Studies on the social and ecological determinants of CD and American Cutaneous Leishmaniasis (ACL) in Panama. Together, they are combining household surveys, ecological and veterinary assessments, and GIS to study how human activities impact the transmission of these diseases.

Raissa brings to the SEC Emerging Scholars program a diverse and international background, attention to interdisciplinary science, and a commitment to the inclusion of historically underrepresented individuals.


Graduate School Dissertation Completion Award

Dissertation completion assistantships are awarded to outstanding doctoral students in their final year of study on a competitive basis. These assistantships allow the student to devote time to the completion of their dissertation by relieving them of departmental teaching or research duties.

Miranda Arnold
Interdisciplinary Neuroscience, Office of Research

Miranda ArnoldMiranda Arnold is a 5th year Interdisciplinary Neuroscience PhD candidate. She received a B.S. in Biology at Agnes Scott College, and a M.S. in Integrative Biology at Kennesaw State University. Her dissertation work, under Dr. Jesse Schank, revolves around sex differences in compulsive alcohol use studying the neuronal mechanisms and hormonal influences on this behavior. Throughout her time at UGA, Miranda has had the opportunity to present her work a local and national conferences, have a role as a teaching assistant in veterinary neuroanatomy courses, and mentor graduate and undergraduate students in her lab.

Other than lab work, Miranda served as President of the Neuroscience Graduate Student Association for the past three years, where she obtained speakers for the neuroscience monthly seminar series, host question and answer sessions during the graduate student recruitment weekend, and provide mentorship to other neuroscience PhD students.  After completion of her PhD, Miranda’s goal is to continue research through a postdoctoral position, leading to teaching at the collegiate level. Her ultimate goal would be to run my own research lab and to mentor other scientists through their academic careers.

Daniel Hartman
Department of Mathematics, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Daniel HartmanDaniel is currently a fifth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Mathematics at UGA. His research interest centers around low-dimensional topology with an emphasis on smooth 4-manifold topology. Daniel is an active member of the research community, having been invited to speak at several international conferences, including the BIRS Workshop – Topology in Dimensions 4.5 and the Winter School in Singularities and Low-Dimensional Topology. His research focuses on diffeomorphisms groups of 4-manifolds, 2-knots, and codimension 1 embeddings.

When Daniel is not actively engaged in research, he helps foster interest in mathematics. He has participated in the Mathematics Department’s Directed Reading Program every year, working with six different undergraduates to date. He has organized both the Graduate Student Topology Seminar and the more general Graduate Student Seminar during his time at UGA. During graduate student visitation day and new student orientation, Daniel helps run and interact with the new students. He has served as a peer mentor for new students and has assisted with the high school mathematics competition held at UGA. After he graduates in spring 2024, Daniel plans to continue his research by pursuing postdoctoral positions and tenure-track faculty positions at various research institutions.

Shannon Perry
Learning, Leadership, and Organization Development, Mary Frances Early College of Education

Shannon PerryShannon Perry is a PhD candidate in Learning, Leadership, and Organization Development and also pursuing UGA’s graduate certificate in Interdisciplinary Qualitative Studies. She earned dual Bachelor’s degrees in English and English Education (2007) from the University of Georgia before earning an MA in Appalachian Studies (2011) from Appalachian State University with a thesis focused on learning in a DIY community of experimental music practice. 

Her doctoral research focuses on the phenomenon of felt sense and how this capacity for affective embodied knowing can support transformative learning processes. The first article in her article-format dissertation, “Participatory feeling: Re-visioning transformative learning theory through Heron’s whole person perspective,” published in Adult Education Quarterly, argues for an understanding of feeling as a boundless aspect of affect that produces the expanded relational subjectivities required for interacting across vast differences. She is currently undertaking a collaborative inquiry into how felt senses affect learning through creative sound practice. This artful action research explores the aurality and multi-layered nature of creative practice and of all experiencing. Using sonopoetic methods, autoethnographic writing, and thinking with critical posthuman/feminist new materialist concepts, she extends collaborative inquiry’s potential as a generative structure wherein more creative and response-able ways of knowing and doing can come into being.

Shannon intends to pursue a higher education faculty role enabling continued exploration of collaborative arts-informed methodologies and pedagogies for cultivating affective and aesthetic ways of knowing and deepening understanding around affect’s foundational role in learning processes.

Karen Ramirez Quintero
Department of Chemistry, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Karen Ramirez-QuinteroKaren is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Chemistry of UGA.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in Biological Engineering at The National University of Colombia in 2016. She worked for nearly three years in industry before joining UGA in 2019 in pursuit of a doctoral degree in Chemistry. Karen joined the Urbauer lab, where she studies protein-protein interactions using diverse physical techniques. Her research focuses on the complex regulation of G-protein signaling and calcium signaling by RGS10, a member of the RGS (Regulator of G-protein Signaling) family of proteins, and the ubiquitous calcium signaling and master regulator protein calmodulin. Her findings should have a broad impact given the importance of these proteins in different signaling pathways and their involvement in different diseases, including neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.

Karen is an active member of the Chemistry Graduate Student Organization (CGSO), where she had served as Networking Chair, organizing different events that included a Mental Health Day. Karen will graduate in the spring of 2023 and to continue the study of proteins related to diseases, contributing to the design of new drugs. 

Cydney Seigerman
Anthropology and Integrative Conservation (ICON), Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Cydney SeigermanCydney K. Seigerman is a Ph.D. candidate in the Integrative Conservation & Anthropology program at the University of Georgia, where they work with Dr. Don Nelson and are a member of the Human Environmental Change Lab (HECL). Cydney is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and a research scholar at the Research Institute of Meteorology and Water Resources (FUNCEME) in Ceará, Brazil. Cydney’s research incorporates methods from the critical social sciences, natural sciences, and theatre/performance studies to explore human-technology-environment relations. Their dissertation work explores how socionatural (i.e., interrelated sociopolitical, environmental, and technological) processes shape and are shaped by the lived experience of water insecurity in Ceará, Northeast Brazil. Before pursuing their PhD, Cydney studied Chemistry and Spanish language and literature at the University of Michigan, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the Residential College and Honors College. They then relocated to Madrid, Spain, where they served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, studied acting at the theater school La Lavandería, and ran competitively.

Briana Spivey
Department of Psychology, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Briana SpiveyBriana Spivey, M.S., is a rising 5th-year doctoral candidate in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Georgia and a graduate of Spelman College. Briana’s research examines Black womanhood across the lifespan by examining the implications of cultural constructs (i.e., the Strong Black Woman (SBW) schema) on Black women’s mental health. Also, Briana has an interest in developing culturally relevant interventions for Black women as a means to reduce mental health disparities. Briana believes in me-search being research and hopes to use her voice in the academy to highlight the experiences of Black women. With her passion about mental health within the Black community, Briana plans to continue on her path to serve as a licensed clinical psychologist and tenure-track professor to nurture the next generation of Black psychologists.

Aarum Youn-Heil
Entertainment Media Studies, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Aarum Youn-HeilBorn and raised in Tallahassee, FL as a Seminoles fan, Aarum Youn-Heil stayed in Florida and received her bachelor’s degree in 2017 at the University of South Florida. She made her way to Athens, GA in 2018 for graduate school with her husband, Austin (fellow UGA grad!) and their two pets, Roommate the dog and Willow Feral the cat. Aarum earned her master’s in 2020 and is now a PhD candidate at the College of Journalism and Mass Communication here at UGA.

Her research interest is in interracial communication and how it relates to entertainment media. Specifically, interracial communication in and about media. Through a critical lens, she focuses on how mediated racial representations impact racial identities and interracial communication. A lot of her research inquiries came from questions and conversations from her daily interactions. Why is watching television so simple and fun but having conversations about what we see on screen so difficult even with those close to you? With this award, Aarum seeks to address these questions and focus on her dissertation which examines racial stereotyping as a practice of narrativization in film and push into reconceptualizing stereotyping.

Active on campus, Aarum was communications consultant for the Division of Academic Enhancement’s Presentation Collaboratory and assisted students’ public speaking and presentation skills. Additionally, she spends her summers as International Student Life’s doctoral intern facilitating workshops for international doctoral students practicing communicating about their research interculturally.

Aarum is an avid watcher of TV and enjoys new adventures with old friends.


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