Fall 2018 Cohort

CrittendenJoshua Crittenden
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Undergraduate: University of Connecticut
Faculty Advisor: Claudia Gunsch
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Claudia Gunsch, Fred Boadu

Joshua Crittenden is a Ph.D. student in civil and environmental engineering with a concentration in environmental health engineering at Duke University. His research focuses on developing a bioremediation approach that enables the development of a cooperative indigenous fungal-bacterial bio-film with increased PAH degradation potential. He is a GEM Associate Fellow. Joshua received a bachelor of science in environmental engineering from the University of Connecticut. Joshua also is also active in the National Society of Black Engineers and serves as the 2018-2020 National Engineering Diversity Chair.

 

HarriganHadiya Harrigan
Mechanical Engineering
Undergraduate: Tuskegee University
Faculty Advisor: Wilkins Aquino
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Wilkins Aquino

Hadiya Harrigan is a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering at Duke University. Her research focuses on physics-based modeling and machine learning. She is also a 2018 GEM Associate Fellow and one of ten 2015 Girl Scout National Young Women of Distinction. Hadiya received a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering, summa cum laude, from Tuskegee University where she was a Presidential Scholar, Eminent Scholar, and College of Engineering University Scholar. She enjoys volunteering with various organizations including National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Pre-Collegiate Initiative (PCI) Tuskegee Public School tutoring.

 

johnsonTyler Johnson
Physics
Undergraduate: University of Chicago
Faculty Advisor: Phil Barbeau
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Phil Barbeau

Tyler Johnson is a Ph.D. student in physics, specifically neutrino physics at Duke University in collaboration with Triangle Universities Nuclear Lab and Oak Ridge National Lab. His research focuses on developing particle detectors capable of tracking nuclear events, like nuclear reactors and weapons, by detecting the unerasable fingerprint of the nuclear reaction called a neutrino. He is also a National Nuclear Security Administration Graduate Fellow in Applied Anti-Neutrino Physics, a Richardson Fellow, a Goshaw Family Fellow, a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship alumni and has received honorable mention for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Tyler received a Bachelor of Arts in Physics from the University of Chicago. He is active on campus through the President’s Council on Black Affairs, the President’s Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility, UCEM Advisory Committee, Physics Department Conduct & Accountability Committee, Graduate & Professional Student Council, and Physics Department Graduate Student Executive Board. His collaboration has two papers in preparation that he is an author on titled “Sensitivity of the COHERENT Experiment to Accelerator-Produced Dark Matter” and “First Constraint on Coherent Elastic Neutrino-Nucleus Scattering in Argon.” Tyler strives to help create a welcoming and inclusive environment in STEM fields.

 

Ezinne NkwankoEzinne Nwankwo
Statistical Science
Undergraduate: Harvard University
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Jerry Reiter

Ezinne Nwankwo is a Ph.D. student in statistical sciences with a focus on machine learning and computation social sciences at Duke University. Her research focuses on using statistical and machine learning methods to better understand society (using social data) and to aid in decision making processes. She is also a Dean’s Fellow and a student fellow with the Leverhulme Center for the Future of Intelligence at Cambridge University. Ezinne received a bachelor of science in applied mathematics from Harvard University and was also the Shirley Pembroke Scholar for the Harvard Cambridge postgraduate fellowship. She has been a passionate advocate for students and researchers from underrepresented backgrounds through her work as a mentor with Black in AI and as a participant with Mechanism Design for Social Good Research Initiative.

 

PujolDavid Pujol
Computer Science
Undergraduate: University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Faculty Advisor: Ashwin Machanavajjhala
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Ashwin Machanavajjhala

David Pujol is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science with a concentration in Algorithmic Fairness and Privacy preserving computation at Duke University. His research focuses on understanding the interactions between privacy protected data and fair algorithms. David received a bachelor of computer science and mathematics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has taught at Coral Gables Senior High for two years where he has been mentor for students from underrepresented minorities. He hopes to continue to encourage and guide students of all backgrounds towards STEM fields.

 

RobinsonCeline Robinson
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Undergraduate: University of Delaware
Faculty Advisor: Mark Borsuk
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Mark Borsuk

Celine Robinson is a Ph.D. student in civil engineering with a concentration in systems, risk, and decision at Duke University. Her research focuses on developing quantitative methods to analyze natech events or natural hazard initiated technological emergencies. Celine received a bachelor of environmental engineering with distinction and minors in civil engineering and sustainable infrastructure from the University of Delaware. She is also a McNair Scholar and a Bill Anderson Fund Fellow. She has served as a mentor to students at various learning levels and from a variety of backgrounds. Celine serves as an executive board member for the Duke University Bouchet Society and the chairperson for the Bill Anderson Fund Student Council. In addition to her primary research, she has served as a project manager on the UNHITCH Bass Connections project and contributed to the development of EPA Star and DoD grants. Her research to date has resulted in a publication and technical report (PDF).

 

RozmanNatalie Rozman
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Undergraduate: George Washington University
Faculty Advisor: Willie Padilla
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Willie Padilla

Natalie Rozman is a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering at Duke University and an Alfred P. Sloan 2017-18 Scholar. Her research focuses on developing terahertz metamaterial devices for biosensing applications. Natalie received a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, cum laude, from the George Washington University.

 

skerrettErica Skerrett
Biomedical Engineering
Undergraduate: Rice University
Faculty Advisor: Nimmi Ramanujam

Erica Skerrett is a Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering at Duke University. Her research focuses on developing tools for speculum-free cervical imaging and constructing feature selection and deep learning algorithms for image-based, automated diagnoses of cervical pre-cancer. She is also a 2019 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. In 2015, Erica received a bachelor of science in bioengineering with minors in global health technologies from Rice University. From 2015-2018, she worked with Rice 360: Institute for Global Health on medical device development and conducted clinical studies in maternity wards in Malawi. Erica is passionate about elevating the voices of underrepresented minorities and women in STEM, as well as constructing medical device design pathways that work to democratize and decolonize healthcare in the U.S. and abroad.

 

Fall 2019 Cohort

BrachoAitor Bracho
Physics
Undergraduate: Florida International University
Faculty Advisor: Phil Barbeau
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Calvin Howell

Aitor Bracho is a Ph.D. student in physics with a concentration in particle and high energy physics at Duke University. His research focuses on understanding how and why experimental models deviate from theoretical calculations of the Standard Model. He is also a Fred Hoover 2018-19 Scholar. Aitor received a bachelor of science in physics with magna cum laude and with a minor in mathematics from Florida International University. Additionally, while getting his bachelor’s degree, he worked as a lead physics and mathematics tutor in the Center for Academic Success at Florida International University, one of the largest minority serving institutions in the country, and simultaneously worked as a learning assistant in multiple physics lab, aiding in facilitating student understanding of the material at hand.

 

DarwinCameron Darwin
Mathematics
Undergraduate: University of Texas at Austin
Faculty Mentors for Early Start: Hubert Bray, Colleen Robles

Cameron Darwin is a Ph.D. student in mathematics at Duke University. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he became interested in differential geometry and physics. His general research interest lies in homotopy theory and geometry. He is currently serving as a teaching assistant for Calculus 2.

 

GonzalesGavin Gonzales
Biomedical Engineering
Undergraduate: University of New Mexico
Faculty Advisor: Shyni Varghese
Faculty Mentors for Early Start: Shyni Varghese, Stefan Zauscher

Gavin Gonzales is a Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering with a concentration in biomaterials at Duke University. His research focuses on understanding the relationship between molecular structure and the function of lubricants. He is also a GEM Consortium Fellow. Gavin received a bachelor of science in physics with a biophysics concentration with a minor in mathematics from the University of New Mexico. He has been a passionate volunteer and mentor for students from underrepresented minorities through his work in STEM teaching and mentoring programs. Gavin hopes to continue to support and guide students of all backgrounds towards STEM fields.

 

HansonChristina Hanson
Chemistry
Undergraduate: University of Redlands
Faculty Advisor: Qiu Wang
Faculty Mentors for Early Start: Kathy Franz, Jiyong Hong

Christina Hanson is a Ph.D. student in chemistry with a concentration in organic chemistry at Duke University. Christina received a bachelor of science, with honors, in ACS-certified chemistry and in biology from the University of Redlands. During her undergraduate study, she synthesized cyclic tetrapeptides intended to modulate the kappa opioid receptor in hopes of treating opioid addiction. While deciding which laboratory to affiliate with at Duke,  Christina is a teaching assistant for Organic Chemistry laboratory. She is excited for the opportunity to expand her knowledge of chemistry at Duke University and to potentially contribute to the field.

 

HiguerosGenesis Higueros
Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Undergraduate: University of California, Merced
Faculty Advisor: Po-Chun Hsu
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Po-Chun Hsu

Genesis Higueros is a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering and materials science at Duke University. Her research focuses on improving Li-ion batteries through a 3D electrode/electrolyte interface to increase power density. Genesis received a bachelor of science in environmental engineering with highest honors from the University of California, Merced. She has been a passionate volunteer and creator of outreach programs in her undergraduate program and hopes to continue inspiring students from underrepresented communities to pursue STEM careers in graduate school. Her objective is to continue to support and guide students of all backgrounds towards STEM fields. Genesis also desires a sustainable future through renewable clean energy and hopes her research will provide a path through efficient energy storage.

 

KundingerBrian Kundinger
Statistical Science
Undergraduate: Brown University
Faculty Advisor: Rebecca Steorts
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Sayan Mukherjee

Brian Kundinger is a Ph.D. student in statistical sciences at Duke University. He is interested in developing advanced mathematical tools to address complex problems in public policy and social sciences, particularly through network analysis and agent based modeling. Brian received a bachelor of arts degree in history and Africana studies at Brown University, became interested in statistics through his work at various human rights organizations in Florida, and completed post-baccalaureate math courses in preparation for the Ph.D. at California State University, Long Beach. As a graduate student, Brian hopes bridge the divisions between the humanities and STEM fields, and to mentor students seeking to merge science education with applications for social justice.

 

LaLondeJessica LaLonde
Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Undergraduate: Case Western Reserve University
Faculty Advisor: Jennifer West
Faculty Mentors for Early Start: Kathy Franz, Jiyong Hong

Jessica LaLonde is a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering and materials science with concentrations in biomaterials, biomechanics, and soft materials at Duke University. She is a member of the biomaterials research laboratory of Dr. Jennifer West. Her research is focused on understanding the physical, chemical, and biological relationships between structure and properties in bio-inspired materials. Her main focus will be developing and improving hydrogel materials for biosensors and soft actuators. Her project will aim for highly scalable, efficient designs of soft materials using 3D tissue engineering for biomedical devices and environmental applications. She is also a National GEM Consortium Graduate Research Full Fellow with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and has received an honorable mention for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Grant. Jessica received a bachelor of arts in biology and a bachelor of science in materials science and engineering, cum laude, with a minor in English from Case Western Reserve University in May 2019. Jessica is passionate about mentorship and outreach to dedicated students from all backgrounds, particularly low-income, underrepresented minority, and bi-racial groups through her graduate research and teaching assistantships in STEM. Jessica hopes to continue to provide support and guidance for all students interested in STEM fields.

 

LoCiceroEthan LoCicero
Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Undergraduate: University of Notre Dame
Faculty Advisor: Leila Bridgeman
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Leila Bridgeman

Ethan LoCicero is a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering with a concentration in controls at Duke University. His research focuses on developing controller design methods for the robust, high performance control of large-scale systems. He has lead research projects at NASA Marshal Space Flight Center and Honeywell Aerospace. Ethan received a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering, cum laude, from the University of Notre Dame.

 

MangusAlexander Mangus
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Undergraduate: University of Pittsburgh
Faculty Advisor: Aaron Franklin

Alexander Mangus is a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering with a concentration in microelectronics, photonics, and nanotechnology at Duke University. His research focuses on improving high performance nanoelectronics based on two-dimensional materials. He received a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, cum laude, with minors in history and computer science from the University of Pittsburgh. He has been a passionate volunteer and mentor for students from underrepresented minorities through his work in STEM teaching and mentoring programs. Alexander hopes to continue to support and guide students of all backgrounds towards STEM field.

 

RiceGrayson Rice
Biomedical Engineering
Undergraduate: University of Michigan
Faculty Advisor: Charles Gersbach
Faculty Mentors for Early Start: Mike Lynch, Charlie Gersbach

Grayson Rice is a Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering with a concentration in synthetic and systems biology at Duke University. His research focuses on using the CRISPR/Cas9 system in order to precisely program cell biology for the purpose of controlling stem cell differentiation. He hopes to use CRISPR activation screening in order to identify transcription factors in the human genome that control cell fate specification. He is also a Graduate Engineering for Minorities Fellow, a University Scholars Program Fellow, a Dean’s Graduate Fellow, and an End Range Motion Improvement Fellow. Grayson received a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering, summa cum laude, with a minor in biochemistry from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

 

StohnAdriana Stohn
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Undergraduate: University of Arizona
Faculty Advisor: Adriana Stohn
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Mike Gehm

Adriana Stohn is a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering with a concentration in imaging and optics at Duke University. Working in Dr. Michael Gehm’s group, her research focuses on understanding how using computational methods can permit imaging when the object is occluded by scattering media. Adriana received a bachelor of science in optical sciences and engineering, magna cum laude, with minors in electrical and computer engineering, mathematics, and Spanish from the University of Arizona. She is motivated to encourage young women to pursue careers in science and technology and has implemented her ideas through volunteering with Girls Who Code clubs. Adriana intends to continue to support students of all backgrounds in their pursuit of meaningful involvement in the fields of science and technology.

 

TutoniGianna Tutoni
Chemistry
Undergraduate: Tufts University
Faculty Advisor: Matthew Becker
Faculty Mentors for Early Start: Kathy Franz, Jiyong Hong

Gianna Tutoni is a Ph.D. student in chemistry with a concentration in organic chemistry at Duke University. She is also an Alfred P. Sloan 2019-2020 Scholar. Gianna received a bachelor of science in ACS-certified chemistry from Tufts University. During her undergraduate study, she studied the effects of non-covalent interactions on the solid-state properties of conjugated materials. While deciding which laboratory to affiliate with at Duke, Gianna is a teaching assistant to over 130 general chemistry students. She is looking forward to the opportunity to not only continue her passion for chemistry at Duke but to also foster an inclusive and productive learning environment for her students.

 

YeatsEric Yeats
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Undergraduate: Vanderbilt University
Faculty Advisor: Helen Li
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Helen Li

Eric is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University. He is a member of the Duke Computational Evolutionary Intelligence Lab, where his research focuses on neuromorphic computing—the design of novel brain-inspired computer hardware and algorithms for data-driven learning. Eric is also an Eagle Scout, achieved in 2015. Eric is originally from Gainesville, Florida, where he worked on brain-computer-interface research at the University of Florida. He graduated in 2019 from Vanderbilt University, where he studied computer engineering and interdisciplinary neuroscience. At his undergraduate institution, Eric was a volunteer after-school computer programming teacher for students in primarily low-income minority middle schools in Nashville. Outside of his research, Eric enjoys training for marathons and Salsa dancing.

Fall 2020 Cohort

AmosJaleesia Amos
Civil & Environmental Engineering
Undergraduate: Philadelphia University
Faculty Mentors for Early Start: Mark Wiesner, David Carlson

Jaleesia Amos is a first-year Ph.D student in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a concentration in environmental health and safety at Duke University. Her research focuses on developing tools to evaluate potential health and safety risks from exposure to nano-containing products. Jaleesia is an Alfred P. Sloan Scholar and a Dean’s Graduate Fellowship recipient. Jaleesia received a bachelor of science in biochemistry from Jefferson University (formerly Philadelphia University), and a master of science in biochemistry and biophysics from Texas A&M University. Upon graduating from Jefferson University, she received the Philadelphia Section of the American Chemical Society Scholastic Achievement Award. She was an Excellence Fellowship Recipient as a student at Texas A&M University. Jaleesia has previously volunteered her time engaging the community in environmental topics at the Mütter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

BruceAntonia Bruce
Chemistry
Undergraduate: NC Agricultural & Technical State University
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Amanda Hargrove

Antonia Bruce is a first-year Ph.D. student in chemistry with a concentration in biological chemistry at Duke University. Her current research interests are in the intersection of biological and organic chemistry. Antonia received a bachelor of science in chemical engineering, summa cum laude, from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where she was an American Chemical Society Scholar. Antonia is currently contemplating her laboratory affiliation and serving as a teaching assistant for general chemistry classes. Antonia has always believed in paving the way for others and has been a mentor and tutor for students from underrepresented backgrounds for the past three years. Antonia is passionate about science and she hopes to encourage, support, and guide students of all backgrounds in STEM fields.

DominguezJudith Dominguez
Mechanical Engineering
Undergraduate: University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Faculty Advisor: Christine Payne
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Christine Payne

Judith Dominguez is a first-year Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering and material science at Duke University. She is a member of the Payne Lab. Her research group focuses on understanding molecular mechanisms and cell interactions with materials to control cellular properties. She is also a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and an Alfred P. Sloan 2020-21 Scholar. Judith received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She was also a Robert E. McNair 2019-2020 Scholar. Her undergraduate research allowed her to be listed as a co-author on three publications. Judith is passionate about volunteering and working towards supporting minorities in STEM fields and higher education. She believes in supporting younger students and guiding them to exploring their interests STEM. Judith will continue to support students from diverse backgrounds to help equip them the guidance and tools to pursue and succeed in STEM.

EkemLillian Ekem
Biomedical Engineering
Undergraduate: Yale University
Faculty Advisor: Nimmi Ramanujam
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Nimmi Ramanujam

Lillian Ekem is a first-year Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering at Duke University. She is a member of the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies with a general research interest in improving health interventions in low resource settings. She is also a 2020 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Lillian received a bachelors of science in biomedical engineering with a concentration in biomechanics from Yale University in 2020. Lillian enjoys uplifting and supporting STEM scholarship in students from underrepresented minorities. She hopes to continue to be a resource and advocate for younger students who wish to enter STEM fields.

GarciaDaniel Garcia
Chemistry
Undergraduate: Wake Forest University
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Stephen L. Craig

Daniel Santana is a first-year chemistry Ph.D. student at Duke University. Daniel has a background in working medicinal chemistry synthesizing small drug molecules. He is also a Dean’s graduate fellow and an Alfred P. Sloan 2020-21 Scholar. Daniel received a bachelor of science in chemistry with a concentration in medicinal chemistry, cum laude, from Wake Forest University. Daniel hopes to continue his work with small drug molecules or venture to work in biomaterials laboratories at Duke. He also wants to help create more opportunities for underrepresented groups to succeed in the sciences as he believes everyone deserves the opportunity to learn and succeed in STEM fields.

HowellSamantha Howell
Civil & Environmental Engineering
Undergraduate: Washington College
Faculty Advisor: Manolis Veveakis
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Manolis Veveakis

Samantha Howell is a first-year Ph.D. student in civil and environmental engineering at Duke University. Her research focuses on geothermal energy and the characterization and prediction of rocks at high temperature and pressure to determine locations for geothermal sites. She is also an Alfred P. Sloan 2020-21 Scholar and a recipient of the Dean’s Graduate Fellowship. Samantha received a Bachelor of Science in Physics, summa cum laude, with minors in computer science, math, and psychology from Washington College. She has been a passionate mentor and an advocate for students from underrepresented minorities through her work in tutoring and student government throughout her academic career. Samantha plans to continue speaking up for all students while encouraging individuals from underrepresented groups to strive for STEM careers.

PinheiroKyle Pinheiro
Computer Science
Undergraduate: Wake Forest University
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Alex Hartemink

Kyle Pinheiro is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science at Duke University. He intends to focus his research on applications of machine learning in computational biology and medicine. He earned a bachelor of science in computer science from Wake Forest University, with a minor in chemistry. Kyle also brings four years of software engineering experience, which he hopes to apply in developing useful software as a byproduct of his research.

RoyeYasmin Roye
Biomedical Engineering
Undergraduate: University of Maryland: Eastern Shore
Faculty Adviser: Samira Musah
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Samira Musah

Yasmin Roye is a Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering. She is interested in studying the pathogenesis of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), specifically using organ-on-a-chip microfluidic devices which better mimic human-specific disease states. Through her research, Yasmin hopes to intercept the kidney cell injury that leads to CKD and end stage kidney failure. Yasmin received a bachelor of science in (honors) biochemistry from University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, summa cum laude. At Duke, she is a recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan 2020-21 Scholarship and the William M. “Monty” Reichert Fellowship. Yasmin’s career aspirations are to serve underdeveloped communities through social innovation at an NGO, and she hopes to soon begin volunteering at the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator.

VakilJafer Vakil
Chemistry
Undergraduate: Miami University (Oxford, Ohio)
Faculty Mentor for Early Start: Jie Liu

Jafer Vakil is a Ph.D. student in chemistry with a concentration in polymer science at Duke University. His undergraduate research was centered on exploring self-healing polymer systems with additional functionalities such as shape-memory, creep recovery, and stress relaxation. This research amounted to a third-author publication in Polymer Chemistry and a first-author publication in Molecular Systems Design & Engineering. Jafer received a bachelor of science in biochemistry with a minor in physics from Miami University. During his time as president of the Miami Chess Club, he used chess to teach basic math and geometric patterns to elementary school students at nearby school districts with highly underrepresented populations.