2015 University Graduate Fellows

Graduate Studies anticipates distributing approximately $1,000,000 in university graduate fellowship (UGF) funding to doctoral programs. The intent is to support departmental efforts that are aligned with the strategies and action items identified in strategic goal 2 of Bold Aspirations, the University’s strategic plan. That goal is to “Prepare doctoral students as innovators and leaders who are ready to meet the demands of the academy and our global society.”

 


Jennifer Abercrombie Foster | Spanish & Portuguese

Research Interests

Jennifer Abercrombie Foster is currently completing her dissertation, entitled "(Un)Natural Pairings: Uncanny, Marvelous, Fantastical, and Cyborgian Encounters in Contemporary Central American and Caribbean Literature." In her dissertation, Jennifer explores how writers employ fantastic and eerie stories to provide a forum in which artists may generate, imagine, and share creative spaces to rethink traditional gender and sexual ideologies in Central American and Caribbean society.

 


Ivan Anishchanka | Computational Biology

Research Interests

Ivan Anishchanka's research focuses on computational structural studies of protein-protein interactions in living organisms. Understanding of how proteins interact provides fundamental insights into the life processes at the molecular level, and has a direct application to drug design. In particular, Ivan works on advancing the modeling methodology by utilizing a broad range of available information on known protein-protein complexes.

 


Danielle Chapa | Psychology

Research Interests

Chapa’s research interests include the assessment of eating disorders among ethnic and racial minority populations. Additionally, she is interested in understanding the mechanisms that explain eating disorder diagnostic cross-over.

 


Brent Cook | Physics & Astronomy

Research Interests

Graphene has high electron mobility, transparency and durability, which makes it an ideal nanomaterial for optoelectronics. Cook focuses on using quantum dots to modify the surface of graphene so that we can create quantum dot graphene hybrid devices for optoelectronic applications. These hybrid devices allow us to investigate the physics of the interaction between these nanosized materials.

 


Kathryn DePaolis | Social Welfare

Research Interests

Kathryn’s research focuses on understanding cyber aggression involvement among elementary school children. She looks to address notable gaps in the current cyber aggression literature by examining (a) how involvement in cyber aggression and victimization changes over time from 3rd-5th grade, (b) how this change is influenced by individual factors, and (c) how involvement in cyberbullying impacts later emotional, social, and academic outcomes.

 


Kathleen Diaz | Clinical Child Psychology

Research Interests

Kathleen’s research focuses on the role that family and peers play in the onset, maintenance, and treatment of internalizing disorders. Her goal is to examine how family and peer relationships influence mental health outcomes, in children and adolescents, in order to apply this learned knowledge to the development of preventive interventions.

 


Jennifer Duenas | Sociology

Research Interests

Using in-depth interviews with parents from different social class backgrounds, I describe the different ways parents advocate for their Autism Spectrum child's education within the structure of the public school system. The purpose of this research project is to explicate how the experience of the ASD diagnosis for the child and for their parent(s) is shaped by particular institutional arrangements and requirements as well as the cultural capital and economic resources of the parents.

 


Chris Goode | Psychology

Research Interests

Goode’s research focuses on the roles of pervasive cultural beliefs, social identities and attitudinal norms in the justification and maintenance of inequality. Working within social identity and compensatory control theories, my work explores the ways individuals use culturally dominant ideologies to protect themselves from personal threat and how systematic social inequality affects intergroup relations.

 


Evgeny Grishin | History

Research Interests

Grishin’s research focuses on the history of dissident religious groups, known as Old Believers, in Russia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Specifically, his dissertation discusses state and church discourses of stigmatization, exclusion, and oppression employed against dissidents.

 


Jyleesa Hampton | Communication Studies

Research Interests

Hampton’s research looks at the ways sexuality and blackness are performed in hip hop. Focusing on icons Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Rihanna Hampton’s work joins three critical discussions on sexuality and performance studies: (1) its capacity to act as a vehicle to create sexual subjectivity, ecstasy and material gain (2) the viability of black women to flip the sexual scripts that code them and (3) the dangers of representing black female bodies as sexually open and promiscuous.

 


Renee Harris | English

Research Interests

Harris's dissertation contends that British Romantic poets, and Keats in particular, not only composed socially, but imagined a sociable afterlife for poetry, one that connects poets and their readers across time and space to accomplish the goals of individual and societal transformation. Approaching sociability from the writer-reader relationship, Harris seeks to understand how the circulation of affect is theorized and staged by Keats’s writing and how his poems become sites of shared feeling.

 


Michelle Hendrickson | Clinical Child Psychology

Research Interests

Hendrickson’s research focuses on how caregivers respond to adolescents' emotional expression during conversations about a traumatic event. Additionally, she will explore whether elements of caregivers' emotion socialization impact how adolescents talk about and remember the traumatic event.

 


Alana Holland | History

Research Interests

Alana's research focuses primarily on confronting the Holocaust on former Soviet territory. She is broadly interested in memory and identity in the context of dynamic social change and mass violence in modern Russia and Eastern Europe. Her current project addresses early Soviet artistic representations of the Holocaust and Polish responses to them in the immediate post-war period.

 


Faria Islam | Architecture

Research Interests

Islam’s research focuses on evaluation of staff perception on Intensive Care Unit (ICU) design. The study will examine the effects of various environmental features of adult ICU from staff perception on patient safety, family integration and staff working conditions. This research will open dialogue between clinical and design professions leading to better ICU design in the future.

 


Nicole Jones | Psychology

Research Interests

Nicole’s research investigates cognitive processes in close relationships, primarily from an attachment perspective. Currently, she am interested in understanding how our relational schemas can affect seemingly unrelated domains, and extending security priming research outside of the laboratory setting.

 


Caitlin Kent | Medicinal Chemistry

Research Interests

Kent’s research currently focuses on design, synthesis and biological evaluation of isoform selective inhibitors targeting heat shock proteins. Past research involved understanding the mechanism of metastasis in endometrial cancer, and the successful development of a cell model to study metastasis.

 


Emi Kiyotake | Bioengineering

Research Interests

Kiyotake’s past research was investigating the 3D migration of diseased lung cells in a hydrogel-based lung sac model with cell-coated microparticles. This highly tunable platform can be used to further knowledge on the cellular level about lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis or lung cancer.

 


Chris Kropiewnicki | Computational Biology

Research Interests

Kropiewnicki's prior research has been focused on developing methods to determine RNA secondary structure through use of Selective 2'Hydroxyl Acylation through Primer Extension (SHAPE). As RNA sequences are much more abundant than their corresponding structures, finding a method to quickly and easily determine the secondary structure is an important first step towards determining the three-dimensional structure of an RNA molecule from the sequence alone.

 


Uzair Latif | Physics & Astronomy

Research Interests

As a part of his PhD Latif plans to work on the Askaryan Radio Array (ARA) Experiment which forms part of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory based on the South Pole. The aim of ARA is to detect Ultra High Energy neutrinos at the South Pole and track down their sources in outer space.

 


Hang Thi Thu Le-Tormala | History

Research Interests

Le-Tormala’s research seeks to understand the transnational interconnectedness of American and Vietnamese people since the end of the Vietnam War. The study examines how American and Vietnamese ordinary citizens dealt with the aftermath of war – how they overcame their personal pain and helped one another confront and/ or reconcile with their pasts; how they improved relationships with their former foes; how they brought peace to others and found inner peace for themselves; and how these individuals’ peace efforts influenced U.S.-Vietnam diplomatic relations.

 


Mercedes Lucero | English

Research Interests

Lucero's fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and book reviews have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Weave Magazine, Narrative Northeast, Curbside Splendor, and Pinch among other literary journals and magazines. Her book of fiction Six Possible Reasons Amy Becomes a Whore published by Medulla Press is a collection of stories which explores the core of the human experience and illuminates the complexities and curiosities of sex, love, loss, fear, and longing.

 


Brandon Luedtke | History

Research Interests

Luedtke’s research investigates the environmental dimensions of the processing of whale oil as well as its subsequent use as lamp fuel, industrial lubricant, leather conditioner, and horticultural pest remedy from the late eighteenth century into the early twentieth.

 


Arwen Marker | Clinical Child Psychology

Research Interests

Maker’s research focuses on exploring the relationship between childhood overweight/obesity, physical activity, and (un)healthy lifestyle behaviors on the development on negative mental health outcomes, namely depression, anxiety, and related constructs (confidence, self-efficacy, etc.).

 


Alex Mizumoto-Gitter | History

Research Interests

Mizumoto-Gitter studies early modern Spain and has done work on the northern Kingdom of Navarre in particular. His research examines its trans-European connections in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, which he then uses to inform a broader study on how communities use historical memory to shape their cultural geography and craft a sense of identity.

 


Gopolang Mohlabeng | Physics & Astronomy

Research Interests

Mohlabeng’s doctoral research is to study various aspects of dark matter and determine how they fit together to form one coherent picture that can help us possibly understand the nature of this illusive matter.

 


Suzette Myser | Public Administration

Research Interests

The focus of Myser’s research is nonprofit budgeting and finance with emphasis on nonprofit organizations’ financial health as well as the role of nonprofit organizations’ contributions to political life and discourse. Her research seeks to understand first, how nonprofits can guard against financial distress through monitoring financial measures second, how organizations strategize to develop stable and sustainable financial health and finally, how financially healthy nonprofit organizations manage expenditures.

 


Mollee Pezold | Speech-Language-Hearing

Research Interests

Pezold’s previous research focused on how typically developing children and children with autism interact with their mothers during shared reading of traditional print storybooks vs. interactive electronic storybooks. Her current research interests lie in understanding how the language input young children hear influences the words they learn.

 


Sarah Polo | English

Research Interests

Sarah’s research in the field of Rhetoric and Composition are varied, ranging from digital literacies and digital composing to curriculum design and best practices for writing instruction. Her current work focuses on women in early academia through examining archived writings of women students in the nineteenth and early twentieth-century, thus using understandings of previous educational practices to inform contemporary writing pedagogy.

 


Xiazi Qiu | Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Research Interests

Qiu’s research includes development of cost effective and scalable technologies for downstream processing of proteins. As a graduate student at KU, she is working on protein purification and biophysical characterization of recombinant subunit vaccines.

 


Yssa Ann Rodriguez | Pharmacology & Toxicology

Research Interests

Rodriguez’s past research examines concentration-dependency in methylmercury (MeHg) -induced extracellular dopamine (DA) levels as extracellular calcium (Ca2+) concentrations were increased. MeHg treated cells have been found to show a significant increase in DA synthesis, intracellular DA levels, and vesicular exocytosis. As release of neurotransmitters such as DA is dependent on Ca2+ levels, and MeHg has also been shown to disrupt Ca2+ homeostasis, we were interested to see if MeHg's action on DA is dependent on extracellular Ca2+ concentration.

 


Elaina Ross | Communication Studies

Research Interests

Ross’s previous research has examined how the impostor phenomenon impacts women in leadership positions. Additionally, she has studied work/life balance and self-disclosure acts in the classroom.

 


Liting Su | Economics

Research Interests

Liting Su specializes in aggregation-theoretic monetary aggregation. She has been contributing to the construction of the Augmented Divisia Monetary Aggregates for the United States. Her current research focuses on incorporating credit card services into the CFS Divisia monetary aggregates to produce the Augmented Divisia Monetary Aggregates. In recognition of her role in this research, the Center for Financial Stability (CFS) in New York City has appointed her to be a Research Associate.

 


Ryan Suderman | Computational Biology

Research Interests

Using mathematical models and numerical simulation, Suderman investigate mechanisms with which metazoan cells respond to their environment. His research encompasses two broad themes: the combinatorial complexity of protein-protein interaction networks and its impact on signaling dynamics and the limits on information transmission in intracellular signaling networks. This fundamental biological process is central to a numerous topics of interest, including cellular differentiation as well as diseases caused by dysregulation of cellular signaling such as cancer

 


Alexander Teney | Economics

Research Interests

Alex’s research identifies the effects of unanticipated, non-business-cycle-driven changes to government spending. He constructs a news variable from media reports announcing changes in military and civil defense spending in advanced economies and uses it to uniquely examine the effects of increases in government expenditures on consumption, interest rates, and wages using panel data and Bayesian estimation techniques.

 


Yangjie Wei | Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Research Interests

Yangjie’s research focuses on development of vaccines against ricin toxin which remains severe threat to human health due to absence of licensed ricin vaccine. Specifically, this research includes vaccine design, vaccine purification, biophysical characterization of vaccine, and evaluation of its effectiveness using in vitro and in vivo models.

 


Samuel Williamson | Medicinal Chemistry

Research Interests

Williamson’s research focuses on developing a total synthesis of natural products derived from the Salvia divinorum plant as well as their analogues that may potentially act as kappa opioid receptor (KOR) agonists. Drugs that act as KOR agonists have been shown to effectively treat drug abuse in various animal models, which makes our target compounds of great pharmacological interest in the treatment of drug addiction and abuse. Future work is geared to develop an improved therapy for drug addiction.

 


Ming-Hsiu Yang | Medicinal Chemistry

Research Interests

Yang's research focuses on developing new methods to transfer simple and ubiquitous organic functional groups to privileged fluorinated motifs that possess potential applications in medicinal chemistry. Specially, the fluorinated products could be used to probe biological systems, or to improve drug-like properties of therapeutic candidates.

 



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