Diana Devine

Diana Devine is a doctoral student in Department of Human Development and Family Science, specifically the Child and Adolescent Development area. She probably received her M.S. in Human Development from Virginia Tech in 2018 and her B.S. in Psychology and B.A. in French and Francophone Studies from the College of Charleston in 2016. Her thesis focused on parent-child conversations about emotions. She is also interested in the links between technology and social media use and cognitive capacity. She hopes to combine these interests and examine how the presence and interaction with smartphone might affect parent-child communication.

Diana is originally from Alexandria, Virginia, spent four years in South Carolina for her undergrad and came back to Virginia in 2016 to begin her program at VT. She enjoys baking, reading, and spending time with her sister and her dog, Dobby. She spent a semester in Lille, France during undergrad and is excited for another international education opportunity. During the GPP, Diana hopes to explore how other universities in other countries provide and help students access different resources.

Research Topic: Student services abroad. What resources are available to students? How easy are they to access? What is provided vs. student-paid?

Learning Outcomes: Explore ways to approach education and teaching, from my Virginia Tech and international peers. Explore the pedagogical methods and techniques used to teach different subject areas and how I might be able to integrate aspects of those methods into my own teaching.

Sarah Donnelly

Sarah Donnelly is a PhD Candidate in Virginia Tech’s Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise graduate program. Sarah grew up close by in Radford and attended Virginia Tech as an undergraduate before moving to New York City for her Master’s in Human Nutrition at Columbia University. After a year spent in Amman, Jordan teaching at the Modern American School, Sarah returned to Virginia Tech to pursue her PhD in Human Nutrition and Epigenetics. Her dissertation is focused on examining the reprogramming mechanisms of epigenetic markers during the progression and remission of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

Outside of work, Sarah enjoys travelling and spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors, and hanging out with her dogs.

Following the completion of her PhD program, Sarah will begin her work as a Postdoctoral Researcher in Siobhan Craige’s lab at Virginia Tech, where her work will focus primarily on vascular biology and human health. She hopes to one day use the pedagogical methods she has learned at Virginia Tech to guide her teaching and mentoring style with her undergraduate students, while also engaging in research interests of her own related to molecular biology in metabolic disease states.

Lehi Dowell

Lehi Dowell is a second year Ph.D. student in Planning, Governance, and Globalization at the School of Public and International Affairs. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of La Verne and a master’s degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management from Florida International University. Mr. Dowell has extensive industry knowledge and expert mastery of the subject matter at hand. His primary philosophy in life is to motivate, educate, and liberate all those he meets. He has worked extensively over the past few years to incorporate cross campus and interdisciplinary activities at Virginia Tech by taking leadership positions in organizations such as the Graduate Student Assembly (2018 Chair for the Graduate Research Symposium, 2018-19 Director of Events), the Community Change Collaborative (2018-19 President, 2019-20 Treasurer), and is the first person in the history of the Graduate School Diversity Scholar program to be nominated and selected as a two-time participant. The Diversity Scholar program recognizes graduate students who specialize in and advocate for the awareness, knowledge, and skills associated with diversity and inclusion in the Graduate School and greater community. His two projects, “Representation Matters: LGBTQ+ Marketing in Hospitality & Tourism Research” and “Gun Powder: Campus Voices When the Dust Settles” were well received and supported through sponsorship from organizations and colleges across the campus. Mr. Dowell also has a strong nonprofit background and always looks to see how an issue affects the local community to identify if negative impacts can be mitigated. He opted to complete the thesis track for his master’s degree which involved an independent project and an oral defense on the topic of increased tourism to Cuba if travel sanctions from the United States are lifted. The thesis was presented at two international conferences: the 2011 Conference on Graduate Education and Graduate Students Research in Hospitality and Tourism hosted at the University of Houston as well as the 2016 Conference of the Southeast, Central & South American Federation of the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (ICHRIE) hosted at Auburn University. According to ScholarWorks, as of February 2019 the master’s thesis abstract has been downloaded over 1.8K times in 75 countries worldwide.Having worked ten years in hospitality operations management and several years in nonprofit administration, he has been exposed to issues concerning economic growth, sustainable development, and community engagement on both local and international levels. This firsthand knowledge is instrumental in supplementing research endeavors and bridging the gap between the real world (applied science) and academia (theoretical science). He stands by his decision to not live in an ivory tower surrounded by publications that no one reads. Rather, he prefers to investigate real life quandaries to which he can help find feasible solutions for, solutions that are readily available and accessible to the general population at large.

Iris Fynn

Iris is a final year PhD candidate pursuing a degree in Geospatial and Environmental Analysis. Coming from Ghana, she had all of her basic education and first degree in Ghana and came to the United States in 2013 for a master’s degree, progressing on to start her PhD in 2015. Her dissertation focuses on how human activities cause changes to the environment and how unhealthy practices such as deforestation and overfishing can be curbed, to ensure that the environment is kept intact for the next generation. Iris is obsessed with remote sensing imagery such as Landsat and Lidar images and spends most of her time carrying out geospatial analysis on these images to identify changes made to places over time.

In her spare time, she enjoys reading and writing poems. She is also very fond of dancing and doesn’t mind breaking a sweat in the gym, only if cardio sessions are disguised as Zumba classes. Her passions include feminism, the environment, and youth empowerment.
Iris plans on pursuing a career in academia when she goes back to her country, because she believes she can make a difference in the lives of young students by not only training them in her field, but guiding them to make sound life choices and be outstanding humans.

Mahtot Gebresselassie

Mahtot Gebresselassie is a second-year PhD student in Urban Affairs and Planning in the Planning, Governance, and Globalization program in the National Capital Region, Alexandria. She is a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the newly established Smart and Sustainable Cities major. Her doctoral research looks at Transport Network Companies (TNCs) such as Lyft and Uber and mobility of persons with disabilities. Concurrently with her doctoral research Mahtot studies whether and how transport for persons with disabilities is taught in urban planning programs in Canada and the US. One of her ongoing research studies smartphone apps used by persons with disabilities for transport-related purposes. 

She is in the Future Professoriate Certificate, the GPP being her fourth course in the program. Mahtot is one of the 2019 Diversity Scholars and her project looks at environmental accessibility for creating inclusive teaching environments. 

Mahtot earned a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Waterloo, Canada; a graduate diploma in media and journalism from Sheridan Institute, Canada; and architecture and urban planning from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Outside her role as a GTA and doctoral student at Virginia Tech, she takes part in various extracurriculars. One of her passions is public speaking and she has been a long-standing member of Toastmasters International for over 10 years. Mahtot does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. She is also a hardcore cyclist.

Erin Heller

Erin Heller, of Richmond, Virginia, completed her bachelor’s degree in Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech in 2011 and her master’s degree in Biology from Old Dominion University in 2015. Currently, Erin is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Her research focuses on a federally-threatened migratory shorebird called the red knot, which migrates from wintering grounds as far south as Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, to its breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic. Over the course of her academic career, Erin has become increasingly interested and involved in diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives, serving as a Virginia Tech Diversity Scholar and as the graduate student representative of the College of Natural Resources and Environment’s Diversity Committee. Erin enjoys challenging herself to think differently and embraces experiences to learn from people with perspectives different from her own. From the Global Perspectives Program (GPP), Erin hopes to further culminate these interests and gain a better understanding of global practices in academia. She looks forward to sharing her personal experiences and interacting with peers who both share her interests and who will open her eyes to other exciting subjects.

After completing her PhD, Erin aspires to combine her research, teaching, and outreach interests by becoming a professor. She believes that learning is not only a collaborative experience, but also a highly personal one that develops from the promotion of curiosity and creativity. Her objective as a future professor is for students to leave her classroom and lab with respect for their peers and of the different opinions they may have, with the tools and awareness to face both the challenges and opportunities life presents, and with the perseverance to boldly address the conflicts and questions that affect our world and all of its inhabitants.

Outside of school, Erin is very invested in fostering dogs and giving plenty of love to her own three rescue pups! She also enjoys hiking, running, lifting weights, spending time outside, and reading.

Learning Objectives:

(1) To gain a better understanding of how European universities address academic bullying.

(2) To gain a more comprehensive view of the direction and challenges that face higher education globally.

(3) To learn about the approaches that European countries take to wildlife conservation and management.

Individual Topic to Explore: European approaches for disrupting academic bullying

URL to blog: https://blogs.lt.vt.edu/erinleighvt/

Michael Hughes

Michael Hughes is a second-year PhD student at Virginia Tech in the Food Science and Technology department. His current research focuses on functional foods and their influence on the human gut and overall health. Michael received his B.S. in Biology from Lincoln University and his M.S. in Food Science from Delaware State University, two historically black degree granting institutions. His experiences at those universities are what sparked his interest in the education and representation of black students in STEM fields. He noticed that very few of his peers were interested in STEM and wondered why they opted for lower-paying degrees. It is this curiosity that led him to pursue the Future Professoriate program and Global Perspectives Program. By travelling overseas and visiting foreign universities, Michael hopes to gain an understanding of techniques used to teach marginalized, underprivileged, and/or underrepresented groups, particularly in STEM majors. He plans to adapt these techniques and incorporate them into his own teaching style so that when he joins the world of academia, he can better teach these groups and increase the number of black students with STEM degrees.

In his spare time, Michael enjoys weightlifting and fitness, activities that pair well with his field of study. He hopes to one day use science and research to promote the healthy lifestyle among the black community and the world.

During the GPP experience, Michael’s research objective is to observe and understand how black and other minority students are taught, specifically in STEM fields. His personal learning objectives are to understand how US and international higher education differ as far as teaching styles, university structure, and university culture.

Akshay Jain

Hello! I am Akshay Jain. I am a PhD student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. My area of focus is Environmental Engineering. I received my MS degree in Environmental Engineering in 2017 from Virginia Tech. I was born in India, at Indore, a city in the central state of India. I completed my undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering, from Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar.

I find environmental engineering to be the ideal platform for giving back to society. My research interests include renewable energy, waste-to-energy conversion and water and wastewater treatment. My current research is focused on energy and nutrient recovery from wastewater. I am also passionately curious about education and the future of the pedagogical approaches, hence the future professoriate certificate and GPP. I try to get involved in teaching in some form or the other. I have taught at foster care homes in India and have been a part of a program that visits schools in the rural areas in Virginia, US.

I would like to be educating people in the developing and under-resourced world while trying to provide a clean and safe environment for everyone around the planet.

Dana Korneisel

Dana Korneisel is a second year Master’s student in the Geosciences Department at Virginia Tech. A paleontologist, her current research focuses on taphonomy, how fossils are preserved. Her career goal, like most of the GPP group, is to run a research lab and teach at the University level. Born and raised in the mid-west, she came to Tech after serving in the Peace Corps in Tanzania. Initially joining as an opportunity to learn about pedagogy and gain some teaching experience, she also enjoyed extensive cross-cultural training, which has greatly influenced how she views misunderstandings in personal life and the workplace.

Dana was drawn to the Global Perspectives Program by a desire to interact with peers from Switzerland, who she expects to have a unique but closely related culture to her own. GPP is the sort of immersive experience in which cultural differences can be experienced and discussed firsthand. Having lived abroad, she also plans to consider faculty positions around the world in the future. She hopes that insight into the Swiss university system will be applicable in a wider range of European institutions, and helpful with the decision of where to build a career down the line.

Dan Li

Dan Li is a Ph.D. candidate in the Landscape Architecture track of the Architecture and Design Research program at Virginia Tech. She has been teaching landscape architecture design studio courses and technology courses at Virginia Tech as a graduate teaching assistant for four years.

Dan is specialized in sustainability design and research. Her master thesis explored the relationship between microclimate and spatial form of urban streets. Her current doctoral research combines her interests in sustainability and design education to explore how landscape architecture programs in the United States and their faculty teach sustainability using a three-phase mixed-methods design.

Besides sustainability, she is interested in carrying out interdisciplinary teaching and learning. Since the fall semester of 2018, she started an interdisciplinary research project focusing on innovative design studio teaching cooperating with Professor Terry Clements in landscape architecture and Dr. Carolyn Kroehler, Associate Director of Center for Communicating Science, VT.

She also worked as a research assistant for Community Engagement Lab (CEL) at VT and developed a great concern towards community outreach and environmental justice.

As an international student from China, Dan hopes to continue to explore higher education around the world through the Global Perspective Program just like she decided to come to the States to purchase the doctoral degree.

Deborah McGlynn

Deborah McGlynn is a second year Ph.D. student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. She is originally from upstate New York, which is where she earned her undergraduate and master’s degree. She completed her bachelor’s at SUNY University at Albany in Environmental Science with a focus in Climate Dynamics and Chemistry and her master’s at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Chemistry. For her Ph.D. degree, she is working toward developing new tools to measure and understand atmospheric organics.

Kyriakos Tsoukalas

Kyriakos Tsoukalas (ktsoukalas.net) has worked as an IT systems admin, project coordinator, and entrepreneur. Currently studying towards an individualized PhD on human centered design at Virginia Tech, USA, he pursues research on computational thinking in a creative context such as robotic design and music making. He speaks Greek and English fluently but limited German. Through the GPP 2019, he would like to explore:
a) the prospects of working in higher education in Switzerland,
b) the incentives of the higher education systems in Switzerland and Italy to spin-off companies from applied research, and
c) the effects of open access publishing on the expectations for quality and quantity of scholarly work by academic faculty.

From the GPP program, she is hoping to gain a greater understanding of different cultures and education systems. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her dog, spending time with friends, and traveling.

Savannah Paige Murray

Savannah Paige Murray is a PhD student in Rhetoric and Writing at Virginia Tech. As a scholar, her research resides at the intersections of place-based rhetorics, Appalachian cultural rhetorics, environmental discourse, and archival methodologies. In her dissertation research on grassroots environmental activism in Southern Appalachia, she hopes to illuminate how citizens leverage their connections to and knowledge about landscapes to demonstrate their own expertise on environmental concerns. Before beginning her PhD at Virginia Tech, she completed her MA in Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University, where he research focused on rhetorical constructions of Appalachian identity and how ecocritical theory can help us understand Appalachian literature. Her research and writing has appeared in Appalachian Journal, The Journal of East Tennessee History, and The Journal of Appalachian Studies. When not researching, teaching, or writing, she enjoys traveling, hiking, kayaking, and playing clawhammer banjo.

As a participant in the GPP program, she hopes to not only gain a better understanding of higher education and educational cultures in Europe, but also to study the ways in which colleges and universities in Europe balance between content area education and vocational training skills.

Patrick Sullivan

Patrick Sullivan is a Masters student in the Computer Science department at Virginia Tech, doing research into applying machine learning in support of public psychological services.  He earned his Bachelors degree from Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2015 along with a minor in Psychology.  Prior to studying at Virginia Tech, Patrick interned at Sandia National Laboratories and worked as a software developer at the United States Postal Service.

Patrick’s research will investigate the abilities of computers to support the mental health of people suffering depression or experiencing suicidal ideation.  Through an accessible and private analysis of personal journal entries, a program could detect an author’s mental health crisis and respond with a guide to find help. 

Patrick expresses service and leadership as essential values: from earning the rank of Eagle Scout and leading crews of his peers on several high adventure treks, to volunteering as an instructional lead of Computer Science in middle school classrooms.  He is also an avid musician for piano, drum, and cajón; nearing a combined 20 years of practice between his instruments.  After completing his degree, Patrick aims to teach Computer Science in college classrooms. 

Brad Sutliff

Brad Sutliff is a graduate student in the Macromolecular Science and Engineering program (MACR) at Virginia Tech. He earned his B.S. in Nanoscale Science from SUNY at Albany and an M.S. in Bioengineering from Syracuse University. He is a budding rheologist and hopes to replace traditional plastics with more biofriendly alternatives.

Throughout much of his educational career, he has felt a need for a good mentor but never truly found one. As a result, he is trying to mentor incoming students in the Virginia Tech Early Engineering Mentoring program and the MACR Student Council. The interactions between professors and their students is another large part of the mentoring puzzle, and Brad hopes to learn about how other countries and universities handle the student-professor relationship. Programs like the Preparing the Future Professoriate and the Global Perspectives Program help ensure that Brad will be the best mentor possible when he is put in such a roll, no matter where that may take him.

Aside from an addiction to learning, Brad dabbles in fermentation (beer, wine, sourdough, ginger beer, and sodas), cooking, mushroom hunting, and dog training. He fosters kittens when he can, bikes, hikes, and has a pretentious love of coffee.