Ernesto Acosta

Ernesto Acosta is a PhD student in Planning, Governance, and Globalization. He studies in the National Capital Region. His research is focused on transportation planning and environmental planning. Ernesto earned a Master’s in Natural Resources from Virginia Tech. He also has a Master’s in Regional Planning from the University at Albany, State University of New York. Ernesto earned a BS in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Tami Amos

Tami Amos is a second-year Ph.D student in the School of Education, with a focus in Curriculum and Instruction. Prior to enrolling at Virginia Tech University, she worked in public school education for over 10 years as a secondary history teacher and building administrator. Tami holds master’s degrees in Liberal Studies from Hollins University and in Administration and Supervision from the University of Virginia. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in History /Political Science from Virginia Union University.

Tami feels it is her duty to learn and gain greater respect for other countries, cultures and their purpose and efficiency compared to higher education in the United States. Therefore, this leads into her reasons for pursuing the Global Perspective Experience. As a scholar-practitioner, she plans to focus her research and engagement on the following:

  1. Recruiting, Supporting and Retaining a Diverse Student Body
  2. Inclusive Pedagogy
  3. Diversity Training and Planning

Nicole Arnold

Nicole Arnold is a second year Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science and Technology. She completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Food Science at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. Go Pack!

Nicole is passionate about working with consumers in relation to food safety education and risk communication. Her research focuses on the consumer perspective of both conventional and new food processing technologies. In a time where consumers are more interested than ever about the foods they consume, it is important that they are comfortable with emerging food processing technologies that show promise within the food industry.

In addition to her commitment to fulfill the obligations of a Ph.D. in Food Science, Nicole is also dedicated to taking courses in pedagogical practices each semester as a member of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Graduate Teaching Scholar Program. She recently completed the Future Professoriate Graduate Certificate through the GTS Program and serves as the instructor of record for the Introduction to Food Science course. In her spare time, she enjoys taking group fitness classes and attending Virginia Tech sporting events.

Amiel Bernal

Amiel Bernal is a PhD Candidate in Virginia Tech’s ASPECT Program (The Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical and Cultural Thought). Born and raised in Colorado, Amiel moved to Blacksburg in 2011 to pursue a Master’s in Philosophy. Since 2011, Amiel has earned that Master’s, published on Public Policy Process Theory, and come to specialize in the study of epistemic injustice. This field of normative philosophy evaluates the intersection of epistemology and ethics, addressing the distinctly epistemic ways in which our intellectual agency can be harmed or wronged.

Having earned an Initial Teacher’s Licensure in Colorado at Colorado State University (2011), Amiel continues to pursue teaching as a professional passion in a range of contexts. These opportunities include teaching early teenage students in Hong Kong, high school students in Denver, and college students at Virginia Tech and Radford University.

As part of the GPP program, Amiel hopes to improve his pedagogical repertoire and style by gaining insight into the methods used by teachers from across the United States and Europe. Individual, disciplinary, and cultural differences generate a diverse range of teaching styles worthy of consideration for adoption. Academically, the GPP will provide valuable personal exposure to the issues theorized in accounts of epistemic in/justice. Particularly, Amiel hopes to observe how concepts are coined, circulated and adopted to better conceptualize a theory of epistemic justice for those who are perceived as less intelligible resulting from their relative marginalization. The types of concepts of most interest are 1) pedagogical resources and 2) conceptual resources for understanding and making intelligible unique experiences resultant from peoples’ intersectional social locations.

Catherine Cotrupi

Catherine Cotrupi is a part time Ph.D. student in the Higher Education program here at Virginia Tech. An alumna of the Sociology MS program in 2011, Catherine has since worked at the institution for five years, first as LGBTQ Coordinator in what is now Cultural and Community Centers and now as an Assistant Director for Student Engagement with VT Engage. It is through these roles and others that her interest in university-community partnerships has grown.

Her academic and professional interests include the tensions between focusing on student learning and development and balancing community-identified need within service learning. While she is interested in helping students to develop their own civic identities and deepening their engagement with their communities and social issue interests, she is also interested in leveraging resources and networks both on campus and off for more equitable community environments.

She is from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia though now calls the New River Valley home.

Ellen Garcia

Hello! I am Ellen Garcia. I was born in the mountain town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, but spent most of my young life in Grand Junction, Colorado. I received all of my primary education, as well as my undergraduate degree in Grand Junction, a beautiful, high-altitude desert located at the junction of the Colorado River and the Gunnison River. I graduated from Colorado Mesa University (what was Mesa State College my freshman and sophomore years) with a Bachelor of Science in biology. I then took a year off to apply for graduate school, which included another semester worth of classes and research, and to travel! After six months of working (boo!) and six months of global adventuring (yay!), I moved across the United States to Blacksburg, Virginia. I am now working towards a doctoral degree in cell biology; although through involvement with an interdisciplinary graduate program, it would make more sense to say I am obtaining a doctoral degree in interdisciplinary science. I study a wide variety of topics and work on all sorts of projects, spanning cellular toxicology to the bioaerosols to infectious disease transmission. Ultimately, I like to think on the microscopic scale and use that frame of mind to help understand the macroscopic scale.

Aside from my graduate education, I have two dogs, Bruno and Leia, who I spend 90% of my free time with. During most of that time, we are hiking, mushroom hunting, or swimming. I also have a passion for word travel, for exchanging cultural values with people from all corners of the earth. I have been to 26 countries on four different continents so far! Next up, Switzerland!

Sara Harrell

Sara Harrell is pursuing her Ph.D. in Architecture & Design Research in the Landscape Architecture Program in the School of Architecture + Design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. She is a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) and Research Assistant (GRA) helping with a foundation course as well as an interdisciplinary studio in her program. She is working on a project funded by the National Park Service on the Chattahoochee National Water Trail in Atlanta, GA under professors Dean Bork, Mintai Kim, Ph.D., and C.L. Bohannon, Ph.D. In her free time, she is working on her own research topic examining the effectiveness of stream restoration design with respect to their ability to mitigate impacts from impervious surfaces and other design-related issues in urban watersheds.

Outside of her academic life, she is active in service to her community. A couple of weekends a month, she hosts hikes for families with birth to school-aged children in/near the New River Valley to create inclusive opportunities for connecting people with nature and each other. This is the Citizen Scholar Project “Hike it Baby! NRV” that she received recognition for in Spring 2017. She also serves as a member of the Departmental Advisory Board for the Department of Landscape Architecture at Mississippi State University.

Sara enjoys exercise, eating healthy, music and exploring the beautiful and diverse landscape of Appalachia with her husband and daughter.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To achieve an understanding of design education in Switzerland and in European higher education in general.
  2. To gain a broader world view of the direction, challenges and opportunities facing global higher education.
  3. To learn what kind of projects studio courses select to address contemporary urban design issues/learn new problem-based learning methodologies in European design education.

Individual Topic to Explore: The direction of design education in the 21st century.

Erika Hernandez

Erika Hernandez is a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology. She received her M.S. in psychology from Virginia Tech in 2016 and her B.A. in Psychology and Neuroscience from Baylor University in 2014. Her research focuses on familial conversations about emotion and children’s social competence from early childhood to adolescence, with a focus on race/ethnicity and culture as contexts for development.

Erika is originally from San Antonio, TX and moved to VA in 2014 to attend graduate school at VT. She enjoys baking, kickboxing, and spending time with her two cats. She has recently started to travel more but this will be her first trip abroad. During the GPP, Erika hopes to explore how other countries conceptualize and promote diversity and inclusion, especially within the university on both the student and faculty levels. More broadly, she is interested in how social and economic diversity are apparent in other countries and how they impact the lives of individuals and families.

Brittany Hoover

Brittany is a second semester Ph.D. student in Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education. She is originally from Chicago, IL which is where she attended an agricultural high school. This inspired her to pursue agriculture as an academic major and career. After high school, she attended Southern Illinois University and received her bachelor of science in Agricultural Systems. She spent one year teaching biotechnology and one year teaching agricultural communications at the high school level. In between her teaching career, she pursued a master of science degree in Agriscience Education from North Carolina A&T State University.

Her research interests are broad but lie with youth and agricultural literacy in addition to agricultural development and community viability.

Aside from working towards her doctorate, she serves as a graduate assistant, volunteer tutor, and student organization leader. In her free time, she enjoys family time, watching her favorite shows, exploring new places, and practicing self-care.

Anurag Mantha

Anurag Mantha is a PhD student in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. His research interests are in the field of environmental engineering and he is looking at water infrastructure in the built environment with a focus on hot water systems and premise plumbing. He aims to bridge the gap between the research in environmental engineering which looks to protect public health and the research in building sciences which intend to reduce the energy consumption from water heating. He is a BioBuild Fellow as part of the BioBuild IGEP at Virginia Tech. After his PhD, he envisions a career as an educator in environmental engineering and wishes to contribute to the betterment of the public through sound science and engineering. He has a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Virginia Tech and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from GITAM University, India.

Tyler Quick

Tyler Quick is a PhD student in the department of Civil Engineering. He is part of the geotechnical engineering group and is currently working on research related to soil liquefaction during induced earthquakes and geophysical methods for evaluating soil. Tyler earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, which included graduate research projects on pavement construction and assessment. After completing his MS degree, Tyler spent 5 years working in the geotechnical section of the US Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District where he worked on dams, levees, and military construction. After graduation, Tyler hopes to be a professor and continue his research in geotechnical engineering while teaching and mentoring new engineers.

Tyler hails from Lexington, KY. He is married to Lisa who he met at BYU and they have four kids. They enjoy playing ultimate and soccer as well as outdoor activities including hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking.

Martha “Missie” Smith

Missie Smith is a doctoral candidate in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech with an anticipated graduation date of Summer 2018. Previously, she attended Mississippi State University where she earned both her B.S. (2010) and her M.S. in Industrial Engineering (2012). While at Virginia Tech, Missie has interned at Ford Motor Company and conducted research at the University of Nottingham through the NSF-funded International Research Experience for Students. In addition to research, she is passionate about mentoring and has worked with over eighteen students while at Virginia Tech. Missie’s research interests include novel displays’ impact on users, technology trust and acceptance, and the interaction of these areas with dynamic systems.

Cortney Steele

Cortney Steele is a third year Ph.D. and dietetics student in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise (HNFE) at Virginia Tech and works in the Human Integrative Physiology Laboratory under Dr. Kevin Davy. She completed her undergraduate degree in Health and Human Performance at Messiah College in 2013 and her master’s degree in Exercise Science at Bloomsburg University, Pennsylvania in 2015. She is currently a graduate teaching assistant for the department of HNFE and serves as the Lead GTA for the Methods of Human Health Assessment class. Her current research interests involve the effect of dietary choline intake on vascular health in adults.

As part of the GPP program, she hopes to continue to explore higher education outside the United States. She would like to broaden her worldview and develop international knowledge of educational systems; allowing her to enrich her understanding of different cultures and benefit her significantly as a future faculty member.