McNair Scholars

Speaker, Session Facilitator, Panelist & Moderator Bios

Keynote Speakers

Day 1 - Megan Ybarra, PhD

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Associate Professor, UW Geography

Adjunct Associate Professor, UW American Indian Studies

Conference Welcome and First Keynote Address, Monday, Apr. 18: 12 – 1 pm

View Megan Ybarra, PhD Bio

As a human geographer, Megan Ybarra is interested in radical placemaking, abolition geographies and environmental justice across Abiayala (also known as the Américas). Her research includes archival research of community records and planning documents, surveys, participant observation and institutional ethnographies to explore the workings of power relations and promise of liberation. She advises graduate students who are researching abolition, migration, environmental justice and/or Latinx geographies. After living in Guatemala for two years, Ybarra conducted fieldwork for over a decade in rural Guatemala and Mexico. She co-authored Tierra, Migración y Vida (2012), bringing together a replication survey of land use and attitudes with ethnography to offer insights for policymakers on land titling, migration, and conservation in Péten, Guatemala. In 2017, she published an ethnography, Green Wars, on conservation, settler colonialism and Indigenous Q’eqchi’ land defense in Guatemala. The Spanish translation was published in 2020 by AVANCSO with new foreword by Clara Arenas, prologue by Gladys Tzul Tzul and epilogue by Jennifer J. Casolo. The book is available open-access through the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO). With Lorena Muñoz, she co-edited a forum on Latinx Geographies for Society & Space Magazine (2019). With Nik Heynen, she coedited a special issue on Abolition Ecologies for Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography (2021). She is passionate about collaborating in multiple languages and modes of knowledge production, including art, documentaries and zines. Professor Ybarra taught and advised undergraduate students in the Politics Department at Willamette University for four years before moving to UW.

Day 2 - Jude Tunyi, MD-DPhil Graduate Student

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MD Student, The Ohio State College of Medicine

DPhil Student, NIH-Oxford University

Fulbright Scholar & Ambassador, Finland Tampere University

Second Keynote Address, Tuesday, Apr. 19: 9 – 10 am

View Jude Tunyi Bio

Jude graduated in 2017 from the University of Washington with a BS in Biochemistry after being part of many Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity programs. He was a McNair Scholar and took part in Louis Stokes Alliance for
Minority Participation and the Health Sciences Center Minority Students Program. As a result of the support these programs provided, Jude received the Fulbright-Tampere University Graduate Award to pursue a master’s degree in Finland in Biomedical Technology with a specialization in Bioinformatics. He continues to
advocate for the Fulbright Program as a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador. He currently is an MD-DPhil student, completing his medical degree at The Ohio State College of Medicine and his doctorate degree at NIH-Oxford University as part of the NIH-OxCam program. As part of his doctorate degree, he will be studying the neural circuitry that underlies reinforcement learning in the brain. Outside of the lab, he is also passionate about increasing diversity in medical and graduate fields. He helped found the 501c3 non-profit, the American Association of Black Physician Scientists. With this group, he has organized informational seminars to educate and fund the next generation of physician-scientists.

Day 3 - Theresa Rocha Beardall, JD, PhD

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Assistant Professor, Sociology

Adjunct Faculty in Law, Societies, and Justice

Faculty Affiliate in the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Third Keynote Address, Wednesday, Apr. 30: 9 – 10 am

View Theresa Rocha Beardall, PhD Bio

Dr. Theresa R. Beardall is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at Cornell University in 2019 and her J.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2014.
Dr. Beardall’s scholarship examines how systems of law and agents of the state create and enforce various modes of state violence. In one thread of this research, she examines how the legal construction of tribal sovereignty has changed over time in U.S. courts, and the implications of this change for the social, political, and legal status of Native children and families. In the second, she studies police and policing at the intersection of race, class, and labor law. Here she examines police as workers in relationship to
1) police unions and their contracts, city councils, citizen review boards, and body-worn cameras, alongside 2) local community activism against police misconduct that reimagines the future of policing using a variety of employment mechanisms. In combination, her research exposes local conditions that attempt to 1) increase the likelihood that officers will not be held accountable for their actions, and 2) silence community voices speaking out against injustice. Dr. Beardall’s new research draws from her theoretical contributions in both areas and addresses the intersection of sovereignty, policing, and inequality for American Indians. In this developing work, she shows that the extractive and exploitative nature of settler colonialism has enduring impacts on the likelihood of Native exposure to state violence today. Her research can be found in the Columbia Journal of Race and Law, the Nevada Law Journal, the American Indian Culture and Research Journal, and
the Indigenous Peoples’ Journal of Law, Culture, and Resistance.
Additionally, her work has been recognized with generous funding from the William T. Grant Foundation and the Spencer Foundation.

Day 1 Session Facilitators, Moderators & Panelists

1A Building Positive Mentoring Relationships - Nate Panelo

Nate Panelo, He / him

Assistant Director, Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center

View Nate Panelo, He / him Bio

Nate Panelo (he/him) has been working in Student Affairs for over a decade now. He is the Assistant Director at the University of Washington’s Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center. Nate received his M.Ed. from the University of Vermont in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration. He has worked at Seattle University, Western Washington University, and UW-Seattle as well as various departments including housing, conduct, program development, academic advising, and multicultural affairs. As a first-generation college graduate and a child of immigrants, Nate has committed his career to support success with access, retention, and graduation for underrepresented and marginalized students at colleges and universities.

1B Funding Graduate School - Robin Chang

Robin Chang, She / her

Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

View Robin Chang, She / her Bio

Robin Chang (she/her) is the Director of UW’s Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards, which supports undergraduate students and alumni in connecting with and applying competitively for scholarships that support their interests and goals. Having relied exclusively on financial aid, scholarships and work to fund both undergrad and grad school, Robin is committed to demystifying scholarship application and selection processes for students. She appreciates very much the opportunity to work with students as they begin to identify their strengths, develop goals and determine the steps they’d like to take to reach them, and practice communicating those strengths and goals to selection committees for scholarships, admission, etc. Applying for scholarships and graduate admission is hard, but you have support!

1C Self-Care & Community-Care: Compassion Fatigue & Trauma Stewardship - Dr. Natacha Foo Kune

Dr. Natacha Foo Kune, She / her

Director & Counseling Psychologist, UW Counseling Center

View Natacha Foo Kune, She / her Bio

Natacha Foo Kune (she/her) is the director of the Counseling Center on campus. As a psychologist, she helped countless students cope with their emotions, and even thrive because of them. Her passion is to work with students who feel that they are straddling two or more worlds due to cultural and queer identities. She is particularly interested in ways socialization, systems and colonization impact mental health.

2A CV / Resume Writing - Meaghan Wood

Meaghan Wood, She / her

Career Coach, Career & Internship Center

View Meaghan Wood, She / her Bio

Meaghan Wood (she/her) is a Career Coach with the University of Washington’s Career & Internship Center, where she assists students from across campus with a multitude of career-related concepts, from finding passion in their major or career, gaining new hands-on experiences, to telling their story through applications. She received both her M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership and B.A. in English from Florida Atlantic University. Through her experiences in a multitude of educational spaces, she has come to understand the impacts of helping students find and follow their interests, and aims to help students uncover and articulate the strengths that their unique backgrounds and identities provide.

2B Communication Tool Kit for Grad School & Beyond - Dr. Monica Cortés Viharo

Dr. Monica Cortés Viharo, She / her

Lecturer, Department of American Ethnic Studies

Public Speaking Consultant

McNair Scholars Alumna

View Dr. Monica Cortés Viharo, She / her Bio

Dr. Monica Cortés Viharo (she/her) is an actor, educator, scholar, and alum of the McNair Scholar’s program. She earned her PhD in Drama and a Certificate in Public Scholarship at the University of Washington (UW) and currently teaches in the UW American Ethnic Studies department. Her scholarship has been published in Theatre Topics, The New England Theatre Journal, the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. She has taught communications and drama at Cascadia College, Shoreline Community College, New College for Florida, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Additionally, she is the performance coach for TEDx Youth Seattle and a company member of eSe Teatro, a Seattle-based Latina/Spanish-language theater company. As a communication consultant, she has worked with individuals and organizations throughout the state, including Humanities Washington, Bellevue College, the Washington State Trio Association, and Seattle Children’s Hospital. She is a proud union member of SAG/AFTRA and the American Federation of Teachers.

2C How to Feel Good as Hell: I Am My Own Inspiration - Mellanie Rhae Tanada

Mellanie Rhae Tanada, She / her

Assistant Director of Career Development, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance

Co-Founder & Organizer, Filipino Story Time – Seattle

View Mellanie Rhae Tanada, She / her Bio

Mellanie Rhae Tanada (she/her) serves as the Assistant Director of Career Development at the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance. In this role, she supports graduate students as they prepare for careers in public service. Her educational background is in Historical & Political Studies, and Student Development Administration. Before pursuing a career in higher education administration, she traveled extensively, spent time teaching English and managing an art studio for a language immersion program in Istanbul, Turkey. Mellanie Rhae is a first-generation graduate, a child of immigrants from the Philippines, and grew up in a military-connected household. She melds her passion for community building, education access, arts+crafts, and life-long learning in a myriad of ways. She serves on the Scholarship Steering Committee of the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) and supports the organization’s scholarship awarding policies and processes for LGBTQIA+ and allied students. And she’s also currently a 2021-2022 Community Leadership Institute Fellow with Puget Sound Sage.

2C How to Feel Good as Hell - Carol Dinh

Carol Dinh, She / they

Assistant Director of Recruitment & Outreach, School of Social Work

View Carol Dinh, She / they Bio

Carol (she/they) is a queer non-binary first-gen Vietnamese-American educator and has worked in different universities doing multicultural and LGBTQ+ work. They are passionate about creating opportunity and access, being in and building community, having deep and not-so-deep conversations, celebrity gossip, and astrology. They’ve done research on the roles of race, gender, and sexuality in educational policy in Brazil and cross-cultural counseling in China.

3A The Research Journey: A Conversation With Undergraduate Research Leaders - Tracy Nyreges

Tracy Nyreges, She / her

Acting Associate Director, Undergraduate Research Program

View Tracy Nyreges, She / her Bio

Tracy returned to the UW and the Undergraduate Research Program (URP) to serve as the Acting Associate Director for the ’21-22 academic year. She previously worked with URP for over eight years and left the Assistant Director position in 2015. Tracy more recently held the inaugural Assistant Director position for Undergraduate Research with the College Center for Research and Fellowships (CCRF) at the University of Chicago. She helped to develop and administer centralized college undergraduate research support and programming while at UChicago. Tracy has a long professional history in higher education administration and has also worked in academic, co-curricular, and research staff positions at Northwestern University, University of Vermont, University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Missouri. Tracy has an MSW in direct practice health from the UW and utilizes her social work background to successfully work with students from diverse backgrounds and academic fields.

3A The Research Journey - Allison Perez

Allison Perez, She / her

Coordinator & Adviser, Undergraduate Research Program

View Allison Perez, She / her Bio

Allison received her B.S. in BioResource Research with a focus in Toxicology at Oregon State University (OSU). For her undergraduate thesis, she investigated new methods to characterize metrics of fine particulate matter samples that could be used to identify more health-relevant metrics beyond concentration. At OSU, Allison worked for the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and the Arts as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador where she became passionate about mentorship and creating equitable access to research opportunities. Prior to joining URP, she served as an Americorps member with College Possible in Portland, OR, where she mentored low-income and first generation high school students through the college application process.

3A The Research Journey - Joia Zhang

Joia Zhang, She / her

Statistcs NSF-REU, UNC-Greensboro

View Joia Zhang, She / her Bio

Joia Zhang (she/her) is an undergraduate statistics major at the University of Washington (UW), Seattle. Her research on randomized response techniques (RRT) under the mentorship of Professor Sat Gupta and Professor Sadia Khalil is based on the NSF Funded Complex Data Analysis using Statistical and Machine Learning Tools REU program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Joia focuses on circumventing social desirability bias, people’s tendency to provide socially acceptable answers rather than true ones thereby compromising data accuracy, by improving respondent privacy in surveys containing sensitive questions. Joia is passionate about sharing her research at conferences and conducting outreach at her home university as an undergraduate research leader (URL) with UW’s Undergraduate Research Program.

3A The Research Journey - Isabelle Young

Isabelle Young, She / her

Maeves Lab, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

View Isabelle Young, She / her Bio

Isabelle (she/her) is a graduating senior and McNair Scholar at the University of Washington majoring in MCD biology focusing in genetics. Having gained research experience in human developmental biology during her research at Seattle Children’s Research Hospital, Isabelle has discovered her interests in studying the genetics of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders and developing better treatments. As a African-American, Isabelle is passionate about increasing the genetic data and overall BIPOC representation within neurological research and is pursuing research opportunities that will address this gap in knowledge. Her next step before pursuing graduate studies is a one year, Neuroscience graduate school prep program in Chicago.

3A The Research Journey - Abigail Heath

Abigail Heath, She / her

American Ethnic Studies

View Abigail Heath, She / her Bio

Abigail Heath (she/her) is a graduating senior at the University of Washington (UW), where she is majoring in American Ethnic Studies with a concentration in African American Studies, Social and Political Analysis. Her identity as a first-generation American and Black biracial student has influenced her to study how power dynamics manifest in legal systems. As both a Ronald McNair and Mary Gates Scholar, her research discusses the development of segregated education through law and the ways law has failed to protect immigrants with limited English proficiency. Through her role as President of the Black Law Students Association Pre-Law Chapter at UW, Abigail has focused on increasing access to legal education to underrepresented students. In addition to her work on campus, Abigail is an intern for Elmer Dixon, co-founder of the Seattle Black Panther Party, where she assists with researching, writing, and publishing for Mr. Dixon’s memoir.

3A The Research Journey - Brandon Sim

Brandon Sim, He / they

Gordon Lab, Biophysics

Wiggins Lab, Physics

CORE Team Member and Organizer (Health Equity Circle Seattle)

View Brandon Sim, He / they Bio

Brandon Sim (he/they) is a biochemistry and mathematics student at UW. His passion for science led him into the world of research, where he works on biophysics projects in the departments of Physics, and Physiology and Biophysics at UW. Research has been an enthralling experience for Brandon, but he has also experienced the reality that, as a PoC descended from Filipinix and Chinese immigrants, academia is unwelcome and exclusionary towards people like him, and in general, towards people whose identities and backgrounds don’t fit neatly into a certain box. With the aim of helping other students attain research experiences as fulfilling as his, Brandon volunteers as an Undergraduate Research Leader with the Undergraduate Research Program at UW. He is also a leader and organizer with Health Equity Circle, a regional community organizing student group that seeks to address the social determinants of health and advance well-being for all.

3A The Research Journey - Rodrigo Gallardo

Rodrigo Gallardo, He / him

Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center

View Rodrigo Gallardo, He / him Bio

Rodrigo Gallardo (he/him) is a third year at the University of Washington, majoring in MCD Biology and minoring in Diversity. He is currently working as a lab researcher at FredHutch Cancer Research Center where he works with cell cultures and plasmids for the purpose of using gene editing to differentiate them using cell marker antibodies. He is an undergraduate research leader for the Undergraduate Research Program at UW which prides themselves in helping undergraduate students find the essential resources and guidance so they can confidently work towards their research goals. He is also a officer of CCM, which stands for Chicanos for Community Medicine, which is a club dedicated towards hosting workshops, club activities, community service opportunities and scholarships all centered around building solidarity in BIPOCs who want a career in the health care field.

3B Unlocking Your Winning Combination: Not Your Typical Imposter Syndrome Session - Dr. Alexander R. Paredez

Dr. Alexander R. Paredez, He / him

Associate Professor, Department of Biology

View Dr. Alexander R. Paredez, He / Him Bio

Dr. Alex Paredez (he/him) is an associate professor in the Department of Biology. He earned his B.S. in 1998 at UC San Diego. During his senior year he began working on the role of actin binding proteins in C. elegans embryo development, working under Rafi Aroian. After completing his integrated B.S/M.S. in 1999, he entered a PhD program at Stanford University. Still fascinated by the cytoskeleton, Alex worked under Chris Somerville and David Ehrhardt to study the relationship between the plant cortical microtubule array and cell wall organization earning his PhD in 2006. Alex then went to UC Berkeley to postdoc with Zac Cande where he began studying the cytoskeleton of the protozoan parasite Giardia intestinalis. Alex joined the faculty at the University of Washington in 2012.

3B Unlocking Your Winning Combination - Dr. Alina R. Méndez

Dr. Alina R. Méndez, She / her

Assistant Professor, Department of American Ethnic Studies

View Dr. Alina R. Méndez, She / her Bio

Dr. Alina R. Méndez (she/her) is an Assistant Professor in the American Ethnic Studies department at the University of Washington, Seattle. She specializes in Mexican American history with a focus on migration, labor, and the US-Mexico borderlands. Dr. Méndez received her PhD from the University of California, San Diego and a BA in Latin American History from the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently revising her award-winning dissertation into a book manuscript titled Border Braceros: Migration, Farm Labor, and Social Reproduction in the Imperial Valley-Mexicali Borderlands, 1942-1968. Her research has received support from the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/School for Advanced Research, the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, the Fulbright Program, the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States, and the Archie Green Fund for Labor Culture and History.

3B Unlocking Your Winning Combination - Dr. Jelani I. Ince

Dr. Jelani I. Ince, He / him

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

View Dr. Jelani I. Ince, He/ him Bio

Jelani Ince is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington. He received his Ph.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington where he researched how racialized social interactions shape the successes, and failures, of contemporary racial diversity initiatives, and how Black Lives Matter protests have changed how the public understands systemic racial inequality. He received his B.A. in English and French Studies from Wake Forest University. Dr. Ince is committed to helping students understand their experiences to make sense of their place in the world and teaching them how they can organize research agendas that will build the futures that we need.

3B Unlocking Your Winning Combination - Dr. Tam’ra-Kay Francis

Dr. Tam'ra-Kay Francis, She / her

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Chemistry

View Dr. Tam#039ra-Kay Francis, She / her Bio

Tam’ra-Kay is a fierce advocate for equity and access to high quality STEM learning experiences. She has over 20 years of experience working with academic and research programs designed to provide holistic support for underrepresented students. Her two-word mantra, “beyond category,” is the center of her work and research which examines STEM identity and educational development as part of social and cultural contexts both within disciplines and in transdisciplinary environments. Her current efforts engage both faculty and students in the development of equity-based environments. She was recently named a “rising star” on a list of 1,000 inspiring Black scientists in America. Dr. Francis is the co-founder of the UW Postdoc Diversity Alliance and the project lead for PR2ISM. She currently serves as a member of the UW Diversity Council and the Washington State Board of Advisors of the American Cancer Society. Dr. Francis earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Chemistry from Fisk University and a PhD in Science Education from the University of Tennessee. In 2021 she was nominated for the UW Outstanding Public Service Award.

3C Student Leadership Panel - Vicente Arroyos

Vicente Arroyos, He / him

PhD Student, Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington

Co-Founder, AVELA (A Vision for Electronic Literacy & Access)

View Vicente Arroyos, He / him Bio

Vicente (he/him) is a second-year Ph.D. student in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. Before joining the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, he received his Bachelor’s in Electrical & Computer Engineering. Vicente’s research interest include low-power, small-scale robots, application of Reinforcement Learning, Machine Learning and sustainable computing. He is one of the co-founders of A Vision for Electronic Literacy & Access (AVELA) at UW an organization actively pursuing efforts to widen STEM interest of Underrepresented K-12 students of color.

3C Student Leadership Panel - Kyle Johnson

Kyle Johnson, He / him

PhD Student and Research Assistant, Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington

Co-Founder and President, AVELA (A Vision for Electronic Literacy & Access)

Co-Founder and President: UW Black Graduate Student Association

View Kyle Johnson, He / him Bio

Kyle (he/him) is a second-year Ph.D. student in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington (UW) researching insect-scale and battery free robots under Vikram Iyer. Thus far, he has focused on leveraging the structural properties in systems, like the bistability demonstrated in leaf-out origami, to create low-power and small-scale robots optimized for resource constrained applications. He is also contracted by NASA as a machine learning software engineer, where he works on tuning an algorithm that can accurately predict the Net Ecosystem Exchange (NEE) of carbon in the atmosphere using historical satellite data. He is the current President and Co-Founder of the UW Black Graduate Student Association, and the current President and Co-Founder of the K-14 STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) outreach organization AVELA (A Vision for Electronic Literacy & Access). Kyle is passionate about fighting for racial and educational justice, building community, as well as maintaining one’s physical, mental, and emotional health.

3C Student Leadership Panel - Tori Satterfield

Tori Satterfield, They / them

Community Accountability Council, Solid Ground

Social Justice Educator

Prison Scholar Fund

View Tori Satterfield, They / them Bio

Tori Satterfield (they/them) is a first-generation, mixed-race Latinx student double majoring in Law, Economics, and Public Policy as well as Society, Ethics, and Human Behavior with a minor in Human Rights. Their activism and research interests are informed by lived experiences with houselessness, poverty, and violence. Witnessing their family’s interactions with the criminal justice system from an early age led Tori to develop passions for abolition and anti-racism work. As a new research assistant in the Social Policy and Identity Research Lab, they are excited to begin contributing to a body of knowledge that calls attention to the shortcomings of current implementations of equity, diversity, and inclusion policies. Outside of school, Tori enjoys volunteering on the Community Accountability Council for Solid Ground, a non-profit striving to end poverty in the greater Seattle area through programs that address housing and food insecurity and provide support services for victims of domestic violence.

3C Student Leadership Panel - Kiana Reynolds

Kiana Reynold, She / her

President, Black Student Union

View Kiana Reynold, She / her Bio

Kiana Reynolds (she/her) is a senior undergraduate researcher majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and minoring in Education, Learning, and Society. In the Murry Lab, she studies how DNA methylation impacts gene expression in heart cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells in vitro. She hopes to use this knowledge to derive mature heart cells that can be used to restore heart contractile function in heart attack survivors. After undergrad, Kiana plans to further her education in medical school. As a Black woman, she hopes to advocate for members of her community who are disproportionately affected by many different health-related issues and often avoid seeking help out of fear that their concerns will not be taken seriously. Outside of her research, Kiana is the president of the Black Student Union here on campus, where she works to advocate for her community both inside and outside of the university setting.

3C Student Leadership Panel - Najma Abdi

Najma Abdi, She / hers

Students of Color for Public Health

UW Mutual Aid Co-Founder

View Najma Abdi, She / hers Bio

Najma (she/her) is a current senior studying Public Health-Global Health. As a first-generation college student and a Somali refugee, Najma set out goals to provided needed services for her community. She worked frequently with the Somali Health Board on research related to maternal health and vaccination equity. Najma will be pursuing her Master’s of Science in Public Health (MSPH) from John Hopkin’s Bloomberg School of Public Health to continue the passion she has for public health and to address the systemic inequities faced by her community and communities like her own.

3C Student Leadership Panel - Cicero Delfin

Associate Director, Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center

View Cicero Delfin, He / they Bio

Cicero Delfin (he/they) is the Associate Director for the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center at the UW. He received his M.Ed from Western Washington University and his B.A. in Music from Cal Poly Pomona. He joined the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity back in 2012 and has been loving Seattle summers but still figuring out how he feels about the winters. As an explorer at heart, Cicero has lead UW study abroad trips to Spain, and he has previously sailed around the world working for Semester at Sea, a world-traveling study abroad campus on a ship. As an Filipinx-American educator, activist, art-enthusiast, dancer and video gaymer, Cicero loves to create and support spaces where individuals can be themselves, develop their skills, fail and succeed, and most of all, thrive.

Day 3 Session Facilitators, Moderators & Panelists

4A What is Graduate School? - Ashley R. Townes

Ashley R. Townes, She / her

PhD. Student, School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences

Graduate Student Assistant, Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program

International Environmental Researcher and Environmental Justice Advocate, ART & Eco Research Collab LLC

View Ashley R. Townes, She / her Bio

Ashley Townes (she/her) is a passion-driven fish ecologist, educator, international environmental researcher and environmental justice advocate. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Fisheries Ecology at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. She is also a trainer in program design and cross-cultural communication and obtained her M.A. in both Sustainable Development and International Education from the SIT Graduate Institute and her B.A. in Japanese and International Studies from Tufts University. Her professional passions include developing and implementing high impact community-based environmental social justice-oriented projects, designed to educate diverse stakeholders in understanding results-oriented collaboration methodologies in affecting environmental sustainability. Ashley has traveled to over 50 countries on 6 continents, studying, researching and providing professional development to various international organizations and institutions. She continues to research, explore and implement best cross-cultural practices in natural resource management, especially as related to Black and indigenous populations, people of color and ethnic minority groups.

4B Graduate Student Panel - Jordan Drew

Jordan Drew, He / him

PhD Candidate, Electrical Engineering

GO-MAP Ronald E. McNair Fellow

View Jordan Drew, He / him Bio

Jordan Drew (he/him) is a 5th year PhD student in UW’s Electrical and Computer Engineering program working to understand the neural networks engaged when executing attention to different auditory stimuli. He is a McNair alumnus from West Virginia University where he received his B.S. in Biometric Systems from the College of Engineering. As one of very few African-American students in his graduate program, Drew is motivated to work towards initiatives that help recruit and retain a diverse population of students. He currently serves on his department’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion advisory committee and has facilitated community building workshops for BIPOC students at both the departmental and graduate school levels.

4B Graduate Student Panel - Nicole Kuhn

Nicole Kuhn, She / her

PhD Student, iSchool

Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow

NSF Graduate Research Fellow

View Nicole Kuhn, She / her Bio

Nicole Kuhn (she/her), member of the Haida Nation, is a 3rd year PhD Student in the Information School at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on the intersection of information, technology and Indigenous communities and she has published work on Indigenous health communication on social media, Indigenous research ethics and digital youth. She is a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. As a BIPOC, first-generation student and mother, she’s always happy to help support other non-traditional, underrepresented students as they prepare for graduate school.

4B Graduate Student Panel - Quynh Do

Quynh Do, She / her

PhD Candidate, Medicinal Chemistry

View Quynh Do, She / her Bio

Quynh Do (she/her) is a 5th-year graduate student from the department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Washington (UW). She is currently investigating the potential of lipids as the therapeutic candidates for different cancer cell lines. She received her B.S degrees in both Biochemistry and Chemistry also at UW. During her undergraduate time, she studied a new synthetic route for organic solar cells. She is also an alumni of UW McNair Scholars and Early Identification Programs. As an immigrant and a female scientist, Quynh is committed to mentoring students to explore their interests and potentials as future scientists.

4B Graduate Student Panel - Meshell Sturgis

Meshell Sturgis, She / her

PhD Candidate, Department of Communication

VP of Equity and Inclusion for the Graduate and Professional Student Senate

View Meshell Sturgis, She / her Bio

Meshell Sturgis (she/her) is the Vice President of Equity and Inclusion for the Graduate and Professional Student Senate. She is also an Instructor and a 5th year Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Communication. Originally from Washington State, she is a first-generation college student who earned her BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of Washington Bothell. Her research looks at representations of difference and identity in the media. Specifically, she looks at how queer Black women, like herself, represent themselves in alternative media such as comic books, artist books, and in the digital realm. Her dissertation is about the political aesthetics of Black Girl Magic. She enjoys going on walks with her dog, roller skating, and yoga.

4B Graduate Student Panel - Cristian Ovadiuc

Cristian Ovadium, He / him

MS Student, Genetic Epidemiology

View Cristian Ovaium, He / him Bio

Come to the panel discussion to find out more about Cristian (he/him)!

4C Leadership & Resilience - Sasha Duttchoudhury

Sasha Duttchoudhury, They / them

Program Adviser & Manager, UW Health Informatics & Health Information Management

Graduate Student Assistant, Resilience Lab

View Sasha Duttchoudhury, They / them Bio

Sasha Duttchoudhury (they/them) is a Master’s student at the UW School of Social Work, a graduate assistant at the UW Resilience Lab, and an intern Therapist at MEND Seattle. Since graduating from the UW in 2013 with a BA in English, Sasha has been a South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) Young Leaders Institute Fellow (2014), co-edited “Moving Truth(s): Queer and Transgender Desi Writings on Family” (2015), and has been a Voices of Our Nation’s Arts (VONA) Fellow (2016). Sasha has also staffed the Comparative History of Idea’s Department “LGBTQ Communities, Public Health, and Migration in Mexico” study abroad program (2017, 2018) under the direction of Dr. Anu Taranath, and currently serves as the board co-chair of Sankofa Impact. In addition to working at the intersection of well-being and social justice, Sasha is a student of the Feminist Karate Union.

5A Planning for Graduate School - Michele Cadigan

Michele Cadigan, She / her

PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology

NSF Graduate Research Fellow

McNair Graduate Student Advisor and Alumna

View Michele Cadigan, She / her Bio

Michele Cadigan (she/her) is a Sociology PhD Candidate at the University of Washington. Her work examines moral and legal legitimacy across and within economic markets and the criminal legal system. She employs mixed-methods to understand how legitimacy reinforces, reproduces, or challenges racial inequality. As a first-gen, former McNair Scholar, finding a graduate program and advisers that are supportive and understand the challenges of being first-gen was important to her. Moreover, Michele is passionate about giving back to the communities that have helped me succeed (like McNair!) and doing research that has real-world impacts. Finding a place and a mentoring team that valued that type of work was a priority. At UW, she has had an amazing, supportive mentoring team throughout my graduate career, which has been vital to her success. She is looking forward to passing along all the tips/tricks she has learned to help you prepare for graduate school in her workshop!

5B The Nature of Research & Normalizing Failure - Dr. Janice DeCosmo

Janice DeCosmo, She / her

Associate Dean, Undergraduate Academic Affairs, University of Washington

Associate Vice Provost, Undergraduate Research, University of Washington

View Janice DeCosmo, She / her Bio

Janice DeCosmo (she/her) is Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Research, and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington. DeCosmo developed the UW Undergraduate Research Program which she directed from 1999-2014 and served as president of the Council on Undergraduate Research in 2019-20. DeCosmo earned a BS and MS in physics and a PhD in atmospheric sciences, specializing in atmosphere-ocean interaction. During her early career as a female scientist doing fieldwork in a male-dominated environment, she developed a commitment to work toward changing the culture of STEM for the next generation of scientists. She has taught science at nearly all educational levels, from kindergarten through graduate school, and is focused on creating opportunities for undergraduates to experience research.

5B The Nature of Research - Dr. Ayokunle Olanrewaju

Dr. Ayokunle Olanrewaju, He / him

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering & Bioengineering

View Dr. Ayokunle Olanrewaju, He / him Bio

Ayokunle Olanrewaju is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering & Bioengineering at the University of Washington. His research is focused on developing portable diagnostic devices for measuring and personalizing medication concentrations in infectious and chronic disease care. He received B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada and a Ph.D. in Biological and Biomedical Engineering from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. His work at the interface of the physical and life sciences is inspired by his childhood in a small town in Southwest Nigeria where the main industries were a university teaching hospital and a large cement factory. His lived experience as a Black immigrant in North America has also cultivated a strong desire to promote justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in academia.

5B The Nature of Research - Alexandria Rios

Alexandria Gabrielle Rios, She / hers

BS, Biomedical Sciences

Global Engagement Student Group

View Alexandria Gabrielle Rios, She / hers Bio

Alexandria Rios is a member of the Global Engagement Student Group where she advocates for individuals known to face adversity particularly first-gen, low-income, and BIPOC students by using her experiences as a female underrepresented minority and finding solutions to make global engagement opportunities more accessible for students. She recently received her BS in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Washington where she researched the effects of perchlorate, an environmental contaminant on endocrine disruption which led her to be a two-time UW Mary Gates Research Scholarship recipient. Given her experience as a Latina female and aspiring medical student, she is committed to being a role model for aspiring future female underrepresented minorities in STEM.

5B The Nature of Research - Chardonnay Beaver

Chardonnay Beaver, She / her

Interrupting Privilege Research Group

Influential Speaker, Storyteller, and Writer at The Facts Newspaper

View Chardonnay Beaver, She / her Bio

Chardonnay Beaver (she/her) is an influential speaker, storyteller, and writer for The Facts Newspaper. In 2019, she established Words of Wisdom by Char (WOWbyChar): a platform designed to empower individuals in their pursuit of authenticity. Her work has been featured in sites like the South Seattle Emerald and The Facts Newspaper. Chardonnay partakes in an undergraduate experience at University of Washington— double majoring in political science and journalism public interest communication (JPIC). She also was awarded with the Mary Gates Research Scholarship in 2020. Her research explores the gentrification, Black erasure in Seattle, and the concept of home.

5B The Nature of Research - Tiara Schwarze-Taufiq

Tiara Schwarze-Taufiq, She / her

Young Lab, Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

Founder, Huskies for Neurodiversity

Grantwriting Intern, Plus One Foundation

View Tiara Schwarze-Taufiq, She / her Bio

Tiara Schwarze-Taufiq (she/her) is a fourth-year student at the University of Washington studying Public Health and Neuroscience. As a child of Indonesian immigrants and having been late-diagnosed with ADHD in senior year, she is committed to promoting equitable access to education and healthcare among underrepresented groups. She joined the Young Lab in her junior year to pursue the molecular and cellular mechanisms behind Alzheimer’s Disease. In her current role, Tiara uses stem cell-derived neurons to study the role of tau, a microtubule-associated protein, in Alzheimer’s Disease pathogenesis. Outside of her research, she leads Huskies for Neurodiversity, a Husky Seed Fund initiative to raise awareness and acceptance of neurodevelopmental conditions on campus through lived experience interviews and panel events. She also serves as a programming intern at the Plus One Foundation, which provides grants that fund life-changing experiences and therapies for people with neurological disorders.

5C Self-Care & Reflection as Resistance - Dylan Tran

Dylan Tran, He / him

Community Impact Fellow, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation

View Dylan Tran, He / him Bio

Dylan Tran (he/him) grew up in Tacoma as a child of Southeast Asian refugees from Cambodia and Vietnam. He began his journey as a student activist and educator at the UW-Seattle. Upon graduating he returned to his hometown to serve students directly as a TRIO Upward Bound Advisor and non-profit administrator. Dylan currently serves as a Community Impact Fellow with Greater Tacoma Community Foundation.

6A Professionals Panel - Dr. Dalya Perez

Dr. Dalya Perez, She / her

Senior Program Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Microsoft, Mixed Reality

View Dalya Perez, She / her Bio

Dr. Dalya Perez is the Senior Program Manager for Diversity & Inclusion at Microsoft’s Mixed Reality. She is a strategist, educator, and qualitative researcher with expertise in Critical Race Theories and frameworks. She works to advance inclusive hiring, to transform culture, and to influence equity in products. She is the daughter of an immigrant father from the Philippines and a refugee mother who is a Sephardi Jew from Egypt and was first in her family to get a college degree. Her academic research has focused on the intersections of race and gender for men of color; historical consciousness and erasure for Filipinx Americans, and the complexity of Jews of Color in the U.S.

6A Professionals Panel - Dr. Tracy Hilliard

Dr. Tracy Hilliard, She / her

Director, MPHI Center for Culturally Responsive Engagement

Director, MPHI Seattle Office

View Dr. Tracy Hilliard, She / her Bio

Dr. Hilliard is Director of Center for Culturally Responsive Engagement (CCRE) at MPHI. In this role, she directs culturally responsive engagement to advance racial equity through, strategic planning, training, facilitation, measurement, learning, and evaluation. She is also Director of the MPHI Seattle Office. She has led projects across the nation with partners including W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Kansas Health Foundation, Seattle Foundation, Public Health Seattle & King County, University of Washington (UW) School of Public Health, the City of Seattle’s Information Technology‐Digital Equity Initiative and Office of Economic Development, and City of Lynnwood. She has a clinical faculty appointment in the UW Department of Psychosocial and Community Health. She is also an Affiliate Researcher at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment. Dr. Hilliard has a BA with Distinction in sociology, an MPH in maternal and child health, and a PhD in health services all from University of Washington.

6A Professionals Panel - Dr. Michelle O’Brien

Dr. Michelle O'Brien, She / her

Research Scientist, Family Planning, Gates Foundation

View Dr. Michelle O’Brien, She / her Bio

Bio coming soon!

6A Professionals Panel - Anthony Gasca

Anthony Gasca, He / him

Structural Engineer, Parsons

View Anthony Gasca, He / him Bio

Anthony Gasca is a structural engineer working on local bridge and rail projects for Parsons in Seattle. After majoring in Civil Engineering at the University of Washington, Anthony continued his education with the University’s Structural Engineering and Mechanics Master’s Degree Program. This allowed him get a job at a major design firm and assist in critical local projects immediately after finishing school. While growing up in South Seattle, Anthony saw firsthand how critical fast, reliable transportation is for a region, especially as living in the city became unaffordable for so many people. With a passion for making the region’s transportation more equitable, he was able to work on the design of the Link Light Rail in part of an effort to make the city more easily accessible from the surrounding areas.

6A Professionals Panel - Jon Olivera

Jon Olivera, He / him

Assistant Director, Educational Opportunity Program

View Jon Olivera, He / him Bio

Jon Olivera is the Assistant Director of the Educational Opportunity Program within the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity at the University of Washington. He helps lead a team of advisors that support over 6,000 underrepresented, low-income, first generation students in their UW journey. He received his MA in History from the University of Northern Arizona. As an immigrant and naturalized Filipino-American citizen he is focused on helping underrepresented students navigate UW and to achieve long-term success in college and beyond.

6B Application Essay Writing - Dr. Leah Spence

Leah Spence, She / her

TRIO-SSS Writing Instructor, University of Washington

View Leah Spence, She / her Bio

Leah Spence (she/her) is the Writing Instructor for the TRIO-SSS Program in the UW Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity; as such she works to guide first-generation undergraduates from low-income backgrounds to recognize and cultivate their critical thinking and writing strengths while embracing their own stories. Leah earned her B.A. in English from the University of New Mexico and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington where she focused on theorizing narratives that disrupt structures of domination. With a commitment to anti-racist pedagogy, she is dedicated to helping TRIO-SSS undergraduates build belonging on campus and compose the missions and visions that will fuel their work in the community.

6B Application Essay Writing - Mariela Galvan

Mariela Galvan, She / her

TRIO-SSS Academic Advisor

McNair Alumna

View Mariela Galvan, She / her Bio

Mariela Galvan is an Academic Adviser with the University of Washington’s TRIO SSS program where she supports first-generation and low-income students in their transition from high school to the university with career, financial, personal and academic counseling. She received her M.Ed. from Seattle University and her B.A in American Ethnic Studies and Education from the University of Washington. She is passionate about serving students and helping them reach their goals.

6C Elevate Your Impact Via Social Media - Ashley R. Townes

Ashley R. Townes, She / her

PhD. Student, School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences

Graduate Student Assistant, Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program

International Environmental Researcher and Environmental Justice Advocate, ART & Eco Research Collab LLC

View Ashley R. Townes, She / her Bio

Ashley Townes (she/her) is a passion-driven fish ecologist, educator, international environmental researcher and environmental justice advocate. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Fisheries Ecology at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. She is also a trainer in program design and cross-cultural communication and obtained her M.A. in both Sustainable Development and International Education from the SIT Graduate Institute and her B.A. in Japanese and International Studies from Tufts University. Her professional passions include developing and implementing high impact community-based environmental social justice-oriented projects, designed to educate diverse stakeholders in understanding results-oriented collaboration methodologies in affecting environmental sustainability. Ashley has traveled to over 50 countries on 6 continents, studying, researching and providing professional development to various international organizations and institutions. She continues to research, explore and implement best cross-cultural practices in natural resource management, especially as related to Black and indigenous populations, people of color and ethnic minority groups.

6C Elevate Your Impact via Social Media - Michele Cadigan

Michele Cadigan, She / her

PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology

NSF Graduate Research Fellow

McNair Graduate Student Advisor and Alumna

View Michele Cadigan, She / her Bio

Michele Cadigan (she/her) is a Sociology PhD Candidate at the University of Washington. Her work examines moral and legal legitimacy across and within economic markets and the criminal legal system. She employs mixed-methods to understand how legitimacy reinforces, reproduces, or challenges racial inequality. As a first-gen, former McNair Scholar, finding a graduate program and advisers that are supportive and understand the challenges of being first-gen was important to her. Moreover, Michele is passionate about giving back to the communities that have helped me succeed (like McNair!) and doing research that has real-world impacts. Finding a place and a mentoring team that valued that type of work was a priority. At UW, she has had an amazing, supportive mentoring team throughout my graduate career, which has been vital to her success. She is looking forward to passing along all the tips/tricks she has learned to help you prepare for graduate school in her workshop!