Profiles of WST Undergraduate Research Partners

Nic Alton

''

Nic recently graduated from Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Computational Media. Originally from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area, Nic began to formally work with Dr. Lisa Yaszek, Literature, Media, and Communication on queer and trans representation in science fiction in January 2019. They focused on how to build science fiction worlds that are inclusive to queer and trans people. Nic first heard about the assistantship opportunity with Dr. Yaszek while taking one of her classes, and realized that a research assistantship like this would allow them to do something they enjoy while getting paid to do it. During their assistantship, Nic said, “It’s been great getting the opportunity to do something that I love so much in an academic setting, under a professor who is great at bringing out the best in people.” Nic hopes to start a video game company that creates inclusive, interesting video game narratives.

DJ Baker

''

DJ is a Computational Media Major from Warner Robbins, Georgia, working with Dr. Lisa Yaszek, School of Literature, Media, and Communication. In the WST research partnership, DJ has edited the website womensf.loa.org, and is doing research on how to make a good podcast by evaluating best practices of podcasters. DJ explained that the WST partnership has been fun and exciting work that will be beneficial in the future. DJ loves how relaxed Dr. Yaszek is and that she is a good friend, too. DJ says, “I think the undergraduate research is both an excellent opportunity to get work experience, and it’s also just fun.” After graduation, DJ hopes to become an animator, especially considering how much Sci-Fi animation is growing lately.

 

Taylor Howell

''

Taylor graduated from Georgia Tech with her B.S. in Chemical Engineering. She is from Fayetteville, Georgia. While an undergraduate student, Taylor assisted Dr. Willie Pearson, School of History and Sociology, on a project analyzing the experiences of African American women in the engineering fields. She said that, “I see the project as a sort of dual responsibility. With my status as an African American woman who is a chemical engineering major, I have a duty to scrutinize the socioeconomic implications for a frequently marginalized demographic. Moreover, analyzing and gleaning from these experiences is a charge that will ultimately improve and advance engineering education.” Taylor had been interested in trends related to African American women in the chemical engineering field before her WST research partnership when she took a class with Dr. Pearson. She loved her research partnership because this work directly influenced her and her field of study, and she hopes that the results of the research will be able to push for policy changes on the subject. Besides her WST undergraduate partnership with Dr. Pearson, during her time at GT, Taylor tutored K-12 students through a program called L3 Educational Solutions, LLC.

Jacqueline Jung

''

Jacqueline is a Georgia Tech graduate (B.S. Psychology) from Warner Robins, Georgia. While an undergraduate, she worked with Dr. Ruth Kanfer, School of Psychology, on research taking a deeper look at psychology in the workplace, focusing specifically on how to attract and retain women in STEM fields. Jacqueline believes that this assistantship was a “really invaluable experience.”  She explains that the research “really taught me a lot of things not only about psychology, but also intangible skills such as communicating with professors and working with adults.” She believes that some of the skills she learned would not have been gained from classroom experiences. During her time at Georgia Tech, Jaqueline also volunteered with City Hope as a K-5 tutor, and served as a Teaching Assistant for GT1000, an introductory course for Georgia Tech freshman.

Yasamin Khorashahi

''

Yasamin is a WST undergraduate partner for Dr. Mary Frank Fox, Public Policy, and a public policy student from Cumming, Georgia. She he learned about the research position with Dr. Fox through one of the required courses for the major. She explains that something that really stood out to her during this course was the gender equity aspect of policy and organizational structures, and this is what drew her to the assistantship. In her assistantship, she is gaining “understanding of how to work on a research team and make lasting connections with other women on the team.” Yasamin loves that she is able to work with other women on gender studies at Georgia Tech, and she truly admires the work that Dr. Fox has done with making the research clear and easily understood by everyone.

Julianne Lefelhocz

''

Julianne, a computer science major from San Antonio, Texas, is a research assistant with Dr. Katie Farris, Literature, Communication, and Culture. She is working on creating visual scenes from poetry, and specifically, creating experiences from poetry and virtual reality and adding a 3D space component. Julianne loves that this work because it provides her with a creative outlet, along with her computer science degree. She said, “Before this, I didn’t think about doing research in college, but now that I have, I am considering pursuing a graduate degree.” She is glad that this assistantship has provided her ways to use her computer science degree.

Emma Menardi

''

Emma is a Public Policy and History, Technology, and Society double major from John’s Creek, Georgia. Through her research partnership with Dr. Mary Frank Fox, Public Policy, Emma has authored a report that compares universities’ family leave policies. She also assists with programmatic supports, contributes to ongoing bibliometric research, and helps Dr. Fox ensure that her courses are accessible in an online format in case of a transition to fully online learning because of COVID-19. Emma entered into her partnership with Dr. Fox after seeking her advice about graduate school. Dr. Fox saw the possibility of a mutually beneficial research partnership that would prepare Emma for future graduate study. Through the partnership, Emma has learned about knowledge production in the sciences and has developed her ability to search for and understand academic literature. For Emma, a highlight of being a part of Dr. Fox's team is the egalitarian and collaborative nature of the research: All students, from the undergraduate through postdoctoral levels, are encouraged to contribute ideas, and all input is appreciated. Outside of her work with Dr. Fox, Emma works on her own independent research project examining the role of stigma in policymaking related to HIV/AIDs, works with the School of Public Policy as a student assistant, volunteers to help asylum seekers with their immigration paperwork and accompanies them to court, and volunteers with Grace House. Emma sees herself going into civil rights law and/or academia in the future.

Audra Murphey

''

Audra is from Marietta, Georgia, and is a graduate of the School of Public Policy. During her time at Tech, she was an active member of the Georgia Tech community. She participated in mock trial, was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, served as President of the Ivan Allen College Student Advisory Board for Undergraduate students, and was an orientation leader. She was a WST undergraduate research partner with Dr. Mary Frank Fox,School of Public Policy, and participated in a range of research activities, from designing research graphics to tracking log books. When asked about what she appreciates the most about her research partnership with Dr. Fox, Audra said, “working for Dr. Fox and her team has proven to me the power of female mentors. Collaborating with hard-working, capable women is empowering like nothing else I have ever experienced." She worked with Dr. Fox from her freshman year through her final semester at Tech, but took a brief break from the assistantship in order to work in Washington, D.C. for Congressman John Lewis in the fall of 2017. Audra is currently a law student at Georgia State University. She is excited to apply the skills—such as database analysis, graphical representation, and team collaboration—which she learned during her time with Dr. Fox's research team. After law school, Audra hopes to practice law and eventually affect political change to ensure that underrepresented communities are offered the same incredible educational and mentoring opportunities that she has experienced.

Yendi Neil

''

Yendi is from John’s Creek, Georgia,majoring in Psychology with a minor in International Language, Culture, and Business. Yendi is involved with student organizations such as the Caribbean Student Association, the Japan Student Association, and Seolustice, a Korean Culture student organization. In her WST assistantship, Yendi works with Dr. Ruth Kanfer, Psychology, condensing prior research on women and minorities in STEM into a literature review, in order to help companies attract more women in these fields. After completing the literature review, the information collected will be developed into a practitioner toolkit for companies to use. Yendi says she loves the people she works with as well as having the chance to have a hands-on research experience. She also believes that this assistantship lends to her psychology major: “This assistantship will really allow me to be more hands-on in the research process and be able to apply psychology to improve the STEM workforce, too.” She hopes that she will gain a better understanding of how to properly conduct research, and she thinks that working on this will help her understand industry better as well.

Marie Ozenua

''

Marie is an Industrial Systems Engineering major and is originally from Nigeria. She has worked with Dr. Valerie Thomas, Industrial and Systems Engineering, on electrification in Rwanda, and its use by and benefits to women. About her research assistantship, she said, “I like that it’s a big group, so there are more people to share information and get ideas from.” Marie hopes to expand her knowledge on research and data coming from Africa, especially because in the United States, very limited research and data appear on African countries. Something she would like to do in the future is pursue a career in international development. She explains that the research with Dr. Thomas will help her better learn about the issues affecting people, and finding solutions to problems in Africa. When Marie is not doing research, she operates her own small business, doing photography and face painting around Atlanta. She is also a tutor for industrial and systems engineering.

Victoria Pham

''

Victoria, a Psychology major from Atlanta, Georgia and a volunteer with Crisis Tech’s Line, works with Dr. Ruth Kanfer, Psychology, on creating a new model on how to create better organizational cultures. Work culture research happened to be the research subject of articles Victoria was reading, and she found that it was also Dr. Kanfer’s specialty. From this assistantship, she is learning about how to be a better researcher: how to think critically, and how to identify what a “good” research article looks like. Something she’s specifically loved about the assistantship is how much insight she gets into the research process: “I have a lot more respect for the process after being a part of it.” After graduation, Victoria hopes to attend graduate school, and she believes that everything she is learning through the assistantship will help her succeed as a graduate student.

Olivia Rea

''

Olivia, a Biology (Pre-Med) major from Seattle, Washington, is a research assistant with Dr. Jennifer Singh, History and Sociology, in partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Morehouse School of Medicine. She hopes this research will lead to better community awareness and policy impacts in equitable access to diagnosis of autism and services. Olivia says, “I have really enjoyed how the research is still in the STEM area, but I also get to see the real world and human side of things. That combination of science and humanity brings a lot of fulfillment.” Through this assistantship, she has been able to learn more about the public health field, which has really impacted the type of medicine she anticipates focusing on in her future career. Outside of her assistantship with Dr. Singh, Olivia is a volunteer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, plays for the women’s club soccer team, and is involved in the Excel program as the chair of recruitment and retention.

Kaitlin Shea

''

Kaitlin is a recent graduate (B.S.) of the School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC).  While at Georgia Tech, Kaitlin was a WST undergraduate research partner with Dr. Lisa Yaszek (LMC).  In her partnership, Kaitlin reviewed female science fiction writers and their stories, and decided which were especially important.  Kaitlin loved this position with Dr. Yaszek because it gave her the freedom to do research, and she never felt like it was work but rather was "fun."  She found that the undergraduate research partnership helped her round out her time at Georgia Tech, and allowed her to make the transition into her life after graduation.  Kaitlin said that the WST undergraduate partnership "helped [her] learn how to make tough decisions and also have self-confidence in those decisions". Kaitlin now lives in Atlanta and works at a social media advertising agency.

Hayden Smith

''

Hayden is from Roswell, Georgia and is majoring in Computational Media. She worked as a WST undergraduate research partner with Dr. Karen Head, School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC). In her role, she edited the Atlanta Review Database and made the LMC student handbook gender neutral. Hayden enjoyed her partnership because she was able to combine her love of quantitative work with her interest in liberal arts. She said that “being a part of WST helped me realize how much I care about science and technology, and it helped me change my mind about my major to find something that combined what I love to do.” She also said that one thing she appreciates is that her WST research partnership has allowed her to have real, practical skills that she will be able to use in her life. On campus, Hayden is a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, and is a part of a club called Wreckless, which promotes mental health at Georgia Tech.

Lia Teng

''

Lia is from Norcross, Georgia and is studying biology (pre-med), and volunteers at Grady Hospital in Downtown Atlanta. Her research assistantship with Dr. Mindy Millard-Stafford, Biological Sciences, has focused on conducting studies on sweat. Specifically, she is looking at different ways to analyze data and recognize any possible trends. Something she has learned from Dr. Millard-Stafford is how to be more detailed when analyzing data: thinking about “why” not just “what.” This assistantship has allowed her to think outside of the box and improve upon her skills. She explains that “this [assistantship] has definitely opened up so many doors for what I can see myself doing in the future.” Lia never really saw herself doing research in her career with medicine, but her work with Dr. Millard-Stafford showed her just how interesting research can be.

Rachel Wexler

''

Rachel earned her B.S. in Public Policy in the spring of 2020, and is continuing to study at Georgia Tech to earn her M.S. in Public Policy. She originally came to the School of Public Policy because of its small size and close-knit community. Through her major, she found interest in science and technology policy, and specifically in organizational structures. During her freshman year, she began working as a WST undergraduate research partner with Dr. Mary Frank Fox (Public Policy). She is continuing her work with Dr. Fox as a graduate research assistant. Over the past few years, Rachel has worked on analyses of bibliometric data, graphical representations, and other assignments. Something Rachel really appreciates about her research partnership is the work environment Dr. Fox creates for the group. Rachel said, "Not only has Dr. Fox taught me good research practices, she has challenged me to become a more capable problem solver, and has shown me what a supportive workplace looks and feels like." During her undergraduate years, in addition to her research partnership, Rachel interned at the U.S. Senate and NASA and worked as a peer tutor for student athletes.