2020 GSP Peer Mentors

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Charmaine Branch
2nd Year, Art and Archaeology

Charmaine Branch is a second year doctoral student in the Department of Art and Archaeology. Before moving to Princeton, Charmaine worked as a Curatorial Fellow at The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Her research focuses on modern and contemporary art of the Black Diaspora in the Americas. In between receiving a B.A. in Art History from Vassar College and an M.A. in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies from Columbia University, she spent a year teaching English in Argentina with the Fulbright program. Charmaine is deeply committed to fostering community among her peers, and looks forward to providing new graduate students with mentorship and support throughout the academic year.

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Roohi Dalal
2nd Year, Astrophysics

Roohi is a 2nd year graduate student in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences, where she studies how we can use the distribution of galaxies around us to understand fundamental properties of the universe. She is from Phoenix, Arizona and graduated from Caltech in 2018, where she majored in Astrophysics and History. Roohi is involved in the Women in Physics group and the Women in STEM leadership council. She is passionate about advocating for and implementing policies and practices to support diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as science policy and outreach. In her free time, Roohi loves cooking and baking, in addition to reading and crafts. She is looking forward to being a peer mentor and supporting other students as we navigate grad school together and learn from each other’s experiences. 

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Vanessa Gonzalez
2nd Year, Molecular Biology

Vanessa is a 2nd year graduate student in the Department of Molecular Biology. She received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Molecular & Cellular Biology from Johns Hopkins University. Vanessa is interested in developmental biology, specifically the mechanisms by which organs begin forming in vertebrate embryos. As a member of the Burdine Lab, she will study how left-right asymmetry is established and sends information to developing organs, particularly the heart.

“Having been a mentee in GSP myself, I found GSP and the ADI team to be an indispensable source of support as I began my graduate school journey. Mentoring is very important to me, as it helps me navigate challenges and encourages me to strive for my best. I hope as a GSP mentor I will be able to give support and help ease the transition to graduate student life. I’m looking forward to getting to know each of my mentees as they navigate their own first year experiences.”

Imagine of Lidsay Griffiths, GSP mentor
Lindsay Griffiths
3rd Year, English

Lindsay Griffiths is a third-year doctoral student in the English Department at Princeton University. She graduated with a B.A. in English Literature and Spanish Translation from Hunter College. Lindsay’s interests lie in African American and Afro-Latinx Literature of the 20th century, with a focus on black intellectual production and communication across the Black Diaspora. Finally, she is also a published translator, having rendered into English Burp: Apuntes Gastronómicos by Spanish author and journalist Mercedes Cebrián. Lindsay is interested in being a peer mentor because she is a firm believer in community and the importance of supporting others. She is also looking forward to welcoming new students to Princeton and learning how to be an effective mentor."

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Salwa Halloway
2nd Year, Comparative Literature

Salwa Halloway is a second-year student in the Department of Comparative Literature at Princeton University. She studies African Literature and is particularly interested in African identities at the intersection of colonialism, the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade and the Lebanese Diaspora. She holds an MA in Comparative Literature from University College London (UCL) and furthermore was the recipient of a Fulbright.  She is honored to serve as a mentor, and looks forward to the exchanges and opportunities for mutual growth that come with this position. She is grateful for the guidance that she has received throughout her academic life and hopes to offer the same support to others.

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Ken Igarza
2nd Year, Neuroscience

Ken is a second year Ph.D. student in Neuroscience interested in researching how neural circuits process sensory information to execute innate behaviors. While earning his B.S. in Neuroscience at Emory University, Ken worked with Dr. Gary Miller to investigate the effects of toxicants on the vesicular uptake of Dopamine and later with Dr. Richard Axel at Columbia University to study the contexts of activation of courtship neurons in Drosophila melanogaster. As a graduate student at Princeton, Ken celebrates his low-income, immigrant, and first-generation backgrounds and queer, Latino identities. For this reason, he passionately advocates for underrepresented groups of students from all levels in his home department and beyond. He is honored to serve as a GSP mentor for the upcoming year!

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Nancy Lu
5th Year, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Nancy Lu is a 5th-year graduate student in Chemical and Biological Engineering. She obtained her undergraduate degree from MIT, where she worked in Matthew Shoulders' lab studying protein folding homeostasis in live cells and in Martin Bazant's lab developing ways to deionize water by shock electrodialysis. Her current research focuses on understanding multi-phase flow through porous media. Nancy is from Florida. In her free time, you can find her either bartending at the Debasement Bar in the Graduate College, teaching group fitness classes at Dillon, or cooking and eating. Nancy's secret talent is folding origami while hula-hooping. She is interested in being a peer mentor because she is a first-generation student herself and has found her own mentors invaluable.

"I am looking forward to meeting you all, whether virtually or in person, and hope we will be able to build community and support one another during this next year."

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Johanna Masterson
2nd Year, Chemistry

Johanna Masterson (pronouns: she/her) is a 2nd year graduate student in the Chemistry Department at Princeton University. She received a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Oklahoma. As a member of the Sorensen Lab, her research is focused on the synthesis of complex natural products. When she isn’t in lab, Johanna loves baking, painting, and watching movies. Because mentors have made invaluable contributions to her journey, Johanna is excited to become a peer mentor to help provide community for incoming graduate students.

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Themba Mbatha
4th Year, English

Thembelani (Themba) Mbatha is a 4th year Ph.D. candidate in the English department. He was born and raised in South Africa (Johannesburg), where he would study Philosophy and English Literature, ultimately receiving his BA, BA (Hons.) and MA degrees from the Universities of the Witwatersrand and Cape Town. As an academic, Themba is broadly interested in reading the tragic histories of black people and understanding how these interact with the politics of memory, ruination, and the archive. As someone who’s benefited immensely from having reliable mentors in his own life, Themba wishes to pay forward what has been shared with him by being a peer mentor within the Princeton community. When not in the Firestone library in the joyful throes of research, Themba spends his free time playing and watching soccer, running and hiking, and taking on vegetarian recipes of diverse cuisines.  

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Rebekah Rashford
3rd Year, Neuroscience

Rebekah is a third-year PhD student at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, where she works with Catherine Peña investigating the effects of early life stress on chromatin accessibility in regions of the brain associated with the reward pathway. Before coming to Princeton, Rebekah graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a major in Biology and a minor Creative Writing. While at UMBC, Rebekah worked in a molecular biology lab studying the dynamics of ribosomal biogenesis. Other than science, Rebekah enjoys museums, writing stories and screenplays, and taking long walks. 

"The mentors that I've had throughout my academic experience have been invaluable. Because of this, I have sought ways to be a source of support and encouragement to others as they make the exciting and challenging transition into graduate school." 

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Amari Tankard
2nd Year, Molecular Biology

Amari is a rising second year graduate student in Molecular Biology. She received her undergraduate degree from Columbia University in Chemistry. Amari scientific interests lay in how to improve the field of structure-based drug design. As a new member of the Yan lab, she studies structural biology using cryo-EM in order to investigate cholesterol and lipid metabolism. 

"The GSP program has without a doubt enhanced my first-year experience in the Graduate School. I have gained access to a community that has not just been supportive and kind, but provided my numerous resources and outlets to progress as a student and a human. I would love to join and contribute to this necessary work by also helping new students acclimate to the graduate school community."

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Matheus Ferreira
5th Year, Computer Science

Matheus is a 5th year Computer Science Ph.D. candidate in the Theory of Computer Science group at Princeton, and is fortunate to be advised by S. Matthew Weinberg. Matheus’ primary research interest is Algorithmic Game Theory - that is, algorithm design under strategic environments where users have incentives. His research also intersects with Computer Security, Cryptography, and Machine Learning by combining different techniques to solve game theoretical problems and vice-versa. Previously, Matheus completed undergraduate studies in Computer Engineering at the Federal University of Itajubá in Brazil and also spent a year as a visiting student at the University of California, San Diego.

“I believe cultivating a mentoring and support network is important for one to navigate through new territories and crucial for one to achieve their personal goals. I'm looking forward not only to be a resource for other peer graduate students but also to cultivate my mentoring skills and learn from others' experiences."

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Federico d'Oleire Uquillas
2nd Year, Neuroscience

Fred is a Presidential Fellow and Ph.D. student in the Department of Neuroscience at Princeton University. His research focuses on connectomics as they relate to human brain networks. In addition to his role as GSP Mentor, Fred works with school leaders and other neuroscientists (NeuroscienceOutreach.org) to provide k-12 students with access to current and age-appropriate neuroscience educational programs and materials written in their native language (e.g., Spanish). Before coming to Princeton, he worked as a neuroimaging assistant at Harvard Medical School. His research contributions have been featured in various news outlets including CNN, Forbes, Discover DNews, ABC, and the L.A. Times. In his free time, Fred enjoys cooking and learning new recipes and cuisines. However, he reports that he is not the greatest baker.

"I am very excited to be a GSP mentor this year. My academic trajectory would not have been the same if it hadn't been for key individuals along the way who helped guide me toward life-changing opportunities. I hope that I am able to help students navigate early graduate studies at Princeton, and help illuminate unique paths for success in their career."