Moyo Afolabi, Ph.D. student, Environmental Engineering
“You miss 100% of the shots you never take” -Wayne Gretzy
Moyo Afolabi is a graduate student in Environmental Engineering where she is conducting research on the synthesis of novel membranes for water treatment. Moyo also received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. As a returning Grad Group leader, Moyo seeks to help new graduate students establish their academic, professional, and social presence on campus. She believes Grad Groups will aid new students in their transition into Georgia Tech.
Dakshitha Anandakumar, Ph.D. student, Biomedical Engineering
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” -Theodore Roosevelt
Dakshitha Anandakumar grew up in Bangalore, India where she received her undergraduate degree in electrical and computer engineering. Dakshitha is currently in the biomedical engineering doctoral program. Her research focuses on understanding how the neural coding of sound stimulus in the auditory cortex of the brain changes with social experience.
As a Grad Group Leader, Dakshitha wants new graduate students to remember that school-life balance is a key to performing well. She states that “Grad school is not only for academic growth but also to develop a skill set that will help you both professionally and personally. There are ample resources at Georgia Tech to assist you in this process so make the best use of them. At the end of the day, you want grad school to be a wholesome and fulfilling experience.”
Bill Andrews, Master’s Student, Materials Science & Engineering
“Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.” - David McCullough Jr
Bill Andrews is from a suburb in Chicago, Illinois. Bill obtained my B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015. He went on to work as a Materials Engineer at Ford Motor Company in Detroit, Michigan. Last year, Bill decided to pivot back to academia to obtain his master's degree at Georgia Tech, and he loves it here! Outside of school, Bill likes to cook, play soccer, and watch Minnesota Vikings football. His advice to new graduate students is to always push yourselves outside of your comfort zone. He states, “Take a few hours a week to venture far off campus and explore.”
Joshua Bakin, Ph.D. student, City and Regional Planning
“You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take.” - Wayne Gretzky
Joshua Bakin is an Atlanta-native and is currently working on his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning. His research is focused on sustainable cities and how they relate to temperature and flooding. He received his Master in Geosciences from Georgia State University. Joshua’s advice to new graduate students is to get involved as quickly as possible both on campus and with your advisor.
Aline Banboukian, Ph.D. student, Public Policy
“Opportunities don’t often come along. So, when they do, you have to grab them.” –Audrey Hepburn
Aline Banboukian is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Public Policy. Aline studied her bachelor’s in industrial engineering then a master’s in public policy. Her advice to new graduate students is to make sure to find a balance. As a Grad Group Leader, she wants her students to understand that the most important thing is self-care and good time management because if you don’t balance life, it might get overwhelming. Aline wants you to know that Grad Groups is here for you and will help in your transition to graduate life, make connections, and learn about the resources available for you. She advises new graduate students to “Always step aside and take a deep breath, and everything will be alright.”
Isaiah Borne, Ph.D. student, Chemical Engineering
"When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." -Audre Lorde
Isaiah Borne was born and raised in Marietta, Georgia. He earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2018. During his undergraduate studies, Isaiah served as a Residential Associate Advisor and helped incoming freshmen smoothly transition into their new environment. As a new Grad Groups leader, Isaiah is excited to help new graduate students adjust to graduate school life and find supportive communities. He believes that Grad Groups is an amazing opportunity for incoming students to learn about available resources at Georgia Tech that can help them. Isaiah’s advice to new students is to maintain a healthy work-life balance and make time for things outside of research that make you happy.
Miguel Campos, Ph.D. student, Industrial Engineering
"The most important thing in life is happiness, do whatever you need to maximize it in your own life and in others." –Unknown
Miguel Campos is a Fulbright Scholar Grantee from Bogota, Colombia. He is currently a first-year Ph.D. student in Industrial Engineering at the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech. Miguel is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Physical Internet Center under the direction of Dr. Benoit Montreuil. His main research focuses on improving the performance of the supply chain in parcel delivery systems through the use of large-scale simulation. More broadly, his research interests include supply chain engineering, transportation, parcel delivery, applied statistics, and large scale simulation. Miguel’s advice for new students is to take it easy and enjoy your graduate studies.
Anant Girdhar, Ph.D. student, Aerospace Engineering
“See I got GPS on my phone." — Jon Bellion, Human | "But if you don't, look for 'the pencil'.” — Georgia Tech community
Anant Girdhar attended the Indian Institute of Technology Madras to obtain an undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering. He believes that an educational environment is one of the best places to learn. He states that “there is a greater degree of freedom to make mistakes and grow from them and there are many people around who are willing to walk with you”. Anant believes it very important to find a good support system. As a Grad Group Leader, Anant hopes to introduce grad students to campus resources, learn from others' successes and failures, and help de-stress with other grad students.
Sharjeel Khan, Ph.D. student, Computer Science
"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop" –Confucius
Sharjeel Khan is a second-year Ph.D. student in Computer Science from Hyderabad, India, but he grew up in the Middle East. His current research is focused on using machine learning to improve program analysis techniques. Prior to Georgia Tech, Sharjeel received his undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. In his first year, Sharjeel participated in the Grad Groups program, which helped him get adjusted to both Georgia Tech and Atlanta. As a result, he became a Grad Groups Leader, so he can do the same for the incoming graduate students. Sharjeel’s biggest advice for incoming graduate students is to make the most out of your time here at Georgia Tech while taking care of yourself.
Sunny Kim, Ph.D. student, Mechanical Engineering
"I am a human being, not a human doing" -Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
Sunny Kim is a Ph.D. student in the Mechanical Engineering program. She received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Korea University. Sunny understand that graduate programs can be overwhelming. She hopes that students can alleviate the feeling of loneliness with the help of campus resources. Sunny hopes by sharing difficulties with peers, they can be overcome, and feel a great sense of accomplishment when you look back and see their growth. Sunny was fortunate to live in different countries growing up, she was born in Seoul, lived in San Francisco, California, and Japan.
Jason Hirschey, Ph.D. student, Mechanical Engineering
"If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special." –Jim Valvano
Jason Hirshey moved from Covington, Washington to Georgia Tech in 2012 to complete his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Now a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering, Jason joined Grad Groups to introduce new students to Georgia Tech and Atlanta. As a Grad Groups Leader, Jason hopes he can help grad students hit the ground running, get more out of your time here, and enjoy grad school more. He states, “Whether you're here for a year or five, master's or PhD, take advantage of all the opportunities Georgia Tech and Atlanta has to offer”.
Michel Lacerda, Ph.D. student, Aerospace Engineering
“Non Ducor, Duco” ( translation: “I am not led, I lead”)
Michel Lacerda is a Ph.D. student in Aerospace Engineering. He is a specialist in Systems Engineering, Aircraft Design, and Advanced Systems. Michel has been part of the aerospace community for couple years and has made several scientific contributions in peer-reviewed papers and technical conferences. Michel believes that the key to succeed in graduate school is to have planning and time management skills.
Cynthia Lee, Ph.D. student, Civil Engineering
“If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” –Isaac Newton
Cynthia Lee hails from south New Jersey where she received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Tufts University in 2014 and a master’s degree in structural engineering from Stanford University in 2016. She loves rock climbing, Atlanta breweries, and taking the Beltline to Ponce City Market! She is very excited to meet this year’s incoming graduate students, to hear their stories and aspirations, and to share the highs and lows of graduate school with new people. She wants to remind new grad students (and herself) that asking for help where you need it – in coursework, research, or for your mental/physical well-being – is 100% ok!
Yao Ma, Ph.D. student, Chemical Engineering
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” –Tao Te Ching
Before beginning her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Georgia Tech, Yao Ma completed her bachelor's degree from Xiamen University and her master’s degree in chemical engineering from Zhejiang University in China. She believes that graduate education is not just about academic knowledge but also makes a big difference in your career. She states “Grad Groups is a beneficial program since it helps new grad students learn all the resources available at Georgia Tech and offers the opportunity to build relationships with other graduate students”.
Evan Mallen, Ph.D. student, City and Regional Planning
"A society grows great when old men plant trees" –Greek Proverb
Evan Mallen is a Ph.D. student in City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech. A Michigan native, Evan received a B.S. in Physics and a Master of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan. Evan teaches courses on Environmental Planning and Design, and is a researcher in the Urban Climate Lab. Evan's advice to incoming graduate students is that all advanced research is interdisciplinary, even when it doesn't seem so at first glance, so make connections across departments and you will reap the benefits of these varied perspectives. “Georgia Tech is a living, learning laboratory, and Grad Groups is a great way to make the most of your time here”.
Shekaib Musa, Ph.D. student, Mechanical Engineering
“Great achievement is a calculated sum of tiny little good works.” -SAM
Shekaib Musa is a fifth-year Ph.D. Student from Kabul, Afghanistan. He migrated to the US and eventually joined Georgia Tech where he received a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech. Shekaib’s advice for incoming graduate students is to keep good record of everything you ever do.
Sean Najmi, Ph.D. student, Chemical Engineering
"Falling down is not a failure. Failure comes when you stay where you have fallen." – Socrates
Sean Najmi grew up in Baltimore and attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where he obtained a B.S. in chemical engineering. Sean believes that graduate school is a roller coaster; by having a positive attitude and surrounding yourself with people who want to see you succeed makes a big difference in your graduate experience. Sean thinks that Grad Groups is a great opportunity to find build community early on to create a solid foundation in your graduate career and beyond.
Shannon Owings, Ph.D. student, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
"The best things in life aren't things" -Art Buchwald
Shannon Owings is a graduate student in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department. She grew up in Maryland and got a BS in Chemistry at the University of Delaware. Now an Atlanta resident, Shannon enjoys getting outside, listening to live music, and playing ultimate frisbee. She recommends new students to remember their passions and “the why” that lead them to graduate school as a means get through the stressful times. She thinks Grad Groups is beneficial because gives students a chance to build a community with other graduate students and learn the resources that Georgia Tech offers to help them succeed in grad school both professionally and personally.
Elaine Rhoades, Ph.D. student, Physics
"Be a student as long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life." – Henry L. Doherty
Prior to attending Georgia Tech for graduate school, Elaine Rhoades attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the Prescott campus where she graduated with a B.S. in Space Physics 2014. Elaine loves connecting with and mentoring first-year graduate students. As a returning Grad Group Leader, she is excited to help incoming graduate students work through their transition into graduate school and build relationships within the Georgia Tech community. Her advice for new grad students is that they should learn about and utilize the various resources offered on campus, never be afraid to ask for help and to take time care for themselves.
William Sealy, Ph.D. student, Robotics
"There are two rules for success: 1) Never tell anyone everything you know." - Roger Lincoln
Will Sealy earned a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering at North Carolina State University. Currently, he is a Ph.D. in the Robotics program, where he focuses on Human Judgment and Decision Making. His advice to new students two-fold: focus on your research early and join some clubs/organizations! It is easy to get caught up in the busy work of classes and grades, but that's not your metric of success anymore. Get connected on campus and find some students just like yourself that can help you study, blow off some steam, and that encourage you to succeed.
Kong Wong, Ph.D. student, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” -Douglas Adams
Kong Wong is a Greensboro, North Carolina native. He earned a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2012. Then worked at Intel in Chandler, Arizona as a process engineer. 2 years into his journey he decided to pivot and kickstart his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Georgia Tech. Kong believes work-life balance is essential to managing the challenging yet rewarding pursuit of a higher degree. As a Grad Group Leader, he hopes to aid incoming graduate students in finding organizations and activities outside of the lab to enjoy while navigating the stresses of beginning a graduate program.
Di Wu, Ph.D. student, Operations Research
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” –Albert Camus
Di Wu earned a B.A. in actuarial science and a B.S. in economics from the University of Minnesota in Twin Cities. Her current research focuses on trading strategies in the energy market and mechanism design. Di suggests new graduate students plan strategically for their graduate studies and network with older students and professionals. According to Di’s suggestions, “Graduate School is more stressful than undergraduate study, so it is important to find your balance between your studies and life. A good way to balance your stress is through meeting people and joining fun activities.” She believes that Grad Groups is the perfect place to interact with other graduate students and to help you get familiar with campus resources to succeed in graduate study.
Tongyang Yang, Ph.D. student, Economics
"I came, I saw, I conquered" -Julius Caesar
Before coming to Georgia Tech, Tongyang Yang received her M.S. degree in Applied Economics from the University of Georgia. Her research interests vary from development economics, international trade, to labor economics. As a Grad Group Leader, Tongyang suggests new graduate students join Grad Groups and take advantage of the available resources on campus for a smooth transition and onboarding experience. "In Grad Groups, new graduate students can learn how to balance life and work, deal with conflicts, and start career planning," she said. "All these can help you quickly get accustomed to graduate life at Georgia Tech and plan for your future."