2016-2017 Teacher-Scholars

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Chris Brown (History)
Chris Brown is a Ph.D. candidate in Latin American History at Emory University. His doctoral dissertation, Envisioning the City through Soccer in the Brazilian Amazon, analyzes the interplay between sport, politics, and urbanism in Manaus, Brazil. Stadiums, soccer clubs, and sporting commentary helped shape public policy and cultural dynamics in Manaus, a city at the geographic and symbolic heart of the Brazilian Amazon. Before arriving in Atlanta as a Fulbright Postgraduate Student, Chris received a BA (Nottingham) and MSc (Oxford) in the United Kingdom, and previously worked with the British Council in Chile and China.
Brian DiPalma (Religion)
Brian Charles DiPalma recently graduated from the Hebrew Bible course of study in the Graduate Division of Religion. Focusing on masculinities in the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East, his current research explores the court tales of Daniel while engaging feminist scholarship, queer theory, and critical masculinity studies. Prior to his work at Emory, he completed an M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary and a B.A. at Fresno Pacific University, double-majoring in classics and biblical studies. 
Ryan Fics (Comparative literature)

Ryan C. P. Fics is a 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Comparative Literature. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree (honors) and a Master of Arts degree in Religious studies from the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, Canada. In Canada, Ryan’s research explored how the expression “the animal” has been used as a metaphor in the history of western political, philosophical, theological discourses to de-value different types of lives. Building on his previous research, Ryan’s dissertation project gathers historical evidence from numerous fields across the humanities and the sciences to show that philosophical, biological, and political classification systems, and other ways of organizing living organisms, have not only assisted in the profoundly unethical treatment of animals, but also the systematic use, abuse, and extermination of human lives deemed “sub-human” and “animalistic” (for instance the public spectacle of Carl Hagenbeck’s human zoos, Eugenics programs, and the death camps in World-War II). Ryan’s dissertation project continues to explore how the metaphor of “the animal” continues to be used in different disciplines and the media to determine who is not human and should therefore be excluded from basic living needs, “rights,” education, and “civil” society more generally.

Ryan hopes that his dissertation project will one day contribute to the on going efforts of scholars who are working tirelessly to deconstruct exclusionary ways of thinking for the purpose of creating more critical and creative methods for conducting research that are inclusionary, and less violent.

Daniel García Ulloa (Computer Science)

Daniel is a PhD candidate in Computer Science and Informatics. He has a degree in Applied Mathematics from the Mexican Autonomous Institute of Technology and a Master's degree in Computer Science from Emory University. His research focuses in integrating data from multiple sources into an accurate representation. He has worked in the Central Bank of Mexico, as a fellow in Data Science for Social Good in Georgia Tech, and in the University of California, San Diego, building a recommender system. 

Ixavier Higgins (Biostatistics)
Ixavier is a 4th year PhD student in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics.  He obtained a B.S. in Mathematical Economics and a M.A. in Mathematics from Wake Forest University (GO DEACS!!!).  He is an active member of the Center for Biomedical Imaging Statistics, which primarily develops statistical methods to analyze brain imaging data.  His work explores the application of network analysis to resting state fMRI.  In particular, he develops statistical tools to analyze the topological organization of the human brain in depressed and healthy populations.   Additionally, he is interested in prediction methods, specifically for forecasting treatment response to medication in Major Depressive Disorder.  
Xinru Huang (Physics)
I am a 5th year PhD candidate from physics department at Emory University. China born, American brewed. I developed my interest in polymer physics here on studying how different confinements change the collective behavior of polymer matrix. What happens if you make things small? My module is going to explain how color, viscoelasticity, state of existence, phases evolve in polymers thin films via food demos including liquid nitrogen ice-cream, cotton candy, jam… Let’s learn some polymer physics as well as feeding your belly!
Erica Landis (Neuroscience)
I am a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at Emory. As an undergrad I thought I wanted to go to medical school but I got the research bug while studying the bacteria found in glacier melt water on Mt. Rainier. Doing that research got me interested in how our interactions with the environment impact our health and how our laws and cultural practices mediate those interactions. This interest lead me to Machelle Pardue’s lab here at Emory where I study how environmental light, like sunlight, controls the development of the eye and impacts the risk for nearsightedness. In addition to research, I am very interested in teaching and worked as an Innovative Teaching Fellow researching how best to teach science to students who aren’t all that interested in science and have been able to teach a number of topics to junior high students and undergraduates alike.  
Dave Mathews (Immunology)
My name is Dave Mathews (like the band) and I'm an MD/PhD candidate, studying how and why transplanted organs are rejected. This helps us develop drugs and tools to detect and stop rejection from happening. In addition, I think the T cell, a specific and critical immune cell that protects you from cancer and infection, is elegant, and beautiful and I am spending my graduate years getting to know T cells intimately (they are largely responsible transplant rejection). I really enjoy the humanity in medicine and surgery, and the creativity in science. Outside of this, I am involved at my church, Trinity Anglican Mission. I like beer and cheeseburgers. I have a ridiculous dog who chews up my furniture but means well. I'm currently reading "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace. 

Stephanie Miedema (Sociology)

Stephanie is a 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Sociology. Her dissertation focuses on mental health outcomes among sexual minorities in the Asia-Pacific region, and the mediating role of stigma, discrimination and violence. At Emory, Stephanie is also involved in research on trauma-informed yoga with survivors of sexual assault; testing the measurement properties of international, cross-country measures of women's empowerment; and studying same-sex practices and female masculinity among women in Thailand. Prior to Emory, Stephanie worked as a technical research advisor to the United Nations and other international organizations, coordinating and supporting research on intimate partner violence, women’s empowerment and violence prevention. When she’s not in the office, Stephanie teaches and studies yoga, and experiments with baking.

Sam Peters (Environmental Health Sciences)

I am a 2nd year PhD student in Environmental Health Sciences at Rollins School of Public Health. I grew up in Wisconsin, obtained a B.A. in Chemistry from St. Olaf College, and traveled and worked on organic farms before starting graduate school at Emory. My research revolves around the environmental health effects of agricultural, specifically the greenhouse gas emissions of sustainable versus traditional techniques. Outside of school and research, I enjoy creative writing, reading a good book, and anything outdoors.


Kaytlin Renfro (Psychology)

I am a sixth year doctoral candidate in the Neuroscience and Animal Behavior program. I received my undergraduate degree from Knox College in 2011, where I studied the relationship between women’s use of the birth control pill and their sensitivity to social and environmental odors. Following graduation, I joined Dr. Kim Wallen’s lab here at Emory to continue work on the relationship between ovarian steroids and women’s responses to social and sexual stimuli. In my dissertation work, I am studying whether women’s hormonal states are related to their neural and behavioral responses to reward stimuli. Outside of the lab, I enjoy exploring Atlanta via bicycle, eating guacamole, and finding novel uses for Microsoft Powerpoint.  


Nicole Varga (Psychology)

Nicole completed her doctorate in Cognitive and Developmental Psychology at Emory University in March 2016 and began her postdoctoral fellowship shortly thereafter. Through her undergraduate research at Ursinus College which focused on the importance of keeping episodes separate in memory in order to avoid memory errors, she became increasingly interested in the potential benefit of memory integration for learning and knowledge development. As a result, her current research investigates how individuals generate new factual knowledge through integration of separate yet related episodes. Using behavioral measures and electroencephalography (EEG) with both children and adults, her research specifically addresses how brain-wide neuronal activity is coordinated to support productive knowledge extension across development, as well as how variability in these cognitive and neural mechanisms across individuals relates to academically-relevant achievement. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys running. 


Alison Weiss (Psychology)

Alison is a 5th-year PhD candidate in the Psychology program. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Reed College in 2005, and went on to work at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, studying menopause and cognition in aged female monkeys. In 2012, she joined the lab of Dr. Jocelyne Bachevalier at Emory. Alison’s dissertation research is focused on the cognitive mechanisms that are important for learning & memory, and how the neuroanatomical basis of these psychological processes develops/changes from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. Broadly, her work informs our understanding of complex neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.