Spotlight on Women Graduate Student Success and Impact

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Graduate Student Leaders

Arts & Sciences GSO (2020/21)

Chloë O. Glover, 4th year Ph.D. student in Geology and Environmental Science, A&S GSO President. Chloë is "passionate about playing an active role in advocating for [her] fellow graduate students in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences" and has "gathered information from graduate students regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion... to create a plan of action to address the concerns of graduate students." Lacey Rzodkiewicz, 3rd year Ph.D. student in Biological Sciences, is A&S GSO Vice President.  


Graduate & Professional Student Government (GPSG, 2020-2022):

Morgan Pierce, Ph.D. student in History, specializing on colonial Latin America. Currently serving on the DSAS Graduate Council as well as in the role of VP Committees, GPSG, Morgan reflects on her journey to participatory leadership and advocacy: “Entering college as a first gen student, I found the inner workings of universities fascinating. I realized pretty quickly that student leaders were an important part of university governance, and that by taking a leadership role I could advocate for students like me. I think that student leadership is an important part of the higher education system, and I encourage anyone who has been interested in higher ed to consider running for office!” In 2021/22, Morgan serves as President of GPSG.


Amanda Leifson, Ph.D. student in Political Science, with research interests in American politics and political behavior. As GPSG Executive Administrator, Amanda provides administrative and analytical support to students, leaders, and university administration, including via research on graduate student policy. She shares her experience that there are common “concerns, struggles, and experiences of being a female graduate student across the university. I have also learned that my voice is important at the university in advocating for change. Working with GPSG and the many other dedicated female graduate students leaders over the last couple of years has clearly demonstrated to me that our perspectives and voices are important at the table."


Dietrich School Diversity Task Force (2020/21): 

Candice Robinson, Ph.D. student in Sociology. Candice built towards her student leadership “through personal and professional experiences. Growing up, it was normal to see my older sisters, mother, aunts, and grandmother give money, food, shelter, or a positive recommendation to those in need in hopes that it would be one step towards their survival and success. As a first generation doctoral student, I have benefited from similar kindness. Graduate student colleagues, faculty, staff, and countless scholars have shared information about navigating the academy and opened doors for my success. Anchored in a system of community building, I have learned throughout my life the importance of small tasks all that of us can do to help one another and inconspicuously challenge inequalities.” Candice’s PhD dissertation, “Be The Movement: An Ethnography of the National Urban League, Black Movement Communities, and the Black Middle Class”, explores the narratives that members of the Black Middle Class construct about the unpaid labor they do in support of community."  As a scholar, Candice reflects, "I am captivated by the everyday activities conducted to help others and challenge inequality.” * Update 2021: Congratulations, Dr. Robinson!

Julisa Rozon, Ph.D. student in Chemistry, investigating dynamics in doubly-polymerized ionic liquids.



WISE@PittWISEGSO – Pitt’s Women in Science and Engineering GSO

WISE promotes the voices, community, and career advancement of women scientists across the University of Pittsburgh. The leaders of WISE are committed to "creating space for women to come together in an intersectional way that celebrates the diversity of our experiences and provides support through the challenges we face."  (see also: university resources)

Castilleja Olmsted, President. Castilleja studies the soil seed banks of forest plant communities and the genetic diversity of crop plants as a Ph.D. student in the Carson lab. She is also pursuing a graduate certificate in Latin American Studies. As WISE president, she prioritizes building a diverse, supportive community to celebrate accomplishments, support each other through challenges, and provide programming that helps members make connections and learn strategies that benefit their personal and professional growth long-term.

Veronica Iriart, Vice President.  An NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Veronica explores the effects of herbiced drift on plant, microbe and pollinator communities with and interest in eco-evo dynamics in the Ashman Lab (Biological Sciences). In WISE, Veronica aspires to help women from diverse backgrounds and interests succeed in graduate school and beyond.


Jahree Sosa, Public Relations. Jahree is a graduate student in the Berman Lab where she studies the impact of cancer-associated mutations on the function of the RNA-binding protein LARP1. Serving as Public Relations Chair for WISE, Jahree works to build community, amplify marginalized voices, and encourage diverse solutions to systemic modes of disenfranchisement.


Maria Mucci, Business Manager. A fifth year graute student in Physics and Astronomy originally from Stony Brook, New York, Maria Mucci spent undergraduate years at Boston University where she focused on biophysics research. Currently a student in the Hatlab, she works on creating interesting states of light using parametric couplings to manipulate qubit states.




Recent Dietrich School AAUW Graduate Fellowship Recipients

Gabrielle Rajerison (English, 2020-21)

"Rumors of Madagascar: Aesthetic Sensation and the Entanglement of Diaspora”

Robin Zwier (Communication, 2020-21)

“Making Maternal Mortality Public: Reproductive Bodies in Research, Media, and Policy.” Pittwire

Nicole Scalissi (History of Art and Architecture, 2017-18)

“Something to See Here: Staging Violence in Contemporary Art.” 

Dr. Scalissi currently serves as Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art History, UNC Greensboro.

Mathematical, Physical, Life, and Behavioral Sciences

see also Whittington Fellows in Economics, Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy, Statistics

PACWC's Spotlight on Women Leaders - Graduate Students  [Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns]


Amber Griffith

Ph.D., Biological Sciences, 2019, as the first African American woman to graduate from her Ph.D. program. Dr. Griffith, who also served as A&S GSO President, is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate studying autoimmune diseases in the Kendall lab at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.


Recent Dietrich School NSF Graduate Research Fellows:

NSF Graduate Research Fellowships 2021

Karen Y Peralta Martinez (organismal biology), Sara Jaramillo (cognitive psychology).

NSF Graduate Research Fellowships 2020

Veronica Iriart (ecology), Anne Maheux (development psychology), Rachel Anne Reeb (ecology).

NSF Graduate Research Fellowships 2019

Tiffany Lynn Betras (ecology); Shirley Duong (developmental psychology); Samantha Fontaine (evolutionary biology); Esther Esmeralda Palacios-Barrios (developmental psychology, also: Ford Foundation Fellow, 2019); Samantha Shablin (ecology). 

Social Sciences

GIRL@PITT: Graduate students in Sociology and Political Science collaborate as part of a multi-generational team of Social Scientists from the Dietrich School and GSPIA to advance policy-relevant research on gender equality worldwide in Pitt’s Gender Inequality Research Lab (GIRL@Pitt).  

Current graduate students collaborating with GIRL include Kanoko Kamata, Ph.D. student in Sociology, and holder of a prestigious scholarship from the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program (JJ/WBGSP). This award recognizes scholars who are dedicated to the alleviation of poverty and enhanced shared prosperity in developing countries. Kamata, co-founder of Chabujo, a grassroots feminist organisation based in Tokyo, helped change Japan's 110-year-old sex crime laws. She is also co-founder and former executive director of Community Organizing Japan. A graduate of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Nihon University, Tokyo, Kamata's publications include Community Organizing: 5 Steps to Create the Future You Want (Eiji Press, 2020) and "Civic Lawmaking: The Case of the Domestic Violence Movement in Japan," Asia Pacific Journal, 16:21 (2018).  Kamata discussed her research on a panel on “Civil Society and Policy Advocacy in Contemporary East Asia” (Oct. 2020). 

Joint research of Economics faculty member Drs Stefania Albanesi and Rania Gihleb and graduate students Jialin Hou and Jiyeon Kim was featured in The Wall Street Journal, “Coronavirus Employment Shock Hits Women Harder Than Men.” (May 2020).

Arts and Humanities

In summer 2020, Eve Barden (Film & Media Studies/Slavic) worked with Monument Lab to produce educational videos on historical topics for Dr. Patricia Eunji Kim’s Queens Who Rule (QWR), an emerging multi-media public history platform that brings life to the art, stories, and political experiences of women throughout history. Read her Reflective Essay. Eve's doctoral research focuses on Eastern European animators and avant-garde filmmakers.




At the Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth project in UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult MedicineDominique Branson (Linguistics) is analyzing and synthesizing data related to Black girls' experiences and involvement with the juvenile justice system in Allegheny County to develop an equity report that informs Pittsburgh stakeholders about ways to better serve at-risk Black girls in the city. Read her reflections about her 2020 summer immersive through Humanities Engage.



Treviene Harris (English) shares her reflections on how she has been using her experience in advocacy, research, and community involvement to provide Fresh Spirit Wellness for Women, a domestic violence counseling agency, with administrative assistance in database management, grant research, and grant writing.  Treviene's doctoral research explores form, function, and representation of sound in 20th-century Caribbean fiction.




In 2020, Taylor Waits (English) collaborated with Radical Monarchs  on grant tracking, database management, and communications for the non-profit organization that serves as an alternative to the Scout movement for girls of color, aged 8-13. Check out her reflections on the Humanities Engage website.  Waits's research examines the Black womxn's digital rhetorics and activist networks. 






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