Leadership Fellows 2016-2017

Bethany Blakely Small

Bethany Blakely – Biological Sciences

Engaging community members with the ecosystems around them is an important step toward public awareness of and support for environmental problem solving. In cooperation with the Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility (ND-LEEF) and St. Patrick’s Park I will organize a suite of outreach efforts focused on three components: planning and leading a high-school level seminar on environmental sensing, working with St. Patrick’s park to plan educational hikes at ND-LEEF, and overseeing the preparation and publication of audiovisual media on my lab’s ND-LEEF research.  Through these programs, I hope to introduce young people to environmental science, improve local resident’s appreciation of their area ecosystems and the ways in which they are studied, and further strengthen the relationships between the University of Notre Dame, St. Patrick’s Park, and the wider South Bend community.


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Jenna Davidson – Biological Sciences

I am developing a medical entomology laboratory course to be implemented in Spring 2016 in the Department of Biological Sciences. A majority of the biology undergraduate students at Notre Dame hope to attend medical school. This laboratory course will teach students how to identify insects to species that spread disease among humans, explain the morphology and life cycle of pathogens in humans and arthropods, and describe the general clinical course, pathology, and epidemiology of multiple arthropod-borne human diseases. Utilizing my platform as a teaching assistant, I will teach students to think Independently and solve problems critically while encouraging a collaborative learning environment. The long-term goal of my practicum is to provide a working knowledge of medically important insects as a tool for my students’ careers. 


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Jamee Elder – History and Philosophy of Science

Within the Reilly Center for Science Technology and Values, I will focus on the development of the 2017 “Reilly Top 10” list of ethical dilemmas and policy issues in science and technology (reillytop10.com). This project requires input from a range of sources about the most pressing emerging issues in science and technology; once the topics have been selected, I will research and promote the list both within the Notre Dame community and beyond to further the conversation. Through this project, I hope to develop some of the skills required to provide public leadership on ethical issues in science and technology, while contributing to the fulfillment of one of the main goals of the “Top 10” list engaging as many people as possible in important discussions about the challenges (and opportunities!) at the intersection of science and society.


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Cate Flanley – Integrated Biomedical Sciences

Collaboration and communication are the ties that bind my two practicum experiences together. The Integrated Biomedical Sciences (IBMS) program is still in its infancy and leadership opportunities are slowly being creating for the graduate students. This year, I will serve as the student representative on the IBMS Steering and Admissions Committee. The IBMS graduate student population is a diverse group coming from different areas of the world, each with a unique story and perspective. My goal is to effectively communicate between the students and the faculty to continue the program’s steady growth. My second practicum experience is to host an Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science workshop in collaboration with Chelsea McCallister, a fellow IBMS student and a Social Responsibility of Researchers fellow. Our collaboration will bring a unique, engaging, and informative communication workshop to Notre Dame.


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Karla Gonzalez – Electrical Engineering

I am taking on super-user responsibilities for an atomic force microscopy system in an argon glovebox. This role involves training new users from many disciplines and levels of study to operate this delicate system safely. Advising on optimizing its parameters for a particular sample, and supervising its use and system status. I am also taking on more maintenance responsibilities as the previous superuser approaches graduation. In addition to my work in the lab, my practicum will focus on mentoring prospective and incoming electrical engineering graduate students and women in STEM.


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Maryann Kwakwa – Political Science

I intend to use my teaching assistant (T.A.) assignments throughout the 2016-2017 academic year as my leadership practicum. The T.A. position will allow me to utilize the leadership skills I acquire during this course. For the upcoming fall semester, I will be a T.A. for professors Geoffrey Layman and David Campbell’s undergraduate, Political Science course “Election 2016”. In addition to attending classes and holding office hours, I will be leading one discussion section every Friday throughout the semester.


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Gabe LaBonia – Chemistry

Serving as Social Chair for the Notre Dame Graduate Student Union will be the focus of my practicum.  As Social Chair, I will be responsible for offering a range of social events that accommodate the diversity of the Graduate Student Union, and for overseeing and planning the annual GSU Charity Gala.  The GSU is an active and supportive part of the graduate school experience at Notre Dame and I hope to apply the techniques and newfound expertise I will gain through EL-STEM to my leadership role in this organization.  Participating in the EL-STEM program will enable me to continue my growth and education beyond the text books and laboratory and I am thankful to be given the privilege of participating in this program. 


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Sarah Lum – Chemistry

The Crossing is a high school in downtown South Bend that gives students from difficult socioeconomic backgrounds a second chance to earn their high school degree. The school excels in instructing and nurturing students to personal and academic excellence but lacks the resources to help students land career jobs (or pursue higher education) after they graduate. I propose to design a career counseling program focusing on college preparation that works with seniors one-on-one to give them a solid foundation to pursue their dream careers. In the fall, students will begin by taking personality, strengths and career assessments to help them determine their interests and begin drafting resumes. Mid-semester, college admissions counselors from Ivy Tech and IUSB will speak with juniors and seniors and roadmap a timeline for college prep. We will host a FAFSA session in the winter and aim to have graduating seniors begin applying for college or jobs by early 2017. I will assist in drafting college essays as well as cover letters with the objective of launching students on a personalized and attainable trajectory upon graduation. 


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Jeremy Mann – Mathematics

My practicum will have two components. The first is to teach calculus to a group of sharp offenders at Westville Correctional Facility. This will be part of Holy Cross and Notre Dame’s Westville Educational Initiative, which offers a select group of offenders the opportunity to earn a liberal art’s degree. The second component will be an effort to promote interdisciplinary dialogues. I’m currently co-organizing a seminar which will explore applications of category theory to philosophy and it’s philosophical implications.


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Michelle Marvin – History and Philosophy of Science

My leadership practicum will focus on creating an ethics-based leadership course for a ‘Faith in Training’ program at the Vineyard Church in Mishawaka, an approximately 1500-person congregation where I currently serve in a leadership role on the Worship Team. Titled “Go and Do Likewise,” the modules that I propose to develop in collaboration with a co-teacher are founded on the Biblical text of the ‘Good Samaritan’ to provide a faith-based approach to everyday ethics. This course will explore the way that value judgments influence our responses to a variety of commonplace situations, and will identify ethical strategies for decision making that assist in the formation of Christian character. I hope to advance my own leadership skills in the area of theological and ethical education while helping to further the Christian formation and ethical character of those who participate in this course.  


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Josh Mason – Biological Sciences

My practicum is designed to enhance my leadership within the laboratory as I gain experience with administrative responsibilities, such as ordering products for the laboratory, managing a grant budget, scheduling laboratory meetings and helping to allocate laboratory responsibilities/jobs. During this process, I hope to become more adaptable as a leader, continue to build professional and working relationships within the laboratory, and solidify my career aspirations.


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Tom Meyers – History

To deepen my engagement with Notre Dame’s core values, I will organize and facilitate an interdisciplinary reading and writing group focused on the relationship between science and religion and it’s central role in many problems facing contemporary society including ethical dilemmas that arise in the pursuit of new scientific technologies, such as embryonic stem cell research, genetic engineering, pharmaceutical production, and many others. The contested areas in science may be well known in the public sphere, but, there are equally troublesome issues that face the humanities and social sciences. Political scientists, political philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists must contend with scientific values and how they conflict or coincide with the past, present and future of different religious worldviews and in Western conflicts with radical non-Western groups. These issues are equally important to historians of science and religion. Historians provide a unique perspective on the origins of the relationship between science and religion over time and across cultures allowing theorists to glean insights into the origins of conflicts and concords between religion and new ideas, science, and technologies.


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Triet Nguyen – Biochemistry

Women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers earn an average of 30% more than those with non-STEM careers. Consequently, the gender wage gap is significantly smaller in STEM fields yet women currently represent only a quarter of the STEM workforce. This complex issue calls for mentoring relationships that support women throughout their academic and professional experiences. For my leadership practicum, I plan to organize a STEM mentorship program for female undergraduate students at Notre Dame. In this yearlong initiative, female students are paired with female graduate students and faculty based on individual career inspirations. With the support of the College of Science and the Notre Dame chapter of the Association of Women in Science, the program will be a venue for these students to explore career possibilities in STEM. Alongside this one-on-one mentoring, there will be meet-and-greet activities and career talks. I will build development goals that mentors can individualize for their mentees and ultimately create a sustainable mentoring network.


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Hallie Nuzum – Psychology

I will be assuming the role of Lab Manager for the Center for Advanced Measurement of Personality and Psychopathology (CAMPP Lab) during a time of transition, as the lab concludes a five-year grant project. As Lab Manager I will be responsible for recruiting and mentoring undergraduate students, mobilizing other graduate students, leading weekly meetings, organizing the data-cleaning process, managing participant databases, and eventually training a successor.


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Siva Seetharaman – Electrical Engineering

The percentage of women choosing to pursue graduate education in STEM has remained extremely low, despite the increasing number of women choosing STEM majors at the undergraduate level. This attrition rate is largely due to the lack of successful role models and mentors for women in this stage of their career. As part of my EL-STEM project, I will set up an outreach program that connects women undergraduate students at Notre Dame to mentors who can help them through the challenges of taking the first step toward a STEM graduate degree. A survey will allow me to study the specific mentorship needs of the students and connect them to suitable mentors from the graduate student community. Feedback from the participants in the program will further tailor the mentoring process.
In the long term, I plan to extend this mentorship program to communities beyond Notre Dame, particularly in developing countries like my home country India.


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Carolyn Shirey – Biochemistry

I plan to volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club of St. Joseph County in support of their goal to inspire young people, to realize their potential as caring and responsible citizens.  This will provide an opportunity for me to tutor children, help with homework, and promote an active lifestyle.  I aim to have a positive influence on children in the local community and promote the STEM fields as a fun, exciting, and rewarding career path.