Students Advising on Graduate Education (SAGE) is a student advisory board and leadership opportunity for graduate students at Illinois that fosters active engagement with Graduate College programs and initiatives. SAGE board members enrich graduate student community, build leadership and administrative skills, and strengthen Graduate College services and programs.
This board contributes to the graduate student community at Illinois by providing varied perspectives that enhance the academic, professional, and social experience of graduate students at the university and collaborating with Graduate College staff on a project related to a program, initiative, or the broader goals of the college.
As we embark on a new academic year, we are excited to introduce our 2018 - 2019 SAGE board:
Akshat Puri is a fourth year PhD student in the Physics department, and is a part of the ATLAS collaboration at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN). His work involves studying large amounts of data generated from colliding heavy ion heavy ions. When he is not coding in Loomis, he is either practicing on the dance floor for his next ballroom dance competition or in the kitchen trying out a new recipe.
Ashlie Santaliz-Casiano is a second year PhD student. Her research focuses on understanding the differential tumor microenvironment in breast cancer patients among race groups. She hopes her work will serve for novel therapeutic interventions to bridge the racial disparities gap between breast cancer patients and their outcomes. She aspires to become a mentor in her field and make science more accessible and inclusive. She is enthusiastic about culture exchange, fascinated by anthropology, and a passionate learner. In her spare time she likes to play guitar, read, journal, and listen to podcasts. She is a fan of documenting moments so you’ll always see her recording videos and taking pictures.
Christy Verhelst is a PhD student in Spanish literature, specializing in late 19th/early 20th century Iberian literature. Her research interests include literary representations of disability and emotions. Christy enjoys singing, comedy songwriting, baking, and crafts.
Kaylee Hahn is a second year graduate student pursuing a PhD in Nutritional Sciences. Her research focuses on the relationship between early life nutrition and immune development in neonatal pigs. In her free time, Kaylee enjoys hiking, yoga, and spending time with friends.
Kara Francis is a second year online doctoral student in Learning Design and Leadership and resides in Minnetonka, MN. She is developing an online community of practice model to connect online graduate students with relevant resources and people to facilitate social and scholarly connections and collaboration beyond their courses. She is also a consultant who partners with organizations to implement social collaboration and learning solutions using online communities. She enjoys stamping home-made cards, attending MN Twins games, and spending time with her husband, Luke and five-year old son, Tyler.
Katie Frye is a fourth year graduate student pursing a PhD in the department of Microbiology. Her research focuses on the enzymes that the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus uses to defend against oxidative stress during infection. She hopes that by better understanding the mechanisms S. aureus uses to evade the host immune response, improved therapeutics can be developed. When she is not in the lab, Katie enjoys riding horses, spending time with friends, and enjoying the outdoors with her boyfriend, Diego, and their long-haired dachshund, Lexi.
Kelsey LeFevour is a 2x graduate of the University of Illinois and current PhD student in Recreation, Sport and Tourism with a research interest in Paralympic sport development. She is also a current member of the University of Illinois Wheelchair Track and Road Racing Team. In 2016, Kelsey made her Paralympic Team debut, competing in Rio de Janeiro with Team USA. The University of Illinois has a historic tradition of advocacy for people with disabilities, both on campus and around the world, and she is grateful to be part of that legacy and is so proud to be an Illini!
Laura Cummings is a second year PhD student in Spanish Linguistics. Her research focuses on the bilingual development of child second language learners and heritage speakers of Spanish. In addition, she is interested in second language education and translation. Laura is an avid traveler, and spends her free time traveling throughout the United States and abroad.
Liqian Ma is a third year PhD student in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology. Her research focuses on investigating the mechanism by which a cholesterol metabolite, 27-hydroxycholesterol, promotes breast cancer metastasis, and she hopes that her work can help develop preventative measures targeting metastatic breast cancer. In her free time, she loves traveling, hiking, exploring palatable food, and cooking tasty food.
Marcelo Kuyumjian is a DMA candidate in the Jazz Studies program at UIUC and 2018-19 Graduate Fellow at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities for his dissertation “Performing Samba: Aesthetics, Transnational Modernisms, and Race”. His research focuses on transnational practices of black music between Brazil and the United States. He is interested in exploring the intersections between performance and research and is currently developing an artistic and scholarly project titled Jazz and Black Music of the Americas.
Maryam Khademian is a fifth year graduate student in the department of Microbiology. Her research focuses on oxidative stress and anaerobic respiration. She tries to understand why organisms have so many different enzymes to degrade hydrogen peroxide, using genetic and biochemical approaches. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and discussing books, painting, biking, and hiking in Champaign heights.
Meera Zukosky is a fourth year graduate student pursuing a PhD in Psychology. She is in the Attention and Perception Division with a research focus on mind wandering and how it relates to attention. Meera completed her undergraduate studies at Illinois, and then worked as an AmeriCorps member in Arizona. When Meera isn’t in the lab, she loves going on outdoor adventures, traveling, and riding her bike.
Na Ri Shin is a fifth year doctoral student at the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, with a concentration in sport management. Her research agenda lies in the critical understanding of sport and development, with links to the process of globalization in particular. She aims to enhance an understanding of how globalization changes and impacts the ways in which we manage sport and development, both development of sport and through sport. She loves to walks, cook, and brewery hop, as she is a self-described enthusiastic beer snob.
Prahallad Badami is a first year graduate student pursuing dual Masters in Architecture and Urban Planning with concentrations in High Performance Building and Sustainable Planning. He hopes to respond holistically to the needs of the built environment and work towards the creation of an equitable and sustainable society. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, reading, and binge-watching TV shows.
Reshmina William is a third year PhD student in Civil Engineering, with a concentration in Environmental Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering (EHHE). Her research focuses on urban sustainability and the characterization of green practices to tackle water quality and urban flooding. In her free time, Reshmina volunteers as an ESL instructor with the Wesley Foundation, and sings with the Lesbian/Feminist community chorus Amasong.
Sarah Lyons is a second year graduate student perusing a Master of Healthcare Administration. Upon graduation, she hopes to become a hospital administrator or healthcare executive. Her areas of interest include researching methods to reduce the length of a patient’s overall hospital stay and identifying perioperative best practice measures. In her free time Sarah enjoys spending time with friends and family, cooking, crafts, and anything outdoors.
Sriramya Bhamidipati is a second year PhD student in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. She received her Master’s degree from Illinois in 2017. She obtained her B.Tech. with honors in Aerospace and minor in Systems and Controls from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India in 2015. Her research is related to developing signal processing and machine learning algorithms that provide robust and attack-resilient PNT solutions with applications to power systems and UAVs. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano, reading novels, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
Stephanie Schramm is a second-year graduate student pursuing a Masters in Environmental Engineering. She is most interested in examining the metabolic properties of microalgae in order to further nutrient recovery and biofuel production technologies. She hopes to use to skills she learns at Illinois to develop better bioprocessing techniques for water treatment and energy production systems. Stephanie will take every opportunity she can to travel somewhere new and enjoys reading and playing softball in her free time.
Sulagna Chakraborty is a third year PhD student pursuing the program in Infectious Diseases Epidemiology from the Department of Kinesiology & Community Health. Her research is focused on vector borne diseases globally. She wants to combine her backgrounds in microbiology, social media, and public health towards a future career as both a chronic disease and infectious disease epidemiologist. She is an avid traveler and an amateur poet and writer, and she loves to sample different cuisines, dance, and make meaningful connections with people.
Tanitoluwa Akinbode is a second year MSc student in Community Health Science. Her primary research interests are in perinatal trends and mental health in women and children with disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. She is particularly passionate about the girl-child and women empowerment and hopes to help develop health interventions that would benefit underprivileged women and children in the future. She loves to travel, read, plan events, and cook and enjoys binge watching true crime and medical documentaries when she has free time.