Meet our students:

Sevda Arslan

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Sevda Arslan is a PhD student in Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. She has a strong interest for people; including their languages, cultures, and way of thinking and living life. Currently her research centers on identity construction of migrant and minority communities in Germany and Turkey by focusing on cultural expression and socio-political factors.

Emmanuel Cannady


Emmanuel Bernard Cannady is a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Notre Dame studying questions on racial discrimination, social movements, and gender/sexuality. His current projects include researching the role of a victim’s family structure (adopted or biological) in predicting whether or not they will receive help in instances of racial discrimination and an ethnography of creating a Black Lives Matter chapter.  Emmanuel lives in South Bend, Indiana with his partner and cat named Meatloaf.

JJ Christofferson

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JJ Christofferson is a die-hard skateboarder and graduate student in sociology at Notre Dame. He does research in local neighborhood settings to better understand how neighborhood identity is produced in local settings, with an eye to how feelings of authenticity are sustained. 

Colin Dassow

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Colin is a first year biology PhD student from Southeastern Wisconsin conducting research on anthropogenic impacts on lakes, particularly fisheries. He specifically thinks about how these impacts affect interactions between evolution of fish and ecology in aquatic ecosystems. Long term, the results of his research will help preserve and improve aquatic ecosystems in the face of a changing climate.

Brenna Gomer

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Brenna is enjoying the end of her first year in graduate school in quantitative psychology under Ke-Hai Yuan. She studies robust statistical methods with violated assumptions. Her perfect day concludes with snuggling cats.


Megan Levis


Megan Levis is a biomedical engineer who studies living tissue growth and wound regeneration. Megan wants to facilitate cross-disciplinary discourse relating to topics in science and philosophy. She is interested in engineering policy, ethics and science literacy. 


Qimin Liu

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Qimin graduated from University of Washington as a triple major in psychology, mathematics, and philosophy. He is currently a PhD student at University of Notre Dame department of psychology. He studies methodology and statistics that help advance psychological science. Besides research, he is good at eating and sleeping.

Brandy Sky Martinez

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Brandy is a third-year Clinical psychology student at the University of Notre Dame. At the broadest level, she investigates healthy ways to cope with stress. Her current work examines the use of religion/spiritual coping and mindfulness-mediation as adaptive stress management strategies.

Rachel Miller

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Rachel is a third-year graduate student in the department of biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame. She is interested in using biological systems to address the need for analytical devices in technology-limited settings, such as the developing world. She is passionate about bridging gaps, whether it means adapting technologies to be more user-friendly or making science more accessible to the public.

Maria Cristina Miranda Vergara

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Maria Cristina Miranda Vergara is a third year graduate student in Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, who works everyday in research to positively impact the lives of breast cancer patients. She stands for leadership in science through education and service. Maria Cristina lives in South Bend with her husband Gerardo.

Andrea Pena-Vasquez


Andrea is a second-year student in the department of Political Science and a Graduate Student Affiliate at the Kellogg Institute of International Studies. Her area of specialization is Comparative Politics with regional focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa and Western Europe. Her research considers the role of states in the social, economic, and political integration of transnational migrants, especially through their immigration policies.

Kayla Pierce

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Kayla Pierce is pursuing a PhD in Sociology at the University of Notre Dame.  She researches status hierarchies, identity and emotions.  She lives in Indiana with her husband, Richard, and her mutt, Socy.

Joyce Rivera-Gonzalez

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Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Joyce Rivera-González is an Anthropology Ph.D. student at the University of Notre Dame. Her research tackles the intriguing and complex ways humans and nonhuman animals interact with each other, as well as how cultural and ecological processes both influence and are influenced by these relationships. When she is not recording monkeys’ behavior or interviewing people, Joyce is still grappling with human-animal relationships in the form of Bowie, her 11-month-old pup, and Carlos, her human partner.

Ilana Rothkopf 

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Ilana is a PhD student in International Relations and Comparative Politics.  Her research interests include international law, foreign policy, and human rights, particularly: how and under what circumstances legitimacy is conferred (or denied) in International Relations, which foreign policy tools actors utilize to demand compliance with international norms, the strategic use of sanctions as instruments of coercive diplomacy, and how these concepts converge in conflict circumstances.  Previously, Ilana completed an M.Sc. in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a B.A. in Political Science and Middle East Studies at McGill University.  

Nirupama Sensharma

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Nirupama is a 3rd year Physics graduate student at the University of Notre Dame. Being an ardent supporter of Nuclear power, she got interested in studying the structure of the atomic nucleus using various high-end experimental techniques. Her vision as an SRR student is to organize a series of seminars and experimental demonstrations for a non-physics audience in order to disseminate a better understanding of basic Nuclear Physics.