IUPUI Graduate Emissaries for Student Diversity

Kayla Allen-Brown received a B.A. in Political Science and International Affairs with certificates in Human Rights and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Cincinnati; she also holds an M.A. from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy-IUPUI. Kayla is currently a PhD student in American Studies. She is interested in examining how Black women create agency, shape their lived experiences, and build social capital regardless of the political and economic challenges. More broadly, her research interests include critical race theory, black feminism, minority social movements, and grassroots resistance.

Radhika Bhaumik passed her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from St. Xavier’s College in 2016 in Kolkata, India. She also passed her Master in Science from the same university in 2018. She is now on her road to becoming a doctoral candidate in the same subject since 2020 from the Biology department in the School of Science at IUPUI. She is pursuing intensely to find out a cure for Stentrophomonas maltophilia bacterial infection in Cystic fibrosis patients. Apart from that, she is an avid reader, loves traveling, and has also been a skilled Kathak dancer. She loves socializing and making friends which makes her approachable. She has also served as the treasurer of Women 4 change and the SOS multidisciplinary representative in the Biology Graduate Organization from the year 2021-2022. She has also served as the Student representative for the Indiana Branch of the American Society for Microbiology for the year 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. She hopes to have her Ph.D. and use her knowledge to not only help the world get free of some deadliest bacterial diseases but also to use her education and her voice in advocating for women’s rights and global unity and brotherhood.
Originally born and raised in India, Soumilee Chaudhuri obtained her undergraduate degrees in Neuroscience and Biochemistry from Montana State University, Bozeman. She joined the Indiana University School of Medicine in 2021 and matriculated into the Medical Neuroscience Program. Her PhD research focuses on employing multi-omics and artificial intelligence approaches to study Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and she was recently awarded the 2022 Paul & Carole Stark Fellowship. Soumilee serves on the executive boards of Underrepresented Professional and Graduate Student Organization (UPnGO) and Recreational Hiking at IUPUI. She is committed towards building an inclusive environment for minoritized academics and aspires to serve as a research & teaching professor to continue that goal. Outside of school, Soumilee is an avid outdoor enthusiast trying to promote diversity for BIPOC non-straight sized women in the wilderness. As an Indian Bengali, she is also an active participant in cultural events and reserves a special love for dancing.

Brittnie-lee Duffus hails from Jamaica, where she completed her early studies. She then moved to Mississippi where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology, with a minor in Chemistry at Tougaloo College in 2021. During this time, she became active in campus service groups such as the Pre-Alumni Council, International Students Association and in local and international charity groups. She then joined the Indiana University School of Medicine Biomedical Gateway Program in 2021 to pursue her doctoral degree. Currently, she is a student in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology where her research focuses on alcohol addiction and how it affects specific brain regions. Her passion for serving others continues to grow and as a result she serves as a mentor for students who wish to study abroad and actively seeks ways to get involved on campus and in the wider community.

Maribel Hernandez received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. After graduation, she joined AmeriCorps and worked as a college access coach helping first generation and/or low-income high school students get into a university. Maribel joined Indiana University-Purdue University in 2017 as a Post Bachelorette Fellow (IPREP) working in the Addictions Neuroscience department under the mentorship of Dr. Stephen Boehm and Dr. Nicholas Grahame. Currently she is a PhD candidate in the IUPUI Addictions Neuroscience department where she is interested in investigating the behavioral genetics of alcoholism as well as how early-life chronic low-level lead exposure produces altered responses to drugs of abuse in adulthood. Maribel was also awarded the Presidential Diversity Fellowship to help with her research training.

Kevin Hillman is a PhD student in Urban Education Studies at IUPUI. He completed his undergraduate degree from Purdue University, majoring in Communication: Public Relations & Rhetorical Advocacy and a minor in Organizational Leadership and Supervision. After spending a few years working professionally, Kevin went on to pursue his Master of Arts in Training and Development at Roosevelt University. Upon completing his masters, Kevin continued his educational pursuits and began his journey here at IUPUI in the Urban Education Studies PhD program.

Kevin’s interest is in Career and Technical Education (CTE), workforce development, community engagement, secondary and post-secondary education. Utilizing a critical and social justice lens, he examines and re-envisions the impact of CTE courses in urban education. More specifically, focusing on black high school students and the impact of CTE course on community and society beyond workforce alignment, to self-determine the vitality of their communities. Through this work, he hopes to challenge and transform CTE & workforce development programming and policy within and outside of educational spaces and institutions.

Priyadharshini Manikandan completed her undergraduate degree at Indiana State University in Terre Haute with a B.S. in Biology with a Chemistry Minor. She is currently a PhD student in the Department of Biology focusing her studies on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder research using zebrafish as a model organism, to explore alcohol’s effect on the developing genome.
Alongside being a graduate student emissary, Dharshini is the Vice President of the Biology Graduate Organization (BGO), and enjoys giving back to her community as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) advisor for her collegiate Alpha Phi chapter, and as a volunteer at the local Hindu Temple
Ejaaz Tate is a graduate student pursuing his master’s in music technology at IUPUI. He received his Bachelor of Science degree at Bethel University in McKenzie, TN where he studied music production and recording arts. He is also a graduate mentor for the Olaniyan Scholars Program where he works with young black males on the undergraduate level, ensuring that they have the resources needed to lead a successful college and personal life.

Originally from Nigeria, Aishat obtained her bachelor’s degree in biology from Albany State University. During her undergraduate years, she worked collaboratively with diverse groups of students and staff at the university’s international education office and led several initiatives to cultivate global thinking on campus. She is also passionate about mentoring and teaching students. This led her to create a blog that provides extensive tips needed for graduate school success, and occasionally, she communicates complex biomedical concepts to her readers. She also serves as the director of communications on the executive board of the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG). Currently, Aishat is a PhD candidate in Pharmacology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on understanding the regulation of inflammatory pathways in pancreatic cancer. During her pastime, Aishat enjoys learning languages, hiking, cooking new dishes, and creating educational content on social media and blogs.

After completing high school in Jamaica, Isheka Orr moved to Orangeburg, SC to pursue her BSc. in Environmental Science at Claflin University. Currently, she is a PhD student in Applied Earth Science at IUPUI. Her research focuses on identifying the health risks associated with Combined Sewer Overflow events in urban waterways.

Isheka strongly believes in giving back to the community in whatever way possible and as a result volunteers as a mentor and/educator with various community programs such as School on Wheels(SOW)-Indy, Sea Scope Incorporated and Passport to College (PTC). Isheka also serves on the Executive Board of the Underrepresented Professional and Graduate Student Organization (UPnGO) at IUPUI.

Isheka enjoys cooking, trying new foods, socializing, and going on adventures. You can check out her food page (Robins Fusion).

Yue Stevenson completed her undergraduate degrees in English and East Asian Languages and Culture at Indiana University-Bloomington. While at IU Bloomington, her English concentration was on creative writing, while also focusing on studying the language and history of literature of Japan. Though her study abroad experience was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was an experience that affected her greatly in how she approaches her studies and her life as a person of color.

She is currently a student in the English MA program here at IUPUI, with a particular interest in teaching literature and writing alongside her work as a consultant at the University Writing Center. Her research interests include Japanese-English translation and the effects of sociopolitical rhetoric on minority and LGBT communities.