Graduate students from underrepresented groups can participate in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Doctoral Scholars Program through funding support from their academic units. The Doctoral Scholars Program provides multiple layers of support including, mentoring, career counseling, a scholars directory of current scholars and alum for networking opportunities and recruiting as well as job postings. Each year participating scholars, mentors and recruiting representatives from IUPUI convene to learn and support one another at the largest gathering of underrepresented PhD scholars in the U.S. the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring. Academic units interested in supporting a SREB doctoral scholar should contact Tabitha Hardy for more information.
Meet Our Scholars
Abdullahi Abdi is a third-year doctoral student at Indiana University School of Medicine in the department of microbiology and immunology. He received his MS in biology from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. Abdullahi is currently getting his training at Dr. Dent’s lab, focusing on the interplay between food allergy and the gut microbiome. He uses animal models and bioinformatics to answer questions about how a subset of regulatory T cells generate microbiota-reactive antibodies impacting individuals’ tolerance to food antigens. As an immigrant, Abdullahi is passionate about mentoring refugee/immigrant teens and providing career advice, helping them bridge the gap. He worked with one of the most prominent non-profit organizations that help resettle refugees in the Chicagoland area and now navigating Indianapolis to start volunteering here.
Dom Acri is a PhD candidate in Medical Neuroscience researching in the laboratory of Dr. Jungsu Kim. In the Kim laboratory, Dom studies how genetic screening panels can be used to better understand the mechanisms that underly the aggregation of tau protein in Alzheimer’s disease. As part of his coursework, Dom completed a PhD minor in Bioinformatics from the IUPUI School of Informatics and Computing. After his PhD, he hopes to continue pursuing how the budding field of next generation “Omic” technologies can be applied to neuroscience research. Eventually, Dom aspires to split time between his own research laboratory and an adjunct teaching position at a Tribal College/University. Dom is also the president of IU School of Medicine’s chapter of SACNAS (the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) and a member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. He was a recipient of the 2018-2019 IUPUI Graduate Diversity Fellowship, the 2019-2020 Paul and Carole Stark Medical Neuroscience Fellowship, and is a member of the Southern Region Education Board’s Doctoral Scholars Program. Outside of the lab, Dom enjoys trail running, watching Major League Baseball, and reading science fiction novels.
Rafael A. Alamilla
Rafael A. Alamilla is a second-year doctoral fellow in the IU School of Health and Human Sciences (SHHS) working under Dr. NiCole Keith. Rafael's primary interest is in the implementation of community-based physical activity (PA) interventions aimed at promoting PA among minority populations. Rafael has secondary interests in health behavior, health disparities/inequities, health policy, and built environments. He is a recipient of the IU President's Graduate Diversity Fellowship, a scholar in the 2021-2022 ACSM Leadership Diversity and Training Program (LDTP), and is sponsored by SHHS to participate in the Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholars Program. Outside of his work, Rafael is an avid powerlifter, roots on LA sports teams, and spends quality time with his fiancé and Labrador Retriever.
Dominique Baldwin is a PhD candidate at the Indiana University School of medicine in the department of molecular biology and biochemistry. He is currently receiving his doctoral training under the guidance of Dr. Amber Mosley. The Mosley lab as a whole studies protein coding gene transcription using many Omics based approaches, namely proteomics. His thesis works focuses on the characterization of transcriptional stress and the intersectional analysis between transcriptional stress and protein folding stress. Though his doctoral training focuses on transcription, he also has a passion for diabetes related research. As such, he hopes to conduct postdoctoral research that spotlights type two diabetes pathology that will be beneficial to his future endeavors following his PhD.
Jasmine Beecham is originally from Iowa, where she completed her Bachelor’s in Psychology at Northern Iowa. She came to Indianapolis to pursue her PhD at IUPUI in Applied Social and Organizational Psychology. She has completed her Master’s thesis on how illegal interview questions harm women more than men. She successfully defended her candidacy through the defense of a model showing how dress codes and norms create discrimination and bias, particularly towards women and people of color. She looks forward to supporting this model through studies for her PhD dissertation. In the future, she hopes to get more internship experience in HR, DEI, and policy work to see where her skills will best serve minority populations in equity work.
Soumilee Chaudhuri is a PhD student in Medical Neuroscience at the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute. She works at the intersection of multi-omics and multi-modal imaging to characterize Alzheimer Disease (AD) therapeutics, in the laboratory of Dr. Andrew Saykin and Dr. Kwangsik Nho. She was recently awarded the 2022 Paul and Carole Stark Medical Neuroscience Fellowship. She aspires to combine her knowledge of neuroscience, computation, and bioinformatics to investigate the molecular mechanisms of AD and research/teach future academics in the field. On campus, Soumilee is an executive member of Underrepresented Professional & Graduate Student Organization (UPnGO) and Recreational Hiking at IUPUI as well as an IUPUI Graduate Emissary for Diversity; she also volunteers at cultural events for DesiJags (Indian Student Association at IUPUI) and the Bengali Student Association at IUPUI. She is also involved with IUSM clubs promoting peer wellness & mental health, science communication and teaching amongst doctoral students. Outside of academia, Soumilee enjoys hiking & outdoor adventures and focuses towards building a safe outdoor environment for BIPOC mid/plus sized women.
Shaquitta Dent is a second-year PhD student in the IU School of Health and Human Sciences (SHHS) working under Dr. NiCole Keith and Dr. Jefferson Streepey. Shaquitta’s primary interest is in understanding postural balance control through tracking center of pressure movement during static and dynamic tasks in clinical populations. Shaquitta is a scholar in the 2020-2021 ACSM Leadership Diversity and Training Program (LDTP) and is sponsored by SHHS to participate in the Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholars Program. Outside of her work, Shaquitta enjoys spending time with her loved ones and friends, binge watching Netflix series, and reading cheesy romance novels.
Tuyen Dinh is a graduate student in the Applied Social and Organizational Psychology program. Broadly, she is interested in examining issues related to diversity and discrimination in the workplace, aiming to contribute to research on creating more inclusive organizational policies and practices. Specifically, she is interested in the effects of power differentials in organizations, leadership development, and ways organizations can engage in effective allyship to support diverse populations. She obtained her master’s degree in Fall 2020 and is currently working towards becoming a PhD candidate.
Ana L. Esqueda
Ana L. Esqueda received her master’s in Sociology and Philosophy from IUPUI. She is a second-year doctoral student in the School of Education at IUPUI. Her research interests include the decolonization of education and leadership and the impact of charter schools among minoritized children in urban cities. On campus, she serves as a representative of the School of Education in the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG). She is passionate about improving education in Urban schools and changing federal, state, and local policies.
Daniela Gonzalez Salcedo
Daniela Gonzalez Salcedo is a second-year graduate student in the Applied Social and Organizational Psychology Doctoral program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Daniela was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia. When Daniela came to The United States to pursue higher education, she learned about some of the challenges that underrepresented students face in academia to succeed, inspiring her to develop an interest in ways to effectively promote diversity and inclusion in academic settings. Her current research interests focus on helping college students succeed by identifying potential mechanisms that might contribute to disparities in academic outcomes and lead to worse health, especially among underrepresented students.
Maribel Hernández 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 with the college application process and transition. Maribel joined Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in 2017 as a Post Baccalaureate Fellow (IPREP) working in the Addictions Neuroscience department under the mentorship of Dr. Stephen Boehm and Dr. Nicholas Grahame. Currently she is a third-year graduate student in the IUPUI Addictions Neuroscience department where she is interested in investigating the behavioral genetics of alcohol use disorder as well as how early-life chronic low-level lead exposure produces altered responses to drugs of abuse in adulthood. She has since obtained her Master of Science and is working toward her PhD. Her long-term goal is to remain in academia, with the ultimate hope of both teaching and conducting research, while simultaneously advocating and working towards improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Neuroscience field.
Nina Johnson is a PhD student at the Indiana University School of Social Work. Nina holds a PhD minor in Public Health. Nina received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Coe College and her Master of Science of Social Work from Columbia University. Nina’s research interests include understanding the holistic health needs, self-care practices, and coping mechanisms of minoritized and multicultural undergraduate and graduate students. Nina is committed to understanding the needs and barriers of minoritized and multicultural students accessing holistic wellness resources through a multidimensional and social justice lens. Nina is interested in how campuses function as ecosystems for health empowerment, and promotion for the overall well-being for students.
Shirin Khazvand (she/her), MS is a 5th year doctoral student in the PRISM lab. Her research interests include examining risk/protective models for substance use and other negative health outcomes among adolescent and young adult populations. She is specifically interested in studying mechanisms to explain risk for negative health outcomes as a consequence of racial discrimination and other race related stress among people of color. She aims to work to improve prevention and intervention programs and tailor them to better serve underrepresented populations.
Alex LipseyAlex Lipsey is a second-year doctoral student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) School of Social Work. He works as a research assistant for both Dr. Virgil Gregory and Dr. Saahoon Hong. For one professor Alex’s work focuses on predicting various outcomes for Black men, while the work for the other professor focuses on using artificial intelligence to predict the outcomes of minorities being successfully treated for a substance use disorder. He received his MSW and MPH from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. Alex’s interests are in improving the life outcomes for minority children raised by single-parents, which means having a deeper understanding about the variables that influence their trajectory. He currently helps mentor mainly minority men at the MLK Center in Indianapolis. He is a recipient of the IU President's Graduate Diversity Fellowship and is sponsored by IUPUI School of Social Work to participate in the Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholars Program. His long-term goal is to conduct research and provide prevention and intervention programs tailored to better serve underrepresented populations. Outside of his work, Alex enjoys working out, playing on the IUPUI rugby team, and bowling.
Khadija MoctarKhadija Moctar is a PhD candidate in the Department of Biology at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. She is pursuing her degree under the guidance of Dr. Christine Picard. Her thesis work will emphasize the role of humidity perception on oviposition in forensically relevant blow flies in hopes of understanding the impact on the estimation of a postmortem interval. In addition, Khadija served as an Executive Board member of the Underrepresented Professional and Graduate Student Organization (UPnGO) at IUPUI.
Rajanya Nandi is a second-year PhD student at the Indiana University School of Social Work. She is originally from India, where she completed her Master's in Social Work with a specialization in Social Entrepreneurship and Livelihood at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India. Her journey led her to collaborate with an organization dedicated to supporting and advocating for women engaged in sex work in the red-light areas of Sonagachi in Kolkata, renowned as Asia's largest red-light district. Rajanya's research passion ignited as she delved into the lives of these marginalized women, navigating the complex spectrum of choice versus coercion, often operating in the shadows where their voices remained unheard. Her core belief is that everyone should have the autonomy to live on their own terms, whether they choose sex work, seek to exit the profession or remain within it. She also harbors a deep interest in the realm of human trafficking. Consequently, her research primarily revolves around understanding the healthcare needs of sex workers and survivors of human trafficking exploring how they manage their healthcare requirements. In her research assistantship with Dr. Md Hasan Reza, Rajanya focuses on developing a comprehensive thematic analysis of sexual abuse experienced by children surviving on the streets. She aims to shed light on the enduring cycle of poly-victimization that plagues these children.
Moraima Noda is a PhD student at Indiana School of Medicine in the department of Microbiology and Immunology. Moraima received her Bachelor’s in Biology from Northeastern Illinois University. She is currently conducting research in the laboratory of Dr. Matthias Clauss and her thesis focus is investigating the role of HIV proteins on cellular senescence in endothelial cells. She is the Co-chair of professional development of IU School of Medicine’s chapter of SACNAS (the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science). Her long-term goal is to conduct research and teach in academia, with a focus on mentoring and helping promote diversity in the STEM field.
Isheka Orr is a fourth-year student pursuing her Ph.D. in Applied Earth Sciences with a minor in Public Health at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. She works in Dr. Gabriel Filippelli's lab, where her research focuses on identifying and understanding 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 has also served on the Executive Board of the Underrepresented Professional and Graduate Student Organization (UPnGO) at IUPUI and currently serves as a Graduate Emissary for Student Diversity and the Secretary for the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG).
Eduardo SalgadoEduardo Salgado, M.S. is a 4th year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at IUPUI. He currently works under the mentorship of Dr. Michelle Salyers and Dr. Matthew Aalsma. His research interests include understanding how to best engage diverse youth, particularly Hispanic/Latine youth, with psychotherapy services. He is also interested in understanding how certain cultural factors, such as ethnic identity and acculturation, impact relevant mental health and substance use outcomes for these youth.
Jared Thomas, a PhD candidate in the Department of Biology at IUPUI, working with Randall Roper, Ph.D., a biology professor who specializes in Down syndrome research at the School of Science at IUPUI. The lab focuses research on bone density abnormalities that cause individuals with Down syndrome (DS) to have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis or bone fractures. Our research focuses on sexual dimorphism in skeletal abnormalities in DS, and identifying disrupted molecular and cellular mechanisms that contribute to bone deficiencies seen in DS. Long-term goal is to elucidate prospective molecular targets that can lead to therapeutic treatments to improve skeletal phenotypes seen in individuals with DS.
Camara is a second-year doctor student in the IUPUI Urban Education program. She has received two English degrees, one awarded by UW-Green Bay and one awarded by Butler University. Her interests include literacy, specifically technological literacy and alternate approaches to literacy. She is generally interested in community engagement and serving community needs as they appear. She has worked and still works with Dr. Crystal Morton at Girls Stem Institute, promoting literacy in STEM for Black girls who are interested and curious. One of her passions is meeting students where they are at, and when Camara gets a chance to teach college courses, she often reworks the syllabus to bring in different technologies that students can use in future careers as well as technologies that help them develop as people.
Jennifer is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Biology at IUPUI. She works with Dr. Guoli Dai whose lab investigates the mechanisms governing liver regeneration. Her research focuses on the role prolactin receptor plays in transducing mitogenic signaling during liver regeneration and lipid metabolism in mice. The long-term goal of her research work is to yield insights into the role of prolactin receptor in the liver as well as the development of new therapeutic targets for metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD). She also serves as a teaching assistant for the Biology department and an instructor for first-year seminar. Jennifer is passionate about helping immigrant and underrepresented students, which inspired her to serve on the Underrepresented Professional and Graduate Student Organization (UPnGO) Executive Board here at IUPUI.