Schmitt-Fellows Leadership

Priya BalasubramanianPriya Balasubramanian

Program: Biomedical Engineering

Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Research Interests: Neurophysiological Signals, Data Representation using AR/VR




Priya's Biography, Scholarship & Leadership

About Priya

Biographical Information: I am a mother, born and educated in India; now, I am proud to be an American. The journey from India to the United States has been arduous and rewarding in more ways than one. I have lived in multiple cities on three different continents. These relocations have helped me morph into a person who respects individuality and diversity. I believe my contribution to a socially and culturally diverse world stems from my life experiences. I value honesty, loyalty, and generosity in addition to having respect for one’s elders and educators. I believe in morality even in the face of adversity. I strive, in my personal and professional life to hold myself to a higher standard as I believe in the benevolence of God and the power of prayers.

Scholarship: My research focuses on understanding the contribution of cortical mechanisms on neuromuscular fatigue after a stroke. Fatigue, experienced by nearly three-fourths of stroke survivors, affects recovery and rehabilitation as one’s quality of life deteriorates. I propose that altered cortical contributions trigger fatigue in stroke survivors, and neuroadaptive techniques such as ischemic conditioning augment traditional rehabilitation efforts. My academic work incorporates current technological advances in virtual reality, to visualize multidimensional research data in a meaningful and relevant framework. While research does allow for a deeper understanding of the mechanics of complex systems in human anatomy and diseased states, I believe that the end goal should always be to improve the quality of life for survivors. The definitive goal of my career is to be at the forefront of translational research in the neurologically affected population.

Leadership: The leadership skills I value most are problem solving, creativity, initiative, mitigating risk, and teamwork. In my “leadership and organization skills” class, I realized individuals define leadership based on the kind of leader that they believe themselves to be. The class added to my idea of which leadership skills one should possess for success. As a master’s student, I mentored middle school girls during their engineering camp and a high school student who was a research assistant working with my thesis advisor. Additionally, I was the instructor for sophomore level engineering classes for two years and became adept at conducting lecture and laboratory sessions for engineering courses. My interaction with faculty and students honed my problem solving and creativity skills. My versatile experiences as a parent, student, and teacher have allowed me to practice and demonstrate leadership skills time and again.

Natalie Benjamin Natalie Benjamin 

Program: Clinical Psychology

Hometown: Honolulu, HI

Research Interests: Child Psychopathology, Pediatric Health Psychology




Natalie's Biography, Scholarship & Leadership

About Natalie

I grew up in Honolulu, Hawai’i with my parents, sister, and extended family members. My identity was shaped within the broader context of a predominantly Asian American culture with Native Hawai‘ian influences. These social and cultural identities shaped my development, and I was proud to share them with others from different cultural backgrounds when I moved to the mainland to attend Wellesley College. My personal experience living with chronic illnesses led to my pursuit of a career as a mental health provider for children and families living with pediatric conditions. In my free time I enjoy reading, cooking, eating, and spending time outdoors!

Scholarship: While in my graduate program, I have taken an active role in pediatric psychology research, particularly focused on children and adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). My master’s thesis examined the relationships between in-the-moment blood glucose levels in relation to cognitive performance. I then explored adolescents’ ability to estimate their current blood glucose levels. For my doctoral qualifying exam, I conducted a comprehensive literature review of ecological momentary assessment (EMA) in T1D research and reviewed existing EMA studies with adolescents who have T1D. This work has led to the development of my dissertation, which assesses relationships among multiple daily psychosocial factors related to daily glycemic control in adolescents with T1D. Broadly, my research aims to inform healthcare providers and caregivers about psychosocial factors that contribute to optimal disease management and quality of life in children and adolescents who have chronic illnesses.

Leadership: Since childhood, I have been advocating for individuals with T1D and other chronic illnesses. When I was eight years old, I was selected to travel from Hawai‘i to Washington, D.C. to represent my home state at the first Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Children’s Congress. As an undergraduate student, I continued my advocacy for those with T1D by co-founding and leading my college’s chapter of the College Diabetes Network, a non-profit organization committed to connecting college students with diabetes and providing resources needed during the often-difficult transition to college. I have been a student member of the Society of Pediatric Psychology (SPP) for the past four years, and I have been Marquette’s SPP Campus Representative for three years. Last year, I was elected by my fellow graduate students to one of two Graduate Representative positions in the Psychology Department.

 Elliot CorlessElliot Corless

Program: Biological Sciences

Hometown: Logan, UT

Research Interests: Biochemistry of Oxido-reductases, Chlorophyll Synthesis Enzyme Focus




Elliot's Biography, Scholarship & Leadership

About Elliot

I am from a small college town in Utah. An adoptee, I was raised in a multi-racial household with three adopted siblings. I worked on various farms and for Logan City from a young age, which instilled in me a strong work ethic. I was an avid craftsman before I found my love of science. I am a skilled woodworker and have dabbled in metalwork including forging and machining. I have also framed and finished several homes among other construction projects. In my free time, I love making things, longboarding, hiking, fishkeeping, and enjoying modern day nerd-culture.

Scholarship: I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry in 2015 from Utah State University. I began work in a biochemistry lab in 2014 focused on DNA-repair enzymes and received the Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunity (URCO) grant that same year. My PhD thesis explores the functional significance of complex enzyme architecture. All enzymes could theoretically exist as one single polypeptide/subunit, but evolution has opted for extremely complex, multi-subunit, and often multi-active site architectures for many of the most life-critical enzymes. My thesis focuses on the functional relevance of symmetry in multi-subunit anaerobic enzymes like Dark-operative Protochlorophyllide Oxido-Reductase (DPOR), an enzyme that performs the penultimate step of chlorophyll biosynthesis. My thesis has required several schools of thought to tackle. This has given me the opportunity to present at eight differing conferences, which have spanned various disciplines including general enzyme mechanisms, iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis and function, genetic code expansion, single molecule techniques, and metabolic pathways.

Leadership: My first leadership opportunity was as an independent contractor during my undergraduate years doing home renovations, where I trained and managed an assistant. Later, I was the co-owner of MoJo Cichlids, a small business where I bred and sold African freshwater fish to local pet shops in Utah and across the United States. The URCO grant I received my senior year was accompanied by a poster session on Capitol Hill in Utah, where I was able to present my research on DNA-repair enzymes to a Utah state senator. While in graduate school I have mentored five undergraduate students. I have personally spearheaded the establishment of anaerobic biochemistry in the Biological Sciences department. Soon I will be spearheading anaerobic single-molecule Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (smTIRF) microscopy using DPOR, potentially the first ever anaerobic application of the technology.

Ross CrowleyRoss Crowley

Program: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Woodson, Illinois

Research Interests: Improvement of Metal Manufacturing Processes




Ross's Biography, Scholarship & Leadership

About Ross

My hometown of Woodson, Illinois is little more than a dip in the highway to most people travelling through rural Illinois. There, I spent summers training for cross country and helping my grandparents show their sheep at the county fair. During the colder months in Winter, I built clutch mechanisms out of Lego bricks for fun. My interest in engineering led me to Washington University in St. Louis, where I met my future wife, Chrissy, and earned my Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering. Following graduation, I worked at Hydromat Inc. for the next five years. There, I worked on a development team to design and build the next generation of machine tools. Chrissy and I moved to Wisconsin in 2016 to start a family closer to her parents, and together we had Noah in July of 2017. By that time, I had been accepted into Marquette’s Mechanical Engineering PhD program and was working with several professors on various research projects.

Scholarship: My current research focuses on characterizing the behavior of machine components in metal die casting operations. Though metal casting has existed for thousands of years, modern processes are still unpredictable. My work aims to increase our knowledge of the system’s behavior and suggest improvements based on that information. One major difficulty that arises when performing metal casting research is the hot, corrosive nature of the liquid metal which can destroy sensors and skew data. As part of my research, I’m developing new methods for attaching sensors to die casting machines to improve the quality of the data I collect.

Leadership: I began taking leadership positions during high school, where I served as president of a local 4-H club for several years and was captain of my school’s cross-country team for two years. During my studies at Washington University in St. Louis, I joined a student group called the Association of Christian Truth Seekers where I led several Bible study groups. I continued to lead a focused Bible study group for several years after graduation. At Marquette, I was a Teaching Assistant for four semesters and served as the lead Teaching Assistant for two of them. I’ve also mentored several senior design project teams.

 Igor GaydayIgor Gayday

Program: Chemistry

Hometown: Yekaterinburg, Russia

Research Interests: Physical Chemistry, Quantum Computing, Bioinformatics




Igor Biography, Scholarship & Leadership

About Igor

I was born on January 22, 1992 in the fourth largest Russian city, Yekaterinburg, east of the Ural Mountains. At the age of seventeen, I was admitted to Ural Federal University (Russia) into the Computer Science program where I earned my bachelor’s degree. Afterward, I went on to pursue my master’s degree in Bioinformatics at Saint Petersburg Academic University (Russia). There, I completed my graduate degree working with molecular systems of different sizes ranging from huge DNA molecules and protein complexes to tiny systems consisting of only a couple dozen atoms. I always found myself to be more interested in the smaller systems, so when I decided to pursue a PhD at Marquette University, I decided to focus my research in the realm of quantum chemistry.

Scholarship: My research efforts are focused on studying the isotope effects in certain chemical species, particularly in ozone (O3) and sulfur allotropes (such as S4). Normally, the replacement of one of the atoms with a rare isotope leads to a relatively small and well-defined change in the chemical reaction rate, which can be predicted by using the mass difference between the two isotopes. However, in some cases such as with ozone and sulfur allotropes, the change in the reaction rate is abnormally high. Interestingly, there is no accepted straightforward explanation that exists for such a phenomenon despite the intense work and research done over the last thirty years. Understanding this obscure quantum mechanical effect is fundamentally important as it expands our knowledge of the ways in which nature works on an atomic scale while allowing us to take advantage of it. Further investigation of this phenomenon is practically useful for the analysis of the atmospheric chemistry of ancient Earth.

Leadership: In my hometown, I volunteered with a local ecology group where we engaged in various activities to improve the environment within our city such as taking care of homeless animals, picking up trash, planting trees, and building shelters for birds to take refuge in during the winter months. Additionally, as an undergraduate student, I created a makeshift website where I facilitated the sharing of lecture notes and other beneficial study materials that everyone was able to use. Here, at Marquette, my current responsibilities include teaching general chemistry labs and holding discussion sessions for undergraduate students. I take an individual approach to teaching to help students achieve desired results and to ensure they fully comprehend all aspects of the concepts they are studying.

 Lee KimballLee Kimball

Program: Environmental and Water Resources Engineering

Hometown: Clinton, Kentucky

Research Interests: Antibiotic Resistance and Microbiology of Drinking Water Distribution Systems and in the Natural Environment



Lee's Biography, Scholarship & Leadership

About Lee

I grew up in a small town in rural Kentucky. I lived on a farm my entire life and learned to appreciate the natural environment from a young age. I spent most of my time working on the farm, fishing, riding ATVs and motorcycles, and playing sports. I went to Hickman County High School where I played baseball, basketball, soccer, and golf. I continued to play baseball in college for Union University, Jackson State Community College, Lambuth University, and eventually the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UWW). Go Warhawks! I received my Bachelor of Science degree from UWW in Biology with an emphasis in Marine Biology and Freshwater Ecology. During my studies at UWW, I participated in the study abroad program at Deakin University in Warrnambool, Australia. The experience deepened my passion for the marine ecosystem, environmental stewardship and conservation, and water-related research.

Scholarship: After completing my bachelor’s degree in Biology at UWW, I moved to Milwaukee and started working on my Master of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Marquette University. My research consisted of using a biosolids-derived adsorbent for removing emerging contaminants (e.g., antimicrobial compounds, estrogens) from wastewater. After completing my master’s degree, I decided to stay at Marquette University to pursue my PhD in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering. My current research involves the analysis of microbial communities and DNA in drinking water distribution systems and biofilms. Due to the amazing faculty and graduate students in the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering department, I have had the privilege to contribute to six peer-reviewed research articles. I recently presented some of my research at the Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors (AEESP) 2019 Annual Education Conference at Arizona State University.

Leadership: I have mentored an undergraduate researcher in the lab, taught high school students about environmental engineering and participated in numerous volunteer activities such as river restoration projects, river/beach cleanups, and Habitat for Humanity. I recently volunteered to help construct an underground stormwater cistern with the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation in Milwaukee. Additionally, I am a member of the Water Environment Federation, American Water Works Association, Central States Water Environment Association, and the Solid Waste Association of North America.

Sarah KizukSarah Kizuk

Program: Philosophy

Hometown: Peace River, Alberta, Canada and Courtenay, British Colombia, Canada

Research Interests: Social and Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Emotion, Critical Settler Studies



Sarah's Biography, Scholarship & Leadership

About Sarah

I was born in Peace River, Alberta to working class parents. I spent my teenage years in Courtenay, a city on Vancouver Island, British Colombia. In 2002, I moved to Montréal, Québec where I volunteered at youth and anti-poverty advocacy centers. I began my bachelor’s degree at age twenty-four at Concordia University in Montréal. Coming into the discipline of Philosophy, I developed my language of conceptual analysis and furthered my ability to look at problems from numerous perspectives. Additionally, I continued to volunteer throughout my college years. Upon the completion of my degree, I moved to Newfoundland to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Philosophy, and then to Marquette, to pursue a PhD.

Scholarship: Within my research, I look at Canada as a set of places, particularly the ways in which settler colonialism has served to define places there, and how we’ve come to know their meaning and importance. My work aims to show that negative emotional responses to challenges regarding settler emplacement are not benign, but crucial elements of settler colonialism and Indigenous erasure; and to demonstrate a way out of defining place to see it as fundamentally settled. The reason I am concerned with affects/emotions is because they help us think through the ways in which attachment to place, and hence the construction of an identity and meaning, have deep emotional and affective roots that are very difficult to displace or change. I have found affects/emotions to be under theorized in critical settler research.

Leadership: My leadership skills have developed through my commitment to prison advocacy and my work as the Assistant Director of the Center for the Advancement of the Humanities at Marquette. I started working with incarcerated individuals in 2008. At that time, I was a member of two prisoner advocacy groups. When I arrived at Marquette, I was overjoyed to hear about the Engendering Dignity in Philosophy program, which is a classroom-based program that aims to empower women in prison through critical thinking and intellectual collaboration. As Assistant Director of Marquette University’s Center for the Advancement of the Humanities, I have been instrumental in shaping and building this new Center from the ground up. My role is to advocate for the humanities at Marquette, create opportunities for events that champion humanistic understandings, and in doing so, hopefully empower others to do the same.

Lisa LamsonLisa Lamson

Program: History

Hometown: Oak Harbor, Washington

Research Interests: Nineteenth Century Childhood and Education History




Lisa's Biography, Scholarship & Leadership

About Lisa

I grew up as an island kid, first on Adak, Alaska and then on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, Washington in a biracial family. My mother is a Filipino immigrant and my father is from Maine. I lived outside of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island as my father was enlisted in the US Navy. Unlike most military kids, I did not move around often growing up as my mother’s family all lived in the Pacific Northwest. I attended the University of Washington – Seattle for my Bachelor of the Arts degree in History. I then went on to earn my Master of the Arts degree in History in 2014 and my Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Teaching in 2016 at Bowling Green University in Ohio before moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to pursue my PhD in History at Marquette. When I’m not reading or "history-ing”, I’m often knitting, which is my favorite way to unwind and relax.

Scholarship: My dissertation explores Baltimore City’s educational system, in both faith-based and public institutions, during the nineteenth century. My goal is to start a conversation around how urban freed and newly freed people of color advocated for better access to education as it was germane to their sense of black identity and their understanding of black girlhood. I explore how some of Baltimore’s girls of color responded to their urban environment, expectations around their race, religion, and gender in addition to the changes within the educational structure of the city. I have received research fellowships from the Maryland Historical Society and from varying departments and centers across Marquette’s campus. I was a recipient of the Graduate School Dean’s Research Enhancement Award in the summer of 2018. I have presented my scholarship at several conferences as well.

Leadership: As a woman of color, there is a strong connection between my personal convictions, advocacy, and scholarship. I was elected as GSO president and will be continuing my tenure throughout AY 2019-2020. Before that, I was the CURTO Graduate Student Research Coordinator for Campus Ministry and the Center for Peacemaking’s Soup with Substance series. I also facilitated a weekly Graduate Student Writing Group through the Ott Memorial Writing Center in Raynor Library from 2016-2018 and was a graduate tutor at the Ott for three years to support graduate students with their writing. As a graduate student at BGSU, I established a pilot first-year mentoring program, so first-year students felt nurtured and part of a community throughout their academic work. For this, I was awarded the Outstanding Departmental Citizen Award