A&S Undergraduate Student Advisory Council 2020-2021

Sarah Doherty, ‘22 - Biology & Biotechnology

Sarah is a junior Biology and Professional Writing double major on a PreMed track. She is on the Cross Country and Track and Field team and is also a tutor for Biology and Organic Chemistry courses. Outside of WPI, Sarah loves to run, sail, and watercolor.


Parker Simpson, ‘21 - Bioinformatics & Computational Biology

Parker is a senior BCB major, a brother of Theta Chi Fraternity, and a member of the club basketball team. In his free time, he enjoys playing sports and exercising.


Katie Donovan, ‘21 Chemistry & Biochemistry

Katie is a rising senior from Westford, MA. She has been involved in Mu Sigma Delta (Pre-Health Society), serving as secretary and then president. She is also a TA for the general chemistry labs, and volunteers in Professor Olsen’s research lab, where she studies membrane composition and maintenance. In her free time, she loves cooking, hiking, dancing, and reading. Katie’s involvement in research at WPI has inspired her to pursue a career in research. She plans to obtain a PhD in nutritional biochemistry and start her own lab one day.

Maya Sun, ‘21 -  Computer Science

Maya is a senior majoring in computer science and interested in environmental topics such as sustainable agriculture. Outside of class, she is a captain of the WPI frisbee team and treasurer for the Women in Computer Science club, and enjoys rock climbing, biking, and hiking. 


Tyler B. Marcus, ‘22 Interactive Media & Game Design

Tyler is a Junior and a part of the IMGD BA Tech Art Concentration.  He has a strong passion for animation, both in games and films. In addition to this, he dabbles in character rigging primarily for game development implementation. As an IMGD BA Student Representative, he enjoys talking to the student body and relaying their comments, questions, and concerns to those who can enact change. Tyler’s goal is to create a bridge of communication so that we may all achieve our goals.

Ally Salvino, ‘22 Mathematical Sciences

Ally is a junior at WPI from Germantown, Maryland.  She is majoring in Mathematical Sciences with minors in Computer Science and Spanish.  On campus, she works as a Peer Learning Assistant (PLA) in the Department of Mathematical Sciences and as the Student Assistant in the Office of Undergraduate Research.  Ally also serves as the Secretary of the WPI Rotaract Club.  In her free time, Ally enjoys volunteering, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.

Laura Staugler '22 - Mathematical Sciences

Laura is a junior mathematical sciences major at WPI. She is the public relations chair for the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and is also the vice president of membership in the Residence Hall Council (RHC). During the school year, Laura works as a peer-learning assistant for the mathematical sciences department. In the summer of 2019, Laura completed a research project and published a paper on estimating time-varying applied current in the Hodgkin-Huxley model. Since then Laura has presented at two mathematical conferences and continues to work on furthering her research.

Megan Varney ‘21 Physics

Megan is a senior Physics major from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. On campus, she works as a Resident Advisor and PLA, and is involved in club water polo, SIAM, Greek life, AWM, SPS, and SocComm. Megan has been involved in undergraduate research since her first year at WPI and is currently working on her master's thesis, again focusing on applications of active matter.


Frankie Schripsema, ‘22 - Society, Technology and Policy and Civil Engineering

Frankie is a Junior studying Civil Engineering and Society, Technology, and Policy. She is from Bourbonnais, Illinois. On campus, she is involved in many clubs including The Alliance, Gender Equality Club, VOX, and is the president of the Progressive Activism Club. Frankie most recently completed her IQP in Lyon, France this past summer. Frankie has a passion for politics, policy, and social justice. Last year, she was a part of the planning committee for the Social Justice Summit, working to identify ways people at WPI are already engaged in Social Justice Issues. After graduation, she hopes to work on expanding public transportation to rural and less urbanized areas of the country.


A&S Graduate Student Advisory Council 2020-2021

Diego Vargas Blanco Biology and Biotechnology

Diego’s fascination with understanding how biological systems work led him to study biotechnological engineering at UCM in Peru. He then came to WPI with a Fulbright scholarship to pursue a master’s degree with Dr. Reeta Rao studying Filastatin, a novel molecule that prevents the adhesion of Candida albicans to abiotic surfaces, making possible its use as a pre-therapeutic coating for medical devices. Later, he joined Dr. Scarlet Shell’s lab for his PhD. Diego was intrigued to find that after over a hundred years of research on TB, there are many secrets hidden in the genome of this bacterium that confer a remarkable ability to survive stress conditions. He is focused on understanding the regulation of mRNA stability as an adaptive response to environmental changes. In his free time, Diego enjoys oil painting, cooking, baking, and ballroom dancing.

Dayna Mercadante - ​Bioinformatics & Computational Biology

Dayna is a PhD candidate in the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology program, co-advised by Dr. Sarah Olson and Dr. Amity Manning in the Mathematical Sciences and Biology and Biotechnology Departments, respectively. Dayna received a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Mathematics from Franklin Pierce University in 2015. Dayna’s research focuses on the force requirements for cell division and how these forces potentially change and impact the division of cancer cells. While she is passionate about her research, Dayna has become increasingly interested in science policy and science communication through her graduate school career. She is collaborating with a graduate student group at UMMS and working with state senators to establish and pass a bill for a MA STEM Fellowship Program (MASPF) for graduate students and/or post-doctoral fellows. Additionally, she is one of five co-founders of the Massachusetts Science Policy Network (MASPN), a chapter of the National Science Policy Network (NSPN), where her primary focus will be making scientific research, particularly that presented in the media, clear and understandable to the community.

Androniqi Qifti Chemistry & Biochemistry

​Adroniqi is a graduate student in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. She graduated from WPI in 2017 with a BS in Biochemistry and chose to continue her studies at WPI. Adroniqi is an international student from Albania and WPI has given her the opportunity not only to be different, but also to explore several aspects of her personality including her arts and humanities interests. Therefore, she is extremely proud to be a part of this community and she looks forward to the years to come.

Samuel S. Ogden Computer Science

Samuel is a PhD candidate in the Computer Science department.  He currently works with advisor Dr. Tian Guo on leveraging cloud cloud resources to accelerate mobile deep interference.  His interests involve making the use of advance deep learning models available to mobile developers and users transparently.  He is currently working on developing systems that can leverage a knowledge of deep learning models as well as large scale systems to best trade-off between mobile and cloud execution.

Geri Dimas Data Science

Geri is a 3rd year PhD Student in Data Science. Her current research interests are in the application of machine learning, explainable AI and Mathematical Optimization on data that can benefit society, addressing the ethical issues of fairness, efficiency and interpretability in areas such as public health, safety and security. She is currently working on research involving human trafficking and asylum seekers on the US/Mexico southwest border.

Tom Hartvigsen Data Science

Tom is a PhD candidate in the Data Science program. His research interest is in data mining and machine learning for time series, particularly with applications to healthcare and sustainability. He has also served on the Graduate Student Senate and Data Science Council to support the graduate student community.


Leo Bunyea ’19Interactive Media & Game Design

Leo is a master's student in the Interactive Media and Game Design program. His research is focused on the intersection of queerness and video games as well as the encouragement of non-privileged voices in these spaces. He is best known for his design work on games which explore transgender experiences. Leo's games have been featured at large conventions and conferences such as Different Games and Queerness in Games. Leo plans to pursue a PhD in Digital Media to continue to contribute to field of queer game studies.

Shano Liang (Hongyuan Liang) - Interactive Media & Game Design

Shano is a graduate student with a major in Interactive Media and Game Development. Considering her long-term goal – to become a researcher and teach students – she believes it’s the best choice to pursue a doctoral degree. Shano loves challenging herself and the border of human knowledge to research and publish papers. The current theories about the randomness and uncertainty in the game are immature in enriching the playability and appreciation of the game.  Her hobbies include: Piano, Electronic Music Composition, DJ, Cooking, Mixing drinks, Painting, Fishing, Writing.

Karen Royer - Interactive Media & Game Design

Karen is a PhD student in the Interactive Media and Game Design program. She is currently leading a team of developers creating an augmented reality learning module on the HoloLens. In the fall of 2020, she will be a Research Assistant for Professor Gillian Smith and her Code Crafters project. Further, she is developing a virtual certificate program in Serious Games for Yeshiva University in New York City that will debut in the Fall of 2020. Karen believes that everyone has a story to tell and uses her skills as a game designer to encourage globally diverse people to find common ground. Karen has had several games accepted to local and national indie game festival showcases. She has been celebrated as an international original doll sculptor and received many awards for her doll making skills. She is a skilled artisan and enjoys a variety of crafts. Karen holds a MS in Interactive Media and Game Design from WPI.

Avery Harrison Learning Sciences & Technologies

Avery is a doctoral candidate in Learning Sciences & Technologies with a focus on student learning in early algebra. Before coming to WPI, Avery completed her B.A. degree at the University of Richmond where she studied cognitive psychology. She completed her M.S. degree in Learning Sciences & Technologies at WPI in 2019 and is now a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. In addition to her research on math education and learning technologies, Avery is committed to broadening participation in STEM fields through research, mentoring and outreach opportunities and has received internal funding to create such opportunities on campus.   

Elisa Negrini Mathematical Sciences

Elisa is a PhD student in the Mathematical Sciences department. She comes from Italy and obtained her undergraduate and master’s degree in Mathematics from University of Bologna in 2015 and 2017, respectively. Since her first year as a PhD student, she has developed a strong interest in the mathematical foundations of data science problems; in particular her research interests focus on deep neural networks which have demonstrated stunning empirical results across many applications (like vision, natural language processing, and reinforcement learning), but for which strong theoretical foundations haven't been completely developed yet. In particular, she is interested in learning equations from noisy data using neural networks. Elisa is the President of the Association for Women in Mathematics chapter at WPI and will be part of the SIAM Career Opportunities Committee starting January 2021.

Riugi Sato - Mathematical Sciences

Riugi is an incoming 5th year PhD student at the Mathematical Sciences department. His research focuses on the application of partial differential equations to problems found in physics and chemical engineering. Ruigi obtained his bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering and master’s in Applied Mathematics in the Philippines. Aside from Mathematics, he is deeply passionate about music and is part of different choral groups in and out of WPI.

Teagan Bate - Physics

Teagan is a physics PhD student working in the field of soft condensed matter. He studies the properties and behavior of microtubule-kinesin based active fluids under varying conditions with assistant professor Kun-Ta Wu and his colleague Edward Jarvis. In addition to his own research he has mentored both undergraduate and high school students in doing their own research within our lab group, and work as a laboratory instructor for the physics courses during both the winter and summer. He has found great value in the learning, teaching, and research activities of my graduate experience, and is excited to continue working with the WPI community.

Kateryna (Katy) Kushnir Physics

Kateryna graduated with her master’s degree in physics from the Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv. She is currently a third year PhD student in the Physics department, where she works with Dr. Lyubov Titova with a focus on Terahertz spectroscopy and 2D materials. Their research focuses on finding alternative sources of energy by investigating the properties of materials.


Abhishek Kulkarni Robotics Engineering

Abhishek is a third-year PhD candidate in Robotics Engineering program. He graduated from VIT-Pune, India in 2016, where he earned a B.Tech. in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering. At VIT, he founded the Cognitive Robotics and Intelligent Systems Lab (CRISTL), which was the first lab on campus to explore an integrated cognitive science, machine learning and logic-based AI approach to design intelligent robots. While he was conducting research and teaching at CRISTL, the question that inspired him was: How to design an intelligent agent that can reason autonomously and, most importantly, in a provably-correct way? The quest to answer this question brought him to WPI, where under the guidance of Prof. Jie Fu, he explores formal methods (a logic-based AI approach) to allow the autonomous agents to not only reason in a provably-correct way but also use advanced behaviors like deception to their advantage.