Plenary 1—UT Libraries
Michelle Brannen, UT Libraries
Plenary 2—Financial Aid
Tim Woods, Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships
Tim Woods is an Associate Director in the UT Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships and has been a member of this UT department for 22 years. He coordinates many of our internal processes for a variety of campus-based funds, including the posting of numerous institutional awards and other forms of financial assistance to the accounts of UT students. Tim is both a full-time staff member and graduate of UT Knoxville, where he earned both a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts and a Master’s of Science Degree in Education. Tim is also an artist and produces mostly two-dimensional images in both watercolor and mixed media.
Plenary 3—Graduate Student Life
Marcia Chavez, Graduate Student Panel
Marcia Chavez is a fifth-year doctoral student in the Psychology Department and also a first-gen college student. Her research focuses on how chronic stress before adulthood impacts mental health-related behaviors and neuroplasticity in the brain. Within this same line of research, she also investigates how chronic stress differentially affects males and females. Marcia earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in her home state of California before continuing her academic journey here in Tennessee. After completing her doctoral degree, Marcia’s goal is to pursue a career in research at a national laboratory such as NIMH or another non-profit organization.
Julian Cosner, Graduate Student Panel
Julian Cosner grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and graduated from UT with a BS in Plant Sciences in 2016. After working in the green industry for a few years, he returned to graduate school in Dr. Jerome Grant’s laboratory to study integrated pest management (IPM). In the past few years, regulatory boundaries regarding industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) have changed allowing legal production, market development, and university research. A new crop in an area means new problems and pests that growers have to face. Currently, corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea Boddie) is the most dangerous insect pest when growing hemp outdoors because the larvae destroy the marketable flower where cannabinoid concentrations are highest. Julian’s research aims to better understand the relationship between this pest and hemp to help develop pest management strategies for industrial hemp grown in the southeast.
Hunter Hammock, Graduate Student Senate
Hunter completed his undergraduate studies in Chemistry and Psychology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. During his senior year, Hunter worked in Dr. Carl Sams’ plant physiology lab and became excited about using his organic and analytical chemistry background in combination with controlled environment agriculture to improve current practices and provide high-quality, sustainable food sources for future generations. After obtaining his BS degree in May 2015, he accepted a graduate research/teaching assistantship at UT to study the impact of LED lighting on high-value specialty crop production and basil flavor volatile profiles. Hunter graduated with his MS degree in Plant Sciences in May 2018 and is continuing his research at UT in pursuit of obtaining his doctorate in Summer 2022. After graduation, he wants to continue research in an academic or private industry setting. His interests include flavor chemistry, LED lighting, spectral quality’s interaction with plant secondary metabolism, high-value specialty crops, greenhouse production, hydroponics, and human nutrition.
Katie Lance, Graduate Student Panel
Katie Lance was born in Tennessee and earned her bachelor’s degree at UT. She is currently a second-year master’s student in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering working towards a degree in Environmental Engineering. Katie will finish her thesis and complete her master’s program next week! Katie studied hydraulics and hydrology through courses on hydraulic modeling, watershed management, and urban infrastructure. Katie’s master’s experience has been unique since her research has been through an internship with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Her research focused on the potential impact that new inundation mapping technology can have on saving lives in the event of a flood. Before the start of her internship, she spent the first semester of her master’s program as a graduate teaching assistant teaching a freshman engineering fundamentals lab. Her plan after she graduates is to continue working at TVA and earn her professional engineering license.
Nadya Vera, Graduate Student Panel
Nadya Vera is a graduate student in environmental sociology with research interests in animals & society, sociology of emotions, and social movements. She earned a master’s degree in mass communications with an emphasis in public relations at the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in theater arts at Florida International University. Prior to her 2017 return to academia, she worked managing media relations for animal fighting issues at the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C., and as an environmental public health educator for the Washington County Department of Health & Human Services in Hillsboro, Oregon.
Maria White, Graduate Student Panel
Virginia White was born in Cordoba, Argentina. She is currently a third-year PhD student in the department of chemistry at UT in the physical chemistry track with a concentration in theoretical chemistry. Virginia studies electronic structure theory methods of atoms and molecules, specifically multiconfigurational wave function methods, with her advisor Dr. Vogiatzis. Virginia’s research is applied to the study of N2 functionalization and expands to method development using quantum information science. She also has a five-year-old boy named Liam who starts kindergarten in the fall. Virginia loves teaching students, and she hopes to one day be part of a chemistry department where she can teach quantum chemistry to PhD students and have her own research group.