Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Graduate Student Advisory Committee

About the Committee

The School of Graduate Studies established the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Graduate Student Advisory Committee in 2022 to advise on the implementation of the SGS DEI Strategic Plan and on DEI priorities beyond the strategic plan. The committee is comprised of students from across disciplinary areas who serve a one-year term and are compensated for their time. The committee meets monthly throughout the academic year, rotates facilitation responsibilities, and is organized through the following five subcommittees:

  1. Affinity Groups
  2. Inclusive Curriculum and Mentoring
  3. Graduate Student Engagement and Outreach
  4. Holistic Student Supports
  5. Professional Development and Career Preparation

Through building peer-to-peer connections, fostering relationships with campus partners, and designing projects/deliverables around their specific subcommittee topic, the committee aims to contribute to a more just, equitable, and inclusive graduate education experience. At the conclusion of their term, committee members will participate in an annual showcase to present their subcommittee deliverables and reflect on their committee experience with the broader Rutgers community.

Learn more about the 2023 DEI Graduate Student Advisory Committee below!

Questions? Contact the committee conveners:

Briana Bivens, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Associate

Ramazan Gungor, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for Professional Development

Meet the 2023 Committee Members

Francisco Cantero Soriano

Francisco is a Ph.D. student in Latin American, Iberian, and Luzo-Afro-Brazilian Literatures and Cultures. He holds a M.A. of Arts in Hispanic Studies (Auburn University), a M.A. in Hispanic Studies (Universidad de Cádiz), a B.A. in Spanish Linguistics and Literature (Universidad de Cádiz), and a B.A. in English Linguistics and Literature (Universidad de Cádiz). He is involved in many cultural projects. As a director and founder of METÁFORA, he provides innovative and artistic workshops in Spanish to the Rutgers community. He directs ÍMPETU (www.revistaimpetu.org), a digital literary magazine in which worldwide researchers and artists participate. His research interests include exile and diaspora through a queer and feminist perspective; Spanish Civil War literature; Spanish Peninsular avant-garde theatre; performance and poetic theatre; Experimental Poetry; and Transatlantic Studies.

Eric N. Chiles

Eric is a second year PhD student in the Microbial Biology program who is committed to rabble rousing to create more equitable and just conditions for graduate students and society at large. When off duty from ruffling feathers, he can frequently be found baking or watching an inordinate amount romcoms. He's happy to be serving the student body on this advisory committee, and hopes that this collective labor leads to lasting change. 

Ashley Codner

Ashley Codner is a second-year Ph.D. student in English at Rutgers University with primary research interests in 20th- and 21st-century African American literary, feminist, and sound studies. A former Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2021 and majored in English with minors in Consumer Psychology and Jazz & Popular Music. Operating in the pedagogical imperative that Black Studies always be in service of community, Ashley is committed to improving the landscape of graduate education by creating an equitable experience for all students. In addition to her off-campus community work, Ashley is Vice President for the Graduate English Students Association and a former Graduate Mentor for the HLLC-Price Humanities Program at Rutgers–Newark.

Gabriela Constantin-Dureci

Gabriela (she/her) is a third year PhD student in Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese researching how assumptions about a person’s race and whether they are ‘native’ or ‘non-native’ speakers of a language shape listeners’ attitudes. Furthermore, she examines how this type of language stereotyping can lead to language-based discrimination in the workplace, as well as influence employment criteria, thus, disadvantaging multilingual individuals. Gabriela’s anti-bias approach extends past her research into her teaching, in which she adopts an intersectional and equity-oriented lens to advocate for redesigning curricula to make them more inclusive and accessible.

Shannon Dickey

Shannon is a first-year PhD student who is dedicated to making a positive difference through active engagement, discussion, and collaboration to foster an environment that is successful for graduate students in the Rutgers community. As a recent graduate from the University of Miami and an aspiring marine ecologist, she is passionate about combining her love for science with public education and outreach. She believes that it is essential to increase financial opportunities and supportive infrastructures to promote the growth of underrepresented students in higher education.

Zoey Eddy

Zoey Eddy (she/her) is a 2nd year doctoral student in the Social Psychology program. Her research focuses on experiences of multiracial individuals and perceptions of multiracial identity and pathways to reduce racial essentialism (i.e., believing that race is biological and fixed). She is involved in multiple DEI committees, has mentored underrepresented students through the RiSE at Rutgers summer research program, and co-created Rutgers Diversifying Psychology Day.

Eva Erber

Eva is a doctoral candidate at the German Department. What brought her to work with this committee is her ongoing interest in supporting both, undergraduate and graduate students during their time at Rutgers. She is especially invested in inclusive pedagogy, improving multilingual student experiences, and creating support systems for international and first-generation college students.

Sonal Gahlawat

Sonal Gahlawat is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Engineering Department. Her research aims to develop artificial blood vessels to understand the impact of collagen mutations. Since her first year at Rutgers, Sonal has been actively involved in the graduate student community, where she has taken multiple leadership roles, including President (2021-22) of the GSA. Her goals for the SGS-DEI committee include building a supportive graduate student community for personal and professional development.

Emily Hanselman

Emily Hanselman is a PhD candidate in the Nutritional Sciences department where she is studying sweet taste pathways, glucose metabolism and neural signaling underlying eating behavior and reward. She has previously worked clinically as a registered dietitian and has a background in molecular biology. Emily is co-president of Supporting Parents & Caregivers at Rutgers, a graduate student organization that advocates for and supports student parents, caregivers and nontraditional students. She enjoys teaching and mentoring undergraduates, and supporting DEI in research through the RISE program at Rutgers.

Arpita Jindani

Arpita Jindani is currently pursuing a PhD in communication, information, and media with a health communication focus at Rutgers’ School of Communication and Information. Her research interests include communication processes that influence community resilience in marginalized neighborhoods and decolonizing global health. Her educational background includes a master of social work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai and a master of arts in health communication from Emerson College in Boston. She also works at the Rutgers Global Health Institute and leads the development of the institute’s Equitable Recovery program in New Jersey and education and training projects across the institute.

Alissa Madera

Alissa Madera is Ph.D. student with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) studying the formation and evolution of the Moon using an interdisciplinary approach of sample science and remote sensing observations. She is current vice president of EPS graduate student organization (GSO), committee member and award reviewer for the American Women Geoscientists (AWG) and member of the Society of LatinX/Hispanics in Earth and Space Sciences (SOLESS). Her careers goals envision breaking the barriers and creating opportunities for the future generation of underrepresented scientists in the Earth and planetary sciences.

Courtney McDermott

Courtney R. McDermott is an NIH D-SPAN Scholar and Neuroscience PhD Candidate who has personal and professional interests in investigating the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders. She is mentored by Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom and co-mentored by Dr. Martin Blaser. Her dissertation examines the effects of early-life antibiotic exposure on the gut microbiome and neurogenesis in 16p11.2 microdeletion mice. Outside of the laboratory, Courtney is highly involved in science outreach. She serves on the board of the CABM Diversity Committee, volunteers at the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism and Services, and is the Neuroscience Graduate Mentor Fellow for the Rutgers Honors College.

Rebecca McGinn

Rebecca McGinn is a PhD candidate in the department of Classics at Rutgers University. She completed her BA in Classical Civilization at Yale University and an MA in Classical Archaeology with a Specialization in Museum Theory and Practice at Florida State University.

Nilava Metya

Nilava is a first year graduate student in mathematics at Rutgers. He enjoys discussing random math at random times on encountering with friends all day. A typical day for him would involve writing some equations for some part of the day, discussing for another part, and cooking. He taught himself cooking and enjoys experimenting with it. Nilava's favorite music include Bollywood retro and music from a Bengali band called 'Chandrabindoo', which is what one typically hears from his bedroom.

Jessica Mingoia

Jessica Mingoia is committed to improving DEI at Rutgers and is a passionate advocate for those with invisible disabilities. She is a PhD candidate in art history specializing in Hellenistic and Roman art, architecture, and archaeology. Jessica also teaches undergraduate courses at Rutgers and other universities and is a contributor to Smarthistory. She has also served as a co-editor and the advisory editor for the Rutgers Art Review, a graduate student-run art history journal.

Zainab Mustapha

Zainab is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. She is originally from Nigeria, where she bagged her bachelor's and master's degree in Chemistry. Coming to grad school in the US is a significant leap in her career, and she's living her best moments at Rutgers. Zainab belongs to the Council of Black Graduates, where she serves as a co-secretary and oversees the organization's PR. When she is not in the lab or in front of her computer, Zainab is catching up with friends and watching international and lifestyle news. At the core of her being, Zainab connects strongly with her spirituality and projects the image of a Muslimah.

Shawna Pantzke

Shawna Pantzke (she/her/hers) is an Entomology Ph.D. student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick under Dr. Dina Fonseca. Her current research focus is on biology and management strategies for the mosquito Aedes albopictus. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and Spanish from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and a Master of Science degree in Entomology from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND. Outside of academics, Shawna enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, and spending time with friends.

Jose Ramirez-Garofalo

Jose Ramirez-Garofalo is a PhD student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources. He studies the effects of climate and other anthropogenic changes on the geographic ranges of animals worldwide, as well as various aspects of ecology within the urban gradient. 

Elizabeth Rosenzweig

Elizabeth is a 5th year PhD student at the Institute for Quantitative Biomedicine, where she develops statistical methods to decide whether candidate cancer drugs are effective. Recently, her graduate program awarded her their inaugural Inclusive Leadership award.

Yuhan Wei

Yuhan Wei is a PhD candidate at the school of social work at Rutgers University. She focuses on international students and minority students enrollment rate and adaptation in higher education institutions in U.S.

Joanna Woo

Joanna (they/them) is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Joint Graduate Program in Toxicology and affiliated with the Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science. Their research interests involve exploring translational models in pulmonary toxicology to address the air quality crisis in urban populations. Their main goals are to foster growing diverse communities in the world of science for easier collaboration and stimulate a love for community and identity. 

Committee Members Not Pictured


Nusrath Yusuf (Ph.D. student, Neuroscience)