Graduate students at The University of Texas at Austin are changing the world. They're transforming health care through research and technology, working to find energy solutions and helping to deepen our sense of history and culture.
Read what our graduate students are doing, and follow us on social media to see even more features. What will you do as a graduate student?
Graduate Student Profiles
Counseling Psychology | College of Education
Jackie Yang is a 1st year Ph.D. student studying counseling psychology in the College of Education He was drawn to this field because of its holistic approach, incorporating mental health, social justice and advocacy elements. His research projects have covered a range of topics:
“In my first publication, we found that digital dating abuse, a form of intimate partner violence, is linked with external and internal stressors experienced by gay and bisexual men - the external stressor being discrimination and the internal stressor being internalized homophobia. I assisted on a second publication related to the demographic and behavioral factors associated with kratom usage, a traditional medicine in Thailand and Malaysia that produces a stimulant effect similar to opioids. The study demonstrated that White men and sexual minorities are at an increased risk for using kratom. These were very important findings for us.”
Pharmaceutical Sciences | College of Pharmacy
Elizabeth Ibiloye graduated with a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences (Health Outcomes division) from the College of Pharmacy this May. Her research has focused on exploring the patient experiences of individuals living with sickle cell disease (SCD) when they present to the emergency department (ED) in pain. Elizabeth’s project aims to address barriers and provide solutions that lead to more optimal health outcomes for this population, disproportionately affecting African Americans.
This research was one of the factors that drew Elizabeth to UT in the first place. In addition to the robust pharmaceutical sciences curriculum and the strong reputation of College of Pharmacy graduates, she was interested in finding an environment that would enable her to tackle some complex questions.
Design | College of Fine Arts
Ayesha Rahman has always loved creating and has always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. This has led her to pursue a Master’s in Design with a focus on health from the School of Design and Creative Technologies in the College of Fine Arts.
In her last project, Ayesha focused on nutrition as a component in health. Her team interviewed many adults about their food and education choices. After analyzing troves of information, they identified three primary insights: that people valued learning from experiences more than formal education, that food experiences are heavily associated with people over any place, and that nutrition is not one-size-fits-all. These insights have guided her work in the field.
Materials Science and Engineering | Cockrell School of Engineering
Weixin Guan has always been interested in sustainability. As a chemical engineering major during his undergraduate years, he discovered the critical role materials innovation plays in pushing engineering practice to the next level. Now, as a 2nd year Ph.D. student studying Materials Science and Engineering at the Texas Materials Institute at UT, he’s doing just that.
His current research is focused on solving the world’s growing water shortage problem. Two-thirds of the world’s population face some level of water scarcity, which has become especially critical in arid and inland areas. To address this, Weixin’s work is focused on atmospheric water harvesting - finding ways to extract and regenerate atmospheric water (also known as moisture) from the air we breathe.
Ph.D. Candidate | School of Nursing
Being raised by a single mother in rural Texas, Kayla Longoria saw firsthand the consequences of scarce and often inaccessible health and mental healthcare resources on families. Those experiences encouraged her to become a first-generation college graduate, inspired her to pursue a career in healthcare and have shaped the way she approaches her research.
A third-year Ph.D. candidate in the School of Nursing, Kayla’s research focuses on utilizing precision health methodologies to investigate perinatal mental health disparities.
Pharmaceutical Sciences | College of Pharmacy
As a Fulbright scholar from Chile, Miguel has learned many things during his time in Austin but one of the most important has been the “Texan approach” – a phrase he describes as a strong-willed and tenacious spirit of solving problems and getting things done, even in the most challenging circumstances.
Miguel is in his final year as a Ph.D. student in the Pharmaceutical Sciences program. The goal of his research is to generate viable pharmaceutical therapeutics for a drug, niclosamide, that cannot otherwise be usefully absorbed by the body.
Geosciences | Jackson School of Geosciences
Emily Bamber, an international student from Wales, is a 4th year Ph.D. student studying Geosciences in the Jackson School of Geosciences. Her research, recently published in December, focuses on how impact craters on Earth and Mars have been altered by river activity.
“In my research, I focus on valleys that entered impact craters on Mars and Earth to help understand how water once flowed on the surface of Mars. When impact craters form, they form a circular pit on the surface that is surrounded by a crater rim, which can be thought of as mountains or hills around the circular depression. I’m interested in looking at the valleys that crossed the crater rim and figuring out how those rivers crossed what is basically a mountain belt. To answer this question, I’m using satellite imagery, computer modeling, and fieldwork at Lonar impact crater in India. Understanding the history of water will help us understand where to look for evidence of past life on the planet.”
Health Behavior & Health Education | College of Education
As a senior in college, Jaylen Wright attended the UT Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) Black Student Athlete Summit. Connecting with this impressive group of Black professionals and student athletes inspired Jaylen to pursue his Ph. D. in Health Behavior & Health Education in the College of Education's Department of Kinesiology and Health Education.
Jaylen’s studies are focused on reproductive justice. With his work, he aims to address institutional racism and discrimination that new and expecting mothers face in the healthcare system. In addition to receiving multiple fellowship awards and being published in multiple academic journals, Jaylen has written a dissertation on the effects of prenatal stress on Black mothers and their children and defining safe care and culturally reflective healthcare practices.
Special Education | College of Education
As an individual with a learning disability and severe mathematics anxiety, Sarah never could have predicted that she would spend her academic career researching – and loving – mathematics. She is now a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Education where she centers her research around supports for culturally and linguistically diverse students with learning disabilities in math.
For her dissertation research, she created an online professional development module called Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Mathematics Instruction (CLR-MI). She is exploring whether this module, when paired with a university-level mathematics methods course, increases pre-service teachers’ knowledge, understanding and ability to apply culturally and linguistically responsive practices into their instruction.
Design | College of Fine Arts
Rosana Duran Garibi is taking her work with the School of Design and Creative Technologies to tackle an unexpected but very important issue: eating disorders. Specifically, her research on Anorexia Nervosa aims to generate better understanding of what people suffering from the disorder experience and to help their family, friends and health professionals create open and empathetic dialog to provide better support during recovery.
As an international graduate student, Rosana has worked in the US, Mexico and Scotland as a student, a teacher and a book illustrator.
Economics | College of Liberal Arts
Bokyung Kim’s research focuses on how economies respond to sectoral shocks when reflecting firm-level heterogeneity and what that means relative to economic recovery and policy effectiveness. Bokyung is pursuing a Ph.D. in Economics in the College of Liberal Arts and chose UT for its renowned faculty and excellent reputation.
One of her favorite aspects of the program is how her department fosters a close academic community while providing abundant opportunities for engagement with other students, faculty and scholars in the field. This has been important to her, especially as an international student from Seoul, South Korea.
African and African Diaspora Studies | College of Liberal Arts
A doctoral candidate in UT’s Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, Nathan Moore researches how Black artists push against the construct that time operates in a linear, forward-moving fashion. Nathan’s work supports the idea that the different imagination of time by Black artists empowers society to bring forth new ways of being that attend to ongoing violence while also crafting more livable futures.
“I was excited to come to UT to work with professors who were deeply committed to a Black feminist and Black queer studies analysis of history and culture. I knew my project would not only be understood here but it would also be given rigorous and caring attention to be developed to the best of its potential.”
Middle Eastern Studies | College of Liberal Arts
As a freshman in college, Erin Kelleher remembers watching the Arab Spring unfold across much of the Middle East and North Africa. Curious to learn more about the region, she signed up for her first Arabic course. Erin is now pursuing a Ph.D. in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies in the College of Liberal Arts. Her research focuses on the cultural and social history of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Egypt.
“I chose to study at UT because of my department’s emphasis on a regional understanding of the Middle East. Because I am interested in intersections of Ottoman and Arab histories, and the places where these histories are intertwined, this aspect of the department’s approach to the region really resonated with me.”
Psychology | College of Liberal Arts
As a Ph.D. candidate in UT’s Psychology doctorate program, Kaila Parker studies how growing up in a stressful early-life environment affects how children recover from traumatic brain injury.
Kaila chose to bring her talent to UT because of the genuine interest that faculty members expressed in her research ideas. This faculty support and approachability has fostered a strong sense of security for Kaila and inspired her to step outside of her comfort zone during her time as a researcher at UT.
Higher Education Leadership | College of Education
Sarah Simi Cohen connects how the individualistic ideals of neoliberalism have changed higher education institutions to inflict experiences of trauma on students. In particular, they focus on the experiences of first-generation, low-income, queer and trans college students as a doctoral candidate in the Higher Education Leadership program at UT.
Originally from the East Coast, Sarah came to Austin for the warm weather and stayed for the academic opportunity. The fellowship offer they received was a key deciding factor in their decision to attend UT. The network of peers and professors that surround Sarah has guided them throughout their academic journey.
Global Policy Studies | LBJ School of Public Affairs
Phil Gurley has taken the lessons he’s learned at UT far beyond classroom walls with his design of a city-wide recycling program for community centers in Monterrey, Mexico. Over the summer, Phil worked with the state of Nuevo to measure and improve recycling rates in the area. Phil conducted extensive research to inform his program proposal; he interviewed local residents, community center directors and business leaders to develop a range of recycling options that meet the varying needs of the five million residents of Monterrey.
The LBJ School has provided Phil with the opportunity to create a unique path of learning to specialize his degree. The courses he has been able to take in departments outside of LBJ have deepened his focus on food and environmental policies internationally. Phil is especially grateful for the professors at UT who challenge him daily to think outside the box of conventional approaches to policymaking.
English | College of Liberal Arts
Christos Kalli uses poetry to map U.S. counterhistory of the epic form from the 1960s to the present. Christos focuses on how ethnic American writers creatively revised the social, political and cultural revolutions of the newly multicultural nation at the time. His research offers a comparative and theoretically innovative analysis of the epics by contemporary American poets.
Collectively motivated by questions of social justice and belonging, the poets that Christos studies revised a literary form to renegotiate national values, oppose historically contingent inequalities and devise alternative forms of community. Christos’s valuable and unique research helps to carve out a central place for ethnic writers in the development of the epic form.
Philosophy | School of Nursing
Jonathan Hecht’s first-hand experience as a healthcare professional informs his research on the functionality of Rapid Response Teams in hospitals as a Nursing Ph.D. student at UT. His work explores the development of expertly trained nurses to support Rapid Response Teams as they combat patients’ clinical deterioration.
A two-time UT Austin alumnus, Jonathan appreciates the approachability of his accomplished professors. Professors’ willingness to break down complex concepts into easily understandable terms has been a throughline during Jonathan’s Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. pursuits at UT.