Thursday, December 6, 2012

December 2012 Graduate Student of the Month Rachel Bailey

The Indiana University Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO) and University Graduate School (UGS) congratulate our December student of the month, Rachel Bailey!  Rachel is a doctoral student in telecommunications and her research uses experimental, computational and psychophysiological methods to study the dynamics of complex human – media interactions. “My research program seeks to discover and explicate the complex interactions among relevant individual, environmental and media characteristics during media use that have significant downstream media effects on important human behaviors (e.g. learning, behavior change, enjoyment),” she explains.  Rachel discovered her inner scientist while attending the Missouri School of Journalism and went on to earn undergraduate degrees in psychology and strategic communication.  “I was curious about what it was about certain strategic media messages that made them more successful and psychologically affective than others,” she recalls.  Rachel earned a master’s degree focused on psychological processing of mediated information and worked for Disney Media before starting her doctorate at IU.  Regarding this small-town Missouri girl’s proudest accomplishment, she says, “I think the most important thing I’ve done is to earn the respect of my peers and colleagues while doing good, interesting work.  I’m sure a lot of my successes are due to having wonderful mentors and friends that support me.”  Rachel likes to read fiction, cook, play golf, and travel.  “I have three dachshunds: Penny, Petey, and Willie, that I spoil absolutely rotten,” she also reports.  When asked the all-important question: cake or pie? Rachel demurs, explaining that she does not eat grains, and adds, “But before seeing the light, I would have chosen cake.  Something about the texture, I think.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

November 2012 Graduate Student of the Month Erkin Kuru

The Indiana University Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO) and University Graduate School (UGS) congratulate our November student of the month, Erkin Kuru. Erkin is part of the Biochemistry Interdisciplinary Graduate Program.  His research interests focus on analyzing bacterial cell walls in order to design much needed antibiotics.   Erkin was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey.  He recalls “I was constantly at the heart of one of the most sophisticated cities in the world, but I also realized early on, that I needed to become an experimental biologist, who would combine the analytical thinking of an engineer with biological sciences. Thus, I went on studying the biological sciences and bioengineering program at the Sabanci University. During my time in college, it became clear that I would not be able to fully contemplate biological systems without a fair intuition about the chemistry of their macromolecular components.”  Erkin’s academic interests always had a biological component to them, but he found biological systems too complex and unpredictable. Therefore, he has sought ways to simplify biological systems in order to increase our understanding and our control on them.   “This 'obsession' about increasing control was probably founded very early on, when me and my colleagues reinvented and discussed overly simplified versions of chaos theory and mechanistic determinism on a philosophical level,” he explains.  “Much more recently, I have discovered that this approach to biology is shared by many great minds, whose vision can now be classified within the scope of a fairly popular field: synthetic biology.  I think my whole academic interest can perfectly be summed up by one of the last entries that the great physicist Richard Feynman had on his black board: ‘What I cannot create, I do not understand.’” 
When asked about his accomplishments of which he is most proud, Erkin offered this fascinating mini-lesson in his field:  “When came to IU, I joined to Prof. Michael VanNieuwenhze's organic chemistry group, mostly because Mike posed a great biological problem for me to solve: Developing universal chemical tags to label the cell walls of bacteria, namely their peptidoglycan. Peptidoglycan is an essential megamolecule that is also specific to bacteria; therefore most of the antibiotics we currently rely on target the peptidolgycan assembly. However, the resistance of bacteria to these antibiotics is on the rise and we need to increase our understanding of peptidoglycan biosynthesis in order to be a few steps ahead of these dangerous multi-drug resistant bacteria. Unfortunately, until now we had only a limited set of tools to probe peptidoglycan in vivo. Basically, I have developed the first non-toxic and universal methods to probe the peptidoglycan synthesis real-time and in live bacteria. In the process of design, I have looked at molecular signatures of peptidoglycans,that are common to all bacterial species and noticed from the literature that some of these molecules can readily be exchanged by seemingly bizarre but natural derivatives in diverse bacteria. Recognizing this inherent tolerance, I have designed a variety of unnatural and modular derivatives, which allowed us to probe cell walls of virtually all bacteria without perturbing their growth. In other words, we have discovered the Achilles' heel of the bacteria! Therefore, this concept definitely carries the potential to facilitate countless experiments involving basic peptidoglycan research. On the other hand, since peptidoglycan biosynthesis is an essential process and is tightly related to the bacterial growth, we are currently designing new probes that may directly have diagnostic and/or antimicrobial applications.” 
Erkin identifies art as a key component of his life.  “I cannot read, write or do lab work if I don’t listen to good music, preferably jazz or classical music,” he reflects.  But his chief artistic passion is photographic, a craft he learned while assisting Nazif Topcuoglu, a renowned Turkish art photographer, in Istanbul.  Erkin finds any excuse to take pictures, and recently used his talents to photograph his friends in their Halloween costume in his studio.   
           Taking a moment to reflect upon his graduate school experience thus far, Erkin explains “Graduate school is an amazing place to learn how to cope with failure! Graduate school, similar to any other ambitious endeavors in life, is full of failures. And there is no doubt that this is very depressing.  Thus, although considering to give up is sometimes inevitable, I believe my example tells that persistence and stubbornness about your project can pay off. The trick is in taking the right attitude in order to keep yourself constantly motivated.”  He also pointed out that “thinking widely and interdisciplinary was definitely a must for [his] case.”
            On that inspirational note, we ask the final, most important question that faces all graduate students: cake or pie?  Erkin responds: “Unless it is cheesecake, I would definitely choose pie! I usually hate cake, because I am not a big fan of frosting. There is a lot of sugar and foamy cream to get though until reaching to the core of a cake.  Obviously, cheesecake is an exception and therefore I love it!  Pie is another story. I don’t think I have ever eaten a real pie until I got to States. Surprisingly, the pie concept as a desert does not exist in the Turkish cuisine. I love the substance that its crust gives to a pie. I also like my fruits in a desert!”

Monday, October 8, 2012

October 2012 Graduate Student of the Month Cara Maffini

The Indiana University Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO) and University Graduate School (UGS) congratulate our October student of the month, Cara Maffini. Cara is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology.  Her research interests focus on the intersections of ethnicity, culture, and mental health. In particular, she is interested in Asian Americans and understanding psychosocial and developmental protective and risk factors related to negative experiences such as violence, delinquency, and victimization. “My research evolved out of my passion to bring attention to and amplify voices that are often over-looked in society,” she explains. “I focus on factors that may exacerbate or reduce participation in at-risk behaviors as well as psychosocial strengths that can reduce the deleterious consequences of negative experiences such as violence and victimization.  I am passionate about the experience, role, and complexities of identity, which comes out in my research, teaching, and counseling. I also enjoy exploring and discussing strategies to create culturally-inclusive classrooms and counseling environments.”  Cara feels she has gotten valuable guidance from her mentor, Dr. Joel Wong, in that he has encouraged her to seek out a variety of different opportunities.  “Coming into grad school, I thought I knew what I wanted to do, but I tried to keep an open-mind and tried different experiences that I thought I would hate. I have struggled through experiences when I didn’t like the material or the situation, but tried to focus on the skills I was getting out of the experience. Throughout grad school, I have volunteered for seemingly benign opportunities that helped me develop skills that were appealing in other realms. I have noticed that having a lot of different experiences and skills has made me more marketable. I never imagined how nicely it would all come together. In the process, I was able to hone in on what I am passionate about. Finding what I really enjoy makes my work much easier. I look forward to doing my research. I look forward to teaching my students and discussing topics I love, such as multiculturalism and counseling. I look forward to working with clients through their challenges and watching them grow.”
Cara is also an avid reader and traveler who volunteers at a youth camp each summer in her native California.  She completed her BAS in psychology and dance at UC Davis and her MA in psychology at CSU Sacramento.  Cara experienced quite a bit of culture shock upon her relocation to Indiana, and shared some of the lessons she learned with us:
10. There is A LOT of corn and soy beans. One should not run through the corn fields (I was schooled on that by a 13-year-old). There is a difference between a tractor and a plow – not sure what it is though.
9.  People tend to move slower and I need to be patient.
8.  When the lightening is green, take cover. DO NOT sit and watch the tornado approach,
7.  Horse drawn buggies, camels, tractors, obscene amounts of road kill, deer walking through traffic: just another day in Indiana.
6.  Adults can play bean bag toss too (they used to call it “corn hole”). Apparently, here is skill involved in this bean bag toss situation.
5.  The weather is unbelievably unpredictable and intense. Always carry extra shoes, an umbrella, and a sweater/coat.
4.  Four seasons exist. Fall is beautiful!  Snow isn't just something you drive to see.
3.  Sports are taken very seriously. Go all in or hide.
2.  G-chat is awesome and helps make it easier to maintain friendships across the country.
1.  Talking about how awesome California is all the time does not help one make friends. However, finding fellow Californians does.
Despite missing her beloved home state, Cara reflects that she has enjoyed her experience, both for the educational opportunities and the connections she has made.  “I’ve had so many opportunities here and have made awesome friends here. They have been willing to explore Brown County and sit through a weird bonfire/hay ride, though we were the only folks from out-of-state. Others willing to take a day off from research to go through the beautiful woods nearby.  Friends that host annual luaus to help make winter suck less. Friends that sit and watch lightning storms and even a tornado come at us; friends hide out in the locker room of the SRSC during a tornado; friends that send texts to make sure I’m safe, offer refuge, or ware willing to do an informal Rorschach during power outages.  Friends that sit and watch as a monsoon-like rainstorm flood the backyard during my birthday party. All in all, friends who are supportive and encouraging.” On that touching note, we turned the interview to more serious matters: does Cara prefer cake or pie?  “Well, I LOVE fruit, so cake or pie is good with me as long as there is fruit involved. Maybe some chocolate in there too. Or carrot cake; I love good carrot cake -- without raisins. I really love dessert. Especially Vietnamese desserts with avocado. But I don’t like ice cream. Well, except if it’s mochi ice cream. Wait, what was the question again?”

Friday, March 23, 2012

GPSO Announces Spring 2012 Travel Award Winners

The IU Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO) proudly congratulates the following students as winners of the Spring 2012 Travel Award:

  • Nicholas Best, History and Philosophy of Science
  • Lisa Borrero, Health, Physical Education, and Recreation
  • Kathryn Boucher, Psychology
  • Quetzal Class, Psychology
  • Anne Fiala, Fine Arts
  • Candice Grant, Education
  • Steve Green, Psychology
  • Savannah Hall, English
  • Joo Hyung Kim, Political Science
  • Elizabeth Konwest, Anthropology
  • Yilmaz Koylu, Second Language Studies
  • Gloria Maleski, Geography
  • Michael Miragliotta, Music
  • David Riese, Geological Sciences
  • Tiffany Roman, Education
  • Laura Seger, History and Philosophy of Science
  • Benjamin Taylor, Music
  • Ashley Viager, Education

A total of 104 IU graduate students submitted complete, valid applications, which were reviewed by the GPSO Travel Awards Committee. The GPSO Travel Award is offered through a competitive process for graduate and professional students at Indiana University Bloomington. It is given to help support travel expenses to conferences at which the student's work will be presented (i.e., speeches, posters, or interactive design), or to help support travel to workshops, special trainings, competitions, and auditions that will benefit the student professionally. Funds may be used for registration fees, presentation materials, transportation, and lodging/food associated with the conference, workshop, training, competition, or audition.

This year, the GPSO was able to offer more Travel Awards than in previous years, with a total of 36 Travel Awards for the 2011-2012 academic year, each at $500.

To learn more about GPSO Travel awards, please visit

Indiana University Graduate and Professional Student Organization

Friday, March 9, 2012

Seven Doctoral Students Travel to South Korea for an IU AGEP Professional Development Tour

From the left: Leah Davis, Deidre Redmond, Dr. Yolanda Treviño, Nikole Miller, Dr. Maxine Watson, Nancy Ortiz.
This spring break, seven IU doctoral students along with University Graduate School  Dean Maxine Watson and Dean Yolanda Treviño, are headed to South Korea for a professional development tour.

Hosted by Sungkyunkwan University (, the travelers will spend the week of March 8 to March 18, 2012, learning about the higher education system in South Korea and experiencing what it would be like to work abroad. Each student will be giving a presentation to SKKU colleagues in their discipline.

The visit is being sponsored by the IU AGEP program with the goal of increasing global literacy, gaining exposure to specialized training and practical experiences outside of the U.S., and increasing opportunities for international collaboration for a small group of advanced doctoral underrepresented minority students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

The travelers:
  1. Jose Lugo Martinez
  2. Lewis Jones
  3. Leah Davis
  4. Nikole Miller
  5. Deidre Redmond
  6. Nancy Ortiz
  7. Alfonse, Pham
Note from the University Graduate School: We will be following along with the students as they learn about SKKU and South Korea. Look for an update and photos upon their return!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thinking of attending IU? Chat with current IU graduate students.

The Bloomington campus for Indiana University.
A friendly reminder of the Emissaries for Graduate Student Diversity Adobe Connect Web Chat sessions.

These sessions are designed to allow prospective students to interact with current graduate student emissaries as they discuss issues that pertain to being a graduate student at IU, including:
  • Why go to graduate school?
  • Tips for applying to graduate school
  • What being a graduate student entails
  • Funding opportunities
  • Community and campus resources for IU students
  • Life in Bloomington 

This month’s topic is:
“Should I visit campus?”  


Two sessions have been scheduled for this month:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012, at 4:00pm:
  • Ahmed, Political Science
  • Amy, Curriculum and Instruction
  • Jennifer, Criminal Justice
Saturday, March 24 at 2:00pm:
  • Kuang, Biochemistry
  • Claire, Anthropology
  • J.T., Higher Education and Student Affairs

To participate in an online chat session, your prospective students will need follow these instructions:

1.    Go to at the scheduled time
2.    Login as a guest. Students will be able to see and hear the emissaries on their screens.
3.    Students may submit questions to the emissaries using the chat feature.

Upcoming sessions:

Topic of the Month for April: Life in Bloomington
  • Saturday, 4/14 at 1pm
  • Thursday, 4/19 at 3pm

Call for Applications: Emissaries for Graduate Student Diversity, 2012-13

The 2011-12 Emissaries for Graduate Student Diversity.
The Indiana University Graduate School is now accepting applications for the 2012-13 Emissaries for Graduate Student Diversity program ( This recruitment support program includes ten emissaries (Masters and PhD graduate students) who will serve as first contacts and initial resources for prospective graduate students, in addition to working and engaging in dialogue with graduate programs, departments, the University Graduate School and the GPSO.

The program promotes peer connections between individuals interested in IU graduate programs, especially science, technology, mathematics (STM) disciplines, and current IUB graduate students. Graduate student emissaries dedicate two semesters, and optional summer term, to serving as community-building liaisons between graduate studies and the graduate student body at IUB.

Applicants must be full-time graduate students in a Masters or Ph.D. program at IUB, be in good academic standing, and demonstrate involvement in program, departmental, university or community organizations.  Preference will be given to graduate students who are involved in diversity-building activities and programming. An in-person interview is required.

Students must submit the following by 5pm on March 30, 2012, in order to be considered:
  1. data form  ( );
  2. a curriculum vitae/resume; and,
  3. a 1-page essay about past experience with similar initiatives, diversity-building efforts, cultural competency, community involvement or leadership skills.
Email the curriculum vitae/resume and 1-page essay to

If you have any questions regarding the Emissary for Graduate Student Diversity Program, please e-mail

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Upcoming Fellowship Deadlines: March/April 2012

Deadline: Friday, March 2, 2012

Indiana University Credit Union Dissertation Fellowship
Provides $20,000 stipend support for graduate students in the final year of their dissertation. Please do not contact the IU Credit Union, but rather Yvonne Dwigans, Fellowships Coordinator, (812/855-8852, for more information.

Santosh Jain Endowed Memorial Scholarship
The scholarship offers financial support to a current international graduate student who has demonstrated commitment to service and education and plans to pursue a service-oriented career and demonstrates financial need. Preference will be given to graduate students from South Asia, in particular those hailing from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sikkim. 

Deadline: April 13, 2012

The Irving and Shirley Brand Graduate Fellowship
The fellowship is an annual fellowship for IUB incoming or current graduate students in the Humanities, with preference given to students of Philosophy.

SOTL: The Why, What, and How of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Simon Brassell, Craig Nelson, George Rehrey, Carol Hostetter, David Pace, Barry Rubin

Friday, March 2, 8:30 – 1:00 pm*
Georgian Room, IMU
Indiana University 

This workshop is for anyone interested in conducting a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning project. A panel of SOTL scholars will discuss their own research approaches as participants engage in conversations on SOTL research questions and methods. Key resources for conducting SOTL work will be distributed. The workshop is open to all faculty and graduate students.

Please register by February 29th at

Sponsored by: FACET at Indiana University Bloomington and The Indiana University Bloomington Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Program

*lunch will be provided