Graduate School Student Success

Samantha Miller photoSamantha Miller, a 4th year Ph.D. student in Religious Studies, had the honor of presenting her research at the Pappas Patristics Institute Conference in Boston this October. Samantha's paper, entitled Fear Not: John Chrysostom’s Demonological Discourse as Motivation for Virtue, discusses how John Chrysostom, a fourth-century bishop and theologian, used speech about demons as a way to encourage his congregation to be more virtuous. This research looks specifically at his emphasis on a person’s proairesis, which is something like their free will, and the relationship between his emphasis on proairesis when speaking about demons.  Through this it becomes apparent that demons, which are very real, are useful for Chrysostom’s goal of getting his audience to be virtuous. This is significant to theological studies because it offers a way to see Chrysostom’s moralizing tendencies as significant in themselves and worthy of study rather than dismissing the man wholesale because he preaches about morality and not “systematic theology." Upon completing her degree, Samantha hopes to find a tenure-track position teach and researching historical theology.


This October, International Affairs Master's student Yasir Kuoti presented a paper at the Wisconsin Political Science Association and Wisconsin Sociological Association Conference. His paper, entitled How Do Autocratic States Survive Economic Sanctions? The Case for Religious and Tribal nationalism in Iraq, examines how the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein countered the effects of the most comprehensive multilateral sanctions ever imposed by United Nations Security Council. It argues that early in the 1990s Saddam’s regime reluctantly institutionalized Islam and tribalism into the Iraqi secular state after recognizing the potential threats of these two powerful sources of domestic (in)stability. It concludes that such institutionalization is key to understanding Iraq’s survival strategy. This is significant not only to the academic scholarship but also to policy makers who must, if all possible, fully understand the true underpinning of autocratic states before such punitive measures are imposed. Yasir also published an article in Militant Leadership Monitor this year, entitled A Post-Mortem Analysis of Muhsen al-Fadhli—Former Head of Syrian AQ Affiliate Khorasan.



Jiangbiao He Photo

Jiangbiao He, a current Ph.D. student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering program, recently presented a paper at the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition (ECCE) in Pittsburgh, PA. His paper, entitled Diagnosis of Stator Winding Short-Circuit Faults in an Interior Permanent Magnet Synchronous Machine, focuses on the reliability improvement and condition monitoring of electric motor drive systems, which have been widely used in energy conversion units of electric/hybrid vehicles, renewable energies, and so on. This paper presentation introduced a novel diagnostic method for detecting stator winding short-circuit faults in permanent magnet machines. The invented method has low cost, fast fault diagnosis speed, and high resolution. After completing his Ph.D. degree at Marquette University in spring of 2015, Jiangbiao would like to work in industry in the area of power and automation technologies. Jiangbiao He also obtained the Outstanding Research Assistant Honor Award from Marquette College of Engineering in April 2014.



Matt Seib, a PhD candidate in the Marquette University Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, has been awarded the 2014 STAR (Science to Achieve Results) Fellowship from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The prestigious fellowship supports environmental engineering and science graduate students working in areas that serve national interest. The STAR Fellowship provides total benefit up to $42,000 per year for two years. Matt is conducting research regarding sustainable systems to treat municipal wastewater with a focus on energy and nutrient recovery. Using his results, wastewater treatment systems can be converted from net energy users to anaerobic membrane bioreactors that produce methane that can be burned as a renewable energy source. In conjunction with his M.S. studies at Michigan Tech, Matt also spent two years (2009-2011) in the Peace Corps as a water/sanitation engineer in Mali, West Africa, where he conducted research examining water quality at different sources and points-of-use in the village where he was living. Matt is now working at Marquette University within the research group of Dr. Daniel Zitomer in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering. For more information on Matt's research and the STAR Fellowship, see and



Chris Sundberg photo

Second year Clinical and Translational Rehabilitation Health Sciences Ph.D. student Chris Sundberg had the opportunity to present his research poster at the Integrative Physiology of Exercise conference in Miami, FL. His research focus on sex differences in muscle fatigability during short-duration, high-intensity cycle ergometry. Chris explains that human locomotion, athletic performance and the ability to carry out everyday activities are determined by the ability of our neuromuscular system to repetitively generate force or power. A fundamental consequence of repeated activation of the neuromuscular system, however, is the force- and power-generating capacity becomes impaired—i.e., the muscle fatigues. Studies that elucidate the causes of muscle fatigue in men and women performing different tasks is important to inform exercise prescriptions used to not only improve athletic performance but to restore or maintain physical function in both healthy and diseased populations. The results demonstrate that while men could generate markedly greater amounts of force and power, the time course of muscle fatigue and the neuromuscular activation patterns were similar, suggesting that the causes of fatigue were the same between men and women. After finishing his doctoral studies, Chris hopes to obtain a tenure track faculty position where he can continue to research and teach the marvels of human physiology.



Joe Packhem photoJoe Packhem, a 2nd year Master's student in Marquette's Civil Engineering program, recently participated at the European Society for Engineering Education conference in Birmingham, England. Joe coordinated a day-long educational workshop for students, deans, professors, and researchers in engineering education, as well as presented a paper. His paper, entitled Insight to Global Engineering Challenges: Study and Analysis, is a collaboration between the Student Platform for Engineering Education Development (SPEED), and the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFEES) to track global trends in engineering education.  General information was gathered about the person taking the survey regarding what year they are in school, what department are they in, where are they located, what methods are being used for teaching at their university, what would they like to see more of in their education, do they have access to research opportunities and funds, and do they have availability for international exchange programs (also if so, where does the funding come from).  This information was gathered to help policy makers at universities make decisions, and further uses are being developed in a following paper for the World Engineering Education Forum in Dubai this December. Joe currently works part-time for the Masonry Advisory Council in Illinois and plans to continue working there after graduation.


Stacy Stolzman, a Ph.D. student in Marquette's Clinical and Translational Rehabilitation Health Science program, was awarded a 2014-2015 American Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW). This prestigious award was granted to a total of just 244 scholars for the 2014-15 academic year. Stacy describes the award as an amazing honor that will allow her to focus on her research. Stacy is a pediatric physical therapist with over fifteen years of experience evaluating children and making exercise prescriptions to improve health status. Her current dissertation project investigates the role of body composition, physical fitness, and inflammation on pain in adolescents. Her goal is to obtain tenure at a research university teaching pediatric physical therapy.


Read the full press release.


Phil Mack photoPhil Mack, a 2nd year Ph.D. student in Philosophy, won the American Philosophical Association 2014 Prize in Latin American Thought. This is a blind-reviewed, national prize sponsored by the APA Committee on Hispanics in Philosophy. Phil's prize winning essay, entitled Should a Concept of Truth be attributed to Nahuatl Thought? Preserving 'the Colonial Difference' between Concepts of the West and Nahua Philosophy, will be presented at the APA Eastern, published in the Newsletter and earned a cash prize.




Niknam photoMehrdad Niknam, a 3rd year Civil Engineering Ph.D. student, recently presented his research at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) conference. His work, entitled A Social Networking Website for AEC Projects, presents a project social networking website that facilitates professional interactions among a project’s participants and provides a dynamic project knowledge base that would allow combining knowledge created during various phases of a project life cycle. Architecture, Engineering and Construction projects involve a number of individuals and organizations with different roles and responsibilities. In a new project, participants may initially not know each other; however, to be effective, those with a common interest must be able to easily find each other to share their knowledge about the project. Another requirement for effectively managing a project is the ability to easily add new knowledge to the project knowledge base. The current format for representing, accessing, and sharing project data cannot take advantage of the full potential of the Internet. In Niknam's proposal, the participants in a new project may join the project website using OpenID. The project website uses a Semantics-based approach to information modeling that allows project website members to add new knowledge to the project knowledge base and perform graph query on project data. 



Nicholas Winninger, a first year MBA student in the Graduate School of Management, won at both the Marquette ImpactNext Business Plan Competition and the Rice University Business Plan Competition this past spring. He was accompanied by College of Engineering students Devin Turner and Charlie Beckwith who created FocalCast, a versatile presentation app, the primary venture of their company Narsys LLC. Together they won the Graduate Student Team prize and the Top Overall Business Model Prize at Marquette’s Impact Next competition receiving $3,000 in prize money. Later that same week, they traveled to Rice University in Houston to compete in the “Richest and Largest Business Plan Competition”. There they competed in a rigorous week-long competition against 42 international ventures selected from a pool of over 600 applicants. As a result, they won the $3,000 Gimmal Group Outstanding IT Prize and the Trailblazer Capital Start-up Entrepreneur Investment Prize for $50,000. Since their success, the group has been featured in a variety of publications including the Journal Sentinel and the Milwaukee Business Journal. Moving forward, the venture has been approached by numerous accelerators offering to help grow the company.



This June, Biomedical Engineering master's student Josh Hughey was awarded 2nd

place for his poster in the Biofluids category of the World Congress of Biomechanics (WCB) MS poster competition in Boston. Josh's poster was titled Impact of stent platform on wall shear stress distributions after implantation: Insights from computational fluid dynamics simulations using optical coherence tomography and coronary CT angiography​. In addition to Josh and Dr. John LaDisa, Associate Professor of  Biomedical Engineering at Marquette, the coauthors on this work were Hiromasa Otake MD and Ken-ichi Hirata MD of Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan. The WCB is a prominent meeting held every 4 years in a different international location, and features the best work in many areas of biomechanics from around the globe.



Merit Schumaker photo

1st year Mechanical Engineering master's student Merit Schumaker presented his paper entitled Mesoscale Simulations of Dry Sand at the Society for Experimental Mechanics conference this June. Merit explains that there is an interest in producing accurate and reliable computer simulations to predict the dynamic behavior of heterogeneous materials and to use these simulations to gain further insight into experimental results. In so doing, a more complete understanding of the multiple-length scale involved in heterogeneous material compaction can be obtained. In this work, planar shock impact experiments were simulated using two different hydrocode formulations: iSALE and CTH. The simulations, which were based on a Georgia Tech experimental setup, consisting of a flyer of different thicknesses impacting dry sand over a range of impact. Average particle velocity traces obtained from the computer simulations were compared to experimental measurements. The mesoscale simulations compare well with the dynamic behavior of dry sand. Improvements on these simulations with the inclusion of these mesoscale phenomena were presented with this paper. Upon completion of his master's degree, Merit hopes to begin a career in Aerospace or Mechanical Engineering for government contractors or various government agencies in and around Washington DC, with hopes of someday returning to academia as an instructor.


Jeff LaJeunesse photo

Jeff LaJeunesse, a first year M.S. student in Mechanical Engineering, recently presented a paper at a conference for the Society for Experimental Mechanics. His work, summarized in his paper entitled Simulating the Planar Shock Response of Concrete, sought to create computational simulations that predicted the shock response of high strength concrete under blast loading. Experimental test data was obtained from an Air Force Research Laboratory senior research engineer, Dr. Bradley Martin, at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Simulations were performed using a hydrocode software in which material response under shock loading can be observed and characterized. Computational simulations involving concrete, and other granular materials, have been of great interest to the Air Force due to the vast use of concrete in roads, bunkers, etc. After finishing his master's work at Marquette, Jeff will consider pursuing a doctorate degree in mechanical engineering or entering industry in a related field. 


This May, 4th year Interdisciplinary Ph.D. student Hugo Maxwell Pereira presented an academic poster at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Orlando, FL. His presentation, entitled Cognitive Stress and Visual Gain Affects Force Fluctuations at Low Forces looks at further investigating sex difference in neuromuscular physiology. Understanding sex differences in neuromuscular physiology will improve exercise prescription for training and rehabilitation. This study investigated different levels of cognitive demand imposed during sustained elbow flexor contraction in different intensities. Results showed that that increased cognitive demand impaired steadiness of the elbow flexor muscles in women, especially at very light contractions. The amount of visual feedback also influenced steadiness in women; however, manipulating the visual feedback did not offset the decline in steadiness when cognitive demand was imposed. These results highlight the influence of cognitive demand in the control of force especially in women. Understanding these sex differences will help to prevent work related injuries during light contractions under dual task activities that requires cognitive demand.


This June, first year Computational Sciences Ph.D. student Drew Williams, will be presenting a poster at the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America Conference in Indianapolis, IN. His research and poster, entitled Smartphone-based Light Intensity Calculation Application for Accessibility Measurement, is part of the Access Ratings for Buildings project, in conjunction with UWM and funded by the National lnstitute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research. Drew and his team have developed a light meter that runs as an application on a smart phone and determines whether or not a particular environments' lighting is accessible for users as outlined by ADA guidelines. As the application can assist building and business owners in determining if their buildings and businesses are accessible for disabled users quickly and easily, without the need to buy additional hardware, this in turn can greatly improve the quality of life for those with differing abilities, allowing them to visit a wider variety of establishments. Last year, as a Computational Sciences master's student at Marquette, Drew won an A.T. Anderson Memorial Scholarship from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Upon completing his Ph.D., Drew hopes to become a research scientist, creating accessible human-computer interfaces.


Christina Figueroa PhotoThis April, Christina Figueroa, a 3rd year Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student, presented a posted and the Cognitive Neuroscience Society's conference in Boston. Her poster, entitled Reinforcement Learning in Individuals at Risk for Alzheimer's Disease, aimed at providing a novel method of differentiating individuals who carrier a genetic risk factor for AD from those who do not using reinforcement learning. By so doing, her findings are the first to assess this population within this cognitive domain, effectively filling a gap within the literature and helping to bridge a divide between various areas of psychological research (cognitive, clinical, and neuroscience). This conference was the first national presentation of Christina's work and publication is expected to follow in the near future. After completing her Ph.D. from Marquette, Christina plans on pursuing a career in clinical neuropsychology, either within academia or at an academic medical center.


Katie Hazlett photoKatie Hazlett, a 4th year Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student, presented a poster entitled Executive functioning and risk for Alzheimer’s disease: Family history predicts performance on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society's conference in Boston this April. Given the sensitivity of the WCST in the context of Alzheimer's disease (AD), examining differences in performance among at-risk cognitively intact individuals (i.e., those with positive family history (FH) of AD) would provide valuable insight into preclinical cognitive changes. The current study examined WCST performance in 24 FH- and 17 FH+ older adults. Results revealed significant group differences for multiple WCST variables, such that the FH+ group consistently exhibited poorer performance. Moreover, family history predicted performance on the WCST above and beyond the contribution of demographic variables such as age. These results speak to the potential role of executive functioning (EF) in bolstering our understanding of early cognitive markers of future decline. Expanding our understanding of the relationship between additional domains of cognitive functioning (i.e., EF) and risk for AD may allow for better prediction of cognitive decline and potential progression to AD. After graduation, Katie plans to pursue a career in neuropsychology, either in an academic setting or within an academic medical center. She was also recently selected to receive the Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J. Fellowship for the 2014-2015 academic year.


Lauren and Ashley Photo Ashley Beaudoin (left) and Lauren Thomas (right) are 2nd year Masters students of the College Student Personnel Administration program in the College of Education. Recently, they co-presented with Tina McNamara, the Director of Undergraduate Advising in the College of Education, at the National Academic Advising Association's Regional V Conference in Madison, WI. Their presentation, entitled Not Just Minions: Graduate Assistants and Practicum Students as Advising Partners, discussed different strategies for graduate students to gain meaningful opportunities and experience in academic advising that will benefit an advising office. The presentation gave an overview of the reasons a graduate assistantship position in advising was created at Marquette, the challenges associated with the assistantship, the evolution of a summer practicum experience, and the benefits of both opportunities. Marquette's Advising Assistantship Experience and Practicum Guidelines lends itself to be a model for programs at peer institutions.  


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