Four named as 2020 Bouchet Honor Society scholars
April 29, 2020
Three doctoral students and a recent Ph.D. graduate are the newest members of the Virginia Tech chapter of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society.
Jeanette D. Barber, Devon Lee, Anurag Mantha, and Elizabeth Spingola are the sixth group of students to join Virginia Tech’s chapter. Shernita Lee, Graduate School assistant dean and director of the Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion, said they were chosen for outstanding scholarship and for promoting diversity and excellence through the five pillars of the society: scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy. Virginia Tech is one of 18 university partners with Bouchet Society chapters.
“The legacy of Dr. Edward Bouchet is exemplified in this group of inductees,” said Lee. “They contributed greatly to the Virginia Tech graduate community and beyond. These inductees will continue to be engaged leaders in their respective disciplines and through community-centered efforts wherever they are.”
The society was established in 2005 by Yale and Howard universities and named for the first African American to earn a doctoral degree in the United States. Edward Bouchet graduated from Yale College in 1874 and earned his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1876.
The following students are the 2020 Bouchet Honor Society inductees.
Jeanette Danielle Barber is a Ph.D. candidate in agricultural, leadership, and community education in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Her research explores the intersection of basic psychological needs and motivation with the goal of understanding what motivating factors help to improve feelings of inclusivity for underrepresented minorities in professional agricultural careers. Barber, a George Washington Carver Scholar, co-authored Relationships between Eco-leadership and Problem-Solving Styles of Gifted and Talented Youth, published in the Journal of Leadership Education. She has been an avid volunteer with the Looking Forward with STEM program, a tutoring and mentor initiative that exposes underrepresented minority students in grades 6-8 to STEM careers. Barber aspires to work with senior leaders within agricultural organizations develop policies that may lead to satisfying work environments, greater productivity, and retention among minorities within the agricultural profession. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University.
Devon Lee recently completed his Ph.D. in sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Lee studies the nuances of Pan-Africanism through the lens of critical race theory. Through his research, he has worked with independent political parties and Rastafarian organizations and has built transnational relationships with scholars and activists who attempt to advance the standard of human rights. He currently is a director for diversity and inclusion at Touro University, California. Lee plans to continue to promote social justice alongside institutions, activists, and communities. His teaching and leadership recognizes activism as professional development. He earned bachelor’s degrees at the University of California, Davis, and a master’s degree from the University of Kansas.
Anurag Mantha is a Ph.D. student in civil engineering with a concentration in environmental engineering in the College of Engineering. For his research, he is investigating the decision-making and system design parameters influencing the growth of opportunistic pathogens in residential water heating systems. He is an Ut Prosim Scholar, has participated in the Global Perspectives Program, and has received the Graduate Student Service Excellence Award. He serves as the chair of the Graduate Honor System, represents graduate student concerns at various levels of university governance, and currently receives funding from the Graduate School to work with the Graduate Student Assembly and the Contemporary Pedagogy course. Recently, he has been an advocate for improving food security and co-founded Food Access for Students, a nonprofit providing food access resources for all Virginia Tech students. Ultimately, he plans on a career in academia as an educator and administrator working to improve student wellbeing and success. He earned his bachelor's degree from GITAM University, India.
Elizabeth M. Spingola is a Ph.D. candidate in engineering education in the College of Engineering. Her dissertation focuses on understanding and designing accessible online learning spaces for disabled engineering. She is an accessibility and inclusion advocate on campus and serves as the Disability Caucus co-chair and the Disability Alliance president. She is the treasurer of Iota Delta Rho, an interdisciplinary research honor society, the recipient of the Sally Bohland Award for Exceptional Leadership and Innovative Service in Access and Inclusion, a member of the Academy for Graduate Teaching Assistant Excellence, and a representative on the Commission for Equal Opportunity and Diversity. She has accepted a position with IBM working as a data solutions consultant in the federal sector. She earned her master’s degree at Virginia Tech.