Five graduate students named Bouchet Honor Society Scholars
March 16, 2021
The Virginia Tech Graduate School has selected five doctoral students as the newest members of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society.
Karis Boyd-Sinkler, Renata C. Vieira Carneiro, Mahtot Gebresselassie, Katelyn A. Greene, and Jeannie M. Purchase will be inducted into the society during a virtual ceremony conducted at Yale University in April.
“These five stellar graduate students exemplify the pillars of the honor society and have made significant contributions to the graduate community and beyond,” said Shernita Lee, Graduate School assistant dean and director of recruitment, diversity, and inclusion. “Just as Dr. Bouchet was a trailblazer, so are these inductees. Their research contributions vary in expertise, which highlights the vast offerings of the Graduate School. I am confident that each inductee will have a successful career and embrace the personal, academic, and professional lessons gained from Virginia Tech.”
Established in 2005 by Yale and Howard universities, the society is named for the first African American to earn a doctoral degree in the United States. Bouchet graduated from Yale College in 1874 and earned his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1876.
Virginia Tech is one of 18 university partners with Bouchet Society chapters. The society’s goal is to create a network of scholars and professionals who “serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy,” according to its webpage.
Karis Boyd-Sinkler is a doctoral candidate in engineering education. Her dissertation research is focused on the interpersonal relationships of Black men in undergraduate engineering programs. She has been recognized as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program recipient, a Virginia Tech New Horizons Graduate Scholar, and a Virginia Tech Diversity Scholar. She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering science with a concentration in nanomedicine engineering from the University of Virginia, where she was a recipient of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium scholarship. She earned a master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech. After graduation, she will begin her role as the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University.
Renata C. Vieira Carneiro is a Ph.D. candidate in food science and technology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Her research focuses on sensory evaluation and consumer studies to support the development of new edamame varieties for domestic production. She is a graduate student representative for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Department of Food Science and Technology and is affiliated with the Water INTERface Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program. She has been recognized as a Global Perspectives Program scholar, a Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation graduate student fellow, and a Food Studies Program student associate. She has been an active student leader and currently serves as president of the Latin American and Iberian Graduate Students Association and the Virginia Tech chapter of Phi Tau Sigma, the Honor Society of Food Science and Technology. She earned her bachelor’s degree in food engineering from the Federal University of Viçosa, Brazil, and her master’s degree in project management from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. She earned a master’s degree at Virginia Tech, where she was a scholar of the Fulbright Foreign Student Program and the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program. Ultimately, Renata plans to continue to work on consumer-driven food product development and innovation.
Mahtot Gebresselassie is a Ph.D. candidate in planning, governance, and globalization in the School of Public and International Affairs at the university’s Arlington campus. Her research focuses on wheelchair accessibility of transportation service hailed through Uber and Lyft in the United States. She has been recognized as a Virginia Tech Diversity Scholar for her work that assessed Virginia Tech’s greater Washington, D.C., metro area campuses for accessibility to persons with a disability. She is also a fellow with the Virginia Tech Graduate Academy for Teaching Excellence. She has received several awards, including the Americans with Disabilities Act 25th Anniversary Scholarship by the American Public Transportation Foundation. Her service activities include outreach work to encourage diversity in the planning profession in her role as the American Planning Association Ambassador for Virginia. She earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture and planning from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, and her master’s degree from University of Waterloo, Canada.
Katelyn A. Greene is a biomedical engineering Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University. As an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral fellow, she develops engineering tools that use medical images to measure bone strength and assess fracture risk among obese older adults undergoing intentional weight loss. She has served as a graduate research mentor for more than 20 undergraduate and high school students, several of whom have presented their projects at conferences and pursued graduate degrees. Beyond research, she is extensively involved with scientific communication and public engagement, with the goal of increasing science literacy in underserved school districts. As a Morehead Planetarium and Science Center IMPACTS ambassador and leader in her community, she has facilitated dozens of STEM outreach events with K-12 schools, robotics competitions, and national organizations. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree from Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University. She is fully committed to using her scholarship, compassionate leadership, and enthusiasm for outreach to create space for diverse voices in STEM.
Jeannie M. Purchase is a Ph.D. candidate in environmental and water resources engineering. Her research investigates the efficacy of lead-certified pitcher and faucet filters, which are often distributed during lead-in-water crises. She tests the effectiveness of these filters in removing contaminants under extreme corrosion conditions and her work helps examine the barriers to filter adoption in at-risk communities. She has been recognized as a Charles Via Ph.D. Fellow, New Horizon Graduate Scholar, and a Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program Graduate Scholar. She has worked with a dozen undergraduate researchers and was awarded the Virginia Tech Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year in spring 2020. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Clemson University in biosystems engineering and her master’s degree in construction engineering and management from Virginia Tech. She switched her engineering focus in pursuit of finding ways to better serve communities by designing solutions to relevant everyday problems. As a member of the U.S. Water Study Team, she has been an advocate and partner with citizens from Denmark, South Carolina, in their fight for safe water. Ultimately, she aspires to work at the intersection of infrastructure, water quality, community engagement, and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.