Wolf of the Week: Stories from the Field

Each week, the Graduate School will feature a graduate student or postdoc who exemplifies exceptional leadership and communication skills both inside and outside of the classroom. The Wolf of the Week student will share research, personal NC State anecdotes and some tips for success. By sharing these stories, we encourage our campus community to celebrate graduate students and postdocs who represent the diversity of programs and projects that can be found on campus.

December 5, 2018 | Sarah Hammond

Sarah Hammond is a Ph.D. student in the Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development program, and she also works as a Social/Clinical Research Specialist in the Department of Clinical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Sarah has published multiple journal articles on vet student communication. Recently, Sarah produced “On the Margins of Veterinary Medicine,” a documentary that explores the experiences of underrepresented students in veterinary medicine.

Sarah Hammond
Sarah Hammond’s research interests are focused primarily on equity issues in education.

Can you tell us about your research/teaching experience?
My research interests are focused primarily on equity issues in education. I’m especially interested in education policies surrounding access and attainment for underrepresented groups and how our school systems can best support the development of our most vulnerable students. Working at the College of Veterinary Medicine for the past five years has given me ample opportunity to conduct research and advance my teaching skills. I use both quantitative and qualitative research methods to study critical issues surrounding student development, diversity, and holistic admissions processes. I deliver guest lectures on the importance of intercultural communication, which helps first-year veterinary students learn to apply their communication skills in culturally competent ways that value the diverse characteristics of their future clients and colleagues. Running our simulations lab, I’m able to help students practice their communication skills in authentic and meaningful ways that not only improve student confidence and skill development but ultimately, patient outcomes.

What do you like the most about NC State? Or why did you choose to come to NC State?
One of the best things about NC State is the high-quality mentorship that our faculty provide throughout the University. I feel equally supported by both the faculty in my program and the faculty at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Both colleges have been instrumental in developing my identity as a scholar and advocate. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Poe Hall or over on William Moore Drive, there is no shortage of knowledgeable compassionate mentors who exemplify the very best of their field. I’m lucky to be able to learn and grow under such passionate faculty but even luckier to have had the mentorship needed to develop my own passions. It takes a village, right?

What is something that you have learned from The Graduate School’s professional development programs that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
Oh, my gosh. There is so much! The Graduate School’s teaching and communication certificate has helped me practice and develop my teaching skills in ways that I never would have had the opportunity to do otherwise. The program has given me insight into effective instructional strategies and unique ways to promote student learning. Being able to practice those strategies and receive feedback from individuals in other disciplines has been invaluable to my experience as a developing educator. I find that graduate school can feel overwhelming in the sense that everything we need to know to be successful isn’t always provided in our curriculum. The Graduate School’s professional development programs really help to fill that gap between becoming an expert scholar and a well-rounded professional able to navigate the world post-graduation.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I really enjoy spending time baking cakes and cookies. I love trying new techniques and right now I’m trying to master painting with buttercream. I wish I could compete on the Great British Baking Show. I dream of hearing those six magic words, “On your mark, get set, bake!”


November 28, 2018 | James Russell

James Russell is a Ph.D. student in the Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Science program. James is from Southampton, England, and earned one of his Master’s degrees from the University of Oklahoma. In January, he will begin a postdoc position at the University of Utah.

James Russell
James Russell is a Ph.D. student in the Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Science program.

Can you tell us about your research/teaching experience?
My research is in tropical meteorology. More specifically, I use large datasets and high-resolution computer simulations to understand how tropical thunderstorms interact with larger scale atmospheric waves over Africa. These waves are the starting point for hurricanes so understanding them is essential to improved prediction of extreme weather. I have taught multiple classes in atmospheric science. These range from the basic introduction to meteorology for non-majors, to a senior level atmospheric dynamics course.

What do you like the most about NC State? Or why did you choose to come to NC State?
I chose to attend NC State primarily because of my advisor and the specific research I have been able to do under him. Since I’ve been here, I’ve loved the numerous opportunities that I’ve had across the University, with the professional development programs central to those. I really feel that everyone at NC State (i.e. professors, graduate school, university administration) values the training of graduate students above what graduate students can do for them.

What is something that you have learned from The Graduate School’s professional development programs that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
The semester-long development series, as a part of the Teaching and Communication certificate, were invaluable. I only took two and I wish I had the time to take more. Specifically, I took courses on curriculum design and building a professional portfolio. From the former course, I have used backward design principles (i.e. building a syllabus starting from the course goals) which have been useful to my teaching. From the latter course, building a professional portfolio with guidance was a great experience, and has already helped me find a postdoc. I fully expect to build on what I developed in that course to find an academic job.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
Technically I have no Bachelors degree but two Masters! My undergraduate program in England was direct to a Masters degree. Because of the difference in the UK and US education systems, I opted to get a second Masters degree, before doing my Ph.D.


November 19, 2018 | Teng Su

Teng Su is a postdoctoral research associate in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC Chapel Hill and NC State University with an extensive knowledge and expertise in bioengineering and regenerative medicine, directed by Dr. Frances S. Ligler, Lampe Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Dr. Ke Cheng, Professor of Regenerative Medicine. Apart from his research on fighting heart disease, Teng enjoys mentoring students and visiting faculty. He was the recipient of the 2018-2019 Professional Development Award for Postdocs.

Teng Su
Teng Su is a postdoctoral research associate in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC Chapel Hill and NC State University.

Can you tell us about your research/teaching experience?

I study microfluidic technology, stem cell therapy, and cardiac regeneration, with an emphasis on bio-inspired micro/nano engineering and biomaterial-based methods. I have a keen interest in understanding instrumental factors that contribute to tissue impairment and limit repair efficacy and exploring approaches to targeted repair of heart injury. Besides research, I have had the pleasure of mentoring 16 students and visiting faculty so far. I enjoyed creating new stuff with them and seeing them progress.

What do you like the most about NC State?
The “Think and Do” mentality and the delightful atmosphere of camaraderie and collaboration at NC State are what make me feel at home. NC State has been providing me with a unique and strong environment to ever expand my research horizons and inspire me to bring my aptitudes and skills to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

What is something that you have learned from The Graduate School’s professional development programs that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
I have benefited enormously from the professional development workshops and courses offered by the Graduate School, especially those leading toward the Certificate in Teaching and Communication. The effective communication skills practiced and strengthened through these programs mean a lot to me.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
80% of my research ideas come from 20% of my time spent on listening to symphonies.


November 5, 2018 | Suzanne Crifo

Suzanne Crifo is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mathematics with a minor in Operations Research. She has participated in numerous Graduate School professional development programs including Preparing the Professoriate, Academic Packways: Gearing Up for Faculty, and the Teaching and Communication Certificate, as well as GIST, a graduate student teaching interest group in her department.

Suzanne Crifo
Suzanne chose to come to NC State because the math department seemed welcoming and collaborative.

Can you tell us about your research/teaching experience?
My research is in pure mathematics, specifically affine Lie algebras and their representations. I determine maximal dominant weights and try to compute their multiplicities. My research basically involves spotting patterns and proving that those patterns truly exist. I have been lucky enough to serve as Instructor of Record for seven classes in the math department at NCSU. I have taught classes as small as 6 students and as large as 176.

What do you like the most about NC State? Or why did you choose to come to NC State?
I love the people. I chose to come to NC State because the math department seemed welcoming and collaborative. I’ve made many friends here and I’m grateful for that. I quickly grew to love the opportunities provided by The Graduate School, Wellness and Recreation, and Raleigh itself.

What is something that you have learned from The Graduate School’s professional development programs that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
From curriculum development to preparing my application materials, Preparing the Professoriate and the Teaching and Communication Certificate have been vitally important to my success. I continue to implement tricks I learned from workshops and seminars when creating my syllabi and distributing mid-semester class evaluations.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I founded and continue to organize the LBD 5k: Lace up to Bring Lewy Down! This run/walk raises funds for the Lewy Body Dementia Association, Inc. and increases awareness about Lewy Body Dementia. If you see me on campus, please ask me about it!


October 22, 2018 | Lucie Guertault

Dr. Lucie Guertault is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. She earned her Ph.D. at Claude Bernard University in Lyon, France, and she has also worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oklahoma.

Lucie Guertault
Dr. Lucie Guertault is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

Can you tell us about your research and teaching experience?
I study the transport of sediments and contaminants in streams and how they impact the river morphology and water quality. My work is very varied as I use laboratory and field experiments and numerical modeling, and results are used to design better strategies for river management. I regularly guest-lecture for faculty colleagues’ hydrology classes. Last summer, I was selected for a teaching program offered in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. I taught a computer methods course, and many assignments were inspired from water resources issues!

What do you like the most about NC State?
I am thrilled by all the professional development opportunities that are offered at NC State, and I really appreciate the special consideration given to postdocs.

What is something that you have learned from The Graduate School’s professional development programs that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
Taking the Teaching and Communication Certificate has considerably improved my teaching as well as students’ feedback in my classes.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I have a gravel stuck in the palm of my hand after falling during a hike when I was 5 years old and I always refused to remove it.


October 5, 2018 | Jennifer Archambault

Jennifer Archambault is a Ph.D. student in the Biology program and a research assistant in Applied Ecology. She is currently studying mollusks to research human impacts on stream ecosystems.

Can you tell us about your research/teaching experience?
I’ve specialized in freshwater ecology and toxicology since entering academia in 2010 after a 5 year stint as a wildlife biologist in environmental consulting. In my research, I focus on human-induced impacts on freshwater fauna, particularly mussels and snails. Thus far in my teaching, I’ve enjoyed engaging with my students in lab sections of courses in Freshwater Ecology and Biology of Fishes, which afford students practical experience in field methods and identification skills they will use as professionals.

Jennifer Archambault
Ph.D. student Jennifer Archambault’s research focuses on human-induced impacts on freshwater fauna, particularly mussels and snails.

What do you like the most about NC State?
NC State feels like home to me; I’ve spent more than a decade on this campus. I originally came to NC State as an undergraduate transfer student in 2002 to pursue a BS in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences. I graduated in 2004 and landed my first professional position nearby in the Sandhills region. Later, I wanted to focus more on aquatic wildlife and accepted a Master’s position back on campus in 2010, studying thermal ecology of freshwater mussels. I’ve been here ever since; as an MS student, then as a full-time Research Associate, and now I’m pursuing my PhD, studying the benefits that freshwater mussels provide to people by filtering pollution from rivers, where 2/3 of Americans get their drinking water.

What is something that you have learned from The Graduate School’s professional development programs that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
I’ve taken many professional development workshops during my years here as a graduate student, and am grateful for The Graduate School’s focus here! Most recently, I’ve been taking workshops in pursuit of the Certificate in Teaching and Communication. I previously had no training on how to teach, and I’ve learned so much in a short time on how to be a more effective teacher. From learning how to survive the first day of class to designing my own course, I feel so much more qualified to lead students in learning and I’m eager to put the techniques I’ve learned to use. I can’t stress enough how valuable this program as been to me, and very likely to my competitiveness for faculty positions later on.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
My interests are all over the map – I enjoy birding and hiking (maybe predictably) just as much as I do knitting, shooting sports, fishing, and puppy snuggling.


August 2, 2018 | Kiran Nihlani

Kiran Nihlani is a Ph.D. student in the Statistics program. She works as a Course Designing Teaching Assistant for the Statistics department, and also instructs undergraduate statistics classes. Kiran has a high level of involvement on campus, serving as an International Student Representative in the GSA and participating in The Graduate School’s Teaching and Communication Certificate and Preparing the Professoriate programs.

Kiran Nihlani
Kiran Nihlani’s research is focused on improving methodologies for financial risk estimation.

Can you tell us about your research/teaching experience?
My research is focused on improving methodologies for financial risk estimation. I wanted to combine my passion for economics and statistics together and this was the perfect way. The first class I taught at NC State was an introductory statistics course for undergraduates. This summer I am helping develop a new course, Epidemiology and Statistics in Global Public Health, that I will co-teach in the Fall.

What do you like the most about NC State? Or why did you choose to come to NC State?
The decision of coming to NC State was mostly based on my research interests and the people I wanted to work with. The location was also very strategic with two other universities in the area and plenty of industry exposure within reach. Along with a high standard of education and research the campus has a very welcoming, down-to-earth, community vibe to it. It’s a very diverse campus with plenty of opportunities to fit every student based on his/her interests. Finding something to do is never an issue; the real challenge is to find time to fit it all.

What is something that you have learned from the Graduate School’s professional development programs that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
The Teaching and Communication Certificate (TCC) has helped me develop the skill of communicating technical work effectively with a diverse audience. As a teacher, I have been coming up with creative ideas to use different learning styles in designing the course content and in my instructional techniques. It helps me cater to my students better by creating a slightly informal but interactive classroom environment. Also, as an international student I found it a little hard to relate to my class because of differences in our backgrounds. TCC to a large extent has helped bridge this information gap.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I have missed a flight even after being 3 hours early at the airport because I was shopping! Also, I am scared of teddy bears.


July 26, 2018 | Zahra Saki

Zahra Saki is a Ph.D. student in the Textile Technology Management program. Her areas of specialty include supply chain management, international business, and market research. Zahra is a TA and has led the The College of Textiles Summer Textile Exploration Program for the past two summers. Zahra recently received an award to work with VF Corporation, the company behind The North Face, Wrangler, and Vans brands. She will work with VF Corporation to develop advanced recommending systems in e-commerce.

Zahra Saki
Ph.D. student Zahra Saki leads high school students in the Summer Textile Exploration Program.

Can you tell us about your research/teaching experience?
My research is divided into two different areas; one is to study the big picture of the U.S. textiles industry and its export competitive position, and the other is to develop a recommending system for apparel brands. One special teaching experience for me is to lead business group projects during the Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP). I aspire to help young talents with their development and the STEP is a great example of interacting with high school students who are intersected in Fashion and Textile Management.

What do you like the most about NC State? Or why did you choose to come to NC State?
College of Textiles at NC State is a well-known and highly ranked college for textiles education. If anyone looks for the best education in this field, NC State would be the first choice. I like the Textile Technology Management program because of the diversity in research areas, and the fact that it gives you the opportunity to explore your area of interest in the vast world of textiles. Our professors are very supportive and the open space office of graduate students helps us collaborate and learn from each other.

What is something that you have learned from the Teaching and Communication Certificate that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
Throughout the workshops I had the opportunity to practice many short presentations. Each piece of work was critiqued by the professor and the fellow students in the class. Having the feedback was the most valuable part of the workshops, which improved my teaching skills. Additionally, I was able to create the draft of my professional portfolio that will be very useful for coming years when I enter the job market.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
“My Daddy Long Legs” is my favorite cartoon.


July 18, 2018 | Tyler Allen

Tyler Allen is a recent graduate of the comparative biomedical sciences Ph.D. program in the College of Veterinary Medicine. During his time as a graduate student at NC State, Tyler served as the Graduate Student Association president for two years and was awarded second place in the 2017 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. Earlier this year, Tyler was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list, which recognizes visionaries in 20 different industries.

Tyler Allen at 3MT
Recent Ph.D. graduate Tyler Allen was a winner in the Graduate Schools 2017 Three Minute Thesis competition. (Becky Kirkland photo)

Can you tell us about your research/teaching experience?
My research focuses on how cancer cells exit blood vessels and spread in the body. I am researching this process to better understand the cause and ways to treat it.

What do you like the most about NC State?
I enjoy the atmosphere. There are a plethora of stellar minds and talented individuals at this institution, but the environment never feels intimidating and instead is very welcoming.

What is something that you have learned from The Graduate School’s professional development programs that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
The importance of being able to communicate my ideas and work in an accessible and interesting way. Through programs like the 3MT and the Graduate Student Research Symposium, I was able to learn a great deal about how to communicate my research in a way that engages anyone who listens.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I have a pet turtle named Fred that I found outside.


July 12, 2018 | Callie Womble

Callie Womble is a recent graduate of the educational research and policy analysis Ph.D. program, in which she specialized in higher education edministration. The NC State higher education program faculty selected Callie’s dissertation study for the 2018 Higher Education Dissertation of the Year Award. She currently works as a commission research specialist with the N.C. Department of Commerce.

Callie Womble
Callie Womble currently works as a Commission Research Specialist with the NC Department of Commerce.

Can you tell us about your research/teaching experience?
I have served as a co-instructor and guest lecturer of undergraduate and graduate courses. I taught courses on student success strategies, student development theory, and the college environment. I also guest lectured on critical race theory and research methods. My research agenda focuses on equity in higher education. The purpose of my dissertation was to understand how being both black and male (i.e., black male intersectionality) shaped the lived experiences and academic success of high-achieving black male undergraduates in engineering majors at a predominantly white institution (PWI).

What do you like the most about NC State?
I love the breadth of opportunity NC State provides. There are so many great opportunities to enrich your graduate experience at your fingertips. I participated in several programs, including the Thesis and Dissertation Institute, Preparing the Professoriate, and the Equal Opportunity Institute.These programs truly enhanced my doctoral experience.

What is something that you have learned from The Graduate School’s professional development programs that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
In the Dissertation Institute and Summer Writing Group, I learned the value of writing accountability. Holding yourself accountable to SMART goals helps writing projects become more manageable and enjoyable. Writing accountability is a skill that I apply in my professional work as a Research Specialist as I often write research briefs and reports.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I am a first-generation college student. I have benefited from student support programs like the Gates Millennium Scholarship, and I enjoy “giving back” and “paying it forward”. During my time as a doctoral student, I developed two community-based organizations to support students and professionals of color: The Life Of A Scholar, LLC and The Scholar Academy, LLC.


June 27, 2018 | Huachen Li

Huachen Li is a Ph.D. student in economics. His research focuses on macroeconomics and applied time series analysis (macroeconometrics). Huachen has taught numerous economics courses at NC State, winning the Graduate Student Association Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2015 and Recognition for Excellence in Teaching in 2016. He also works as an adjunct faculty member at Meredith College.

Huachen Li
Ph.D. student Huachen Li has taught numerous economics courses at NC State.

Can you tell us about your research/teaching experience?
During the past 4 years at NC State, I had the opportunity to independently teach a wide variety of economics classes, ranging from introduction courses for first-year students only to core major classes such as econometrics.

What do you like the most about NC State?
The people. Our faculty in the economics department truly care about the students and they put in a lot of effort to ensure every student’s success. All of my colleagues are very easy to be around, and I have made many lifelong friends!

What is something that you have learned from The Graduate School’s professional development programs that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
Courses from the Teaching and Communication Certificate benefited me in both my graduate work and teaching. The program allows me to practice and present my job market paper many times in front of different audiences and with very helpful feedback. On the other hand, the theory and concept of teaching from the certificate program are a perfect complement to the in-class teaching experience.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I feel 12.376% better in front of a classroom if I’m using a purple marker.


June 7, 2018 | Tim Becker

Tim Becker is a Masters student in the English department, and his research focuses on epistemology in the teaching of writing. In addition to being a graduate teaching assistant, Tim has led his own workshops on how to use writing in teaching for the Graduate School’s professional development initiative.

Tim Becker
Musician and graduate student Tim Becker poses with his cat.

Can you tell us about your research/teaching experience?
I discovered my knack for teaching in industry rather than academia, facilitating employee training events and public technology workshops. Here at NC State, I’m a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the English Department’s First-Year Writing Program. Most of my research involves issues related to epistemology in the teaching of writing. We take writing for granted and often forget that our knowledge practices and human society in general could not exist as they are without it.

What do you like the most about NC State?
NC State’s English department recognizes the importance of preparing teachers of writing with robust theoretical knowledge founded on peer-reviewed research. The department invests in course work, professional development opportunities, and a mentoring program designed to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills to bring greater value to the most universally required courses in the country.

What is something that you have learned from the Teaching and Communication Certificate that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
My biggest takeaway has been to diversify my methods of instruction to engage students of all learning styles and make the classroom a dynamic and interactive learning environment. In the Teaching and Presentation Practicum development series, participants had the opportunity to design, deliver, and receive feedback on several micro-lessons over the course of a semester, with each week dedicated to a different type of instruction.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I’ve been a musician for half my life, but after learning all about composition theory in my first semester here, I realized I held several false beliefs about making music that students often have about writing. Giving up these bad ideas and bringing new approaches from the theory classroom to my music practices has changed my life! I recorded and released my debut album at the end of last semester and have another one coming out later this summer.


May 31, 2018 | Alsayed Mashaheet

Alsayed Mashaheet is a postdoctoral associate at Virginia Tech. He is a former NC State postdoc and completed his Ph.D. in plant pathology at NC State in 2016.

Alsayed Mashaheet
Alsayed Mashaheet recently attended the Gearing up for Faculty Program.

Can you tell us about your research experience?
I studied the interplay of climate change and pathogens on plants, in Egypt, Greece, and USA. My goal has been to identify sensitive varieties that we could use as indicator plants for air pollution, as well as tolerant varieties that could produce more food for the increasing world’s population. I also focused on emerging plant diseases.

Why did you choose to come to NC State?
During my master’s research in Greece, I used two snap bean varieties to detect ozone air pollution. These varieties are being used worldwide, and were developed here at NC State, which ignited my dreams of coming to NC State to pursue my PhD. I learned more about the great facilities and expertise available on- and off-campus, and the multidisciplinary culture at NC State, and I applied for my PhD scholarship, which I was awarded by the Egyptian government in 2012. I believe that NC State is the best school for international students. Being a member of the Wolfpack makes you feel at home, surrounded by people who strive to make you thrive.

What is something that you have learned from The Graduate School’s professional development programs that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
The Graduate School’s programs taught me how to recognize diversity in my audience. I also learned how to tailor my message to fit different audiences. I applied this throughout my teaching, conference participation, and outreach.

The crowning reward for me was when I reached out to pre-K students to teach them about plant diseases. One of those students stopped me at the mall to tell me about a diseased plant his family had at home, and how the symptoms looked on the plant’s leaves. Kids are amazing, and I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy working with them for a whole year without the communication workshops offered by The Graduate School.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I like to closely observe my plants and how they respond to their context, especially when they are stressed. I sometimes feel I understand their language, which makes me treat them as my children who can’t go home with me.


May 24, 2018 | Kat Pankratz

Dr. Kat Pankratz is a behavioral medicine resident at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Her research focuses on feline behavior and welfare, including assessing the fear-attenuating properties of gabapentin (a nerve medication) in community cats.

Kat Pankratz
Kat Pankratz with her 4-year-old cat, Kaeto.

What do you like the most about NC State?
I love the NC State community! Every day, I am heartened by my mentor and colleagues at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. The welcoming camaraderie inspires me to think and do my best. I am grateful to be a part of the NC State CVM team.

Can you tell us about your teaching experience?
Throughout my residency, I have had many opportunities to teach veterinary behavior to the veterinary students in class, club lectures and clinical rotations, my colleagues and through outreach to veterinarians and the public outside of NC State.

What is something that you have learned from the Teaching and Communication Certificate that you’re applying to your work or teaching?
Through readings, discussion, mock presentations, peer evaluation and self reflection, I’ve learned that I am never finished learning about how to be a more effective teacher. The Teaching and Communication Certificate motivated my life-long strive to always improve my communication from traditional lectures to client communication.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I enjoy expanding my teaching (positive reinforcement training) experience to my 4-year-old blind cat (Kaeto). Some of his favorite “tricks” are to perch on my shoulder, play dead and turn off the lights.


May 3, 2018 | Dianna Francisco

Dianna Francisco is a Ph.D. student in marine, earth and atmospheric sciences whose research focuses on predicting severe storms in the Southeastern United States. She is one of the first students to complete the Graduate School Teaching and Communication Certificate.

Dianna Francisco
Dianna Francisco captures weather-related readings from her van.

Why did you come to NC State?
We have a great faculty in my department and we focus on modeling. It’s a land grant institution, so I really like the idea of conducting research that immediately goes into use and helps the community. I was collaborating with the National Weather Service during my master’s degree, and that’s when I first realized that I wanted to collaborate with the NWS forecasters for my Ph.D. by actually making forecasting models.

How have you applied your professional development training in real life?
With the semester-long development series, you can dig deep and learn more details. For example, taking the Teaching and Presentation Practicum, I was still shy with my teaching techniques, so it helped me open up and try different teaching styles. I’ve found that students tend to become more motivated when you aren’t just talking at them or showing them graphs, when you actually engage with them and have a conversation. I’ve noticed a big shift in the way that students interact with me and with each other.

Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
I have two Maine coon cats!

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