Leadership Development Fellows
Jacob Bradburn is a 4th year doctoral student in the Psychology department, within the College of Social Science. Jacob is an alum of MSU’s Leadership Academy and has been involved with the MSU Leadership Institute since Spring 2017. Jacob is from Grand Blanc, MI and attended the University of Michigan for undergraduate studies. His research interests focus on employee selection, individual differences, and research methodology.
David Hernández-Escobar is a third year PhD student in Material Science & Engineering working in Professor Carl Boehlert’s research group. He is studying the potential of high-pressure torsion for manufacturing a new generation of biodegradable Zn-Mg implants with tunable mechanical properties and degradation behavior in the human body. He received his B. S. in Materials Engineering with high honors from Polytechnical University of Madrid, Spain, in 2016. He served as a treasurer of the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Graduate Student Association during 2017, where he focused on integrating new graduate students. As a Graduate Leadership Fellow, he aims to develop strategies that enhance work-life balance and wellness of graduate students, particularly those in the College of Engineering.
Stephanie Aguilar-Smith is a third year Ph.D. student in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education, jointly pursuing a graduate certificate in Chicano/Latino Studies. She is a departmental graduate assistant, Executive Board Member of CHiLA, active member of Rueda Latin@, and a Writing Center consultant. Stephanie is the Graduate Student Life and Wellness Leadership Development Fellow for the College of Education, working to build community-building resources on behalf of graduate students in her college. This year, she is focused on bolstering graduate student representation of college-wide committees.
Olivia is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Chemistry within the College of Natural Science, where her focus is biocompatible materials synthesis. Olivia’s other research interests include improving graduate STEM education and professional and career development of early career scholars and professionals. As a Leadership Fellow, Olivia is addressing persistent gender inequities as they specifically manifest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduate programs and careers (STEM). Recent research shows that women and underrepresented groups persist in STEM fields when networks of peers and mentors exist, therefore she is addressing this from two different fronts: 1) by connecting existing communities of student scientists and 2) by establishing spaces and conversations where students can share their experiences and learn how to be an ally and advocate for themselves and others.
Dominik Neumann is currently a PhD student in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. After receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in “Management and Economics” at Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, he moved to the United States in 2016. His research focuses on "fear of missing out" and its possible substantial impact on our digital social behavior and personal well-being. He considers himself an enthusiastic traveler, likes to make new and unique experiences, coffee, red wine, and spending time with family and friends. As a leadership fellow he is working on building community within his college by implementing a peer-mentoring program.
Elijah Simmons (he/him/his) is a University Distinguished Fellow and Arts & Letter's Leadership Fellow, PhD student in Writing and Cultural Rhetorics. He held a McNair Fellowship at Miami University in Ohio where he completed his Master’s thesis on the embodied experience of Black bodies in college writing centers. He was awarded the Scholar for the Dream award from National Council of Teachers of English as well the Presidential award from International Writing Center Association and the Research award from Black Community Association. His current projects include: 2024 Strategic Plan for MSU Graduate School, Writing enhancement with the Rising Black Men, Development with Black males in the Rochester City School District and Advocacy for Black folk in health. Lastly, his research is centered in Critical Race Theory and Fictive Kinship with the purpose of loving on Blackness. His goal as a fellow in Art & Letters is to build a community that’s inclusive to diverse ideas, develop fictive kinship and push advancement for all in the college.
Tracy Melvin is a 3rd year doctoral student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife working with Dr. Gary Roloff in the Applied Forest and Wildlife Ecology Laboratory. Her research focuses on biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene specific to climate adaptation. Her work is global in scope, but focuses on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska as a case study. After obtaining her degree Tracy would like to teach at the collegiate level, focusing research on global conservation challenges and promoting a laboratory that emphasizes educational opportunities for students in developing countries, and refugees of foreign war. Tracy has co-created and co-taught the award winning and highly popular study abroad program “A Fragile Fiji: Integrating Ecology and Human Dimensions in the Face of Climate Change”. Tracy is serving the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources as a Leadership Development Fellow. Her fellow activities are an eclectic mix of 1. Determining the health, wellness, and needs assessment of the graduate students in her college through a unique survey 2. Creating an-all college website for graduate students to learn about self-care and resiliency, and 3. Creating opportunity for all-college community building through graduate student focal activities meant to build resilience, including physical fitness, personal finances, meditation, and faculty-student communication.
Alex Wright is a PhD student with the Department of Integrative Biology and USGS Patuxent Research Center. He is serving the College of Natural Science as a Leadership Development Fellow for the 2nd year in a row, and his main focus throughout this time period has been to optimize graduate student success. That goal has led to the previous development of the Peer Mentor Program Guide (insert hyperlink), and he is currently working to continue to engage stakeholders within the College, promote and help implement the Peer Mentor Program Guide, and to develop feedback mechanisms to measure and improve faculty mentoring and departmental graduate program policies.
Makena Neal is a PhD candidate in the Higher, Adult, Lifelong Education (HALE) program. Her interests revolve around adult learning, community-based knowledge, and professional development. After working for four years in pre-college youth development as a leadership and civic engagement educator throughout the state of Michigan, Makena is excited to be serving in her first year as Coordinating Fellow for the Graduate School’s Leadership Institute. Her goals in this role include providing participant-driven development opportunities for the year-long graduate fellows; increasing intentional connections between Leadership Summit, Academy, and Fellows programming; and building foundational structures in the Institute that increase transparency, graduate student voice, and institutional buy-in.
Madeline (Maddie) Shellgren is the one with the batman and dinosaur tattoos. This year marking her second as a PhD student in Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, Maddie spent six years prior at Michigan State as a PhD student in Linguistics. She devotes a lot of time to thinking about educator support, community building, institutional and organizational change, program development, critical pedagogies, graduate student (and early-career professionals) socialization, identity and embodiment within higher education (i.e. 'the higher ed experience'), educator and professional development, cultures of change within institutional contexts, and ways to move towards sustainable, equitable, and anti-oppressive ecologies within higher education. That said, Maddie also spends a lot of time trying to figure out which local stores sell the best donuts (extensive research and data collection still underway) and which parks provide the best dog-walking experiences. When not teaching, being a grad student, or working for either Michigan State University's College of Arts and Letters or the Graduate School, you can find her working as a Standardized Patient for the College of Human Medicine or eating cannolis at Roma Bakery. As a first time Coordinating Fellow for the Graduate School’s Leadership Institute, Maddie seeks to deepen program connections with communities and units across MSU’s campus, build more sustainable and transparent structures for Leadership Institute programming and fellows, and help develop a program that contributes to impactful and positive change on campus.