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Washington State University Graduate School

Your Mentor & You

Finding a compatible mentor is one key element for success in your graduate career. While having a mentor whose work aligns with your own research interests is important, they must also be supportive in your academic, professional, and personal successes. Students are encouraged to be proactive in identifying one or more faculty members to cultivate professional relationships early in their graduate career.  Our video, Your Mentor & You, interviews three faculty mentors and three graduate students on what elements are necessary to build healthy, long-lasting student-mentor relationships.

The full-length interviews with all of our faculty mentors and graduate students are available on Youtube. Click the links below to view the full videos:

Dr. Nehal Abu-Lail & Somayeh Ramezaniankeikanloo

Dr. Jennifer Schwartz & Gina Castillo

Dr. Roger Whitson & Jordan Engelke

Faculty and Student Bios from Your Mentor & You

Nehal Abu-Lail

Dr. Nehal Abu-Lail is an Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering. Her research focus is in multiscale cellular interactions and properties. The recent research projects under investigation in her lab include the fundamental mechanisms of L. monocytogenes adhesion and virulence, and the development of current bacterial adhesion models, among others. Dr. Abu-Lail is the recipient of the GPSA Award for Excellence in Advising and the WSU Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award for Faculty, among many other awards. For more information, please visit her faculty bio.

Somayeh Ramezaniankeikanloo

Somayeh is a doctoral student in the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering. Her research focus is how biofilms enhance soil mechanics; specifically, the use of biofilms in geotechnical applications such as bioremediation of soil contaminant using biobarriers or enhancing soil mechanical properties is on the rise.  For more information, please visit Dr. Abu-Lail’s WSU group page.

Jennifer Schwartz

Dr. Jennifer Schwartz is an Associate Professor of Sociology. Her research interests focus on identifying how position in the social structure (e.g., gender and race/ethnicity) interacts with structural features of communities (e.g., inequality, unemployment) to engender varying levels of crime and social control across place. Dr. Schwartz is the recipient of the Excellence in Graduate Teaching & Mentoring Award from the College of Arts & Sciences. For more information, please visit her faculty bio.

Gina Castillo

Gina is a master’s student in the Department of Sociology. Her research interests are broadly focused on re-entry and the life course, collateral consequences of incarceration, post-secondary education of formerly incarcerated individuals, the welfare state, and the ways in which inequalities persist to affect successful re-entry of individuals who are survivors of intimate partner violence. For more information, please visit her departmental bio.

Roger Whitson

Dr. Roger Whitson is an Assistant Professor in English. His research focuses on the adaptation of nineteenth-century literature into digital media, and how this adaptation effects the future of the English discipline. Dr. Whitson is the recipient of the Lewis E. and Stella G. Buchanan Distinguished Scholar Award, WSU College of Arts and Sciences Grant, and nominee for the GPSA Academic Advisor Award. For more information, please visit his faculty bio or his professsional website.

Jordan Engelke

Jordan is a graduate student in English. Her research utilizes feminist approaches to digital technology and culture.



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