Good Morning Grad Community!

My name is Allie Anderson and I am so excited to be serving as the social media coordinator this year! As my first post, I would like to share an article about women in science that was brought to my attention a few months ago. I found it to be an interesting read.

Welcome to FY16!

Hello SWE Graduate Community!

Warning: For those who receive the emails, this is repeat information from the email! If you do not receive the emails, please sign up to receive them by filling out a short Google form here:

Happy July, and welcome to FY16! I am honored to be the Graduate Member Coordinator for this year, and my primary goal is to connect more with our existing graduate member base (you all!) as well as to attract more graduate students to the Grad Community and SWE as a whole.

If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do feel free to contact me at or Liz at

We wanted to share some updates with you to start off the year. I hope to send regular email updates at least once a month with upcoming events relevant to graduate students and updates from the Grad Community. Be sure to follow the Facebook page and blog for up-to-date information!


In this email:
(1) FY16 Grad Leadership Team
(2) Grad Member Spotlight: Himani Agrawal
(3) Two new FY16 features: Grad Member Spotlight and Ask Grad SWE a Question!

(1) FY16 Grad Leadership Team
Congratulations to our wonderful FY16 Grad Community Leadership team! I am excited to work with each and every one of them to accomplish great things this year!
Liz Dreyer – Grad Member Coordinator Elect
Richelle Thomas – WE15 Grad Programming Coordinator
Rachel Unruh – WE15 Grad Programming Coordinator Elect
Meisha Berg – Regional Conference Coordinator
Judy Amanor-Boadu – Webinar Coordinator
Allie Anderson – Social Media Coordinator

Read a bit more about each of us on the Leadership page of the Blog:

(2) Grad Member Spotlight: Himani Agrawal
Congratulations to Himani Agrawal, our June Grad Member Spotlight! Read more about all she has accomplished as well as some fun things about her on the SWE Grad Blog:

(3) Two new features for FY16: Grad Spotlight and Ask Grad SWE a Question!
The Spotlight is meant to highlight the great work being done by members or Grad Groups of the Graduate Community. To nominate someone (or yourself) for this recognition, please fill out this quick Google Form:

Ask Grad SWE A Question! Is meant to provide a forum for people to ask questions to the entire Graduate Community, anonymity is an option. The question is then posed on the Facebook page for the Community to provide feedback. The first (and most recent) question was in regards to WE15 travel. To ask a question, please fill out this quick Google Form:

Thank you for reading! As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.

Grad member spotlight: Himani Agrawal

29 June 2015

Himani Agrawal


PhD Student, Expected graduation Spring 2017

Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston

Himani was recently selected for the Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future Fellowship, a prestigious $50,000 per year fellowship awarded to women PhD students from developing countries. You can read more about it here:


What is your research?

In the summers right now, I am doing internship at Microsoft Research Redmond. My research interests are Computational Biology and Statistical Mechanics. My research project is “HIV induced membrane softening”. Please visit my research blog:


What do you plan to do after graduation?

I am very interested in becoming faculty after doing a Post Doc.


What are some of your hobbies?

I am very fond of singing and taking Indian Classical Voice Lessons presently. This Fall, I also plan to enroll at the Moore School of Music at UH for Opera Voice Lessons.


What’s a fun fact about you?

I am also very fond of travelling. In fact I am travelling to Germany tomorrow to take part in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting where I will get to meet and interact with 70 Nobel Laureates and also go on a boat trip with them. Apart from that I am invited by the State of Baden-Wurttemberg to explore the German Southwest for a week which include to several universities, labs, German Black-forest and many more exciting places!!!


SWE Magazine must-reads

How many of us actually read the SWE magazine? In full disclosure, I used to skim through it and then toss it on my pile of magazines.  Recently though, because my husband and I are about to move across the country and we’re going through all our stuff to determine what gets tossed in the garbage/recycling and what comes with us, I have been going through my SWE magazines and actually reading the articles. I can’t believe I’ve missed out all these years! So, whether you’re looking for something to read while on the treadmill or elliptical, or looking for some light before-bed reading (the two ways I’ve been reading the magazine), there are several articles in the 3 most recent SWE magazines that I think the Grad Community would appreciate. If you’ve already recycled your magazines, never fear, you can access the archives here:


Spring 2015 issue:

  • Page 10 – “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” – inspirational short descriptions of women you’ve probably never heard of.
  • Page 18 – Policy Aims and the Federal Budget – as all grad students know, funding dictates everything. This article talks about STEM funding from a National perspective, and how SWE and its members may be affected.
  • Page 20 – Compelling Encouragement for Women Engineers – another inspirational story of a woman who accomplished so much throughout her life, Mildred Dresselhaus, PhD.
  • Page 29 – SWE at 65 Women Engineers You Should Know – more inspirational stories!
  • Page 36 – Bullying at Work – learning how to identify and deal with bullies in the workplace.
  • Page 40 – Women in Engineering: A Review of 2014 Literature – I found this very interesting in terms of what the experts are saying about women and their role in engineering, including statistical analysis of degrees and faculty positions.
  • Pages 60-63 – Career Toolbox and Life & Work – tips on how to succeed at work and find balance in your life.


Winter 2015 issue:

  • Page 12 – Behind the Headlines: How Women Candidates Did in the 2014 Elections – interesting assessment on how many female representatives we have in the legislature.
  • Page 14 – Women Engineers Share Their Stories on a New Wiki – SOOOO COOL! There is a new wiki that is a joint effort between many different professional organizations to share lessons and stories of life from many different disciplines. You can find the specific engineering one here:
  • Page 26 – Wanted: Diverse Cybersecuirty Work Force – the importance of cybersecurity and of attracting and retaining women in this field.
  • Page 38 – 2014 Achievement Award Address – Frances Mazze Hurwitz, PhD gives a memorable and inspirational address when receiving the 2014 Achievement Award at WE14.
  • Page 50 – On-Ramping and Off-Ramping – the challenges women face as they start a family and the decision to stay at work or not.


Fall 2014 issue:

  • Page 12 – Bridging the Gap for Girls in STEM – the story of the Girls Scouts Troop 2612 who participated in The 2014 White House Science Fair.
  • Page 22 – A Pioneer in Equal Rights and Earthquake Safety – the inspirational story of Ruth Gordon Schnapp, P.E. and her battle with equal rights in society and in the work place.
  • Page 44 – Women Engineering Leaders in Academe 2014 – a discussion on women succeeding in academia.
  • Page 80 – Should I Do a Postdoc? – a question many in the Grad Community face!




I am not a fan of change.  It throws off my groove. However, I understand that it is, sometimes, necessary and even good. For example, I think that graduating from grad school will be an excellent change and I look forward to it everyday.

Another example of exciting change, SWE is debuting a new logo.

I like it.

SWE has changed a lot over my lifetime and that has been really good for me.  SWE in undergrad, SWE as a professional and SWE in graduate school has been different for me but exactly what I needed.

Grad SWE is changing too.  I have been so honored to be the Graduate Member Coordinator this past year but I know that Katharine is going to be an amazing GMC.  So here is to the inevitable march or time and the change that it brings.

Thank you for having me and I hope to have to opportunity to serve SWE again in  the future.

Financial Advice for Graduate Students Part 3: Retirement

Thursday, June 11th, 2015 @ 10:30 AM CST


Compensation packages in the US can be confusing for new graduates.  This series of three webinars is designed to explain the three main elements of a compensation package: salary, retirement and insurance.  In the first talk we discussed income and taxes in the US.  I gave a brief overview of the other non-monetary forms of compensation such as paid time off (vacation, sick leave), retirement and insurance.  In the second talk we went deeper into the various insurance products that will likely be offered – or that you may wish to purchase on your own.  These included medical, vision, dental, disability, and life insurance.  In this, the third, talk we will discuss retirement plans offered by US employers, how they work and the pros and cons of each.  The goal of the series is to acquaint you with the likely options you will encounter as you transition from university to paid compensation so as to empower you to make the correct choices for you and your family.


Karen Feigh is an Associate professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Aerospace Engineering. As a faculty member of the Georgia Tech Cognitive Engineering Center, she leads a research and education program focused on the computational cognitive modeling and design of cognitive work support systems and technologies to improve the performance of socio-technical systems with particular emphasis on aerospace systems.  She is responsible for undergraduate and graduate level instruction in the areas of flight dynamics, evaluation of human integrated systems, human factors, and cognitive engineering.  Dr. Feigh has over nine years of relevant research and design experience in fast-time air traffic simulation, ethnographic studies, airline and fractional ownership operation control centers, synthetic vision systems for helicopters, expert systems for air traffic control towers, and the impact of context on undersea warfighters.  Dr. Feigh serves on the National Research Council’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB), as the Associate Editor for the Journal of the American Helicopter Society, and as a guest editor for a special addition of the AIAA Journal of Aerospace Information Systems on Human Automation Interaction.

Registration Link:

Grad member spotlight: Ashley Bucsek

21 May 2015

Ashley Bucsek

PhD student, Expected graduation Spring 2018

Mechanical Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Ashley has been awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for Mechanical Engineering. More information here:


What is your research?

For my thesis project, I’m developing a unique data analysis technique for X-ray diffraction experiments.  Diffraction is an amazing investigative tool.  With it, one can observe deformation evolution on the granular level, through the entire thickness of a sample, in-situ, and without destroying the sample.  Often, advanced materials owe their extraordinary properties to multiple types of deformation competing with each other.  My technique will provide quantitative information about different mechanisms (e.g., phase transformation, twinning, and plasticity) that are occurring simultaneously within each crystal.  I then plan to use this technique to study the relationship between different deformation mechanisms and intergranular constraints in advanced materials.


What do you plan to do after graduation?

Despite the power of X-ray and neutron diffraction techniques, one of the hurdles to its widespread use is the complex data analysis.  When I complete my thesis, I will publish open-source software in the hopes that it will allow for scientific investigations without necessarily understanding the nuances of high-energy diffraction microscopy (HEDM).  Something similar happened with electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD), a tool that is now quite common.  After I graduate, I hope to work at one of our national laboratories that have neutron or synchrotron X-ray sources to keep studying advanced materials and pushing the capabilities of diffraction.


What are some of your hobbies?

I play for the women’s all-star team of Denver Roller Derby.  We’re ranked among the top 10 teams in the world, and we travel all over the country to compete with other top-tier teams.  We practice 3-4 times a week in addition to cross-training, so research and roller derby are about all that I have time for.


What’s a fun fact about you?

I rescued two puppies when they were each 8 weeks old, so now I have two very cute, very mischievous dogs under the age of one!