Graduate Member Spotlight: Karla Morrissey

Karla Morrissey
Chemical Engineering
Expected Graduation Date: 2021
University of Arkansas


Karla has been a member of SWE since she was an undergraduate student. During her first year of Graduate School, Karla co-founded the GradSWE group at UofA as part of the University of Arkansas’s SWE section. She is now the Chair of the GradSWE group and will hold this position for the 2019-2020 school year. As Chair, she promotes inclusion of graduate students in her local SWE section and plans social and professional development events tailored to graduate student interests. At UoA, she frequently participates in graduate-focused events, and is also the President for the Arkansas Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Organization. 

As the FY19 Undergraduate Mentoring Coordinator for the societal GradSWE team, Karla connected about 80 undergraduate students interested in graduate school with graduate student mentors and helped them build valuable and supportive relationships as part of GradSWE’s mentoring program. She is continuing in this role for FY20!

Karla’s efforts in research and science communication have been recognized with prestigious awards, including her induction as a Barry Goldwater Scholar in 2016 and as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in 2018. 

Thesis Title: Life Cycle Assessment of Struvite Recovery in Wastewater Treatment Plants

Karla’s research centers on determining the environmental implications that could occur with widespread implementation of struvite recovery in the food, energy and waste nexus. Phosphorus is an essential and limited resource that is primarily used in fertilizer for food production. As it is a crucial component for growing crops, its conservation has become a key priority for sustaining future generations. Struvite, or magnesium ammonium phosphate, is an N & P fertilizer that can be produced electrochemically and chemically from wastewater. Struvite recovery provides an opportunity to both reduce N & P content in waste streams and recycle phosphorus. 

Following graduation, Karla plans to work for government agencies, such as the EPA, on science policies pertaining to areas of sustainability, human health, and the environment. 

Outside of work, Karla enjoys exercising and reading books on many topics ranging from nonfiction to mysteries and thrillers. She also enjoys reading her school’s newspaper as well as keeping up with various news outlets. Her favorite recent read that she recommends to her fellow GradSWE members is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey–a truly inspiring and motivating book for any graduate student!

Fun Fact from Karla: Karla is El Salvadorian!


Get recognized for your contribution to SWE. Apply for WE Local Awards!

WE Local Awards_2019

Are you looking for ways for you or your collegiate/graduate group to be acknowledged for your contribution toward SWE? Do you consider yourself a remarkable individual who deserves recognition for your involvement with the SWE community?

To recognize your efforts, WE Locals 2020 offers a number of awards with much of the flavor of the Society-level awards program. The application period for WE Local Awards will run until September 30. Recipients will have the ability to choose at which WE Local they accept their award. Download the new WE Local Awards packet explaining the nomination process. Watch the WE Local Awards Training Session to know more about the submission. Questions can be directed to

Check out some of the awards you might be interested in here:

SWE Collegiate Member Awards

The Guiding Star Award recognizes SWE exceptional collegiate leaders with at least two (2) years of SWE membership at the end of the previous fiscal year who have made outstanding contributions to SWE, the engineering community, their campus, and the community. A maximum of fifteen (15) awards will be presented annually.

The Rising Star Award recognizes SWE collegiate members with less than 2 years of SWE membership at the end of the previous fiscal year who have made outstanding contributions to SWE, the engineering community, their campus, and the community. A maximum of fifteen (15) awards will be presented annually.

Group Awards

GradSWE Groups can apply as an independent group or as part of their school’s section too! Any group of Collegiate or Professional SWE members that support the SWE mission are eligible for these awards. This can include a SWE Section, SWE Affiliate (including community college affiliate groups and sections), Members At Large, Affinity Group, Corporate Employee Resource Group (ERG), or other group of SWE members.

The Outstanding Outreach Event Award recognizes a group or groups who plan and carry out a high-quality outreach event to inspire future engineers. A maximum of twelve (12) awards will be presented annually, two each to small, medium, and large professional sections or groups and two each to small, medium, and large collegiate sections or groups.

The Outstanding Professional Development Event Award recognizes a group or groups who plan and carry out a high-quality professional development event to help women achieve their professional goals. A maximum of twelve (12) awards will be presented annually, two each to small, medium, and large professional sections or groups and two each to small, medium, and large collegiate sections or groups.

The Joint Professional/Collegiate Event Award is jointly bestowed upon a professional SWE Group and a Collegiate SWE group who have planned and implemented a joint SWE event between the two groups. A maximum of five (5) awards may be presented annually.

NOTE that, if you win a WE Local award, you are still eligible to apply for a SWE individual award in the same fiscal year (including a SWE award that corresponds to the same WE Local award). If you have previously won an individual SWE award, you are then ineligible to win the corresponding WE Local Award.

Get recognition for your individual and group efforts! Let the WE Local conferences help celebrate your success and accomplishments. Apply for the WE Local Awards by September 30 2019 11:59 PM CDT.


Be a WE Local Speaker, Deadline is Approaching!


Do you want to share your insights and expertise on a platform like the WE Local Conferences? The Call for Participation (CFP) is still open for 2020 WE Local Conferences in Buffalo NY or Des Moines IA. Submit an abstract before Monday, September 23  at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Click on the conference city below to apply to speak at WE Local.

You can read more about the WE Local Attendee Desired Content Topics of learn more about CFP guidelines and best practices here. Do you have session ideas or want to submit an abstract and don’t know how to get started? GradSWE held a brainstorming call on July 22, but you can still reference the resources shared by accessing the agenda available here. If you have any questions about WE Locals or would like feedback on a potential submission, please contact GrdaSWE WE Local Liaison Kazi Tasneem.

The deadline for submitting an abstract is quickly approaching, and GradSWE wants to see contents from graduate students! Apply and join us for the 2020 WE Local Conferences! Submit an abstract to speak at WE Local in Buffalo or Des Moines before Monday, September 23, 2019.

Graduate Member Spotlight: Josey McBrayer

Josey McBrayer


Chemical Engineering

Expected Graduation Date: December 2020

University of Utah

Although new to the GradSWE Leadership Team, Josey McBrayer is no stranger to SWE leadership.  Throughout her career at the University of New Mexico, Josey was involved in their SWE section holding the positions of treasurer and president. Upon entering graduate school, she continued her involvement in SWE as the graduate student representative at the University of Utah. We are excited to have Josey join the Leadership Team this year as the Graduate Assessment Mentoring Coordinator! She will be working on matching graduate students to professional mentors as well as revamping the mentoring program application forms.

Josey’s work both in SWE and in research has resulted in her being awarded both at the University of New Mexico as well as at the University of Utah.  While in undergrad she was awarded the University of New Mexico School of Engineering’s Outstanding Leader in 2017 and the University of New Mexico School of Engineering’s Outstanding Senior for Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2016. These awards recognize Josey’s leadership as president of SWE and her scholastic achievements in chemical engineering.  In graduate school, Josey was awarded the University of Utah College of Engineering’s Gregory B. McKenna Fellowship recipient which recognizes one first-year graduate student in the school of engineering for academic excellence. 

Thesis Topic: Alternative Anodes for Lithium Ion Batteries

Current, state-of-the-art lithium ion batteries are reaching their theoretical limits. One option for enhancing the energy density of lithium ion batteries is replacing the graphite anode with silicon. Silicon has up to 10x the energy density in comparison to graphite. Despite these benefits, silicon suffers from large volume expansion and a chemically and mechanically unstable solid electrolyte interphase (SEI). Josey’s research involves differentiating between the strain in the silicon and the SEI and quantifying the contributions of chemical and mechanical degradation.

Josey hopes to work as a staff scientist at a national lab after graduation and to continue research in the area of electrochemistry and energy storage.

Outside of work, Josey enjoys hiking, biking, zumba, dancing, and doing agility with her dog.

Fun Fact from Josey: Josey has two birds who mimic sounds and will give kisses on the cheek when asked

Graduate Member Spotlight: Megan Parsons

Graduate Member Spotlight

Megan Parsons

Masters Expected 2020

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Boston University

We are excited to welcome Megan to the GradSWE Leadership Team as our FY20 Diversity & Inclusion Liaison. Megan has been an active member of SWE ever since she began her career transition from molecular and cellular neurobiology to neuroengineering. As soon as she was accepted to the Late Entry Accelerated Program (LEAP) at Boston University in electrical and computer engineering in 2017, she sought ways to become more involved in the organization and make an impact on the engineering community. After attending WE Local San Jose, the resources, support, and camaraderie offered through SWE filled Megan with optimism for the future of women in technology. She was inspired to get involved to ensure that these opportunities and resources could be expanded to best serve the needs of current and future generations of women in engineering. After moving to Boston, Megan served as a member of the WE Local Providence Poster Sub-Committee in 2018 and also volunteered as a judge for the Collegiate Poster Competition. She currently serves on the Executive Board of BU GradSWE.

After completing the ECE prerequisites through LEAP to enter the master’s program at Boston University, Megan was awarded the merit-based Engineering Graduate Scholarship on behalf of the College of Engineering. She was also selected to attend the Academic Leadership for Women Engineers (ALWE) program at the WE19 annual conference, a selective program to empower promising early-career scholars to successfully pursue positions of academic leadership in engineering. 

Thesis Topic: Elucidating EEG Correlates of Brain States

In the laboratory of Dr. Xue Han, Megan is using EEG to research neural signatures involved in pain perception and attention. These neural signatures will be used to train machine learning algorithms to classify brain states. These models will allow her to quantify the effects of treatments or interventions in altering brain states associated with nociception and cognitive performance. Megan’s ultimate goal is to have an academic career in neuroengineering at a research-intensive institution.

Outside of SWE, Megan is a classically trained ballet dancer, and she has also received training in tap, jazz, hip hop, and acrobatics. She enjoys playing classical and jazz piano, and she is currently focused on voice lessons and musical theatre. She is also active in science policy and advocacy, an interest that began in 2010 as a semester school student at the School for Ethics and Global Leadership (SEGL) in Washington, DC. In her spare time, Megan enjoys designing and building low-cost electronics projects for biomedical applications.

Fun fact: Megan’s award-winning astrophotography has been featured in exhibits and expos!



What advice would you give yourself as an undergraduate? Share it with a fellow undergrad!

With the semester now in full gear, GradSWE is once again kicking off its Undergraduate Mentoring Program! In its first year, over 80 undergraduate SWE students around the U.S. were connected to GradSWE members! The goal of this program is to establish a connection between experienced and knowledgeable graduate students and undergraduate students interested in attending graduate school. This program has a very low time commitment with most pairs communicating biweekly, monthly, or on an “as needed” basis. Topics that are discussed include: 

  • Undergraduate/graduate research experiences and funding opportunities
  • How you chose your graduate school based on your research interests
  • General steps, requirements, and any tips for applying to graduate school
  • Describing faculty expectations for Master’s and PhD students
  • Sharing personal experiences in pursuing a graduate degree
  • How you maintained involvement in SWE (i.e. GradSWE groups:!)

Any time you can commit to help out an undergraduate in deciding whether graduate school is right for them is very much appreciated! When asked if their goals had been met through the mentoring program, some undergraduates responded:

“Yes, my mentor is super supportive and provides insight into different possibilities.”

“Yes, my mentor was very helpful through the application process.”

“Yes, my mentor has been very helpful in answering my questions about her personal grad school experience in order for me to make more educated decisions on my own future.”

If you are interested in signing up to be a graduate mentor, please sign up here!

**This form is also used for graduate students to sign up for a professional mentor. If you are not interested in receiving a mentor but just being a mentor to an undergrad, simply state this in your registration.**

Finding your Community in GradSWE: Welcome to the SWE Grad Community Slack Workspace

If you ever hear me talk about SWE, you will notice a common theme: community. As graduate students, having a supportive community to lift you up and push you to new bounds is vital.  One of the greatest gifts SWE has provided me is a group of women who have helped me to achieve goals I never thought possible.  In graduate school, however, it can be difficult to find the same communities you did while in undergrad.  Maybe your university doesn’t have a SWE section or doesn’t have a GradSWE group, maybe you are struggling to find females in the same program or degree track.  GradSWE can provide you with whatever community you are seeking. During my term as Graduate Member Coordinator Elect/Graduate Member Coordinator, my priority is helping you find the community you need!  To begin this mission let me introduce you to the Graduate SWE Community Slack Workspace!

What is Slack?

If you haven’t heard of Slack, it is a platform that makes it easy to collaborate with large groups, share documents, and facilitate discussions.  Whether used for a research team or a community channel like ours, Slack makes it easy to have a variety of discussion threads that people across the globe can participate in. To learn more about Slack check out Ceci’s blog post here.

Welcome to the Graduate Community Slack Workspace!

Whether you have used Slack before or if this is your first time, you can join our workspace here

Once you have set up your account, you will see this screen:

There are a few things to know:

  1. Channels: Channels are the different conversation threads.  There are 
  2. Direct Messages: You can start direct messages with anyone in the group by clicking on their name or pressing (+) and searching for their name.
  3. Sending Posts: If you have posts to send, pick a channel and then you can type your message in the message bar.  Using @ will notify certain members.  

Now the fun begins! There are many channels that you can join in!

  • General: In this channel you will find general questions, comments, and content
  • Just for fun: This is a place to share fun content maybe some cartoons or memes, inspirational quotes or videos!
  • Mentoring: If you are participating in the mentoring program you will find updates here. This is also a place to ask questions or share stories about the program.  If you are interested in joining the Mentoring Program you can sign up here!
  • SWE Conferences: For each of the conferences you will find a Slack channel.  You will also find information about meet-ups or other programming to check out at the SWE conferences! Keep your eyes peeled for a WE19 attendees channel coming soon!
  •  Random: Have something you want to share but it doesn’t really fit in any of the other channels? Share it here!

Throughout this year you will find updates, resources, and great discussions through our Slack.  Join me and find your community in SWE!

What kind of content do you want to share with the greater GradSWE Community? What channels would you be interested in adding?