2016-2017 Committee Members

Ashley Armstrong | Mechanical Science & Engineering


I am a second year graduate student in the department of mechanical science and engineering being advised by Dr. Alleyne and Dr. Wagoner Johnson.  My research is focused in the fields of controls and biomechanics, and I am currently working on dynamic modeling and control of a micro robotic deposition system, with bone scaffold manufacturing as the target application. As a member of EGSAC, I want to help make outreach more accessible for graduate students, and recognizing this need, I co-founded a graduate student outreach organization called ENVISION, ENgineers Volunteering In STEM educatION. My goal is to encourage other graduate students to pursue outreach, and help them develop their own outreach ideas since broader impact is a crucial component in fellowships and proposals. In addition, I believe interdisciplinary research and collaboration are vital learning and development experiences, and are items I will encourage during my time in EGSAC. When I am not in the lab, I can be found playing with my dog, on the golf course, cooking, or working out.

Committees:  Interdisciplinary Engagement / Quality of Life and Wellness

IMG_0889Progna Banerjee | Physics

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Physics, with research topics based on condensed matter physics, chemical physics, optics and materials science. My research is focused on uncovering the fundamental nature of phase transformation in novel engineered nanoscale systems; with potential applicability across multiple disciplines. I served on the EGSAC during the 2015-16 Academic Year. During my tenure I launched and headed a sub-committee addressing the various mentorship roles graduate students can provide to the undergraduates during their progression into advanced programs. In addition to continue to promote events geared toward aiding the undergraduate population on campus, I am interested in supporting interdisciplinary collaborations among students across different departments in the College of Engineering, to help them transform tomorrow’s world as well-informed professionals. As a member of the EGSAC I hope to facilitate the cross-cultural communication and awareness among graduate students to overcome the many barriers and challenges of graduate school. I am also a graduate mentor in student organizations in my home Department which support undergraduate (GPS) and graduate peer mentoring.

Committees: Interdisciplinary Engagement / Mentoring (Chair)

Brandon Byers | Joint Civil & Environmental Engineering-MBA

I am a Joint-Degree graduate student in the CEE & MBA Departments. I am currently working on modern engineering processes like Integrated Project Delivery to enhance the performance of construction practices while cutting down on attributed cost after construction. My interest is to develop the knowledge of bringing cross discipline engineers into the early design stage with efforts to holistically execute proper steps needed to mitigate issues throughout the design and construction. With this knowledge, I seek to become a consultant with thee intentions on spearheading this process to normality. In EGSAC I seek to help aid the efforts in making the admissions process for first-year graduate students a lot easier. I also have a genuine interest of creating ways to diversify the engineering department, primarily targeted toward African-American men and women who have a genuine interest in STEM Majors. In my spare time I workout to maintain good health – Health is Wealth.

Committees: Interdisciplinary Engagement / Advocates for Underrepresented Minorities (Chair)

Kanuo Chen | Electrical & Computer Engineering

I am Kanuo Chen, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. My research is focused in the field of microelectronics and optoelectronics. I am currently working on developing photonic integrated circuits for the next generation IT infrastructure. As a member of EGSAC, I hope to help junior students to accommodate to the graduate life and enjoy the resources that the campus provides, and to help senior students with their career development. In my spare time I play piano and go rock climbing.

Committees: Quality of Life and Wellness (Chair) / Mentoring

Eli Chertkov | Physics

I am a second year PhD candidate in the Department of Physics. My research is focused on the use of computational techniques to study many-body quantum mechanical systems and on using physics-inspired algorithms to solve engineering problems. As a member of EGSAC, I hope to encourage a greater sense of community between departments within the graduate school. I believe that events aimed at bringing together groups of students who would otherwise not have reason to meet will improve the quality of life in our community. In my free time, I practice guitar and play too many board games.

Committees: Interdisciplinary Engagement / Quality of Life and Wellness

Craig Daniels | Materials Science & Engineering

I am a PhD candidate in the Materials Science and Engineering Department. I am investigating radiation effects on precipitate structures in aluminum alloys for nuclear applications, both through simulations and experimentation. I wish to promote awareness and understanding of larger graduate student issues and build consensus for solutions. I also hope to encourage a strong commitment to ethics in our community. 

Committees: International Student Affairs / Quality of Life and Wellness

Yuguang Fu | Civil & Evnironmental Engineering


I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. My research is focused in the fields of structural health monitoring, helping to develop the next-generation smart sensor platform for civil engineering applications. As a member of EGSAC, I want to help international students overcome their challenges and promote cross-culture communication and understanding. In addition, I am strongly passionate about careers and professional development for graduate students. For the coming academic year, I will help out with Student Consultants on Teaching (SCOTS) program, and work as undergraduate advisor for Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), UIUC Chapter.

Committees: Interdisciplinary Engagement / Mentoring

Keilin Jahnke | Agricultural & Biological Engineering

I am a Ph.D. student in the department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.  My research interests include technology adoption in subsistence marketplaces, the impact of non-technical aspects (including social, cultural, and political) on infrastructure design and durability in rural communities, and creativity and its role in engineering education.  I am passionate about the continued development of interdisciplinary programs that bring together students from across campus and helping to ease the transition for students entering graduate school.  As an instructor for the “Creativity, Innovation, and Vision” course on campus, I am also interested in the dissemination of creativity techniques that prove useful for research.

Committees: Interdisciplinary Engagement / Advocates for Underrepresented Minorities

Spencer Kieffer | Mechanical Science and Engineering | Secretary

I am a second year master’s student in the Mechanical Science and Engineering Department. My research focuses on the development and precision motion control of advanced manufacturing systems. I firmly believe that a healthy work-life balance is the key to making a highly productive researcher and that the most active minds exist in active bodies. I also think the university community is an important aspect of a positive work-life balance as the relationships formed here will be fruitful for years to come, in our lives and careers. As a member of EGSAC, I hope to encourage a healthy balance between work and play to improve both the morale and productivity of engineering students. In addition, I will strive to foster an environment of collaboration and friendship amongst engineers and the broader community at Illinois.

Committees: International Student Affairs / Quality of Life and Wellness

Lauren H. Logan | Civil & Environmental Engineering | Publicity Coordinator


I am a Ph.D. candidate in the energy-water-environment sustainability program in civil and environmental engineering. My work focuses on the link between thermoelectric power plant thermal pollution from effluent waters and aquatic stability in connected waterways. Of importance to me within the engineering community are the inclusion and retention of minorities in all engineering fields, as well as the representation of minorities in higher education; particularly women and those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. I also advocate graduate student wellness both inside and outside the classroom, which is vital for academic success and personal career development. In addition to serving on EGSAC (past president and past treasurer), I am president of the Central Illinois Alumni Chapter of Tau Beta Pi and Co-Chair of the CEE departmental Graduate Student Advisory Committee.

Committees: Advocates for Underrepresented Minorities / Quality of Life and Wellness / Mentoring

IMG_0874Erin Molloy | Computer Science


I am a PhD candidate in the Scientific Computing research area of the department of Computer Science. My research interests lie in the intersection of optimization problems, big data, and high performance computing. I am passionate about the promotion and creation of resources to support wellness and improve the quality of life of graduate students in our engineering community. Outside of Siebel Center, I can be found teaching Hatha Yoga classes at Campus Recreation and the Living Yoga Center.

Committees: International Student Affairs (Chair) / Quality of Life and Wellness

Raghavendra Pradyumna Pothukuchi | Computer Science


I am a fifth year PhD student in Computer Science advised by Prof. Josep Torrellas. My research is in using formal control theory for resource management in computer processors and systems. Apart from research, I am learning Indian classical music, dance and texts, Vedas.  Through EGSAC, I want to increase the awareness of the multidimensionality and interdisciplinary nature of graduate research. I think that this would allow graduate students to produce holistic solutions to the problems they work on. Additionally, I also want to ensure graduate wellbeing so as to create better environments in and out of workplaces at the university.

Committees: Interdisciplinary Engagement / Quality of Life and Wellness

Susana Roque | Civil & Environmental Engineering | Funding Coordinator

After completing my Masters in Civil Engineering from Illinois in May 2016, I have now turned my attention to pursuing a PhD. My research will explore long-term changes in high-frequency rainfall and their effects on ecosystem functions and engineering designs. I am excited for the opportunity I have as a first year member of EGSAC to advocate for graduate students and help improve their experiences at Illinois through increased awareness of the importance of students’ mental health and well-being. These vital parts of graduate students’ lives have often been undervalued, and I believe that assisting students in the form of education, communication of available services, and promotion of general awareness will make UIUC a more productive, more welcoming, and even more amazing campus. I am also proud to represent Hispanic women in engineering and look forward to being a part of EGSAC’s efforts to encourage the retention of women and minorities in engineering. When not typing away furiously in my office, I love to walk dogs at the Champaign County Humane Society and stay active dancing salsa, playing sports, and yelling at the TV watching others play sports.

Committees: International Student Affairs / Quality of Life and Wellness

Kumar Neelotpal Shukla | Civil & Environmental Engineering | Treasurer


I am a second year graduate student in the Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure Systems division in civil and environmental engineering. My research focuses on assessment of transportation network vulnerabilities to natural disasters via application of advanced computational techniques. As a member of EGSAC, I hope to enhance the inclusion of minority communities and create a supportive environment conducive to superior higher education. Further, I would like to contribute towards developing planning tools which may help graduate students navigate through challenging years of graduate education. Outside of EGSAC, I am a member of OTCR Consulting and a culinary hobbyist.

Committees: International Student Affairs / Mentoring

Svjetlana (Lana) Stekovic | Mechanical Science & Engineering | President


I am currently a third-year graduate student in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (TAM) in the Mechanical Science and Engineering department. My research interests are mechanics of complex flows, numerical methods, theoretical combustion, and energetic materials. And my current work focuses on advancing the understanding of multi-scale turbulent combustion in diffusion flames. The beginning of every chapter in our lives is important, especially when entering graduate school. Through EGSAC, I plan to establish further resources to help incoming domestic and international students better assimilate to the culture and requirements of graduate education. To become well-rounded scientists and engineers, we need to invest in learning how to improve our technical communication skills. At the University of Illinois, I want to combine campus resources in effective technical communication and make them conveniently accessible to the graduate community.  As a strong advocate for women in STEM through GradSWE and MechSE Graduate Women, I intend to continue enabling graduate women and minorities to collaborate and be more engaged in the graduate community. 

Committees: Interdisciplinary Engagement / Mentoring

Previous EGSAC Committee Members