GSC Leadership (2022-2023)

Executive Board

President: Sara (Cheng) Qian

My name is Sara (Cheng) Qian and I am originally from Guilin, China. I received a bachelor’s degree in Plant science from China Agricultural University and a master’s degree in Agronomy from Auburn University with a minor in Statistics. Currently I am in the 4th year of my PhD in the department of Plant and soil sciences. My research mainly focuses on improving water use efficiency and traffic tolerance of turfgrasses. Outside of work and study, I enjoy watching operas and musicals, traveling and weight training.


Vice president and Chief of Staff: Sarah Carr

Sarah is a PhD candidate in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. She works with Dr. Phillip Bridges studying the effects of Selenium-form on fertility in beef cows. She specifically examines molecular and cellular responses to specific selenium-form diets in the corpus luteum, endometrium, and conceptus. She has previously earned a graduate certificate in College Teaching and Learning and in Applied Statistics from the University of Kentucky. Sarah completed her B.S. in Agriculture and Natural Resources at Berea College in 2015 and her M.S. in Animal Physiology at West Virginia University in 2018. Sarah is the GSC Secretary and the AFSGA President. She is the mother to a 7-year-old daughter and eight pets. In her free time, she is obtaining B.A. in Hispanic Language and Culture and is the operations coordinator for a non-profit call Journi’ s Hope that provides food and nutritional resources to immigrant, refugee, and minority families here in Lexington.


Treasurer: Adam Tristan

Adam Tristan is a Ph.D. candidate in Instructional Communication in the College of Information and Communication. He is a Lyman T. Johnson Fellow since the Fall of 2020 and UNITE Predoctoral Fellow as of the Fall of 2022. He focuses on the instructor-student relationship, specifically research in faculty office hours. His dissertation is an experimental design about students’ need for relational messages in office hours. He is an interdisciplinary mixed methods researcher and has worked on various community-based research.

Professional Student Affairs: Michelle Graham-Smith

Michelle Graham-Smith, has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, and holds certification as a Certified Rehabilitation counselor, a License in Social Work, and a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor through the state of Kentucky. She has seven years of experience working with adolescents and adults with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders co-occurring disorders providing various services which assist in case management, family dynamics, and transitional care plans. Michelle has worked in case management and advocacy with individuals with multiple disabilities for the last 17 years. She continues her advocacy by providing vocational evaluations, coordinating transitional work services, career exploration, resume building services, and job development and training skills. Michelle currently is a full-time professional and attends the University of Kentucky College of Education, earning her Doctorate E.D. in Educational Leadership with a research focus on remote work and how to build a stronger connection within the workplace.


Postdoc Affairs Officer: OPEN

President Emeritus: Jessica Van Gilder

My name is Jessica Van Gilder, and I grew up in northern California. I received my bachelor's degrees in Journalism and English at Seattle University, and my master's in Liberal Studies at the University of Minnesota. I am currently a doctoral candidate in the English Department. My research focuses on metacognition, fictionality, and genre. Broadly speaking, I explore how contemporary readers engage with fiction vs. nonfiction, and how genres function as systems of knowing in 19th century America as well as today. I currently teach courses in Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies, and the last two years I also taught literature and film courses in the English department. When not teaching or working on my research, I enjoy patio time with my dog Leo and playing pinball.

Leadership Team

Director of Membership: OPEN


Appropriations & Revenue Committee

Chair: Adam Tristan (Treasurer)


Awards Committee

Chair: Faraneh Fathi


Faraneh Fathi is a Ph.D. candidate in the UK College of Engineering's Biomedical Engineering (BME) department. Prior Joining to the UK, she obtained her master’s degree in BME from Marquette University, Milwaukee. Faraneh has received several competitive awards including the prestigious 2022 Halcomb Fellowship in Medicine and Engineering, and Joyce Evans Outstanding Service Award. She is elected as the vice-president of BMES at the UK Student Chapter, serves as the BME representative of Graduate Students, representative of the BME department at the UK Graduate Student Congress (GSC), and Chair of the Award Committee at GSC. Apart from her research work, she has a keen interest in pursuing business and aspiring to be an entrepreneur. She completed the Entrepreneurs Bootcamp 1.0 program at the University of Kentucky's Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship (VACE) and is currently enrolled in Bootcamp 2.0 to further enhance her skills. During her non-research hours, she takes pleasure in practicing Yoga and spending time with her cockatiel Cheeka.


Communications & Documents Committee

Chair: Sarah Tomke

Sarah Tomke is a Ph.D. candidate in the Forestry & Natural Resources Department. Her general research interests include studying the genetic structure of wildlife populations and how landscape features influence gene flow and genetic isolation. She is currently researching the distribution and population status of an imperiled salamander species in Kentucky, the Eastern Hellbender. Sarah has also served as a Graduate Student Congress representative for her department since 2021. Additionally, she was the chair of the Mental Health & Wellness Committee during the 2021-2022 academic year and currently serves as the chair of the Communications & Documents Committee.


Director of Communications: 

Director of Social Media: TBD


External Affairs Committee

Chair: Michelle Graham-Smith (Professional Student Affairs)


Institutional Research and Advocacy Committee

Chair: TBD


International Student Concerns Committee

Co-Chair: Kia Markussen

My name is Kia Markussen and I am originally from Copenhagen, Denmark. I received a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2017, followed by a master's degree in Pharmacy, 2019, both from the University of Copenhagen. I am a graduate student in the College of Medicine with the department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. I am currently a Graduate Assistant studying the role of glycogen in brain disorders, including epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. My hobbies are rock climbing, hiking, traveling, spending time with family and friends, and importantly cooking/eating.


Co-Chair: Anjana Subramoniam

I am Anjana Subramoniam, originally form India. I completed my Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Masters in Entomology in India. Currently, I am a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biology, studying the contribution of the Autonomic Nervous System and sleep, in memory and cognition, in both rodent models and humans. My vision is to partake in the education and spread awareness on the research on understanding the links between sleep and the neurobiological mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases. During my free time, I play racquetball and tennis, travel, dance, explore coffee shops, and spend quality time with my partner and our dog.


Professional Development & Networking Committee

Chair: Deepti Adhikari

My name is Deepti, and I am from Lexington, Kentucky. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Information Communication Technology in 2017, followed by a master's degree in Instructional System Design in 2019, both from the University of Kentucky. I am in the 1st year of my doctoral program in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction's Instruction & Administration Program. My research mainly focuses on microlearning in an industry environment. Outside work and study, I enjoy playing basketball, drawing comics book, traveling, and watching Broadway plays and musicals. .


Professional Student Affairs Committee

Chair: Michelle Graham-Smith (Professional Student Affairs)


Mental Health and Wellbeing Committee

Chair: TBD


SOPS Representative: Erica Macon

Erica Macon is currently a postdoctoral research scholar in the College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. Erica received her BS in Animal Science from the University of Florida. Her MS in Horse Science from Middle TN State University with a thesis titled: Plasma and Muscle Amino Acids in Insulin Resistant and Healthy Horses in the Fed and Fasted State. Finally, she received a PhD from the University of Kentucky in Veterinary Science with a specialization in equine nutritional endocrinology. Her dissertation focused on improving current diagnostic tests to identify horses with insulin dysregulation (similar to pre-diabetes), as well as developing new nutritional recommendations for these diseased animals. Her current work focuses on improving diagnostics and developing new treatments for people that suffer from Hypoglycemia Associated Autonomic Failure, which is a complication of Type 1 Diabetes.