GSC Leadership (2022-2023)

Executive Board

President: 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.

Vice 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.

Chief of Staff and Operations: Anthony Casadonte

My name is Anthony Casadonte, and I grew up in Massachusetts. I received my bachelor's degree in Gender Studies at the University of Southern California, and my master's in Philosophy at Duquesne University. I am currently a PhD student in the Philosophy department. My research focuses on Phenomenology, German Idealism, and Daoist philosophy. Particularly, I am interested in different conceptions of intersubjectivity and freedom. Besides philosophy, I also like literature and poetry.

Treasurer: Adam Tristan

Secretary: 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.


External Affairs Officer: 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.


Professional Student Affairs Officer: OPEN


Postdoc Affairs Officer: OPEN

Dominic was born and did his early education in Kenya, He then moved to India where he studied for B.Sc at the Periyar University and M.Sc. from the Cochin University of Science and Technology with focus on Neurobiology. He went on to do research in neuroscience with emphasis on neurodegenerative disorders and more so, experimental parkinsonism at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research - Indian Institute of Chemical Biology earning a PhD from the University of Calcutta. He is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center, In the College of Medicine here at UK where he is broadly asking what happens to the brain with traumatic brain injury? is it possible to fix it? How?
Dominic does have some interests outside the lab and is open to chatting about them, in person.


President Emeritus (non-voting): Staci McGill



Leadership Team

Director of Membership: OPEN


Appropriations & Revenue Committee

Chair: Treasurer


Awards Committee

Chair: TBD


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 and is the Chair of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Committee


Director of Communications: 

Director of Social Media: TBD


External Affairs Committee

Chair: External Affairs Officer


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: Sharique Ahmad Khan

I am in the final year of the Chemistry PhD program at UK and have been the Chemistry GSC representative since 2020. I am also currently serving as the chair of the Professional development and networking committee of the GSC. I am excited about this new role and will continue working towards organizing more networking events this year to connect graduate students and provide more resources for professional development at UK. My hobbies include hiking, badminton and watching movies.


Professional Student Affairs Committee

Chair: TBD


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.