Third Annual Three Minute Thesis Competition

Event Date: March 8, 2019

Winners Finalists Judges Emcee Event Photos

Competition Finalists

Aditi Chaubey

Aditi Chaubey headshot.

PhD Program: Biological Sciences

Advisor: Denise Ferkey

Biography: Aditi Chaubey hails from India and is a PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences. She is studying sex-based differences in pain management. Chaubey is motivated to develop new tools and drugs to understand and cure diseases in a more sex-based, personalized manner. Her hobbies include performing Indian classical dances, volunteering with the Graduate Indian Student Association and playing board games. Chaubey’s future career plans include teaching and science education development.

Zachary Dunbar

Zachary Dunbar headshot.

PhD Program: Cancer Sciences, Roswell Park Graduate Division  

Advisor: Mark Travers

Biography: Zachary Dunbar is a PhD candidate in Cancer Sciences, Roswell Park Graduate Division. His research focuses on the chemicals emitted by electronic cigarettes, the effect on indoor air quality and non-user health, and social or behavioral traits that contribute to e-cigarette use. Dunbar’s goals are to protect non-smokers, inform e-cigarette users, and advocate for public policy and product regulations based on scientific evidence. Away from the lab, he enjoys playing guitar and restoring his 1958 AMC Rambler American Super. Dunbar’s future career plans include education and research.

Heather Hagenbuch

Heather Hagenbuch headshot.

PhD Program: Educational Leadership and Policy

Advisor: Raechele Pope

Biography: Heather Hagenbuch is a student in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, and is a member of the Association for Equality and Excellence in Education. Her research examines the relationship between high impact practices and baccalaureate degree completion among first-generation college students. Hagenbuch is motivated to learn from high-achieving, first-generation college students to better support incoming generations of students. Hagenbuch enjoys traveling and spending time with her three- year old son. Her future career plans include directing federally funded opportunity programs that promote student access and engagement across cultures.

Ashlee Hart

Ashlee Hart headshot.

PhD Program: Anthropology

Advisor: Peter Biehl

Biography: Ashlee Hart is from Boise, Idaho, and is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology. Her research focuses on Thracian indigenous ceramics from Iron Age Bulgaria. Hart aspires to present research results to non-specialist audiences to promote greater understanding of cultural differences and the importance of cultural heritage. Among her professional affiliations are the European Archaeology Association, Society of American Archaeology and the Archaeology Institute of America. Hart enjoys traveling, playing sports, and spending time with friends and family. Her future plans include a government archaeology position or a career in academia.

Hamid Khakpour

Hamid Khakpour headshot.

PhD Program: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Advisor: John Hall

Biography: Hamid Khakpour, from Tehran, Iran, is a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His research proposes an innovative modular wind turbine blade that is designed to help solve costly wind turbine transportation and maintenance issues. Khakpour is motivated to improve people’s lives through his engineering knowledge in the growing wind industry. He enjoys going to the gym, playing volleyball, fishing and hiking. Khakpour’s future plans include founding a start-up company.

Neeti Pokhriyal

Neeti Pokhriyal headshot.

PhD Program: Computer Science and Engineering

Advisor: Venu Govindaraju

Biography: Neeti Pokhriyal is a PhD candidate in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Her research focuses on building computational models that assist in improved measurement of poverty. Pokhriyal uses various data sources to accurately estimate poverty values by location. Her goal is for this research to be used to design appropriate interventions to lift poor households out of poverty worldwide. Pokhriyal enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family and young children. Her future interests include leading multi-disciplinary research that builds scientific knowledge for societal benefits.

Jim Schuler

Jim Schuler headshot.

PhD Program: Biomedical Informatics

Advisor: Ram Samudrala

Biography: Jim Schuler is a PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Informatics and is a member of the American Medical Informatics Association. In his research, Schuler uses models of proteins and compounds to analyze how drugs work, and how seemingly different medicines may be quite similar. His goal is to find new uses for old medicines and reduce the time and cost of drug discovery, and development. Schuler’s interests include running, cycling, camping, Wegmans and D-Link. He aspires to become a pediatric endocrinologist.

Aref Shahini

Aref Shahini headshot.

PhD Program: Chemical and Biological Engineering

Advisor: Stelios Andreadis

Biography: Aref Shahini hails from Iran and is a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. His research explores how genes from the embryonic development stage can be used to reverse age-associated syndromes. Shahini is motivated to combat muscle loss and improve strength among the senior citizen population through gene therapy. Outside of the lab, he enjoys nature, adventure, going to the gym, snowboarding, baking and playing guitar. Shahini is planning a career as a research scientist.

Shiran Zhong

Shiran Zhong headshot.

PhD Program: Geography

Advisor: Ling Bian

Biography: Shiran Zhong is from China and is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography. His research focuses on how human mobility and contact networks impact disease dispersion, identification of critical locations at different phases of an epidemic, and prediction of disease dispersion in space and time. Zhong aspires to help mitigate and better control the dispersion of influenza and other communicable diseases. Among his interests are cooking spicy foods and bel canto singing. Zhong plans a career as a faculty/research scientist.