Fourth Annual Three Minute Thesis Competition

Event Date: March 13, 2020

Winners Finalists Judges Event Photos

Competition Finalists

Joëlle Carota

Joelle Carota headshot.

PhD Program: Romance Languages and Literatures

Advisor: Wolfgang Wölck

Biography: Joëlle Carota is a PhD candidate in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, and is from Pescara, Italy. Her research aims to find out how the Venezuelan community that has re-settled in Pescara, Italy over the last ten years is adapting to new surroundings. This includes investigating the outcomes that result from linguistic contact, and monitoring language maintenance and shift. Although her native language is Italian, Carota currently teaches Spanish and is learning American Sign Language. While she is not deep into her research, she enjoys Zumba. Carota would like to continue teaching and work in academia in the future.

Poonam Choudhary

Poonam Choudhary headshot.

PhD Program: Medicine

Advisor: Ferdinand Schweser

Biography: Poonam Choudhary is from Chandigarh, India. As a PhD candidate in the Department of Medicine, her research is focused on using advanced imaging techniques involving Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to diagnose pre-symptomatic biomarkers of Krabbe Disease (KD) in a pre-clinical setting. Choudhary’s hobbies include cooking, yoga, meditation and tending to indoor plants. In the future she would like to work in academia.

Zeinab Farhat

Zeinab Farhat headshot.

PhD Program: Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Advisor: Lina Mu

Biography: From New York City, Zeinab Farhat is an epidemiology and environmental health PhD candidate. Farhat’s research focuses on how garlic can be used as a dietary agent to fight cancer. She is studying how various garlic forms and preparations may have different anti-cancer properties. Her goal is to determine which are the most beneficial in terms of anti-cancer activity. Farhat’s hobbies include going to concerts, baking, cooking and completing puzzles. Her career goal is to work in the Division of Cancer Prevention at the National Cancer Institute, and serve as principal investigator to develop a project regarding the impact of nutrition and exercise on cancer occurrence and survival.

Farshad Ghanei

Farshad Ghanei headshot.

PhD Program: Computer Science and Engineering

Advisor: Karthik Dantu

Biography: Farshad Ghanei is from Tehran, Iran. As a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, his research targets modern battery-powered systems. The goal of Ghanei’s research is to provide these systems with appropriate mechanisms to be able to track, account for, and manage energy, while being more energy efficient and running for longer periods of time. His hobbies include woodworking, gardening and spending time with his pet snail. Ghanei is also a third-degree black belt in Nearu martial arts and self-defense. After completing his PhD, Ghanei would like to continue his research and develop better battery-powered systems.

Nagashri Lakshminarayana

Nagashri Lakshminarayana headshot.

PhD Program: Computer Science and Engineering

Advisor: Venu Govindaraju 

Biography: Nagashri Lakshminarayana is a computer science and engineering PhD candidate from Bangalore, India. Her research focuses on bridging the gap between human and computer interaction, which currently lacks the empathy factor. She is working to build “human-centric” systems that can recognize facial expressions at the granularity of facial muscle movements. Her hobbies include hiking, singing and playing board games. Her career goals include becoming a research scientist and continuing to work towards making human-computer partnerships more meaningful.

Seyed Omid Sajedi

Seyed Omid Sajedi headshot.

PhD Program: Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

Advisor: Xiao Liang

Biography: Seyed Omid Sajedi is from Tehran, Iran. As a PhD candidate in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, his research focuses on making reliable and automatic inspection systems that can quickly monitor the condition of structures after natural disasters. His goal is to develop the framework that performs structural damage diagnoses in real-time, to minimize the economic and social consequences of shutting down critical facilities after an earthquake. Outside of his research, he enjoys playing guitar, hiking and nature photography. Upon graduation, he plans to continue his research and pursue a career in academia.

Emily Sekera

Emily Sekera headshot.

PhD Program: Chemistry

Advisor: Troy D. Wood

Biography: From Alden, New York, Emily Sekera is a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry, and a member of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, American Chemical Society, Society for Applied Spectroscopy, and the Metabolomics Association of North America. In her research, she is using feces and urine to find potential diagnostic markers of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Her goal is to create a clinically-used biomarker for the diagnosis of ASD, to help facilitate earlier detection of the disorder. Sekera enjoys wine tastings, playing video games and volunteering for STEM outreach events. In the future, she would like to run her own research lab.

Xiaoxiao Zhang

Xiaoxiao Zhang headshot.

PhD Program: Oral Biology

Advisor: Ding Xu

Biography: Xiaoxiao Zhang is from China, but has also lived in Lund, Sweden. As a PhD candidate in the oral biology department, she is currently studying the structural details of heparin sulfate-cathepsin K interactions in hopes to develop a novel drug that treats osteoporosis with fewer side effects than the current available drugs. Previously, Zhang worked as a dentist and has traveled to over 15 countries. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, salsa dancing and weight lifting. After completing her PhD, Zhang plans to continue to research protein-proteoglycan interactions and monoclonal antibody therapy.