Graduate student spotlights

Andrea Bazzoli

Andrea Bazzoli is a graduate student in the department of psychology. Bazzoli’s area of expertise is occupational health psychology (a branch of organizational psychology), and among other things, he investigated how workplaces functioned during the twin health and economic crisis brought by COVID-19. He is a member of the Coalition for Healthy and Equitable Workplaces Lab led by Tahira Probst. Everything they do in the lab is a team effort and working with his team is what Bazzoli enjoys the most about research.

Since 2020, Bazzoli’s research has followed three paths: first, exploration of the nature of economic stressors (e.g., job insecurity and financial stress), their explanatory mechanisms, novel consequences, and individual and contextual moderators; second, the investigation of predictors and correlation of proactive safety behaviors in the workplace, including safety voice and accident underreporting; and third, examination of how advancements in quantitative methodology can be best used to advance empirical and substantive work in organizational psychology. Read more about Bazzoli’s research on his website.

Bazzoli was born in Italy and lived there until he was 21 years old. He then moved to the U.S. and earned his bachelor’s degree at Drury University. Afterwards, he moved back to Italy, then to the UK, where he earned his first master’s degree. He earned a second master’s degree at WSU Vancouver in 2021.

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Yi-Chun Chung

Yi-Chun Chung is a graduate student in the experimental psychology Ph.D. program. Her research focuses on understanding decision-making mechanisms underlying addiction and further examining mechanisms of change to promote health behaviors. Outside school, she loves hiking in the Pacific Northwest.

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Srijanie Dey

Srijanie Dey is a mathematics Ph.D. student and graduate teaching assistant working with Alexander Dimitrov. Dey works with math, statistics and computer science in her applied mathematics research focusing on brain simulations. She works with a new technology called neuromorphic computing or “brain-like” computing. Neuromorphic computing uses a chip that is inspired by how the human brain works. She is trying to reverse engineer a brain into these specialized computer chips—research designed to help improve the efficiency of artificial intelligence.

Since she can remember, Dey has been interested in mathematics and said her love for solving puzzles drives her research. She was drawn to neuromorphic computing because it was something totally new to explore and understand and requires a lot of interdisciplinary work.

Dey completed her undergraduate and first master’s degree in India at the Indian Institute of Technology and received her second master’s degree in applied mathematics from Technische Universität in Berlin. She has received several travel grants through WSU and has presented her work in the U.S. and at the annual computational neuroscience conference in Barcelona, Spain. This year she received a summer dissertation fellowship and in 2022 she received a natural sciences fellowship. In 2019 she was the WSU Vancouver winner of the 3-Minute Thesis Competition and runner-up in the WSU system competition. She says these opportunities, along with the gorgeous campus scenery and the support she has received from her department throughout her time here have made her graduate journey very exciting.

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Aaron Jesch

Aaron Jesch is a Ph.D. candidate studying history with Laurie Mercier. Jesch’s research looks into the Industrial Workers of the World, a labor union founded in Chicago in 1905. While known for their strikes and labor organization, the IWW was also prolific in terms of performative resistance. Jesch studies how these performances challenge structures of assimilation and conformativity.

“The performances (songs, poetry, books, theater and other artwork as well as street speaking, strikes, court appearances and incarcerations) of the IWW or Wobblies challenged traditional norms of race, gender and sex/sexuality, but were also cynical of and mocked the hypocrisy of religious institutions, capitalism, democracy, politicians, law enforcement and the justice system in general. In doing so, they resisted forms of conformity and assimilation that were heavily enforced during the first decades of the 20th century,” Jesch said.

Jesch earned his undergraduate degree in social sciences and his master’s degree in history from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and has taught at colleges and universities in central Nebraska. His goals include teaching and connecting with students focused on working-class issues and labor organizing. Jesch has received research funding to travel and research in San Francisco and was a recipient of the 2022 Sam Fishman Award—a grant to conduct research at the Walter P. Reuther Library, a major labor library in Detroit. He hopes to defend his dissertation in early spring 2023.

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Dmitri Kalashnikov

Dmitri Kalashnikov is a Ph.D. candidate studying climate science with Deepti Singh. Kalashnikov’s research focuses on lightning and lightning-caused wildfires in the western United States. He explains there are two types of wildfires, those caused by humans and those caused by lightning strikes. Many of the wildfires seen in the western U.S., especially east of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains, are spiked by lightning from thunderstorms. Kalashnikov researches this topic from multiple angles, from examining how wildfire smoke is impacting air quality and pollution, to understanding overall lightning-causing weather patterns across the U.S.

Kalashnikov earned his undergraduate degree in geography in 2018 and his master's degree in geography in 2019, both from Portland State University. In 2020 he began his Ph.D. program. His goals include publishing his research in scientific journals to reach other climate scientists, and hopefully gain public attention and bring awareness to these issues. Kalashnikov was interviewed for a New York Times article about his air quality study.

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Susie Masecar

Susie Masecar is a biology Ph.D. student. She said, "WSU has one of the best teams of amphibian-focused faculty on the planet, and I am really excited to be member of a research lab that emphasizes my particular amphibian interests—conservation and disease ecology.

Masecar earned a bachelor’s degree at Elon University and a D.V.M. from North Carolina State University. She practiced as an exotics veterinarian in Raleigh, N.C. for a couple years. While her primary research is on the susceptibility of pet amphibian species to pathogens that are critically important in wildlife conservation, she has special interests in ecophysiology and pathology, and looks forward to developing a variety of interdisciplinary projects. When she's not working, Masecar likes to spend time in the forest and enjoys thrifting and collecting handmade pottery.

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Molly Roitman

Molly Roitman is a doctoral student in the experimental psychology program. She is part of the Adolescent Health and Wellness Lab working with Jessica Fales studying health and social psychology. Roitman’s thesis looks at the stigmas surrounding adolescents with chronic pain and examines how these stigmas might impact their friend groups. She is examining how healthy adolescents might perceive peers with chronic pain and if the disclosure or concealment of pain effects those relationships.

“I’m interested in seeing, especially given the pandemic, what we can do about making sure kids these days are having the experiences they need to be successful in their lives and relationships, and making sure we can support the kids who have health issues or are at risk,” said Roitman.

Roitman graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2021. She took first place in the 2022 Research Showcase for her poster presentation and research focusing on social anxiety and cyberbullying among adolescents with chronic pain. Roitman said that some of her favorite things about studying at WSU Vancouver include the beautiful campus, and the hardworking and determined research assistants who help in the lab.

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Elsa Toskey

Elsa Toskey is a master’s student studying environmental science. They are a part of the Aquatic Ecology Lab and work with Stephen Bollens and Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens. Toskey’s thesis focuses on the ecology of stream invertebrates on the Olympic Peninsula. Their thesis work is part of a larger project in collaboration with the Washington Department of Natural Resources and the University of Washington, among other organizations, that is investigating forest management practices and treatments that can help better maintain the biological integrity of the land and generate more revenue. Toskey’s work looks at the pre-treatment stages of streams with a focus on the algae and invertebrates in those streams.

They said they initially became passionate about the environment through canoeing and rafting, and fell in love with river conservation and outdoor education. “Everyone depends on the river and water, regardless of your political affiliation or socio-economic status, everyone cares about rivers… they just cross all the boundaries,” Toskey said.

Toskey graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science in 2018. Their first goal after graduating is to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and continue to be involved in river conservation in the Pacific Northwest.

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Sabbir Uddin

Sabbir Uddin is a master's student in mechanical engineering and began his studies in fall 2022. "I loves the opportunities I have at WSU Vancouver. The fantastic faculty and amazingly cooperative students have made my life easier,” he said. “As a TA, I am amazed by the interactive students I have from the mechanical engineering department. And as a novice researcher, I was thrilled by the promise of my field."

Uddin researches materials and structures as they relate to the industrial production methods of composite materials. He said, "When I work on my research projects, it feels like a glimpse towards the future. A step at a time. A step among the many souls who dream like me. It feels great to be a part of something big. If you are interested in my research journey, you are welcome to check out WSU Vancouver."

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Bianca Wong

Bianca Wong Rodriguez is in the School of Environmental Science. Her master’s thesis focuses on aquatic ecology. Wong Rodriguez works with Gretchen-Rollwagen-Bollens and examines phytoplankton. Pytoplankton are one of the primary producers of oxygen in the ocean ecosystem. She has an interest in studying the roll of nutrient quantity/quality required for phytoplankton to photosynthesize and how that impacts what they do. Wong Rodriguez’s plans to continue phytoplankton research and work with underrepresented communities to educate them about environmental science.

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Wong Rodriguez was born in Iquitos, Peru and moved to Florida when she was six years old. She completed her marine science undergraduate degree at Jacksonville University where she concentrated in marine biology and earned a minor in photography. Wong Rodriguez’s hobbies include photography, scuba diving and being a plant mom.

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