About RSG


The following students serve as RSG graduate student representatives for the Fall 2016 Term, and together form the Legislative Branch of the government. Their attendance and voting records are available for public review on this page. Each representative serves on at least 2 RSG committees, and holds periodic office hours that are open to the general student body. Jump below to learn more about and contact your student representatives, or meet them in person at one of these sessions.

Wondering what Division represents you?

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Division I – Biological and Health Sciences

Daniel Vallejo


Interested in serving as a representative? Contact us and request an application to fill this open board seat!

Maribel Okiye


Maribel graduated from the Catholic University of America with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in Hispanic Studies along with a Certificate for Spanish for Health Care. She is currently in her first year as a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan’s Department of Chemistry. Maribel is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc. a predominately black sorority dedicated to public service and the development of minority serving communities. Before becoming a student at U of M, Maribel worked as an advocate for minority Women in STEM, and supported diversity and inclusion programs within her university to increase the retention rate of students of color at her university. Her current doctoral coursework and research combines her love of chemistry and environmental engineering to improve detection waterborne viruses in waste water. Maribel hopes to contribute meaningful research in her field to develop more efficient and less costly methods of virus detection and water treatment.

DI – Vacant Seat

Tom Jurkiw

Biological Chemistry

I am representing the Biological and Health Sciences Division. I am currently a 4th-year PhD student in the Biological Chemistry. This is my first term as a member of the RSG. I am most interested in helping to increase mental health awareness throughout the graduate school, as well as helping to increase diversity and inclusion in the various departments.

DI – Vacant Seat

Interested in serving as a representative? Contact us and request an application to fill this open board seat!

DI – Vacant Seat

Interested in serving as a representative? Contact us and request an application to fill this open board seat!

Division II – Physical Sciences and Engineering

Sarah Bork

Electrical Engineering

I am a first year Electrical Engineering Ph.D. student representing Division II: Physical Sciences and Engineering. I received my B.S./M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Ohio State University in 2017. In my work with microfabrication, I am thrilled develop tools for neuroscience applications with the aim of unveiling the inner workings of the neural network. I am also actively investigating the methods required for active learning through my research in engineering education, enabling future incorporation of evidence based teaching methods in the classroom. Outside of academia, I find means to fuel my curiosities. Independently, I enjoy painting, reading, and horseback riding. With my partner and our two dogs, we enjoy traveling, hiking, canoeing, and movie nights.

Sheel Patel


I am a second-year graduate student in Biomedical Engineering. I always like to advocate for all students that may feel have no voice. I am most passionate about providing extensive academic resources for graduate students including mentorship programs. As a representative in RSG I get the opportunity to help all students that are part of a minority group. I have served as an RSG division II: physical sciences and engineering representative for a year now. I have enjoyed my time in RSG and hope to serve the graduate population in general. I also hope to represent my peers’ best interest and serve the graduate community effectively. If you have any question or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me anytime with any issues you may have.

Francesca Gandini


I decided to run as a RSG representative because after four years at UM, it is time for me to give back to the graduate student community. I want to work on improving the opportunities for professional development offered to graduate students. I am also passionate about the situation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM. Finally, as an international student, I recognize the pressure felt by foreigner instructors in US classrooms, and the challenges and opportunities that this situation affords.

Feiran Li

Biomedical Engineering

I am a first year Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. My research focuses on stem-cell therapy of type I diabetes. I previously obtained my master in bioengineering from University of Pennsylvania and bachelor in biomedical engineering in Georgia Institute of Technology. Besides research, I am also a consultant of Michigan Graduate Consulting Club and MiLEAD. I am a member of Thus Spoke Ann Arbor, Moli Performing Art Ensemble, and Asian Adventure Association of Michigan as well. My hobbies include but not limited to: playacting, alpine skiing, time-lapse/landscape photography, weight-lifting, and baking. As a representative in RSG, I am trying to improve the quality of life on and off campus for graduate students, especially for international students like myself.

Hongling Lu

Material Science and engineering

Hongling is a first year PhD student in Materials Science and Engineering. She graduated from UC Berkeley with double degree in Computer Science and Physics. Her research focuses on the study of semiconductor nanostructures. When she is not doing research she enjoys running, painting on her tablet, and playing tennis with friends. She loves teaching ever since she taught her first computer science course at Berkeley. She is also passionate about encouraging female students to undertake physical science and engineering. As a representative in Rackham Student Government she wishes to promote multidisciplinary activities, improve student life campus wide, and help female students in stem.

Salman Javed


Salman Javed is a first year master’s student in the Mechanical Engineering department. This is his first year as a Division II Representative for Rackham Student Government. He is passionate about establishing a mentorship program for incoming graduate students and is also motivated to share the concerns of international students with the board.

Peng-Kai Kao


I am a 4th year Chemical Engineering PhD student representing Division II: Physical Sciences and Engineering. My research focuses on colloids self-assembly, soft matter and structural color. I received my B.S./M.S. in Chemical Engineering from National Taiwan University. I am passionate and motivated to diversity, equity and inclusion issues among graduate students, topics related to international graduate students, and issues regarding improving advisor-graduate student relationship. Outside of the lab, I enjoy playing tennis and watching movies.

Nocona Sanders

Material Science and Engineering

My name is Nocona Sanders, and I’m a second year Ph.D. student in Materials Science and Engineering. This is my first term as an RSG representative, and I want to advocate at all levels of the university, ensuring that the concerns and opinions of graduate students are heard. I’m also interested in many areas of outreach. I would like to increase the number of activities happening on North Campus and help create venues for community engagement.

Angela Kimber

Aerospace Engineering

Angela graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington in 2017, where she studied optimization of ‘green’ propellant microthrusters, as well as characterization of a cluster of high power Helicon thrusters. She is currently a Ph.D. student in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan, and joins the Plasmadynamics and Electric Propulsion Laboratory researching electrospray thruster array materials and design for scaling propulsion systems. Actively invested in leadership, Angela serves the Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student Activities Committee and Rackham Student Government this year as a Science and Engineering Representative, in addition to volunteering with the Students Advocating for Graduate Education (SAGE) Immigration Working Group. Outside of the lab, she loves spending time enjoying the outdoors and reading with her daughter, Guenevere.

Nicholas Arnold-Medabalimi

aerospace engineering

I’m a 2nd year PhD Candidate in the Aerospace Engineering program. I am representative of Division 2. (Physical Sciences and Engineering) This will be my first term as a RSG representative. I am most interested in fostering inter-department interactions and events

DII – Vacant Seat

Spyros Kasapis

Naval architecture and marine engineering

Interested in serving as a representative? Contact us and request an application to fill this open board seat!

Marshall Case

Chemical Engineering

Hi everyone! My name is Marshall and I’m from Ridgewood, New Jersey. I did my bachelors degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and now I’m excited to be here at Michigan. My research entails drug design, discovery, and how we can harness the power of the immune system to train the body to fight cancer more effectively. In my off-time, I enjoy playing piano and guitar to relax. I also like playing board games with my friends. Through Rackham student government, I hope to explore how local, state, and federal policies impact graduate students, the research we do, and our lives during graduate school. If you have any questions, please feel to reach out to me!
Interested in serving as a representative? Contact us and request an application to fill this open board seat!

DII – Vacant Seat

Interested in serving as a representative? Contact us and request an application to fill this open board seat!

DII – Vacant Seat

Interested in serving as a representative? Contact us and request an application to fill this open board seat!

Division III – Social and Behavioral Sciences

Carolyn Hetrick

Educational Studies

Carolyn graduated from the University of Oregon with a dual B.A. degree in Spanish Language and Literature and Political Science, with a focus in U.S. politics. She worked as a high school teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area for several years, before working as an instructor in a developmental program at an open-access regional university in Oregon. Through her work in education, Carolyn developed a commitment to working toward racial justice in U.S. schools. Her current doctoral coursework and research is an extension of that commitment and she is thrilled to be working and learning with a rich and dynamic community of scholars. Beyond educational justice, Carolyn’s passions include gardening, cooking, podcasts, and reveling in the absurd.

Laura Milstead

Public Policy

Laura is a southern California native and first year Master of Public Policy student at the Ford School. After graduating from the University of Michigan (14’) with a degree in Political Science and Urban Studies, she moved to Seattle to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in youth workforce development. Over the past four years, Laura held a variety of direct service roles preparing under-represented young adults to access higher education and middle-skill jobs in the Seattle tech industry. Having worked for an organization at the intersection of the non-profit, corporate, and community college systems, she is interested in exploring the potential for cross-sector partnerships to address metropolitan policy issues. Laura loves to cook, play water polo, cheer on Michigan sports.

Andrew Moos

English and Education

Andrew Moos grew up in Kansas where he first became interested in writing and education issues while attending school in a small, rural town. He continued his education and interests in issues related to writing by earning his undergraduate degrees in English and in Modern Languages from Emporia State University. During the time he spent working on his MA in English from the University of Kansas, he investigated issues related to responding to and assessing student writing as well as the training of teachers to respond to student writing. In continuing his education at the University of Michigan, he is excited to investigate further into issues of equitable and transparent writing assessment practices that aid all students in developing their writing abilities, and he looks forward to serving the graduate student community as a representative.

Zach Kopin

History, DAAS

Gabrielle Bernal

Educational Studies

DIII – Vacant Seat

Interested in serving as a representative? Contact us and request an application to fill this open board seat!

Division IV – Humanities and the Arts

Joumana Altallal

Fine Arts

Jallicia Jolly

Humanities and Art

Jallicia Jolly is a PhD candidate and health humanist in American Culture. A 2017 Bouchet Honor Society fellow, Jolly’s research interests include the racial and gendered dimension of HIV/AIDS, reproductive justice, and health social movements in the U.S. and the Caribbean. As a Humanities and the Arts representative, Jallicia’s investments are twofold: 1) cultivating institutional equity in diversity and inclusion initiatives and 2) gathering an interdisciplinary, intergenerational community of graduate students who do diversity research and public scholarship with interests in applying their graduate training to community, institutional transformation, and policy. A public intellectual committed to research-informed social action and practical educational work, Jallicia has written for various media outlets such as the Rackham Blog, Huffington Post, Rewire News, Nursing Clio, and Imagining America.