2021 BBISS Graduate Fellows
The inaugural class of seven Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (BBISS) Graduate Fellows was selected in the Fall of 2021.
Class I of Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems Graduate Fellows are:
Bettina K. Arkhurst
Bettina Arkhurst is a Ph.D. student in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. Her research lies at the intersection of energy, design, and equity. She is seeking to create frameworks for mechanical engineers to apply as they design energy technologies for all communities. Bettina has participated in research projects spanning disciplines such as parasitology, neuroscience, and thermal metrology. As an undergraduate, Bettina found her passions for community-building, mental health, engineering, and equity. Today, she leads her department’s graduate student mental health committee and is a member of the department’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council. Bettina is also a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and Alfred P. Sloan Scholar. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT.
Advisor: Katherine Fu
Katherine Duchesneau is a Ph.D. student in the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech. Her dissertation research closely couples biogeochemistry with metagenomics to elucidate the impacts of climate change on soil microbial communities that play an important role in greenhouse gas production and the global carbon cycle. Over the long term, she plans to pursue a career in academia, generating fundamental research that drives the development of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Katherine strongly believes that substantive solutions for sustainability issues will only be achieved through multi-disciplinary and diverse collaborations that bring together scientists, policymakers, and the public. Before coming to Georgia Tech, Katherine completed a MSc at Queen’s University with Dr. Robert Colautti and Dr. Pedro Antunes researching the effects of Alliaria petiolata invasion on soil microbial communities. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology, specializing in plant biology, from McGill University.
Advisor: Joel Kostka
Marjorie Hall is pursuing a Ph.D. in History of Technology from the School of History and Sociology in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. Her studies revolve around understanding the complexities of America’s environmental history as a means to developing new and better approaches to address negative human impacts on the planet. She is also interested in the intersection of policy, environmental justice, and the history of technology transitions. Marjorie earned a B.A. in English from Guilford College and a M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She then worked at an engineering consulting firm that specialized in the remediation of toxic waste sites. Marjorie’s role was to research and document the history of the sites to determine what toxic substances were dumped, how much, and who was responsible. This work required her to learn how to synthesize information in a highly trans-disciplinary environment, working with chemists, hydrogeologists, statisticians, and engineers, to accurately piece together the history of contaminated areas. Marjorie is a native of DeKalb County and enjoys reading science fiction, hiking with her teenaged daughters, and singing in a church band.
Advisor: Steve Usselman
Meaghan McSorley is a Ph.D. student in the School of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech and a research assistant in the Healthy Places Lab with Dr. Nisha Botchwey, and the Smart Sea Level Sensors (SSLS) project based in Savannah, GA. She is also a Georgia Tech Institute Fellow. Her research focuses on the “people side” of sustainability, and the question of how to plan for healthy, equitable, and thriving cities for all. Specifically, she is interested in the role of culture, history, and emotions in helping to develop just approaches to climate change issues that center on the margins and create space for imagining thriving futures. Prior to returning to graduate school, she also worked at an electronic medical records software company for four years in a variety of implementation and management roles. She holds degrees in urban & regional planning (MURP) and public health (MPH), both from the University of Minnesota; and in anthropology and French (BA) from Cornell University.
Advisor: Nisha Botchwey
Udita Ringania is a Ph.D. candidate in the school of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech, advised by Dr. Saad Bhamla. Her research focuses on developing a sustainable, energy-efficient, low cost and easily scalable alternative for drying/dewatering cellulose nanomaterials, a high value forest product. She is the recipient of the 2020-2021 Blue Sky Young Researcher and Innovation Award presented by the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA). She has served as a leadership coach for Georgia Tech students through the LEAD program (2019-2021) and was a board member for AChEGS (2019-2020), a student run organization for graduate students. She holds a Master’s degree (2018) from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and an undergraduate degree (2015) from the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, India, both in Chemical Engineering. She loves plants, volunteers at Trees Atlanta, and recently started running to help raise funds for the education of underprivileged children in India.
Advisor: Saad Bhamla
Ioanna Maria Spyrou
Ioanna Maria Spyrou is a Ph.D. student in the School of Economics in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech. She is interested in environmental economics, policies that promote sustainability and optimal use of natural resources, and how sustainable development can be achieved by using state-of-the-art technological advances. Her current research concentrates on analyzing the impact of natural shocks, including climatological, hydrological, and agricultural, on children’s well-being. She holds degrees in Plant Protection (MS), Agriculture (BA) and Mathematics (BA) from Aristotle University, Greece, and Applied Mathematics and Statistics (MA) from City University of New York.
Advisor: Shatakshee Dhongde
Yilun 'Elon' Zha is a planner, urban designer, and data scientist. As a Ph.D. student in urban design and Master’s student in statistics, Elon orients his research interest towards the quantitative analysis of urban (re)design and its role in environmental, economic, and social sustainability. His past experience includes a wide variety of urban design and planning practices in China and the United States. Currently, he is working with Professor Ellen Dunham-Jones on research exploring the strategies and unintended consequences of suburban retrofits. Prior to joining Georgia Tech, he earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in City Planning from Tongji University in 2016 and 2019, respectively. In 2018, he also obtained a double Master's degree of Urban Design from Georgia Tech.
Advisor: Ellen Dunham-Jones