The OADI Student Delegation comprises MA and PhD students who share an expressed interest in supporting diversity, inclusion, and equity within GSAS. Serving year-long appointments, delegates represent the Office of Academic Diversity and Inclusion by participating on student panels, speaking at admissions and recruitment events, promoting student activities, and leading discussions about topics related to diversity, inclusion, and equity.
Below are the delegates for the 2023-2024 academic year. Applications for 2024-2025 will be available in September 2024. Please write to us at [email protected] with any questions.
Nikita Shepard (they/them) is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History studying gender, sexuality, race, and social movements in the twentieth century US and beyond. They serve as a Graduate Fellow for the Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender, a graduate affiliate of the Columbia Research Institute for the Global History of Sexualities, and an MA Thesis Advisor for the Committee on Global Thought. Their dissertation explores the history of public bathrooms and political struggles around them across the modern United States.
Samuel Joe-Guan Niu
Sam Niu is a PhD student in the History Department, where he studies immigration, labor, and emancipation. Prior to coming to Columbia, he received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in history and East Asian studies, and taught English and writing at Hong Kong Shue Yan University as a Princeton in Asia fellow. Sam's research focuses on the transition from slavery to free labor in the nineteenth-century United States South and Atlantic World, with special emphasis on the place of immigration in that history.
Taylor Rae Almonte
Taylor Rae Almonte is a master's student in Human Rights Studies. Prior to Columbia, she received her BFA from New York University in Drama and English and American Literature, with honors. Taylor describes her work as meeting at the intersection of racial justice and wellness. In 2020, Taylor founded ACTIV-ISM, combining her experience as a professional boxing trainer and racial justice activist, to create an anti-racism wellness company. ACTIV-ISM educates individuals and companies on creating meaningfully inclusive spaces in the fitness and wellness sector. Taylor is currently pursuing her master’s degree at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights. Her thesis focuses on the Eighth Amendment right that protects all from cruel and unusual punishment in America and how that is translated to incarcerated populations, and especially those in solitary confinement, when denied access to outdoor physical activity. She is also the Assistant Director of Just Ideas, a program at Columbia that brings classes to the Metropolitan Detention Center, a maximum security prison in Brooklyn.
Natasha Gordon is a PhD student in the Political Science department. Natasha's research focuses on digital rights, political communication, and economic development in authoritarian states in West and Central Africa. She previously worked at the New York University Center for Social Media and Politics and received an MA from the NYU Department of Politics.
Ashita Sunil Udeshi
Ashita Udeshi is a master's student in Statistics with research interest in mathematical sciences and their application to mental health as well as education accessibility and expansion within indigent communities in India and abroad.
Having observed the lack of representation for women of color in STEM, particularly those that belong to the LGBTQ+ community, she wishes to create a space in the industry that not only acknowledges but highlights the efforts of such individuals.
George is a PhD candidate in the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, where he focuses on using physics to better understand how ice sheets behave in an ever-changing climate. His research ranges from deriving mathematical models to traveling to Greenland to take ice-penetrating radar measurements. Prior to Columbia, George received his BASc in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto, specializing in Engineering Physics. Outside of his passion for climate and sustainability, George has been active in STEM outreach programs since high school.
Sally Jiang is a PhD student in the Astronomy department. She studied Astrophysics and Data Science at Yale University. Her previous research interests lie in star formation and young stellar populations using observational astronomy. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and currently resides in Staten Island. As a first-generation low-income student, the transition from her public high school to a private institution like Yale revealed inequalities in educational resources and opportunities in STEM and higher education. As such, she is passionate about working on science outreach, communication, and DEI initiatives at Columbia and the New York Area focused towards women and underrepresented students.
Eisha Haque is a PhD student in the Psychology Department, where her work focuses on self and social emotion regulation, and how our social relationships can shape our emotional well-being. Eisha is also interested in studying how creating inclusive spaces can foster meaningful social connections. She received her BSc in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science from the University of Toronto. Prior to coming to Columbia, Eisha worked as a lab manager at Dr. Neta’s CAN Lab at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she investigated social network changes and emotional bias in the pandemic.
Hanwen is a master's student in Statistics, focusing on data science and model building. Before Columbia, she received a BS degree of a major in Statistics and a minor in Computer Science at the University of Minnesota, with high distinction. While studying in MN, she was a member of the Digital Justice Ideathon, seeking solutions for the surveillance in schools that disproportionately impact BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students.
Shahnoza, a first-year MA student in Human Rights Studies at Columbia University, hails from Uzbekistan. She completed her BA at Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies. Her research passion lies in socio-economic rights, with a focus on enhancing the quality of education in Central Asia, deeply intertwined with international human rights law and diplomacy. With a substantial background in organizing free courses and prior service in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, she brings practical experience to her academic pursuits. Shahnoza's research encompasses the evolution of human rights in Muslim-majority countries, showcasing her dedication to advancing equitable education.
Emily Bellingham is a PhD student in the Physics Department studying Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics. Inclusivity and diversity hold profound significance for her in every aspect of life, with a particular emphasis on the realm of education. Her experiences as an undergraduate, when she chose to study physics despite lacking prior high school experience, gave her some insight into the urgent importance of actively promoting inclusivity and diversity. Emily's journey as both a student and a teaching assistant has not only given her an understanding of the obstacles that individuals often face when pursuing higher education but has also made it evident that these challenges extend well beyond her own experiences. This is why she is grateful for the opportunity to be a Student Delegate for OADI, as she is dedicated to actively addressing these disparities through outreach and community building.
Demi Geneva Fortson
Demi is a PhD student in the Biological Sciences department whose research focus is on molecular neuroscience and health disparities in genomic and neuroscience research. A Baltimore, Maryland native, she holds BS and MS degrees from the University of Maryland College Park and Baltimore campuses. Seeing firsthand how severely underserved and misunderstood mental health in the Black community is, she was compelled to research the neuropathology of mood and neurodegenerative diseases. While in the field, she was shocked to find how little research is focused on Black minds. She uses this knowledge as her motivation to continue research, advocacy, and education through her academic work, non-profit organizations, and social media.
Prior to Columbia, she was performing research under the African American Neuroscience Initiative, adopted at her Johns Hopkins University affiliate lab. She was (and is) an avid mental health advocate and educator in her community. She hopes her work will make not only mental health tools and knowledge more accessible to minority communities but also highlight the need for diversity in neuroscience research.
Madison Maeve Ogletree
Born and raised in small-town Alabama, Madison completed her undergraduate education in her home state at Auburn University. There, she received a BA in History and a BA in English Literature (2019). During her time at Auburn, Madison also worked as a freelance photojournalist, covering local and national news as well as sporting events. In her research, Madison examines the history of race in the nineteenth-century American South with a focus on persons of mixed ancestry. Her work foregrounds the intersections of Black, white, and Native American in the Southern Black Belt region through a legal perspective
Samuel Joe-Guan Niu
Sam Niu is a PhD student in the History Department, where he studies immigration, labor, and emancipation. Prior to coming to Columbia, he received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in History and East Asian studies, and taught English and writing at Hong Kong Shue Yan University as a Princeton in Asia fellow. Sam's research focuses on the transition from slavery to free labor in the nineteenth-century United States South and Atlantic World, with special emphasis on the place of immigration in that history.
Vayne Ong is a PhD student in United States History. She is broadly interested in the histories of the carceral state, racial capitalism, and leisure and sport. She focuses on how Black and Asian American social life encountered policing, incarceration, and postwar urbanization. She has researched race and rebellion, community activism, municipal politics, and the welfare state. Her work also engages community-based curatorial and archival practices. Prior to Columbia, Vayne received her BA from Princeton University in History with honors and a minor in urban studies. She has also spent two years working in youth and adult political education, civic engagement, and employment law.
Taylor Rae Almonte
Taylor Rae Almonte is a master's student in Human Rights Studies. Prior to Columbia, she received her BFA from New York University in Drama and English and American Literature, with honors. Taylor describes her work as meeting at the intersection of racial justice and wellness. In 2020, Taylor founded ACTIV-ISM, combining her experience as a professional boxing trainer and racial justice activist, to create an anti-racism wellness company. ACTIV-ISM educates individuals and companies on creating meaningfully inclusive spaces in the fitness and wellness sector. She is interested in carceral studies and abolition and has researched the money-bail system in the United States and the ways in which the prison system continues to violate the most basic of human rights, especially for our most vulnerable populations. She is looking forward to continuing her research on the ways in which access to exercise impacts recidivism and the cultural relevance of sports in Black and Latinx communities in the United States.
Varsha is an MA student in Human Rights Studies, exploring the intersections between gender-based violence nonprofit work, prison/police abolition, and LGBTQ+ rights. In Spring 2022, they won Columbia’s Human Rights Essay Contest for their paper titled “Human Rights Should Begin at Home: An Argument for Classifying Domestic Violence as Torture under the UN Convention against Torture.” While pursuing her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Religion from Middlebury College, Varsha served as the college’s Student Body President, was published in Journalism Studies for her research on newspaper portrayals of Africa, and studied human rights abroad in Santiago, Chile. Varsha is currently the Senior Communications & Marketing Associate at Sakhi for South Asian Women, a gender-justice nonprofit serving survivors of sexual and domestic violence in New York City.
Natasha Gordon is a PhD student in the Political Science department studying digital rights, political communication, and economic development in authoritarian states, particularly in West and Central Africa. She previously worked at the New York University Center for Social Media and Politics and received an MA from the NYU Department of Politics.
Aneka Kazlyna studies the interconnected histories of science, astronomy, philosophy, and technology. Currently, she is a graduate student in Columbia’s History of Science and Middle Eastern Studies programs. Aneka’s recent research has explored observational astronomy, large-scale experiments, and the epistemologies of theoretical and experimental science. She has also addressed some of these questions through the study of how scientific knowledge traveled across global Eurasia. Aneka is also a graduate researcher at NASA, where she examines some of the conceptual changes between the early modern and modern periods and how such changes can inform our understanding of central questions in the space and planetary sciences today. Her work has appeared in the American Astronomical Society. Aneka is committed to advocating for students of color and to issues related to diversity, inclusion, and access. She hopes to inspire more students from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in the social sciences.