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Meet the Fellows

Writing fellows are a select group of graduate students recommended by their departments for their demonstrated mastery of writing in their disciplines and their aptitude for peer review. In ongoing training with the GSWC Director, fellows develop an understanding of writing in the disciplines, theories of tutoring, and working with international graduate students, among other topics.

Learn more about the work our fellows do in this feature article, "Meet the Writing Center Fellows."

Director: Linda Macri

Post-Doctoral Fellow: Thomas McCloskey

Writing Fellows

Diana Alkire (Neuroscience & Cognitive Science) Nabila Hijazi (English) Heather Pribut (Neuroscience and Cognitive Science)
Sam Allen (Public Health) Fiona Jardine (iSchool)  Upamanyu Ray (Engineering)
Karen Boyd (iSchool) Clark J. Lee (Public Health) Chandra Reyna (Sociology)
Simone Durham (Sociology) Jenny Lee, Ph.D. (Public Health) Victoria Scrimer (Theatre and Performance Studies
Kelsey Dutta (Engineering) Briana O'Neal (Education)  
Hailey Gibbs (Education) Alex Breslawec Peterson (Biochemistry)  

Oral Communication Fellows

Sarah Aghazadeh (Communication) Victoria Ledford (Communication)  

Linda Macri, Ph.D. (Director)

Linda Macri Picture Edited

Dr. Macri is the Director of Academic and Professional Development in the Graduate School and has directed the Graduate School Writing Center since 2014. From 2005-2013, she served as the director of the Academic Writing Program in the English Department. Her interests are in composition studies and rhetorical theory, graphic novels and comic studies, and women’s literature. She has taught a range of courses from "English 101" to "Writing for Non-Profits" to "The Rhetoric of Fiction." A native New Yorker, she lives in Washington, DC, with her three girls, all of whom excel at argumentation.


Diana Alkire (Neuroscience & Cognitive Science)

Diana Alkire

Diana is a doctoral student in the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science program. She has studied social interactions in various research settings using a variety of methods, ranging from behavioral observation to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). As an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, where she earned a BA in Psychology with a minor in Philosphy, she analyzed face-to-face interactions between adolescents and their mothers, and between therapists and their clients. Currently, she works with Dr. Elizabeth Redcay to study the behaviors, cognitive abilities, and brain systems that support interactions among children with and without autism spectrum disorder. Diana previously tutored at the Undergraduate Writing Center and is excited to once again help others translate their thoughts into clear and effective writing.

Sam Allen (Public Health)

Sam Allen

Though known primarily for his appearance on The Price is Right, Sam is a third-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Family Science. He holds a clinical masters degree in Couples and Family Therapy from The University of Maryland, wherein his master's thesis explored the emotional wellbeing of mothers of transgender and gender nonconforming children. Sam's research interests broadly include queer families, racial minority families, and the intersection of the two. Outside of school, Sam works part-time in a private practice as a licensed couple and family therapist, and enjoys teaching yoga classes throughout the DC metro area. In his spare time, Sam enjoys utilizing his experience in culinary school to cook for himself and loved ones, watching documentaries, and making people laugh.

Karen Boyd (iSchool)

Karen Boyd

Karen studies values and ethics in design and organizations as a doctoral student in the College of Information Studies, and has a particular interest in research methods. She holds an MBA from the Rady School of Management at UCSD and few years of experience in marketing and start-up consulting. She's taught classes and tutored students from 16 to 50 years old in various high-stakes exams and essays for over 3 years, and especially enjoys helping students find their voice in a new language. In her free time, she enjoys swing dancing, craft beer, painting, and 50 or so of the best podcasts known to humanity.

Simone Durham (Sociology)

Simone DurhamSimone Durham was born and raised in Sacramento, California, but has lived in Maryland since 2011. She obtained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Arts degrees in Sociology from Morgan State University, a Historically Black University (HBCU) in Baltimore. Simone has worked in higher education both as an adjunct faculty member and an administrator. Simone is a scholar of liminal and marginalized identities and their relation to societal structures and social inequality, particularly in relation to race. This agenda includes research interests related to issues of social justice, structural inequality, minority social movements, social psychology, reflected appraisals, meaning making, and identity. Currently, her research has been focused on Black Lives Matter, racial (particularly multiracial) identity, media narratives, and racial projects. Secondarily, Simone is also interested in the sociology of sports. She wrote her master's thesis on this topic. In the UMD Department of Sociology, Simone served as a 2018-2019 Social Co-Chair for the Graduate Student Forum, was a member of the 2019 Graduate Admissions Committee, is the 2019-2020 Policy Committee Graduate Student Representative, manages social media for the Critical Race Initiative, and is a member of the graduate student team that contributes to Contexts Magazine. Outside of academia, Simone can be found eating sushi as often as possible, traveling with her friends, inconsistently hitting the gym, and decompressing by watching reality tv shows. 

Kelsey Dutta (Engineering)

Kelsey DuttaKelsey is a doctoral student in Electrical Engineering with undergraduate degrees in EE and Physiology and Biology from the University of Connecticut. She studies auditory neuroscience, or how the brain processes sounds, using a combination of experimental and computational approaches.



Hailey Gibbs (Education)

Hailey GibbsHailey Gibbs is a current doctoral student in the Human Development and Quantitative Methodology program in the College of Education. Her research primarily concerns children’s question-asking, their exploratory behaviors, and the evaluations that they make about other people’s engagement with and use of available evidence. She earned her BA in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy from Salisbury University in 2016 and joined the HDQM department that Fall to study with Dr. Lucas Payne Butler. She has experience as a teaching assistant in several different Education courses, including "Child Growth and Development," "Adolescent Development," and "Learning How to Learn,” and currently works full time as the lab coordinator for the Cognition and Development Lab. Hailey also volunteers for the Department of Learning and Engagement at the National Children’s Museum in Washington, DC, loves to play music, reads voraciously, and is trying to become a person who goes for runs. Learn more about her work on her website.

Nabila Hijazi (English)

Nabila Hijazi

Nabila is a doctoral student majoring in English Language and Literature with a concentration in Rhetoric and Composition. She teaches for the English and Journalism departments. She has been teaching classes in academic writing, writing center theory and practice, and grammar. Twice, she won first place in the "Graduate Research Interaction Day," under the category, "Exploring Identities and Their Expressions." Prior to joining the Graduate School Writing Center, she served as one of the assistant directors for the Undergraduate Writing Center. She continues her research in second language writing and intercultural communication while promoting bilingual education and heritage language maintenance.

Fiona Jardine (iSchool)

Fiona Jardine

Fiona Jardine is a PhD candidate at the College of Information Studies (the iSchool) where she is conducting pioneering research into the experiences of those who exclusively pump human milk; follow along with her findings here: Fiona is also an Advanced Lactation Consultant and a postpartum doula so that she can provide the support that she believes is so desperately needed, especially in the fourth trimester. Find out more about Fiona on her website.

Clark J. Lee (Public Health)

Clark Lee

Clark is a part-time doctoral student in Behavioral and Community Health.  Outside of school, Clark works full-time as a Senior Law and Policy Analyst (Research Associate) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Center for Health and Homeland Security and consults in the area of public health emergency preparedness and response. A lawyer and public health professional by training, Clark focuses his interests on the use of legal and policy tools to address public health and safety issues.  Clark is a former Notes and Comments editor for the Journal of Health Care Law and Policy and is currently a reviewer for the journals Public Health Reports and Neuroethics.  He is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia and is certified in public health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners.

Jenny Lee, Ph.D. (Public Health)

Jenny Lee

Jenny is a Master of Public Health candidate in the Department of Kinesiology. Prior to coming to UMD, she earned a Ph.D. in chemical oceanography from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program, studying phytoplankton biology. Jenny has written feature articles, journal articles, research proposals, and technical reports. She also worked for six years as an editor of technical material in the fields of medical science and policy, chemistry, and environmental science and policy. Her husband and two children are all current or former Terps, and she is happy to continue in the family tradition. She has a life-long love of folk music, and sings with a Balkan women’s choir.

Thomas McCloskey (Postdoctoral Researcher, Communication)

Thomas McCloskey

Thomas earned his PhD in communication with an emphasis in rhetoric and political culture from Maryland in 2017. He received his MA from California State University Long Beach in 2011 following his time teaching English as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine from 2006-2008. His research focuses on the rhetoric of Russian nationalism and identity construction as seen through social movements in the former Soviet Union.

Briana O'Neal (Education)

Briana O'Neal

Briana is a doctoral student in the College of Education. She earned her M.S.Ed. in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania and her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Social & Economic Justice from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She works full-time as a program coordinator in the Clark School of Engineering. Her research interests include underrepresented students in STEM, transfer pathways, and minority serving institutions. Briana fills her free time with live music, old movies and travelling. On any given weekend you can find her sitting crisscross applesauce with a good book or putting miles on her car with the windows down.

Alex Breslawec Peterson (Biochemistry)

Alex Breslawec PetersonAlex Breslawec Peterson is a PhD candidate in Biochemistry, researching the mechanism and specificity of biofilm-degrading enzymes under the guidance of Dr. Myles Poulin. She graduated from Georgetown University with a BS with honors in Biochemistry and a minor in Science, Technology, and International Affairs with a security focus. Alex is currently serving as a vice president of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Graduate Student Organization. Outside of her studies, Alex enjoys traveling, trying out new restaurants in Washington DC, and cuddling with her cat, Boots.

Heather Pribut (Neuroscience and Cognitive Science)

Heather Pribut

Heather is a doctoral student in the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science program, working with Dr. Matthew Roesch. Before coming to UMD, she earned her BA in Psychology from St. Mary's College of Maryland and was a research assistant at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University. Her research seeks to understand what parts of the brain are involved in choice and decision-making, and how the functions of these brain regions are affected by psychiatric conditions, aging, and drug addiction. Outside of school, Heather enjoys watching horror movies, reading comics, and drawing.

Upamanyu Ray (Engineering)

Upamanyu RayUpamanyu is a doctoral student in Mechanical Engineering with his research focused primarily on multi-scale mechanistic simulations of cellulose. His research is very interdisciplinary and broadly falls in the interface of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. Besides, he also has training in experimental techniques like Atomic Force Microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy, tensile tests and ballistic tests. Before starting his Ph.D., Upamanyu received his MS in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University. Throughout his graduate career, he has been a TA and lab instructor for various courses like Engineering Mechanics and Heat Transfer. Upamanyu enjoys collaboration and has already published in journals like Chemical Physics Letters, Applied Physics Letters, Small Methods and Nature. When not doing research, Upamanyu enjoys reading, listening to music, attending concerts and playing squash at ERC.

Chandra Reyna (Sociology)

Chandra ReynaChandra Reyna is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology, a former McNair Scholar, and a National Science Foundation Fellow. Her scholarship broadly tries to understand how macro-level social processes affect day to day interactions at the intersection of race, gender, and family. Her previous research examines institutional responses to social and racial justice work taking place on predominantly white college campuses. Her current projects explore racial identity and racialization in Latinx and multiracial families. In her free time, Chandra can be found watching medical dramas, singing along to Beyoncé, or sitting outside soaking up the sun.

Victoria Scrimer (Theatre and Performance Studies)

Victoria ScrimerVictoria earned her MA in English Literature at Catholic University and is now a doctoral candidate in Theatre and Performance Studies where she has taught Text & Context in Western Theatre and the Art of Public Speaking. Victoria is a practicing dramaturg and, in a past life, she worked as a fundraiser and technical writer for several non-profit organizations including the YMCA and Greenpeace. Prior to returning to graduate studies in 2014, Victoria served as an Americorps volunteer, providing literacy training in DC public schools. Victoria’s research interests are in 20th and 21st century dramatic theory and activist performance. She is currently working on her dissertation, “Beyond Resistance: Performing Protest in a Postdramatic Age.”

Sarah Aghazadeh (Communication)

Sarah AghazadehSarah Aghazadeh is a doctoral candidate in the Department of the Communication at the University of Maryland. She earned a B.S. in public relations and an M.A. in interdisciplinary studies from San José State University. Sarah currently teaches public relations courses and assists her advisor with research for health literacy promotion and chronic disease prevention. Prior to seeking a Ph.D., Sarah coached fitness classes and weightlifting, which expanded her research interests to include various health communication and health advocacy topics.

Victoria Ledford (Communication)

Victoria LedfordVictoria Ledford is a 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Communication. With both her BA and MA in Communication from Marshall University, Victoria came to UMD to pursue research in health communication. Victoria’s research examines how stigma influences behavior and how persuasive health campaigns can be used to motivate positive behavioral changes. Victoria also currently serves as the Research Manager for the Department of Communication’s Center for Health and Risk Communication. Victoria has taught public speaking, argumentation, and research methods courses for the Department of Communication. She is passionate about teaching and public speaking, as a former student and coach on her college’s speech and debate team. When she’s not teaching, coaching, or doing something academic, you can probably find her lifting weights, scrapbooking, or watching HGTV.

Contact Information

Graduate School Writing Center

5100B McKeldin Library
College Park, MD 20742

Fall Drop-In Hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays, 12:00-3:00pm

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