GSC DEI Fellows

Welcome our newest cohort of DEI Fellows, for the 2021 calendar year! These Fellows have been trained in facilitating conversations about racial identity, justice, and DEI subjects, and are an excellent resource for your lab, department, or organization.

Yong Chen, DEI Fellow Sherry Yong Chen

(sychen, she/her)

Linguistics and Philosophy 
I am a PhD candidate in Linguistics at MIT. As a linguist, I work primarily on semantics, pragmatics, and their interfaces, involving theoretical and experimental inquiries. I am honored to serve as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Fellow and hope to work with my cohort to make MIT a more inclusive environment for everyone.
Sam Spaulding, DEI Fellow

Sam Spaulding

(samuelsp, he/him)

Media Arts & Sciences

Sam Spaulding is a PhD student at the Media Lab whose research focuses on developing interactive robotic agents capable of sustaining long-term social interactions with users to promote well-being and human flourishing. He is passionate about improving access to higher education (especially STEM PhD programs) and making academia a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable space.
Safinah Ali, DEI Fellow

Safinah Ali

(safinah, she/her)

MIT Media Lab

Safinah is a PhD student in the Personal Robots group at MIT Media Lab. Her research interests are child-robot interactions for collaborative learning. She is from India and has a background in design, computing, and research. She likes making visual art and climbing. She is also involved in several diversity and education initiatives.
Anisha Gade, DEI Fellow

Anisha Gade

(anigade, she/her)


I’m a first year PhD student interested in research about the socio-economic impacts of infrastructure/housing/real estate investment and development in urban areas that have been historically divested from.  

Cynthia Ni

(cni, she/her)

Chemical Engineering

In my research, I am developing metabolic engineering and synthetic biology strategies to utilize food waste as a bioprocess input. Outside the lab, I play ultimate frisbee, hike, ferment vegetables, and solve crossword puzzles.

Yifan Wu

(yifanwu, she/her)


I am a second-year PhD student in organic chemistry at MIT. Other than working in lab, my interest includes global policies, entrepreneurship and management consulting. As a first-generation college student and woman in STEM, I thrive to promote an equal and safe environment for people to communicate and collaborate with each other.

Jiejun Jin



I am currently a second-year PhD student at MIT EECS. I come from China and love Asian food. I like watching films and reading books when I am free. I am honored to be a DEI fellow and looking forward to sharing stories with you.

Rahul Jayaraman

(rjayaram, he/him)


I’m a second-year grad student working on the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) with Dr. George Ricker. My main research interest is identifying short-timescale transients in TESS data. Outside of academics, I’m passionate about DEI and increasing the quality of life for MIT grad students. You can usually find me reading a long-form feature article with a cup of coffee by my side.

Erica Salazar

(ericasal, she/her)

Nuclear Science and Engineering

4th year PhD student in NSE researching high temperature superconducting magnets for fusion energy applications. I’m currently Vice-chair of the GSC-DEI committee (2020-2021) and a member of the NSE JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and inclusion) Council. 

Kaley Brauer

(kbrauer, she/her)


Kaley is a 4th year PhD Candidate in the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. Born and raised in Texas, she has been an honorary New Englander for eight years now. She simulates galaxy formation for her day job and when not at a computer, enjoys dancing, doodling, and dreaming up big plans with friends.

Gowtham Thakku

(gowtham, he/him)

Health Sciences & Technology

Gowtham is a PhD student working at the Broad Institute. His research is focused on infectious disease diagnostics, and his research interests extend into genomics and public health. He also enjoys teaching and science communication, particularly with middle and high school students. He hopes to create kinder, braver, and more inclusive spaces within MIT.

Molly Little

(mslittle, she/her)


Molly is a first year MBA student at MIT Sloan’s School of Management. Molly’s originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota and went to the University of Minnesota for undergrad. She is passionate about empowering people through education and creating equitable education opportunities. She is currently working as a Research Assistant for MIT’s Everyday AI for Youth program focused on preparing diverse groups of students for life and work in computationally-intensive industries of the future.
Maddie Dery, DEI Fellow

Maddie Dery

(derym, she/her)

Chemical Engineering

I am a Chemical Engineering PhD Candidate in the Lauffenburger Lab and my research focuses on IgA Fc mediated neutrophil effector functions. I am very passionate about DEI work, and have served as the secretary for GSC DEI, present of Graduate Womxn in Chemical Engineering (GWiChE), member of Diversity and Inclusion in Chemical Engineering (DICE), Graduate Students for a Healthy MIT, and founder for the Chemical Engineering Application Mentorship Program (ChAMP). I am excited to continue my commitment to enhancing DEI at MIT by participating in the DEI Fellows program and facilitating conversations about racial justice. 
Danielle Frostig, DEI Fellow

Danielle Frostig

(frostig, she/her)


Danielle is a PhD student in Astrophysics. She focuses on making new kinds of instruments to study the night sky. When not making astronomical instruments, Danielle enjoys making art and exploring New England.

Bianca Lepe

(blepe, she/her)

Biological Engineering

Bianca Lepe is completing a PhD in the Department of Biological Engineering, where she focuses on the intersection of machine learning and immunology. She is currently working on creating a more efficacious vaccine for Tuberculosis. Bianca has served in several roles focused on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice at MIT and she is passionate about empowering underrepresented groups in higher education. 

Taylor Baum

(tbaum, she/her)


I’m a computational neuroscientist and controls engineer, broadly interested in fundamentally understanding the brain and developing novel technologies. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I am a second year Electrical Engineering and Computer Science PhD candidate. I have a pointed interest in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as my experience as a woman in STEM has not been easy. I hope to help not just those in my same role, but also those who are minoritized in various ways. I hope to empower those around me to rise above the boundaries placed in the world by those holding systemic power.

Heather Kosakowski

(hlk, she/her)


As a graduate student from a non-traditional background, I think DEIJ is important and I am excited to learn ways to help move MIT toward a more equitable and inclusive environment and become an increasingly anti-racist community.