Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society 2018 Members Selected

The Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society commemorates the first African American to earn a doctorate degree from an American university (Physics, Yale University, 1876). The Bouchet Society seeks to develop a network of scholars who exemplify academic and personal excellence, foster environments of support, and serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy—exemplifying the spirit and example of Dr. Bouchet.

One national charter with two chapters was inaugurated by Yale University and Howard University on September 15, 2005, in commemoration of Dr. Bouchet’s birthday. The University of Wisconsin–Madison Graduate School formed a chapter in 2010. Each year, the Graduate School sponsors a limited number of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to become members of the national Bouchet Society.

Please join us in welcoming the newest members, the Class of 2018, of the UW-Madison Chapter of the Edward Alexander Bouchet Society.

Karla B. Hall– Doctoral candidate, Materials Science and Engineering
Diamond Howell – Doctoral candidate, Curriculum and Instruction
Alyssa Marie Ramírez Stege – Doctoral candidate, Counseling Psychology
Lorraine Rodríguez-Bonilla – Doctoral candidate, Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics
Sarah Stefanos – Doctoral candidate, Sociology and Environment and Resources


Alyssa RamirezAlyssa Marie Ramírez Stege is a PhD candidate in the Counseling Psychology program. Her research focuses on the cultural factors that influence psychological training and practice. Alyssa grew up in a low-income household in Mexico where healing practices often reflected her folk beliefs and limited access to resources. For medical care, they sought healing with local practitioners such as hueseros (traditional bone healers), and used their ties to spirituality to cope with a myriad of concerns such as alcoholism, family disruption, and even financial concerns. Alyssa’s view of healing from a young age was integrative as it accounted for restoration of mind, body, and spirit within the context of interpersonal relationships and roles. She did her undergraduate studies in Mexico where often Western psychological theories were taught and applied to a population that was very different to the ones in which the theories had developed.

Her graduate studies in the U.S. have encouraged her to continue to reflect on the meaning of being a healer within and across cultural contexts. Alyssa’s research has focused on how to increase cultural competence, apply culturally congruent psychological interventions, understand culturally diverse perspectives on what constitutes mental health and healing, and recognize the broader role as psychologists in advocating for the clients and systems they work with. The goal of her research has been to increase access to psychological care for groups that are most marginalized, and challenge assumptions within the field to help increase access to care that is congruent to the beliefs and values of diverse groups.


Lorraine Rodriguez-BonillaLorraine Rodriguez-Bonilla is a PhD candidate in the Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program. Originally from Puerto Rico, Lorraine obtained her bachelor’s in industrial microbiology and a master’s in biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. Currently, she works in the Cranberry Genetics and Genomics laboratory assessing the genetic diversity of wild populations of cranberry in their native range. This work is aimed to provide recommendations to the USDA for the establishment of conservation areas containing plants with unique traits.

Her passion for conservation is only rivaled by her dedication to increasing diversity in the sciences. Lorraine served as the chair of CULTIVAR, a USDA and Texas A&M initiative aimed to increase the number of Latinos in agricultural-related graduate degrees by providing mentoring and professional development tools to aid in their careers. In addition, she has served on the SciMed Peer Mentoring committee for three years; guiding incoming first-year underrepresented graduate students into graduate school. Most recently, Lorraine participated in an internship with the USDA National Institutes for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in Washington, DC where she wrote articles that highlight the impact of research developed by grantees funded by the agency. In addition, she was involved in identifying novel funding priority areas and the Food Safety Education and Extension Materials website. In the future, Lorraine wants to pursue a career in conservation of agricultural resources where she can work with both researchers and farmers and continue to empower underrepresented students to pursue higher education.


Sarah StefanosSarah Stefanos is a joint PhD candidate in Sociology and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her dissertation explores land deals in Ethiopia and biofuels in Uganda. Sarah’s research interests include political economy, natural resource management, the global South, waste, and state/business interactions in the development of inclusive and sustainable cities and towns.

Sarah is co-author of two publications and has presented her research at international conferences of the American Sociological Association, American Anthropological Association, the Rural Sociological Society, and the Society for the Social Studies of Science. She won the 2017 A.C. Jordan Prize from the UW-Madison African Studies Department for the best graduate student paper, the UW-Madison Grand Prize in Globally Engaged Scholarship, and has been a NSF-IGERT, Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad, Advanced Opportunity, and Borlaug Global Food Security Fellow. Stefanos is deeply committed to helping underrepresented students succeed. She has mentored eight undergraduates, half at UW-Madison and half at Makerere University in Uganda, as well as a Master’s student and high school student. She has also served as the graduate student representative for the Diversity and Equity Committee for the Nelson Institute. She loves teaching and is pursuing a Delta Certificate in Research, Teaching and Learning. In parallel to her academic interests, Sarah co-founded and has served as CFO of W2E Ltd, a waste-to-energy research company in Uganda that specializes in biogas systems and technological/business innovations at the intersection of energy and agriculture.


Diamond HowellDiamond Howell is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is pursuing her PhD in Curriculum & Instruction with a concentration in Multicultural Education. Diamond earned her BA in human development from Connecticut College where she also participated in elementary education and policy in community action certificate programs. Her research interests include social justice education, school/institutional climate, educational access for marginalized students, and identity development within schools. Diamond is a recipient of an Advanced Opportunity Fellowship from the School of Education. Her dissertation research examines experiences of students of color and international students at elite boarding schools in the United States. Specifically, she examines how students’ identities influence their interaction with school settings, and raises important questions about what dreams, desires, aspirations, and sacrifices these institutions represent for students.

During her time in Madison, Diamond has served as a support for graduate students in her roles as a Resident Manager for University Housing and an assistant teacher at Eagle’s Wing Childcare Program. She also volunteers for Freedom Inc. of Dance County. Diamond loves to teach and has experience with students that range from infants to adults. After completing her PhD program, Diamond’s goal is to become a tenured professor where she can continue to teach and conduct research. In doing so, she is committed to encouraging students to examine educational disparities, create research opportunities, and be a mentor for graduate students and undergraduate students, specifically students of color, on their journeys to complete their studies.


Karla HallKarla B. Hall is a Graduate Engineering Research Scholars (GERS) fellow and PhD candidate in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She conducts interdisciplinary research with Dr. Gerald Kulcinski in the Nuclear Engineering department, exploring the effects of energetic helium ions on tungsten with the aim of finding a crystal orientation that is less susceptible to radiation damage for fusion reactor divertors and first walls, such as ITER. Hall earned her bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Chemistry from Tennessee State University (TSU). While at TSU, Hall had her first engagement with public education, running a summer camp teaching the next generation about nuclear energy. Before coming to UW-Madison, she worked as a research scientist at TSU in collaboration with the United States Geological Survey mapping the radon gas levels in the greater Nashville, Tennessee area and educated the public about air quality.

She continues to pursue her passion of educating others at UW-Madison and is involved with several outreach activities geared towards STEM. Hall helped establish the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association on campus, which supports and provides a community for Black students. Through her fellowship (GERS), Hall interacts with underrepresented and underserved elementary and middle school-aged children teaching science concepts in a hands-on way. She has won several grants from the university and community partners to support her science outreach, student mentorship, and to recognize women in STEM. Hall has dedicated her career to discovering new advancements in science and inspiring a love for learning in all students.