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Meet the GradSWE Affinity Group

Each month throughout the year, we'll be spotlighting a SWE Affinity Group. We are excited to highlight SWE's GradSWE Community Affinity Group!
Meet the GradSWE Affinity Group

The GradSWE Affinity Group (AG) is comprised of graduate students and professionals engaged in supporting graduate student members with resources and information necessary for successfully navigating graduate school and professional careers. The GradSWE AG continues to support programming within collegiate graduate groups and grow the community.

Our projects this year include participation in the annual WE and WE Local conferences, monthly virtual coffee chats, social media engagement, mentorship workshops, and global networking. The events encourage engagement in topics related to career building, diversity, and mental health. They are open to all and offer interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities.

Meet some of our team members that are working to help keep this graduate community going strong.

Karen DSouza (she/her) Is Our GradSWE AG Lead!

Meet the GradSWE Affinity GroupKaren DSouza is the lead for the GradSWE Affinity Group. She is a third-year computer science Ph.D. student at Purdue University specializing in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Her research interests are in active learning, multimodal AI, human-in-the-loop machine learning, natural language processing, and performance engineering. Karen has served as the DE&I coordinator for GradSWE since 2021. She currently leads collaborative initiatives that foster a broader participation of women in engineering and science-related events. In her free time, she plays golf and likes exploring hiking trails.


Priyanka Lama (she/her) Is Our GradSWE AG Lead Elect and Social Media Coordinator!

Meet the GradSWE Affinity GroupPriyanka Lama serves as the Lead Elect and Social Media Coordinator. Our monthly social media themes encourage online support and build long lasting relationships in the community. Priyanka Lama is a Masters Student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. Her research focuses on mining smart meters and electric vehicles charging data for modeling customers’ charging behaviors and EVs. The developed models will be leveraged to study the impacts of higher EV penetration on the distribution grids. She is also a part of GradSWE at Iowa State University. She received her Bachelor of Technology and MBA degrees from India and has four years of corporate experience. She is a theatre enthusiast and has participated in several stage performances. In her free time, she indulges herself in reading and running.


Zahra Almisbaa (she/her) Is Our GradSWE AG Team Leader!

Meet the GradSWE Affinity GroupThe Global Graduate Team Leader is Zahra Almisbaa, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering at University of California, Los Angeles. Zahra is passionate about empowering the next generation of students globally. She received her B.S. in chemistry from Michigan State University in 2016. Her research focuses on DFT-based molecular simulation of cost-effective heterogeneous catalysts. Zahra is also a 2021-2022 Women in Engineering at UCLA Leadership Academy Cadet.



Fatemeh Ganji (she/her) Is Our GradSWE AG Communications Coordinator!

Meet the GradSWE Affinity GroupFatemeh Ganji, the Communications Coordinator, ensures events are well planned and executed effectively through social communications. Fatemeh Ganji is a Ph.D. student in the civil, construction, and environmental department at Iowa State University. Her interest areas are climate change and its effects, as well as the water-energy-climate nexus. We have always taken water for granted, but now, with the global warming and climate change effects starting to resurface, accessibility problems are demonstrated in different parts of the world. So, in her master’s thesis, she worked on assessing the effects of climate change on the quality and quantity of surface water. Fatemeh is deeply motivated by her desire to help others, particularly in empowering and uplifting women. Through her efforts, Fatemeh endeavors to build a community of encouragement and mutual support for women in engineering. In her free time, Fatemeh finds joy in traveling, watercolor painting, and immersing herself in the diverse perspectives offered by movies.

Lucero Lopez (she/her) Is Our GradSWE AG Conference Programming Coordinator!

Meet the GradSWE Affinity GroupThe Conference Programming Coordinator, Lucero Lopez, assists in facilitating a positive experience for graduate students at the WE and WELocal conferences. Lucero Lopez is a first generation Mexican American Ph.D. student attending University of Michigan, studying under Dr. Elizabeth Holm and Dr. Jerard Gordon. Lucero recently graduated Carnegie Mellon University with a master’s degree studying material science in the department of material science and engineering. The technical focus of her master’s research is meso-scale modeling of physical simulations in 3 Dimension Grain Boundary Evolution. While attending Carnegie Mellon University, Lucero has received several fellowships including 2022 Intel Graduate Diversity Scholarship, the National GEM Consortium Fellowship, and ATK-Nick G. Vlahakis Graduate Fellowship. Prior to the start of her graduate career, Lucero attended UC San Diego and received a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemical Engineering and a minor in Business from the Rady School of Business. While at UC San Diego, Lucero received Revelle Graduating Honors and the Bernard and Sophia Gordon Engineering Leadership Center Fellowship for her involvement in the Society of Women Engineers.

Jackie Rojas (she/her) Is Our GradSWE AG Mentoring Coordinator!

Meet the GradSWE Affinity GroupThe mentoring workshops are hosted by our Mentoring Coordinator Jacqueline (Jackie) Rojas. Her expertise helps broaden mentoring perspectives which are essential in graduate life. Jackie is a fifth-year doctoral student pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at University of Illinois Chicago. Her research involves studying microbe surface interactions and working towards understanding the mechanics involved in these interactions. Jackie also received her B.S in biomedical engineering from UIC in 2018. She’s been part of SWE since 2020 and leads the UIC GradSWE efforts.


If you are interested in joining our community, follow us on social media, and join our Slack group! You can also subscribe to our AG’s updates by logging into your member portal and editing your Communication Preferences.


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