Grad Howler

The following outstanding students are featured because they have recently published a paper in a prestigious journal, presented at a top conference, made an important contribution to their field, won an award or been honored in some other way. It is our pleasure to share with you their academic journeys, accomplishments and career goals – and sometimes advice for fellow graduate students.

Jump to a featured student:


January 2023 featured student: Joshua Olowolaju

Doctoral candidate in Electrical Engineering

Joshua OlowolajuJoshua Olowolaju has a background in electrical engineering, having obtained both a Bachelor's and Master's degree from the University of Lagos. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Nevada, Reno. His research focuses on electrical power system planning and operation studies and he has received multiple scholarships and awards for his work.

Joshua has co-authored a couple of scientific publications and has presented his research findings at conferences such as the 2022 Institute of Electrical Engineers Kansas Power and Energy conference and the 2022 Institute of Electrical Engineers North America Power Symposium. He is also part of the Electrical Power and Renewable Systems Laboratory and works on a Microsoft-sponsored project that focuses on developing energy-efficient and environmentally responsible data centers.

Joshua is an ambassador for the University’s Office of International Students and enjoys sharing his experiences and advice with new international students. He is interested in encouraging underrepresented groups to pursue STEM education and is keen to communicate his findings in educational programs.

Joshua's academic successes and interest in the energy sector demonstrate his potential to contribute to effective and productive research work in graduate school, and to collaborate with other experts in developing innovative techniques, technologies, and structures to make power grids more reliable and resilient.


November 2022 featured student: Patrick Smith

Doctoral candidate in Psychology

Patrick SmithPatrick Smith is a Reno native and a Ph.D. student in the University of Nevada, Reno's Department of Psychology. He initially enrolled at University as an undergraduate in psychology but took a break from his studies to pursue professional paintball. While doing this, he became interested in the marketing and business aspects of the sport and returned to University as a business marketing student. He subsequently completed his Master of Science in Psychology. Patrick's goal after completing his Ph.D. is to provide consulting services for athletes and businesses. His dissertation research focuses on the conditions under which we learn to make connections and assumptions and how to identify and buffer against automaticity in order to allow individuals to notice when something does not apply. Additionally, he aims to give people the ability to recognize when they have made or are about to make assumptions without having all the necessary information. Patrick's advice for graduate students is to follow their passion and take control of their own graduate education experience. He recently won a $2,000 seed grant for pitching his dissertation as a business model with the University Innovation and Research Center.


Smith, P., Leeming, E., Forman, M., & Hayes, S. C. (2019). From form to function: Values and committed action strengthen mindful practices with context and direction. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action.


October 2022 featured student: Adea Badivuku

Doctoral candidate in Musical Arts

Adea sitting at a pianoAdea Badivuku is a concert pianist from Kosovo. She grew up listening to classical music, while her favorite styles are romantic and contemporary. As a pianist who recently performed at Carnegie Hall and won first prize in the New York International Piano Competition, she has the privilege of being the first doctoral piano performance candidate in the U.S. from Kosovo. Upon graduation from the Prenk Jakova Music School in Pristina, Kosovo, she studied piano performance at the University of Pristina. She earned a master's degree at Central Michigan University in 2019. In 2021, she joined the University of Nevada, Reno team as a Doctoral Musical Arts candidate under the direction of Dr. James Winn. Adea received a full scholarship in piano performance while being the first graduate research assistant in our Department of Music.

She has performed and participated in concerts, festivals, competitions, and masterclasses across Europe and the States. Adea is the co-founder/pianist for the ADEDUO collaboration, the Vice President of the University's Music Teachers National Association and the initiator/representative of the Music Graduate Student Council. She currently works with the Voice Department at the University as a collaborative vocal coach/pianist. Adea encourages graduate students to keep striving, no matter how lofty their aspirations. She says that "success comes from hard effort and the ability to learn from mistakes."


April 2022 featured student: Ilaria Vinci

Doctoral student in Statistics and Data Science (Graduated 2021) 


Ilaria Vinci recently graduated with a Ph.D. in Statistics and Data Science and is now working at the University as a mathematics and statistics instructor. While completing her doctorate, Ilaria's research was focused on distribution and extreme value theories, specifically, peaks over the threshold. The innovative generalized linear models (GLM) that Ilaria developed were first applied to engineering problems related to energy peaks and their direct impacts on the state and national estimates of energy reserves. For healthcare, applications include the modeling of the weight of newborns and their predicted life expectancy. Ilaria believes research and innovation are the keys to building a better society and an environment for all to live in.

Ilaria earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the Tor Vergata University of Rome. After completing her bachelor's degree, Ilaria moved to the US and earned her Master of Science in Civil Engineering in December 2016 from the University of Nevada, Reno. Ilaria joined the Statistics and Data Science Ph.D. Program in 2017, hoping to work on interesting real-world engineering problems. Ilaria truly believes her research in data science applied to climate change will have a substantial impact not only in her field but also in other areas. We are developing machine learning (ML) models to observe and forecast climate change phenomena using these new scientific methods. The danger of irreparably harming the ecosystem is real; hence, it is our duty to preserve and defend this amazing planet.

During her time, Ilaria was involved in several student clubs, including Secretary, Treasurer, and Co-Founder of the SIAM Student Chapter at the University of Nevada, Reno. The SIAM Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics is an organization with chapters worldwide. The goal of SIAM is to promote research that will lead to effective new mathematical and computational methods and techniques for science, engineering, industry, and society. Activities included talks and presentations from professors from several Universities (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah) and representatives from the industry. During her graduate student career, Ilaria won several scholarships and awards, including The Graduate Deans Merit Scholarship, GSA Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, GSA Outstanding International Graduate Student, GSA Outstanding Graduate Student, the GSA Outstanding Graduate Student in Spring 2021, Saber Abdel Ghafer Scholarship, and The Ben Beatrice Edwards Math Scholarship. In the Summer of 2019, Ilaria was chosen to attend a summer research school in Applied Mathematics and Computational applies to climate change at the University of Reading (UK). Outside of studies, Ilaria enjoys hiking the Great Basin and going to the gym. Ilaria's advice for new graduate students is to work hard and never lose hope no matter how difficult times may be. Persistence and hard work will always help overcome difficulties. It is also essential during your graduate and undergraduate career and in life, in general, to learn how to become a good team player. Relying on good friends and colleagues is another crucial element for your success, good health, and happiness.


Truncation Models for Pareto and Exponential Distributions with Applications Vinci, Ilaria. University of Nevada, Reno, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2021. 28868368. (


March 2022 featured student: Xiang Xiang Wang

Doctoral student in Mathematics

XingXing WangXiang Xiang Wang is a Ph.D. student under the advisement of Tin-Yau Tam, Department Chair and Professor of Mathematics & Statistics. She is the recipient of the Graduate Dean’s Merit Scholar Award as well as a GSA Research Award. Xiang Xiang earned her master's in statistics from Shanghai University. Her research focuses on using the Matrix theory in application development.

She has a keen interest in teaching and sharing the broader applicability of math across many fields with her students – which is why it isn't surprising that after graduation, Xiang Xiang hopes to become a math professor.

Outside of academics, Xiang Xiang enjoys swimming, running and badminton. Her advice for graduate students is to, "take time for yourself, go for a walk and do something outside of school." 


January 2022 featured student: Nikhil Dhabarde

Doctoral candidate in Chemicals and Materials Engineering 

DhabardeNikhil Dhabarde is a Ph.D. candidate in the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department. Nikhil completed his master's in Chemical Engineering at the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, India, and his Bachelor's in Petroleum Refining and Petrochemical Technology at the Laxminarayan Institute of Technology in Nagpur, India. Prior to joining the University of Nevada, Reno, he also worked as a deputy manager at Development Alternatives Group, supporting a product development team in materials research. At the University, Nikhil’s research focuses on developing multifunctional inorganic nanocomposites for light-mediated applications. He is currently working on collaborative projects based on these applications such as photocatalytic hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production from water, photocatalytic virus (COVID) inactivation, and photo-electrochemical conversion of CO2 to value-added chemicals.

Nikhil is grateful to all his mentors, especially Dr. Ravi Subramanian, not only for his motivation and guidance throughout his graduate career but also for providing Nikhil with the opportunities to lead collaborative and multidisciplinary projects. Besides performing research work, Nikhil also enjoys mentoring high school and undergraduate students with hands-on lab experience as well as grant proposals and publications writing. Nikhil’s mentees won the competitive NSF EPSCoR Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and many Nevada Undergraduate Research Awards (NURA). Some went on to graduate school. Nikhil is a two-time Graduate Dean’s Merit Scholar. Nikhil is also a recipient of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) Research Materials Grant as well as GSA Travel Awards. Nikhil has authored and co-authored three publications during his time at the University and a few more in the pipeline.

Grad school could be demanding, but Nikhil works hard to maintain a balance. He keeps up with his fitness and has some fun being involved on campus. Nikhil is the current president of the graduate Chemicals and Materials Engineering society (gCHEMATEs). He is the founding member of a hiking club (FALCON) and the International Foodie Club (IFC). Cooking or exploring the wilderness or indulging in Marvel films are some other ways for Nikhil to de-stress and relax.   Imposter syndrome, especially in grad school, is a real thing, he acknowledged; and at times, the journey can feel challenging and lonely, but GSA and his University peers are an incredible safety net helping him persevere. Upon graduation, Nikhil wishes to explore opportunities in the industrial setting. His advice for current and prospective graduate students is to effectively communicate, collaborate, and attend conferences to broaden their horizons towards learning and solving problems.

Recent publications:

Dhabarde, N., Carrillo-Ceja, O., Tian, S., Xiong, G., Raja, K., & Subramanian, V. R. (2021). Bismuth Vanadate Encapsulated with Reduced Graphene Oxide: A Nanocomposite for Optimized Photocatalytic Hydrogen Peroxide Generation. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C.

Khaiboullina, S., Uppal, T., Dhabarde, N., Subramanian, V. R., & Verma, S. C. (2021). Inactivation of Human Coronavirus by Titania Nanoparticle Coatings and UVC Radiation: Throwing Light on SARS-CoV-2. Viruses, 13(1), 19.


Past featured students