The Charger Blog

Graduate Students Foster Culture of Discovery and Exploration

A group of the University’s most accomplished graduate students had the opportunity to present their research projects and to share their excitement for their fields with the University community.

December 2, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Disha Sawhney '21 MHA presenting on Zoom.
Disha Sawhney ’21 MHA shares her research on Down syndrome with the University community.

Disha Sawhney ’21 MHA has always been passionate about healthcare. As a kid, she looked up to her grandparents, who were doctors, and she dreamed of also helping people while working in the healthcare field.

As an undergraduate student in her home country of India, she focused her research and her thesis on Down syndrome. She saw how many parents of children with Down syndrome struggled, and she believed that there was a need for more awareness and understanding of the genetic disorder.

Image of Disha Sawhney ’21 MHA.
Disha Sawhney ’21 MHA.

Sawhney began exploring how physicians educated parents about what to expect and whether or not they received genetic counseling. She developed a questionnaire that parents could take with them to their child’s doctor appointments.

Interacting with more than 100 parents, she provided them with counseling, and in some cases, offered them free testing. She later shared her questionnaire with a South Asian Down syndrome organization, spending several months visiting a facility in Chennai, India, where she worked with therapists, parents, and caretakers.

“These kids needed frequent treatment, and their parents were becoming exhausted as they had to explain everything to every doctor,” she said. “Many of the parents felt they were cursed, and as a science student, I couldn't bear that. Helping them was a very fulfilling experience for me.”

Sawhney recently shared her work at the University’s Graduate Student Showcase, held via Zoom. It brought together graduate students in all fields, enabling them to learn from each other and gain experience presenting their work.

Image of Bhairavi Mudholkar ’21 M.S. presenting on zoom.
Bhairavi Mudholkar ’21 M.S. recently presented her research to the University community.
‘A much better state of preparedness’

Jules LoRusso ’21 M.S., a candidate in the University’s emergency management program, shared his thesis. He explored the possible impact an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack would have on the nation’s critical infrastructure, including transportation.

Jules LoRusso ’21 M.S.
Jules LoRusso ’21 M.S.

While exploring cost effective mitigation measures, he looked for ways to reduce risks for vehicles delivering emergency services and supplies to the public in the aftermath of an EMP attack. He developed a plan, he said, that endeavored to break down the overall problem of responding to an attack into smaller, more manageable tasks.

“The emergency management plan proposal would create, if implemented, a much better state of preparedness for this national security threat,” said LoRusso, who entered the program after retiring from a more than 40-year career as an engineer. “The project allowed me to incorporate some of the tools and knowledge from my emergency management and national security courses in developing the research points for my thesis.”

The presentations provided a way for dozens of students to share their research, internship experiences, and innovative ideas with the University community. Students were excited to share their passions, their findings, and their hard work.

‘My goal…was to inspire people’

For Bhairavi Mudholkar ’21 M.S., a candidate in the University’s graduate program in environmental engineering, this was an opportunity for her to not only present her research, but to share her passion for environmental awareness.

Image of Bhairavi Mudholkar ’21 M.S.
Bhairavi Mudholkar ’21 M.S.

An aspiring environmental engineer, she is dedicated to tackling environmental challenges that have arisen from factors such as the increasing population, technology, and demand for natural resources. She has been focusing her research on the problem of plastic pollution, exploring alternatives and analyzing the life cycles of these alternatives. She hopes her presentation, “Plastic: A Curse to the Environment,” made her audience more aware of their own plastic usage.

“This project and the lessons that I have learned from working on it have deepened my passion and enthusiasm for my work,” she said. “My goal when presenting my work to the University community was to inspire people to lessen their use of plastic. I think giving something back to the nature is one way that we can preserve our natural environment.”