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Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is currently comprised of the President, Vice President, Officers, and Committee Chairs. Please email if you are interested in serving as an executive officer or committee chair.

Katherine is a fifth-year Ph.D. student researching Comparative Politics. More specifically, she studies the impacts of gender inclusivity on collective action. A Nashville native, she earned her Bachelor’s in Honors Political Science and French in 2019 and her Master’s of Arts in Political Science in 2022 from UTK. Committed to helping her fellow students thrive, she has remained involved in many organizations and committees throughout her time at UT. Initially serving as the Technology Officer, Katherine witnessed the potential of the Graduate Student Senate to leave a positive impact in the lives of graduate and professional students and was driven to continue the work of years of GSS leaders before her. She serves as a Graduate Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science, fostering an appreciation of cross-cultural and political comparisons among undergraduate students. In her free time, Katherine enjoys baking, visiting many of the local parks and breweries Knoxville has to offer and spending time with her pet dachshund, Chloe.

Hannah is a third year Ph.D student in the Child and Family Studies department. Her specialization is in early childhood education and she works alongside the early care and education workforce supporting stakeholders in caring for very young children. Hannah’s research interests include trauma informed care, adverse childhood experiences, and supporting early childhood educators in gaining capacity to support children’s development of social emotional and self regulatory skills through the use of Infant Early Childhood Mental Health and multi-tiered systems of support practices. In the fall of 2022 Hannah and her advisor Dr. Lori Caudle were awarded a Student Faculty Research Award from UTK specifically focusing on building the ECE workforce through trauma informed practices, Trauma-Informed Intervention Preschool Study (TIIPS): A Partnership with Rural Southeastern Teachers. 

Overall, Hannah’s research focuses on supporting the early care and education workforce through culturally responsive early science professional learning programs and understanding barriers to the workforce. Hannah is excited to be in her role as GSS Vice President and is driven to support graduate and professional students during their time at UTK. Outside of academia, Hannah enjoys reading, and spending time with her partner and pup, Nugget. 



Dale is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Higher Education Administration program with research interests focused on executive leadership at public research universities. Specifically, he is interested in exploring the progression of student affairs administrators to the rank of President/Chancellor at R-1 and R-2 institutions and the successes and challenges faced by those individuals. Originally from Huntsville, Alabama, Dale received his BSBA in Marketing and MBA in Management from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), where he also gained professional experience as an Admissions Counselor, Academic Advisor, and Outreach Coordinator. During his time at UAH, Dale spent three years as an active member in the Staff Senate, where he held numerous positions, including President during the 2021-2022 academic year. Now on Rocky Top, Dale is looking to continue . In addition to being a graduate student, Dale also serves as a Graduate Research Assistant for Institutional Research & Strategic Analysis. In his free time, Dale enjoys exploring the Knoxville area, especially anything involving food and culture.

Anirban Roy is a motivated fifth-year Ph.D. candidate affiliated with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. With a Master of Technology degree from the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology in 2018, Anirban brings a strong educational background to his research pursuits. Anirban’s leadership abilities are notable, as he has successfully guided and mentored undergraduate engineering students as their primary instructor in several courses. Anirban’s passion for serving and contributing to a better community is evident through his active involvement in various student organizations. Holding multiple leadership roles, he has shown a dedication to creating a positive impact. Anirban initially joined the Graduate Student Senate in the 2022-2023 academic year, assuming the role of Treasurer. During this time in this position, Anirban witnessed firsthand the immense potential of the Graduate Student Senate to make a positive impact in the lives of graduate and professional students. Inspired by the accomplishments of the previous year, Anirban was motivated to continue the meaningful work that had already been initiated. Outside of academia, Anirban enjoys engaging in recreational activities. Whether it’s exploring Knoxville’s local parks and breweries or spending quality time cooking a hearty meal; he knows how to find joy in the little moments

  • Senate Chair – Samuel Affar –

Samuel is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department, specializing in the application of optimization and data science in supply chain and energy distribution. Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, he obtained his B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Lagos. Committed to making a positive impact on society, Samuel actively engages in serving and volunteering. Throughout his undergraduate years, he held leadership positions in various organizations, demonstrating his dedication to giving back. In the 2022-2023 academic year, Samuel joined the Graduate Student Senate and served on the Institutional Advocacy Committee. Furthermore, Samuel played a pivotal role in establishing the Nigerian Student Association at the University of Tennessee and was elected as its President for the 2023-2024 academic year. Beyond his academic pursuits, Samuel enjoys spending time with friends, indulging in sitcoms, and immersing himself in fiction through reading.

Jessica (Jess) is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the School of Information Sciences in the College of Communication and Information. She studies diversity, equity, and inclusion in the design of social robots. Jess is from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Environmental Earth Science and Economics in 2016. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned her M.S. in Marketing in 2020. Throughout her time at UT, Jess has been involved with leadership and representing the needs of her fellow students since she first (virtually) stepped on campus in 2020. She has been involved in GSS since starting at UT in 2020 and served as Vice President for the College of Communication and Information Graduate Student Association from 2020-2023. She also serves as a Graduate Teaching Associate in the School of Information Sciences, teaching classes both during the regular academic year, as well as over the winter and summer terms. Outside of academia, Jess is a big college sports fan, loves paddleboarding, and likes exploring the newest food and drinks around Knoxville.

Originally from Santiago, Chile, Valentina is a first-year Master’s candidate in the College of Communications and Information’s Public Relations program. She recently graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a degree in Journalism and minors in Retail and Merchandising Management, as well as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. During her time as an undergraduate student, Valentina gained valuable experience as a social media student assistant for the Center of Global Engagement and as a Marketing Intern for VolDining. This past summer, she was selected as an International Radio and Television Society Summer Fellow, which allowed her to intern for VidMob’s Strategic Services department in New York City. Upon her return to Rocky Top, Valentina will be serving as an International Scholar and Family Support Graduate Assistant for the International Student and Scholar Services department. In her free time, she enjoys baking, trying new restaurants with her friends, and napping with her dogs, Petunia and Cleo.

Committee Chairs

Jeronimo was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but he has called the United States home for the past 13 years. He received his B.S. in Wildlife Sciences from Virginia Tech and his M.S. in Agricultural Sciences from Tennessee State University. Jeronimo is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Comparative and Experimental Medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.  His research has been focused on understanding how human activities affect habitat and animal health in rivers and streams. As a professional, he has focused on creating and implementing strategic conservation frameworks through research and partnership development. In both his academic and professional positions, his role was always to bridge the gap between vision and implementation. As the Legislative Steering Chair, he hopes to enhance student representation within the University and improve communication between students, faculty, administration, and senior leadership. Jeronimo is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys spending his time fishing, kayaking, rock climbing, and trail running.

Adaora is a rising third-year doctoral student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program in the College of Nursing specializing in the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track. Hailing from the Washington D.C.-Baltimore metro area, she graduated in 2021 with her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Before enrolling at UT in Fall 2021, she was a prominent member of several of Emory’s political and cultural organizations such as the Undergraduate Student Government Association, Black Student Alliance and African Student Association. Her current academic interests include opioid use disorder treatment, mental health in marginalized populations, and trauma-informed therapy modalities. Adaora’s current employment as a registered nurse at UT Medical Center on a neurological acute care has also piqued her interest in the intersections between neurological dysfunction and psychiatric disorders. Adaora joined the Graduate Student Senate in Fall 2022 and also currently serves on the University’s Commission of Blacks. Outside of the academic setting, Adaora enjoys attending concerts, going to pilates classes, and exploring what Knoxville’s gastronomy has to offer!

Anika is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, specializing in structural engineering. Coming from Dhaka, Bangladesh, she earned her B.Sc. in Civil engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 2016, where she was actively involved in various youth organizations dedicated to community service and volunteering. Her academic journey took her to Oregon State University, where she completed her M.Sc. in 2019. Currently, Anika is engaged as a graduate assistant, actively instructing undergraduate courses, and conducting research that focuses on mitigating structural responses during natural disasters such as earthquakes, and severe wind conditions. In addition to her academic pursuit, Anika served as a Vice-President in Bangladesh Student Association from 2022-2023, allowing her to gain a deep appreciation for the multi-faceted challenges and opportunities that graduate students face across various disciplines. Drawing inspiration from her academic and leadership experiences, she is dedicated to creating meaningful initiatives in the Graduate Student Senate to enhance student well-being, community engagement and overall graduate student experience. In her free time, she enjoys being a plant mom, practicing music, hiking, and spending time with her husband and her two pups, Arya and Frodo.

Taylor (she/her) is a second-year master’s student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program within the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling. Prior to pursuing counseling, she worked in admission and enrollment management at Louisiana State University, Sewanee: The University of the South, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Taylor currently works in the Counselor Training Clinic at UTK and enjoys meeting with both undergraduate and graduate students as clients. She also co-facilitates a weekly support group on campus for survivors of sexual assault. She is earning a graduate certificate in Grief, Loss, and Trauma and is passionate about supporting individuals through times of crisis and transition. Taylor strives to cultivate inclusive, culturally responsive, and empathetic counseling relationships. Last year, Taylor served on an external GSS committee, helping with the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Team in partnership with the Office of Title IX. In her free time, she enjoys group fitness classes, cooking, and playing outside with her Saint Bernard, Margo.

Aritra is a third year doctoral student in the College of Social Work at University of Tennessee with a strong focus on global public health issues. Aritra Moulick completed his Master’s in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai, India) with specialization in Public Health. Since graduation, he has worked at the Centre For Excellence in CSR at Tata Institute of Social Sciences as a Programme Officer and was engaged in conducting Baseline Surveys, Impact Assessments, Needs Assessments, and Mid Term Evaluations of various Corporate Social Responsibility Projects. In 2020, Aritra joined United Way India and was in charge of direct implementation of projects related to providing relief to the distressed during the pandemic along with augmenting health care infrastructure in ailing hospitals across the country. Aritra is pursuing a PhD in Social Work in order to enhance his research skills and develop himself as a trained development practitioner. Aritra initially joined the Graduate Student Senate in the 2022-2023 academic year, assuming the role of a Senator. During this time in this position, Aritra has come across pertinent changes where advocacy acts as a vital profession that plays a critical role in promoting social justice, equity, and well-being for individuals and communities. As a normative society, we are committed to upholding the highest ethical standards and providing compassionate, culturally responsive, and evidence-based services to those in need.


2023-2024 Accomplishments

Check out the annual report published by GSS 2023-24 Leadership.

Accomplishments from Previous Executive Committees

  • Passed two resolutions and two proclamations
    • A Resolution Addressing the Need for Increases in Graduate Stipends and the Establishment of Cost of Living Adjustments
    • A Resolution Advocating for Increased Transparency and Communication Regarding Current and Future New Construction on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Campus
  • Disbursed over $400,000 to 871 graduate and professional students (13% of the population) through the travel awards and academic support award programs
  • Strengthened shared governance with SGA and Faculty Senate
  • Hosted a joint Town Hall with SGA and campus administration
  • Hosted or participated in many social events 
    • Welcome Back Mixer
    • 5 homecoming events
    • 2 senator socials
    • Grad Student Night at the Ice Bears with Wiener Dog Races
    • GSS Awards Banquet
    • Grad Student Night at Vol Baseball during GPSAW
    • Gather in the Gardens during GPSAW
    • T-shirt Tie Dye in the Pride Center
  • Participated in the University Task Force on Graduate Housing
  • Collaborated with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and the International House (iHouse)
  • Created an ad-hoc committee on International Student Support
  • Moved into a new office space in the Student Union (174A)
  • Hosted 10 senate sessions


Executive Committee Members
  • President – George T. Fields
  • Vice President – Leighton Chappell
  • Secretary – Karen Norwood
  • Treasurer – Anirban Roy
  • Senate Chair – Zane Smith
  • Technology Officer – Katherine Trubee
  • Communications Director – Zaina Shams
Committee Chairs
  • Legislative Steering – Hannah Thompson
  • Equity and Diversity – Adaora Ede
  • Travel Awards – Kassie Hollabaugh
  • Programming Events – Austin Conte
  • Institutional Advocacy – Tabatha Rainwater
  • Graduate Student Senate Advisory – Breanna Schaeffer

  • Passed two resolutions
  • Made significant constitution and bylaw changes
  • Hosted GSS Awards Reception
  • Hosted GSS 5K and donated proceeds to the Big Orange Pantry
  • Hosted a town hall
  • Hosted and supported many social events 
  • Lobbied for an increase in stipends and a decrease in fees
  • Disbursed over $350,000 to graduate and professional students through the travel awards and academic support award programs
  • Hosted 10 senate sessions


Executive Committee Members
  • President – Hunter Hammock
  • Vice President – Mohamed Al Sager
  • Secretary – Kat Capstick
  • Treasurer – Davis Carter
  • Senate Chair – George T. Fields
  • Technology Officer – Samaneh Morovati
Committee Chairs
  • Equity and Diversity – Lufuno Phophi
  • Legislative Steering – Igor Bernardi
  • Travel Awards – Kassie Hollabaugh
  • Graduate Student Well-Being – Brigid Ogden
  • Graduate Student Senate Advisory – BJ Armstead
  • Programming and Events – Leighton Chappell
  • Finance and Annual Fundraiser – Davis Carter