2018-2019 Bios

Meet the 2018-2019 Exec Board

Samantha Fried – President

Sam lounges in the sleep pod located in the GLC wellness room

Sam is a 5th-year PhD student in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech. This is also her 5th year in the Remote Sensing Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (IGEP). This is her 4th year of involvement with the Graduate Student Assembly, and her 3rd year serving on the GSA Executive Board. In short, she is sometimes kind of busy. Sam’s dissertation project is about the Landsat satellite system, and the ways in which we can understand blurry distinctions between civilian and military technologies through a Landsat case study. Sam likes to knit in her spare time, and actually has a dissertation-related knitting side project called Knit the World. Knit the World is currently on hold, due to presidential responsibilities. But you can read more about it at samknitstheworld.wordpress.com. Besides knitting, Sam has also been tap dancing somewhat consistently for the last 25 years. Additionally, she enjoys watercolor painting, drawing, and singing. She belongs to two cats: Croissant and Cake Pop.


Alexis Hruby – Vice President and Director of Legislative Affairs

Our previous VP resigned the position, leaving a vacancy within the GSA Executive Board that was filled via Special Elections. Thank you and congratulations to Alexis Hruby!

Chelsea Corkins – Director of Programs

Chelsea stands near a potted plant near the GLC's first floor front desk
Director of Programs

Chelsea Corkins is a master’s student in Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education with a background in agricultural and ecological engineering. As a native to Kansas, she attended Kansas State University prior to moving to Virginia to pursue her PhD in 2013. After fully accepting her love of teaching and outreach, Chelsea pivoted out of her PhD program and into an education field where she currently assists with the premier adult agricultural leadership program in Virginia. In addition, she currently researches how educators understand engineering concepts and engineering design in agricultural nonformal STEM programs – specifically through the 4-H program. In her free time, Chelsea can be found packing for her ever-upcoming international journey or music festival, reading a Malcom Gladwell type social science or sociology book, or simply enjoying a craft beer at a local pub.

Lehi Dowell – Director of Events

Lehi sits on stage in the GLC auditorium
Director of Events

Lehi is a 2nd year Ph.D. student in the School of Public and International Affairs earning a degree in Planning, Governance, and Globalization.  Having worked ten years in corporate hospitality operations management and several years in nonprofit administration, he has been exposed to issues concerning economic growth, sustainable development, and community engagement on both local and international levels.  This firsthand knowledge is instrumental in supplementing his research endeavors and bridging the gap between the real world (applied science) and academia (theoretical science).

In tourism development he views current trends through a global lens, considers how best to improve the community experience by mitigating negative impacts, examines increasing levels of accountability for all sectors, and theorizes on how to intersect policy through local/regional/state/country/world structures.  He refuses to live in an ivory tower surrounded by publications that no one reads, and prefers to investigate real life quandaries by finding solutions that incorporate resilience and growth for at risk populations.

Bronson Weston – Director of Finance

Bronson stands near the corkboard in the graduate student organizational suite on the first floor of the GLC
Director of Finance

Bronson is a 4th year PhD student in the program of Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology here at Virginia Tech. During his time here, he has been involved in a wide range of projects. He has worked with a team to predict signaling pathways perturbed in human cells by a variety of toxicants, he has modeled how immature white blood cells interpret environmental signals to direct their development, and he is currently modeling how a bacteria species, Caulobacter crescentus, utilizes protein localization, degradation, and genetic regulation to divide asymmetrically. When not doing research, he enjoys hiking, exercising and kickin’ it with good friends.

As the Director of Finance of the GSA, he will make sure that this organization manages its resources efficiently and help to drive positive change for graduate students across the common wealth of Virginia.


Martina Svyantek – Director of Communications

Martina stands smiling at the camera, in front of a green-painted wall with a large photo of a field of flowers. She is in the gender-neutral bathroom on the first floor of the GLC
Director of Communications

Martina V. Svyantek is a doctoral candidate in a self-designed and highly-individualized interdisciplinary program exploring Disability identity situated within higher education. Her research focuses on Disability-related institutional policies, accessibility, and campus activism.She earned her Bachelor of Science in civil engineering in 2011 from Auburn University, complemented by her MS from Virginia Tech in May 2018. Martina curates an ePortfolio (martinasvyantek.com), tweets into the internet void (@svyantek), and generally keeps to herself in large crowds. Ultimately, Martina aspires to continue working with the discipline-agnostic view of learning, research, and impactful service, weaving together connections and resources related to campus communities.