Standout KSU student researchers accepted into PhD programs

KENNESAW, Ga. | June 6, 2023

In the pursuit of academic excellence and the advancement of knowledge, PhD programs offer a pathway for students to delve deeper into their fields of study and make meaningful contributions to their respective disciplines. 

At Kennesaw State University, several exceptional student researchers were recently accepted into prestigious PhD programs, signaling their remarkable achievements and potential for future scholarly success. 

These students are:

  • Ryan Faddis; chemistry, Penn State University; mentored by Dr. Mohammad Abdul Halim.
  • Kaylee Funk; chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University; mentored by Dr. Bharat Baruah.
  • Kimberly Gomes; psychology, University of Texas at San Antonio; mentored by Dr. Brian Moore.
  • Ryan Lowhorn; bioinformatics, Georgia Tech; mentored by Dr. Mohammed Chowdhury.
  • Rebecca Senft; biology, University of Utah; mentored by Dr. Clint Penick.

Kimberly Gomes

Gomes, who was accepted into the PhD program in psychology at UT San Antonio, found her passion for studying the psychological trauma of military service members through a powerful book, "The Things They Carried," by Tim O'Brien. 

The book first introduced her to the weight of psychological burdens carried by soldiers, and Kimberly reflects, “the understanding of how the weight of psychological trauma far outweighed their gear led me to develop curiosity about the lived experiences and psychological trauma of service members.” 

At KSU, she actively participated in research programs, such as the First-Year Scholars and Sophomore Scholars programs, as well as the Summer Undergraduate Research Program, which helped prepare her for graduate school. 

Gomes aims to refine her research skills and contribute to advances in military health psychology, utilizing the tailored training she will receive at UTSA. She advises undergraduate students to start early, embrace research opportunities, and prepare for the graduate school application process.

Kimberly Gomes
Kimberly Gomes

Ryan Faddis

Ryan Faddis
Ryan Faddis

Faddis, who is driven by his fascination with biochemistry, found his true calling within the intricate chemical reactions performed by living organisms.

His experiences in the field sparked a profound appreciation for the countless chemical processes occurring within our bodies every moment. 

“Throughout my time studying chemistry, I fell in love with the chemistry that living things perform,” Faddis said. “Because of my unending appreciation of those tiny chemists we call cells, I decided that biochemistry would be the focus of my graduate studies." 

Faddis will pursue a PhD at Penn State with an aspiration to make significant contributions to the understanding of human health span extension and aging.

Ryan Lowhorn

Ryan Lowhorn
Ryan Lowhorn

Lowhorn’s passions, on the other hand, lie at the intersection of biology and computer science. He was captivated by the merging landscapes of these fields, which led him to specialize in bioinformatics. 

Lowhorn describes the field of bioinformatics as one characterized by constant evolution. 

“I find this constant evolution particularly invigorating and intellectually stimulating,” Lowhorn said. 

Lowhorn will enroll at Georgia Tech, aiming to delve into the complexities of bacterial systems, unraveling their hidden dynamics and shedding light on their roles in ecological balance, disease mechanisms, and antibiotic resistance.

Rebecca Senft

Senft embarked on a career change after working in marketing for several years.

Drawn to the wonders of biology and her love for the outdoors, Senft returned to college to pursue plant biology. Engaging in research and exploring ecological impacts, she focused on invasive plant species' effects on water use. 

Senft's untraditional academic background serves as her inspiration. 

“I'm really passionate about creating a welcoming lab space that gives those who may not be traditional college students opportunities to get involved with research,” Senft said. 

Senft plans to pursue her goals through a PhD program at the University of Utah. Her vision of creating a welcoming space for non-traditional students in academia have shaped her aspirations of running her own research lab in the future and helping those who are in search of opportunities.

Rebecca Senft
Rebecca Senft

These students, each with their unique backgrounds and passions, exemplify the spirit of academic exploration and innovation at Kennesaw State University. 

Their dedication to their chosen fields, their research pursuits, and their aspirations for the future highlight the university's commitment to fostering a diverse and thriving academic community. 

Their collective pursuit of scientific discovery and advancement showcases the breadth of possibilities and opportunities available at KSU for students to shape the future through their research and academic endeavors.

— Story by Tania Farhoudi
Photos submitted