Skip to main content

Graduate Fellows

VIDL Graduate Fellows for 2017-2018:


Ibrahim Ahmed is a 2nd year student in the Electrical Engineering MS/PhD program at the Vanderbilt School of Engineering. His Masters research is in artificial intelligence applications.  He is advised by Dr. Gautam Biswas. Ibrahim’s current project is the study of adaptive fault-tolerant control systems using reinforcement learning. Essentially, a model of a problem is created where each action has a reward. The model learns to pursue actions with the best long-term benefits in the presence of unexpected changes in the environment. This can help alleviate burden on human operators in time critical scenarios. For example, piloting a plane with a leaking fuel tank. Ibrahim is interested in simplifying digital learning of complex concepts via interactive, web-based data visualizations.



 Ashlyn Karan is a PhD student in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Her research explores the use of programming and computer science to support math and science learning in K-12 classrooms. Before starting her PhD, Ashlyn spent several years teaching math and science in Metro Nashville Public Schools. In addition to her work at Vanderbilt, she continues to support Nashville teachers at Relay Graduate School of Education.



Cynthia Porter is in her 3rd year of the German Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining our institution, she earned a Master's degree in German Studies as well as a second M.A. in Popular Culture from Bowling Green State University. Cynthia’s research interests fall under the categories of cross-media studies with a focus on the depiction of the body in German canonized literature and contemporary film, the topic of the “grotesque” body, the cultural connotations of body modification and tattoos in an international context, and Afro-German Studies.



Noah Robinson is a 2nd year student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program  at the College of Arts and Sciences. He is currently advised by Dr. Steven Hollon. Noah's research involves the development of a virtual reality treatment for addiction. Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, surpassing both motor vehicle and firearm deaths (National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, 2015). Substance abuse disorders often develop on top of strong emotional processes and negative experiences - intoxication becomes a way to cope with negative affect. In order to prevent relapse, interventions must be immediately accessible to break maladaptive cycles of self-regulation. Virtual reality may be an optimal medium to deliver such interventions. Noah is currently exploring a VR clinical intervention at a residential addiction treatment facility (Journey Pure). He is working with patients who have a variety of disorders including: opioid use disorder, alcohol use disorder, sexual trauma, PTSD, anxiety, and panic disorder. Therapy is delivered through an Internet-connected social environment. Patients receive cognitive behavioral therapy, explore virtual worlds, socialize in guided interactions, and experience environments to trigger cravings. Self-reported experiences from both detox and residential treatment thus far have suggested that VR may reduce cravings, regulate negative affect, and impact mood for a period of hours or days. It appears that VR can induce adaptive affects to help facilitate therapeutic change. The data from this exploratory research will provide a foundation to develop testable hypotheses and create a novel VR intervention to treat addiction.



Candice Wilfong is a doctoral student in the Community Research and Action program with an interest in urban motility of vulnerable populations and uses geographic information systems (GIS) and participatory mapping to highlight social exclusion and to inform policy, planning, and practice. As the utilization of GIS increases within public life and government practice, literacy particularly around discerning the limits and impacts of these technologies is an essential skill. During her VIDL fellowship, Danielle will investigate how to promote spatial learning and literacy using traditional and critical GIS strategies.



Kellie Cavagnaro , Brandy Daniels, Dan Miller, Kyle Romero, Ben Skinner, Nadeja Webb



Max Baumkel , Tim Foster, Qiliang He, Stacey Houston II, Kylie Korsnack, Gabriela Leon-Perez



Sandra Arch, Bradley Kiddie, Zoe LeBlanc, Kathleen McKissack



Bradley J. Daugherty, Amanda Doody, Laura Hieber


Please see the Graduate Fellows Program page for information on how to apply.