Graduate Affiliates

Hey TD! We are the TD Grad Affiliates and we’re excited to meet you! We’re a group of graduate and professional students who are interested in working with, giving back to, and learning from the TD undergrad community. Our main function within the college is mentoring seniors on thesis presentations for Mellon Forums. We’re a great resource for students in both social and academic contexts. Feel free to ask us about grad school life, the process of applying to grad programs, New Haven life outside of Yale College, life after college, the “real world,” or anything really! We’re a growing program and we’re all really friendly, so feel free to say hi if you see us around the courtyard.

Head Graduate Affiliate

Xinyi Chen

Hi TD! I’m Xinyi and I’m a 5th year physics PhD student. I study cosmology, specifically the large-scale structure of the Universe and dark energy, using both computer simulations and survey observations. I’m from Hangzhou, a beautiful city in China, and I went to University of Michigan for undergrad. Outside physics, I like to read, do calligraphy, play the piano and write screenplays. I also enjoy learning all kinds of new things. If you need advice for your senior thesis and Mellon Forum, or want to know what grad school is like, or just want to chat, feel free to contact me! I look forward to meeting you all!


Graduate Affiliates 

James Bonanno

Hello! My name is James (he/him) and I am a second-year student in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program. I am originally from Long Island and I studied Neuroscience and Cognitive Science at Vassar College. At my undergraduate college, I researched the role of astrocytes in cognition. My current research focuses on functional recovery from spinal cord injury. Outside of research, my interests include science outreach and American politics. Please feel free to reach out if you are interested in research or graduate school. I look forward to meeting you all!


Henry Burnam
Hi, TD! I’m a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Music. I’m originally from San Francisco, although I’ve lived most recently in Berlin and Boston. Most of my research focuses on comparison, knowledge construction, and the concept of (tone) system in the history of music theory. In my spare time, I also enjoy playing the piano (both solo and in chamber groups), hiking, and bicycling. I’m looking forward to meeting you all and to another great year at TD! 

Jenna Cook

Hello! My name is Jenna (she/her) and I am a first-year JD student at the law school. I graduated from Yale College in 2014 and majored in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies (WGSS). After graduation, I lived in China for three years–I researched Chinese adoption as a Fulbright scholar, taught at the Yale Young Global Scholars Program in Beijing, and received a MA from Peking University. Then, I lived in Cambridge, MA for four years while studying for a PhD in sociology at Harvard. If you are interested in WGSS (or are trying to decide which major to choose–I changed my major four times!), China, sociology/PhD programs, or law school, please feel free to reach out. I also enjoy talking about plants, Ted Lasso, outdoor adventures, and dogs. (If you have any favorite plants or pets at home, I would love to see photos!)


Caroline Echeandia-Francis

Hello TD! My name is Caroline, and I am a first-year M.D. student from Portland, OR. My undergraduate years were spent in Missouri at Washington University in St. Louis where I studied biology and psychological and brain sciences. At WashU, mentoring first-years as they adjusted to college and working with students as a teaching assistant were two of my favorite roles. After WashU, I spent two gap years working at an employment agency in Portland – Mulberry Talent Partners. Optimizing resumes and LinkedIn profiles as well as providing interview practice and career guidance were rewarding parts of this job and previous undergraduate mentorship positions. Whether you are aspiring toward a career in medicine or any other profession, I would be excited to speak with you about achieving academic and personal success in college, planning gap years, applying to graduate school and jobs, and anything else! Looking forward to working with each of you as one of your Graduate Affiliates!


Lucero Estrella

Hello everyone! My name is Lucero (she/her), and I am a fourth-year PhD candidate in American Studies. I am from Brownsville, a border town in South Texas, and I majored in Latina/o Studies & Japanese at the University of Texas at Austin before coming to Yale. My research interests include Mexican, US, and Japanese history, race and ethnicity, and Border studies. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about doing independent research, are interested in history, or want to talk about graduate school. I look forward to meeting y’all!



Nicholas Huston

Hey everybody! I’m Nick, and I’m a 5th year PhD student in MB&B studying the structure and function of the long, viral genomes of single-strand RNA viruses including SARS-CoV-2 and West Nile Virus. I’m originally from central New Jersey, was a student-athlete (swimming) right around the corner at Wesleyan. After graduation, I moved to Boston where I worked full-time as a researcher at an academic hospital and then a biotech start-up. I’m happy to talk with anybody about the trials and tribulations I encountered on my circuitous route back to grad school. Please feel free to reach out, and I’m looking forward to getting to work with you all!



Micah Jones
Hello! My name is Micah. I’m a TD alum who graduated in the class of 2016.  I started the joint PhD. program in History and African American Studies in Fall 2017. My research is focused on the United States in the 20th century.  My dissertation project is tentatively titled, Jim Crow Prerogatives: Race and Power in Greenwood Mississippi. My work examines the production and reproduction of white supremacist ideologies in the rituals and routines of everyday life in the Jim Crow era. I’m a proud Southerner, originally from Georgia. It’s been almost a decade and I still can’t handle the winter.  If you see me around campus, please feel free to commiserate, and to say hi!

Ketaki Joshi

I am a third year PhD student in the Bhattacharjee lab in the Computer Science Department at Yale. My research spans operating systems and computer architecture. Specifically, I am building correct-by-construction heterogeneous architectures where every accelerator alongside the CPU will be a first class compute citizen. Before coming to Yale, I worked with Nvidia in the domain of compilers and computer architecture.

When not working, you will find me experimenting with different spice profiles for cinnamon tea and painting.
Adi Kumar
Hey! I’m Adi, a second year PhD student in History. I’m originally from the Bay Area, and I’ve lived in Providence & DC since then. I’m interested in Asian American History, race, migration, and social movements. I love R&B and like to think I make good playlists. Please feel free to hit me up if you want to talk about grad school, music or anything really. 

Peter Niimi

Hello everyone! My name is Peter and I’m starting my fourth year of a PhD in Experimental Pathology. I am originally from Nebraska and I studied biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts Boston before coming to Yale. My research is focused on understanding the biological mechanisms of aging and methods of rejuvenation. Outside of the lab I enjoy exploring new parks with my family, rough-housing with my two kids, and gaming. I am happy to discuss going to graduate school straight from undergrad, general questions about research/graduate school, or any other questions you might have. I look forward to meeting you all!


Lauren Patrick

Hi everyone! My name is Lauren and I’m a sixth year PhD student in the Neuroscience area of Psychology. I’m originally from Southern California and I studied Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology and Economics at Washington University in St. Louis before coming to Yale. My research utilizes behavioral, neuroimaging and computational techniques to examine motivation and cognitive control in the domains of human decision making and goal pursuit. I look forward to being a part of the TD community!


Sandra Sánchez

Hi! I’m a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the History department and my work focus on the contested recognition of citizenship and legal rights for Native people across the 19th and early 20th centuries in North America. I’ve lived in a lot of places before coming to New Haven, most recently in Kansas where I was completing my B.A. in History, Chinese, and Indigenous Studies.
I am currently a curatorial fellow at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library where I work closely in the Western Americana Collection. I’ve also spent time at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the Kansas Geological Survey and would love to talk about public history, research, and archive work outside of academia.
Besides school, I enjoy gaming, drawing, and of course, playing with the incomparable TD orchestra! I hope we will find lots of opportunities to connect this year, and please feel free to reach out to me about any related interests or grad school questions!


Charles Troup

Hi everyone – my name is Charlie and I’m a fourth-year PhD student in History. I’m originally from a town in the North-West of the UK near Manchester, but lived in Oxford for five years as an undergraduate and then as a Master’s student. I’m interested in the intellectual and political history of modern Europe, and especially the history of neoliberalism. I’m based in the UK on research this academic year but am keen to remain involved in the TD community however I can from afar. If you’re working on any related topics in history or political theory, let me know – I’d love to help you out with the Mellon Forum! I’m also happy to advise if you have any questions about what studying in Europe as an exchange or postgraduate student might be like. Outside graduate school I love going to concerts, playing the flute, watching soccer and hiking. I’m looking forward to meeting you all!



Evan Walker-Wells
I’m a TD 2013/2014 alumn who’s back in New Haven pursuing a joint JD-MBA. I’m in my second year of the program. Originally from Brooklyn, NY, I was a history major and CCE in college—and afterward I moved to North Carolina to start a journalism nonprofit called Scalawag. I’m interested in public defense, housing law, and health care. I hope to move back to the South and work to support movements for racial and social justice.

Ruiyan Wang
Ashé, Red Lions! I’m Ruiyan (she/her), and I am a 2nd year MPH student at the School of Public Health. My academic interests focus on chronic condition management and health literacy/narratives, so if you are also curious about the intersections of science and the humanities, please reach out to me! I’d love to chat or help you develop a Mellon Forum project. I graduated from Yale College in 2021, where I was a English and MCDB double-major… as well as a FroCo in TD! While in New Haven, I have been volunteering at the Planned Parenthood on Whitney Ave, working at HAVEN Free Clinic, and playing on the club volleyball team. I have also been creating an empirical ranking of the bubble tea around campus, and I am always happy to give or receive recommendations.
Elton Zhou
Hey TD! My name is Elton, and I am a fourth year medical student. I graduated from Yale College in 2015 and spent time consulting and doing clinical research before starting medical school. I like playing and watching sports, hiking, baking, and sleeping. Most importantly, I have an uncontrollably friendly dog that you will see around the courtyard in the hopefully near future. Ashé.

Here are some photos from the Kayaking Trip that the Graduate Affiliates organized during Fall Break 2021: