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2021-22 Graduate Student Mentors (GSMs)

ELIZABETH ALBES (ega2111@columbia.edu)
Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Elizabeth Albes is a PhD candidate in French and Comparative Literature at Columbia, specializing in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, history, and visual culture. Before embarking on her PhD program, she completed a BA in French and History of Art at Johns Hopkins and an interdisciplinary MA in History and Literature at Columbia, which was taught at the school’s Paris campus. Her research interests include Enlightenment-era materialist philosophy, the French Revolution and its cultural legacies, and the history of rhetoric in early modern France. She has taught eight courses in the French Department, including courses on literature, history, and language. Her dissertation focuses on the political and philosophical dimensions of portraiture and self-portraiture in Rousseau’s Rêveries and Madame de Staël’s Corinne.

Outside of academic life, Elizabeth enjoys running, cycling, and taking long meandering walks. She also likes working with her hands to make and fix things, and has recently (finally!) relearned how to read for the sheer pleasure of it.


KRISHNA ANUJAN (ka2602@columbia.edu)
Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Krishna Anujan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology at Columbia and is advised by Professor Shahid Naeem. Her dissertation work focuses on tree biodiversity and forest productivity in tropical forest ecosystems which have the largest biodiversity and carbon stocks among all terrestrial ecosystems. For her dissertation, she combines field experiments on seedlings, theoretical modelling and remotely sensed data to understand processes that affect forest dynamics in the Andaman Islands, an archipelago off the eastern coast of India. While at Columbia, she has been a teaching assistant for introductory undergraduate courses in environmental biology and biostatistics and also on the Summer Ecosystem Experiences for Undergraduates (SEE-U), Jordan programme at the Earth Institute. Before starting at Columbia, Krishna graduated from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune from their Integrated BS/MS programme.

Krishna has a core interest in creating impact with her science and engages regularly in outreach and communication on science, the natural world and science and academic policy. Her articles on field-based observations of the ecological world have been published in online and print platforms, both in English and translated into Malayalam, her mother tongue. While on field, she also likes to collaborate with local institutions including the Department of Environment and Forest to conduct outreach and capacity building programmes for diverse audiences. She hopes to ultimately contribute towards making the process of science-based conservation more rigorous, transparent, and inclusive.

Krishna feels that in field-based sciences, the lines between the system and the scientist are faint and blurry. On field, she spends much of her spare time growing, smelling or tasting different plants. She can also be found in the grip of a good book or longing to dance.


NICOLE BASILE (npb2131@columbia.edu)
Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Nicole is PhD candidate in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures. Her research interests include the history of science and medicine, early modern print and manuscript culture, and food studies. She is also interested in the development and dissemination of experiential knowledge in the Iberian Peninsula over the long sixteenth century. Nicole is currently working on a dissertation which examines the practice of recipe writing in early-modern Iberia, through an analysis of manuscript recetarios. More than mere instructional devices, she argues that recipes were a form of social and intellectual currency to be exchanged among heterogeneous networks of practitioners. 

Outside of her studies, Nicole is on a quest to document all of her family’s recipes and their accompanying stories and myths. In her spare time, she also enjoys powerlifting, picnicking, and training her twelve-pound pup, Cachito, who loves string beans, string cheese, and everyone he meets on the street.


ROBERT CORBAN (rlc2179@columbia.edu)
Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Robert Corban is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Columbia. Born and bred in Tupelo, Mississippi, Robert earned his Bachelors of Arts in History and in Sociology from the University of Mississippi in 2013. While at UM, Robert was also recognized for the thesis he wrote about the economics of peasant agriculture and the politics of unification in the Kingdom of Italy.

Robert then followed his interest in the history of Italy and Europe to Upstate New York, where he completed a Master of Arts in History at Syracuse University before he made the move to New York City, and Columbia, in 2015. Since then, Robert has continued his research on the political economy of agriculture in Italy and Europe in archives on either side of the Atlantic, a work which forms the basis of his dissertation, “Bitter Harvest: Wheat and War in Mussolini’s Mediterranean.”

Robert takes pride in his previous experience and his present responsibilities as an educator as well a student at Columbia, including time as a teacher in lectures on economic history, military history and world history as well as the histories of Italy, Europe and the United States. While in NYC, he has also worked with students and the broader public through longstanding engagements with the Columbia Secondary School, the New York Public Library and the New York Botanical Garden. 

When he is not in the classroom or behind the desk, Robert likes to spend his time outdoors. He is an avid hiker, an amateur birder and, to his eternal despair, a lifelong fan of the Ole Miss Rebels


MARIA DIMITROPOULOS (md3234@columbia.edu)
Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Maria Dimitropoulos is a PhD candidate in the interdisciplinary Classical Studies program at Columbia. She completed her BA at the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College before earning her MA and MPhil degrees at Columbia. Her academic interests include Greek art and architecture in the Archaic and early Classical periods, Greek drama, classical reception, collecting, and issues of cultural heritage. Her dissertation is on visual representations of intra-familial conflict and violence in ancient Greece. At Columbia, Maria has taught Elementary and Intermediate Attic Greek and she has been a TA for various language and history courses, including a global core class on Egypt in the Classical World, as well as courses in Greek and Roman Art and Archaeology.

Outside of her dissertation research, Maria participates in an archival project on former Barnard Professor Margarete Bieber and her contributions to ancient art history. Because of her previous work on the modern reception of ancient Greece, she is especially interested in Dr. Bieber’s role in the early 20th century revivals of Greek theater and festivals. Maria is also part of a joint research initiative with the Department of Histoire de l’art et Archéologie of the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne on 20th century university collections of classical antiquities in the United States. She will soon be publishing her work on one of Columbia’s collections of ancient art.

Maria has participated in numerous archaeological projects including the underwater archaeological survey at the Roman Port Sanisera in Menorca, the excavations at the Bronze Age site of Gournia, Crete, and Columbia’s excavations in Onchestos, Thebes. Since arriving at Columbia, she has received fellowships to work on her research in Greece, Italy, Spain, France, and Egypt.

In her spare time, Maria enjoys swimming, scuba diving, and pilates.


PEDRO RIBEIRO PIFFER (prp2123@columbia.edu)
Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Pedro is a biologist from Brazil and a PhD candidate in the Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology Department at Columbia University, advised by Prof Maria Uriarte. Before starting his PhD program, he completed his BS in Biology and BA in Education from University of São Paulo and his MSc in Ecology from State University of Campinas. For his dissertation, Pedro is studying deforestation, reforestation and forest persistence in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, with focus on identifying the drivers of forest dynamics in this endangered biome to support conservation initiatives and public policy. He is also studying the conflict between land use changes and water resources in his home country. At Columbia he was a teaching assistant for Sustainability Science; Food, Ecology and Globalization; and Herpetology courses.

Pedro also has over four years of professional experience as an environmental consultant in the private sector in Brazil, working with environmental permitting processes for a wide range of infrastructure projects, including activities with high environmental and social risk. His areas of expertise include environmental impact assessment and mitigation, forest and wildlife conservation and natural resources management. Outside of academic life, Pedro is a passionate traveler, avid wildlife photographer and birder and enjoys playing bass guitar with his friends.

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