Cassandra Donatelli, Ph.D. student in Biology, is the new President of the Graduate Student Council at Tufts University

Meet Your GSC President

Cassandra Donatelli, 4th year Ph.D. student in Biology, is the new President of the Graduate Student Council (GSC). 

Donatelli’s Research and Lab

My adviser is Assistant Professor Eric Tytell. Broadly, our lab studies fish swimming, looking at everything from the neural control of swimming, to the biomechanics of movement, to computational fluid dynamics. I study swimming biomechanics in eel-like fishes. When these fish swim, their bodies undulate in a way that looks like a snake crawling, but unlike a snake these fish are not limited to crawling on the ground, a 2-D plane. They move up and down in the 3-D water column, and my dissertation focuses on how they move around in 3-D and how we might apply this behavior to the design and control of swimming robots.

Getting to Know the GSC

The GSC was established to provide a forum for graduate students across all disciplines in Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. We exist to be the voice of the graduate student community, with the goal of improving graduate student life here at Tufts. We hold monthly meetings to hear the concerns of our fellow grad students and host a wide range of events from an annual research symposium, to clothing and food drives, to social events like apple picking. We are always looking for people to get involved! Participation can be as simple as volunteering for one of our events or as involved as joining a GSC committee, attending general meetings, or running for a position. Folks should contact us if they want to get involved.

As a member of the GSC, I get to meet a great diversity of graduate students and hear about how their experience here varies across departments.

Cassandra Donatelli GSC President and Ph.D. Candidate in Biology

What the GSC Means to Donatelli

I first heard about the GSC from a former president. She advertised the GSC in our department, and I decided to join. Since then, I’ve been the Academic and Career Development Chair, the Vice President, and, now, the President. Being a part of the GSC is important to me because it takes me out of my department bubble. In grad school, we tend to be so focused on our research that we forget that we are a part of a larger community. As a member of the GSC, I get to meet a great diversity of graduate students and hear about how their experience here varies across departments.  I also get to interact with the deans and administration, and get an idea about how a school is run.

Advice for New and Returning Students

If I had to give advice to a new graduate student at Tufts, I’d say meet people outside your department! If not through the GSC, then try to meet people through other groups or events across campus. It really does enhance your experience as a graduate student to meet people with different talents and expertise. Also, that the best kept secret at Tufts is that the gym is great and free for all graduate students! It also offers discounted fitness classes for all.

Looking Forward to the New Academic Year

My first role in the GSC was the Academic and Career Development Chair, so I am always pretty excited about the Graduate Student Research Symposium in the spring. It’s really cool that so many graduate students from all over Tufts come together to share their research. Also, if you’re looking for something fun to do in fall, Apple Picking is by far our most popular event. We take a bus out to Honey Pot Hill Orchards, pick our own apples, and enjoy the cider and fresh donuts. It’s a great time!