ic2

IC² Values Research Insights of UT Grad Students

As an inter-disciplinary research unit of The University of Texas at Austin, the IC² Institute calls upon various members of the UT Austin community to contribute to discussions, research, and analysis of findings.

Executive Director Art Markman explained, “At a big university one of the challenges is how to bring together people from across all of the different colleges.  Because IC² sits outside of individual colleges, we’ve actually been a place that can convene researchers with common interests, even if they happen to be in different departments.  And so we’ve been able to engage faculty, but also students.  And we engage those students directly in the research process sometimes under the supervision of faculty, and sometimes working on research within the institute.”

This year, three UT Austin doctoral students have contributed in unique and meaningful ways to our mission to understand better how communities can grow and thrive.

Read on for briefs on their involvement and research.


Drake Gossi is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing at The University of Texas at Austin.

Drake likes Austin’s occasional misty-morning air, watching stupid television shows, and playing with his sphinx cat, Kokomo, while curating Kokomo’s Instagram. He also adds that he “begrudgingly exercises.”  Before moving to Austin, Drake taught a variety of subjects including high school English, and received his master’s degree from the University of Nevada, Reno.

In his academic life, Drake studies the teaching of writing, entrepreneurial communication, and community engagement and conflict. His IC²-affiliated research involves the community engagement and conflict focus.  Over the past year, he studied how rural communities form arguments about economic recovery and sustainable development.

Drake came to IC² as a research assistant in the summer of 2020. He spent the year both organizing and analyzing the data IC² collected from interviews of the small community members and leaders. In the process, he ended up learning quite a bit about Boerne, Texas, and hopes to continue researching that city in the summer of 2021. So far, all of his analyses of the IC² data have been solely qualitative.  However, he plans to analyze new IC² data using a variety of computational methods, such as topic modeling, sentiment analysis, aspect mining, and more.

Regardless of what Drake chooses to study for his dissertation, he plans to continue work-shopping his findings at IC²’s weekly research-update meetings.  Drake notes, “IC² is a supportive and inclusive community of top-notch researchers and human beings, and it’s nice to know I have support as I embark on a project as formidable as a dissertation.”


Ademide Mabadeje, fondly called Midé, is a Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering doctoral student at The University of Texas at Austin, and a recipient of her department’s Hildebrand fellowship. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Petroleum & Gas Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and a master’s degree in Natural Gas Engineering & Management from the University of Oklahoma.

Midé is currently working with her advisor, Dr. Michael Pyrcz, in the research area of geostatistics. Her PhD research revolves around creating new data analytics and machine learning workflows to address various sources of spatial and/or other biases that impact decision-making in the subsurface. When she’s not compiling her workflows and debugging her codes, Midé loves to play the guitar and enjoys trying new cuisines.

Her experience working with interdisciplinary teams coupled with her prior background in management and finance equipped her with a diverse skill set, which has proven valuable in her engagement with IC². The goal of her IC² project is to develop a “community similarity score” that summarizes geographic and socioeconomic features into a useful measure to group and identify analog communities. This metric will help communities in Texas learn from each other and foster economic resilience and development.

In the words of her advisor, “All space is space! If you are going to model in space, you cannot omit the spatial context.” Working with IC² serves as a milestone on her path to develop new spatial data analytics and machine learning methods and workflows for community network quantification using survey data. Ultimately, her work will be implemented in her field to study the interactions and identify pairwise similarities between producer-injector wells within oil and gas reservoirs.


Kara Takasaki is a PhD candidate in Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin. She studies race and gender inequality in paid and unpaid labor. Her dissertation is on the development of racialized masculinity among U.S. born Asian American men working in professional occupations. She is also a co-survey lead for the AAPI COVID-19 Project, studying the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work, health, and relationships of AAPI communities. She has also studied the way gender and race shapes the work experiences of graduates in chemistry and chemical engineering during the first five years after graduation. She has published in the Journal of Asian American Studies, Michigan Family Review, and the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity

At IC2, Kara uses focus groups and surveys to train undergraduates and writes research reports and manuscripts with large state government agencies, private corporations, and academic researchers in multi-site research grants on the human dimensions of organizations, labor exploitation, and quality of life in rural Texas communities. Kara’s research at IC2 has given her opportunities to enhance her quantitative skills and programming skills with data analysis software. She has also been able to extend her labor research into labor exploitation in low-wage labor and economic development in rural communities. Her future research endeavors include publishing her book manuscript, Optimized: Racial Economics of Cultural Strategies, and starting a second stream of research into racial inequality in health care and medical technologies. Before coming to UT Austin, Kara was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, graduated with a BA in Sociology and English from Tufts University, and a MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago.