Meet the Graduate Student Coaches

Sathya Balachander


PhD Student in School of Biological Sciences
"You were born a star; your deeds determine how brightly you'll shine" - Matshona Dhliwayo

After getting a Bachelor’s in Biotechnology and Masters in Biomedical Engineering, Sat decided to pursue PhD in Biology to understand the basic mechanism on how DNA works. He is interested in studying the good, bad and ugly side of ribonucleotides that get embedded in our DNA. In addition to working on this thesis, Sat has always enjoyed being a TA. He is also very active in SGA, working as Senator representing the School of Biology and also the VP of communications and Chief of Staff. He is passionate about Science Education and Advocacy and was part of the team that organized March For Science Atlanta. He is a serious news junkie, always looking through news sites starting from Politico to HuffPost to BuzzFeed.
In this age, nobody seems to have time to help students to think outside the box. Sat greatly believes in helping students to explore the unlimited opportunities that are available to them. Being a part of the one-on-one leadership coaching program will definitely be a valuable experience for all involved, both personally and professionally.

Curtis Balusek


6th Year PhD Student in Physics
“I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” - Robert A. Heinlein

During his undergraduate at Sam Houston State University, Curtis was active as a student ambassador for the Honors College, was involved with the Long-term Undergraduate Research Experience program in the mathematics department, and worked as a Student Director & Counselor for the incoming students’ “Bearkat Camp”.  While at SHSU, Curtis received the College of Science Outstanding Service award for his time and dedication to the university and community.  Since being at Georgia Tech, Curtis has been heavily involved with the Archery Club and was named the School of Physics TA of the year, twice.

Curtis recognizes that leadership comes in various forms, but that all leaders share common traits, such as the ability to reflect on past decisions, acknowledging areas of improvement, and a desire to change. Curtis attributes most of his success to this systematic process of reflection, recognition, and self-improvement.  He believes this process is ideal for discovering yourself, developing who you want to be, and strengthening your leadership traits.   As your coach, Curtis is excited to learn and grow from the experiences and opportunities that lie before you.

Troy Batugal


3rd Year PhD Student in BioEngineering
"’s meaning, its virtue, had something to do with the depth of the relationships we form” - Dr. Paul Kalanithi

Troy received his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Cornell University in May 2015. While at Cornell, he worked as a residential adviser for three years where he developed a fondness for engaging in deep conversations and listening to others’ life stories. He commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army Reserve through the Cornell Army ROTC program where he learned to appreciate being part of a cohesive team united by a common purpose. Troy is currently a 3rd year graduate student in BioEngineering conducting protein-engineering research under the advisement of Dr. Ravi Kane.

Troy believes that service to others and the community provides a basis for a meaningful life and that many of life’s greatest lessons and insights can be gleaned from conversing with people whom society deems ordinary. He hopes to impart some of these lessons as a leadership fellow and is excited to embark upon a journey of self-discovery alongside his fellow coaches and coachees.

Deanna Beatty


5th Year PhD Student in the School of Biology with a focus in marine ecology
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

Deanna obtained her Bachelors degree from Northeastern University in 2008. After graduating she worked in a marine microbiology laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego. Her position at Scripps took her on many adventures, culminating in her desire to go to graduate school. For her dissertation, she is investigating the effectiveness of marine protected areas on coral reef health and their effect on the coral microbiome.

Deanna decided to become a leadership fellow to help undergraduates cultivate leadership skills, while improving her own as well. Some of her most rewarding experiences thus far have been while working with undergraduates, and she is looking forward to further opportunities to do so through the fellowship program.

Andrew Benton


2nd Year PhD Student in Physical Therapy, GSU
Life is like a camera, just focus on what's important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don't work out, just take another shot." - Ziad K. Abdelnour

Andrew's passions involve being a little bit too excited about his next cup of coffee, streaking up and down the ultimate frisbee field, and tearing through books and podcasts. His coaching career began in 7th grade when he signed up to lead a micro-mites soccer team. His sports coaching continued into high school and college with coaching both men's and women's soccer as well as the Georgia Tech Men's Ultimate Frisbee team. Andrew has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and has worked in sales as well as the HVAC industry. Andrew is now pursuing a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Georgia State which will further his one-on-one coaching abilities and improve the lives of his future patients.

Andrew chose to become a Leadership Fellow to inspire others to discover their leadership potential and enhance their leadership skills. As a Leading Edge graduate, Andrew is excited to help foster the growth of aspiring leaders and propel them towards achieving their goals.

Souryadeep Bhattacharyya


5th Year PhD Student in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
"A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit" - Arnold H. Glasgow

Souryadeep received his B.Tech. in Chemical Engineering from Jadavpur University, India and completed his M.Tech from IIT Kanpur in Chemical Engineering in 2012. He is at present a 4th year PhD student in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at Georgia Tech after completing his MS in 2014. His research focus is stability of adsorbents and porous materials on exposure to acid gases. Along with his academic work, Souryadeep is an Indian Classical Musician and plays the sarod. In Georgia Tech, he has been part of various student organizations in different roles including among others, Senator representing the ChBE department in the Graduate Student Senate (2012-2015) and President of India Club at Georgia Tech (ICGT) (2015-16), the largest cultural student organisation on campus. Presently, Souryadeep is the Vice-President for Graduate Student Life at the Student Government Association (SGA).

Souryadeep chose to become a leadership fellow because he believes in refining his own leadership skills through helping shape young leaders on the Tech campus who, he feels, can benefit from his relatable experiences. Souryadeep knows leadership is never a one way street and hopes this experience will be a rewarding one for both him and his coachees through mutual learning.

Yingying Cai


2nd Year Masters Student in ISyE, with a focus in Health Systems
Be so good so they can't ignore you.

Yingying is a second year Masters Student in Industrial and System Engineering with a focus in Health Systems. She has studied and lived in six different countries growing up and she embraces respect and diversity. She just recently finished her internship with Cummins Engine in the summer and currently, she's a research assistant for Children's Hospital of Atlanta. Through her major, she thrives on helping organizations improve; as a leadership fellow, she also thrives on helping the students find better versions of themselves.

She is result-driven and also process-focused. Through experience, she believes that developing leadership skills not only requires understanding the big picture behind but also needs one to take actions and to be proactive. Walking out of one's comfort zone is hard, but Yingying is happy to work with others to identify opportunities for growth. Together, by taking the Micro-Steps and preparing for the challenges, the light will shed on the path of the better, stronger self.

Andrew Conant


4th Year PhD Student in Nuclear Engineering
"The sum total of our experiences make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives." - B.J. Neblett

Andrew received his B.S. and M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2014 and 2015, respectively. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the same field with a focus in nuclear reactor modeling for safeguards and nonproliferation purposes. His current research involves an analysis of utilizing antineutrino detectors to monitor nuclear reactor operation. He is an instructor for the GT 1000 freshman seminar course and has been a past president of the GT American Nuclear Society. In his spare time, he enjoys running, playing video games, solving puzzles, listening to live music, and enjoying delicious coffee.

Andrew decided to become a leadership coach due to his enjoyable experiences in tutoring, mentoring, and coaching undergraduate students. He hopes to learn how to be an effective coach to others in hopes of pursuing a career in academia. Andrew is prepared to aid undergraduate students in achieving self-awareness to bring out the inner leader and execute effectively.


Lalit Darunte


5th Year PhD Student in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John F. Kennedy

Lalit received B.Tech and M.Tech in Chemical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bombay. He is currently a 5th year PhD candidate in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He is currently working on CO2 capture from air using novel materials. Prior to Georgia Tech, he worked with Proctor and Gamble Company for 2 years across India and China.

Lalit chose to become a leadership fellow because he believes that many outstanding leaders have made a big difference in his life. They inspired him to give his best to achieve his dreams. Through coaching others, he hopes to give back. The process of coaching has made him open to new experiences and helped develop essential skills for effective leadership.