Resources to Welcome You



Welcome to the ISU English Department’s Peer Advising Resource Team!

Our advisers are excited to share their experience and perspectives with prospective, incoming, and established members of ISU’s English Department Graduate Student Community.

Whether your questions be about

  • Selecting a course of study
  • Finding somewhere to live
  • Navigating your first few semesters
  • Making the transition from coursework to independent research
  • Even looking for the best pizza in town

Please contact us, first looking at our individual bios and contacting us individually or sending general questions to our group at this address:

To help us best direct your questions, please put the nature of your question in the subject heading.




Tom Ballard


Hi! I started the PhD in Rhetoric and Professional Communication program in Fall 2014. My research interests include digital rhetoric (especially Internet memes), digital technologies, and technical and professional communication practice and pedagogy. I’m the senior member of the Online Learning Team (OLT), which administers our Moodle and WordPress platforms in the English department. I originally hail from northern Utah, where I earned both my BA and MS degrees at Utah State and worked for a few years as a technical writer.

I would love to provide advice on food, housing, transportation, and cool places around ISU’s campus. I also have two little boys (born May 2014 and September 2016), so I’m happy to discuss young parenthood in a PhD program, though I’d be lousy in a discussion about schools for your children. For RPC students specifically, I’m happy to discuss your program of study (POS), transfer credits, which faculty you might want to work with, and ways you can get involved with Phorum, our student organization for RPC/RCPC students.

Initial tips:

  • HousingSeriously consider buying a house if you’re pursuing a PhD here. Rent is so expensive, yet buying is somewhat reasonable. You might pay less on a mortgage than you would on rent. Buying outside of Ames is even cheaper.
  • FoodOld Chicago for pizza, Mongolian Buffet and Panda Express for Asian, Jimmy Johns for sandwiches, Culver’s for burgers, El Azteca for Mexican, and HyVee for an amalgamation. People tout the Café and Maude’s, but they’re too rich for my blood.
  • Transfer Credits (for PhD students)Look into this early. Courses that you can transfer out of may affect your whole POS, so don’t wait on it.




Kim Becker


My name is Kim and I started the PhD in Applied Linguistics & Technology in Fall 2015. My research interests include computer-assisted language learning and corpus linguistics.  I grew up in Mississippi where I earned a B.A. in English and then was a Teach for America Corps Member. I earned an M.A. TESOL at Northern Arizona University and afterward taught ESL for nearly ten years—primarily at a community college in Nashville, Tennessee—before moving to Ames. My household includes one husband, two sons (born in 2004 and 2009), five chickens, and a pet snake. We live in a home we bought near downtown Ames.

I am happy to answer questions about anything, but in particular, I have experiences to share about enrolling children in public schools, purchasing a home in Ames, trying to manage a family while in grad school, and raising backyard hens.

Bonus tip: I encourage you to freely ask questions of faculty, staff, and students. No one can learn everything from the POS Manual or website information. I wish I had asked more questions instead of assuming that I “should” know it all or that asking questions made me seem uninformed. As for food, I like the mac and cheese and homemade chips/dip at the Cafe, pizza at Vesuvius, and Scotch eggs, scones, and tea at the Mucky Duck pub.




Samantha Cosgrove


Hi! I’m Sam, a first year PhD student in the Rhetoric and Professional Communication program here at ISU. My current research interests are risk communication, visual rhetoric, and navigating digital spaces. I plan on staying in academia after graduation, ideally securing a tenure track position at an R1 university. I have 3 years experience teaching English Composition courses and hope to teach Technical Communication courses in the future.

I am originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina, but have moved around a bit since starting graduate school. I came to Ames from Tampa, Florida so if you are also from a warm weathered state, we can reminisce about warm winters and flip flops. Topics I can advise on: renting apartments off-campus, CyRide, restaurants & bars, sorting out the course DPS, and getting in your transfer credits.

Bonus Tip: If you’re looking for good wings and a place to watch sports, check out The Other Place. They’ve got good drinks and a big screen for games!




Kelly Cunningham


Kelly Cunningham is a PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics & Technology (ALT) co-majoring in Human Computer-Interaction (HCI). She has an MA in intercultural studies/TESOL and taught ESL in a variety of programs in the Chicago suburbs for nearly 7 years before coming to Iowa State. Her research uses UX methods and appraisal analysis to investigate the use of technology in ESL feedback and explores niche genres through corpus and discourse analysis. Currently she coordinates graduate peer review groups through the Graduate College’s Center for Communication Excellence and is an RA in the School of Education.

Areas for advice: Research design (mixed methods & qualitative), writing for publication, conferences & presentations, finding resources on campus (especially for writing & communication), transitioning from ESL teacher to PhD student, job searching for MA TESOL students/ESL teaching in the US, CALL, appraisal analysis, discourse & corpus analysis, portfolio/proposal/pilot planning, talking through research ideas, strategic degree planning, time management, productivity & writing tools/software, research methods courses, off campus housing,

Bonus Tips: For everyone: Los Altos- good sit down Mexican restaurant in the Northern Lights plaza north of the mall, worth checking out.  For new students: Use transit directions from google maps for CyRide planning.




Idée Edalatishams


I am a third-year PhD student in the Applied Linguistics and Technology program. My areas of interest include corpus linguistics, sociolinguistics, identity, spoken language, and learner autonomy. As a graduate assistant here at Iowa State, I have taught ENGL 150, 250, 99L, 99R, 101C, and 180A and have been working as a graduate communication consultant at the Writing and Media Center. Back in my home country, Iran, I was an English Translation major as an undergraduate, got a Master’s in TESL, taught English to adults and young adults at several language institutes and a university, and worked as a newscaster/translator in the English Radio. I love trying new foods and cultures, therefore travelling and finding new friends.

I would be happy to provide advice on: developing plans for PhD coursework; teaching any of the courses I have taught; applying for non-teaching jobs such as at the WMC; and travelling and visa processes for Iranians. I would also love to provide support for new (particularly international) students regarding cultural differences and adapting to their new life in Ames as well as possible difficulties that come with being a PhD student.



Joe Geluso


Hi! My name is Joe Geluso. I am in my 4th year of the Applied Linguistics and Technology program. My studies focus mainly on corpus linguistics, phraseology, cognitive linguistics, and SLA. Outside of the ALT program, my life consists of spending time with my kids (5 and 8 years old). Typical activities include scooting around and exploring Ames on our A5 Lux kick scooters, refining our ground strokes on the tennis court, kicking balls on the soccer field, deconstructing the latest Marvel, DC, or Star Wars experience, building Legos, and reading books together. I would be happy to share information about Ames related to family life (e.g., where to live, schools in the district, etc.).

I also have a lot to say on the coursework in the program and which courses I would take and in what sequence if I had the chance to do it all over again. Please ask me questions!



Roz Hirch


Hello, and welcome to ISU’s English department website! I’ve been a PhD student in the ALT program since 2014, specializing in language assessment with a sort of unofficial minor in corpus-based methods. People often think I’m from around here (Iowa), for some reason, but I originally come from Canada—Medicine Hat, Alberta, to be exact. Other places where I have lived include Korea and Taiwan. As you might guess, I am pretty accustomed to picking up and moving to other locations, and have made more international moves than I care to recall. I am single and live by myself, though I do have 2 cats that have lived with me in all of the countries in which I’ve lived, so among other things, I can give advice about moving when you have pets.

Other things to ask me about: language assessment courses, general coursework, living off-campus, student visa (esp. for Canadians), clothes shopping, pets, ridiculously cute cat pictures

Bonus tip:  Lagomarcino on campus has a nice little cafe that serves food. It’s pretty busy during noon hour, but the rest of the time it’s usually quiet. Outside seating in summer (or winter if you’re brave). Off-campus, a nice coffee shop is the Dutch Oven Bakery. It’s fairly far from the university, but is a quiet and well-lit place. Good spot to get work done.




Kristin Terrill


I’m a PhD student in Applied Linguistics and Technology. I started this program in 2016. My BA and MA are both from Northern Arizona University, where I studied English Literature and Professional Writing. Outside of academics, I’ve worked as a technical writer and quality assurance generalist in engineering companies. My research interests include discourse analysis, morphology, semantics, and computer science. I am happy to address questions about teaching ISUComm, project planning, group projects, and research proposals.

Personally, I live off-campus and commute (as much as possible) by bicycle. I have 2 dogs and a cat.

As far as navigating graduate student life in Ames, I can recommend a good veterinarian, mechanic, and CPA. If you like cooking at home, talk to me about recipes that are good for reheating as leftovers.




Sonca Vo


Hello! I am currently a PhD student in the Applied Linguistics and Technology program at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA. I used to be a Fulbright recipient from Vietnam and received my MA in TESL from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA in 2011. I am also a lecturer of English at University of Foreign Languages – the University of Danang, Vietnam. I am interested in validity, statistics, psychometrics, second language oral assessment, and quantitative research methods.

I am willing to provide advice regarding housing and transportation in Ames as well as courses that should be taken if language assessment and statistics are the areas of interest.