Susanne E. Hall, Director

Ph.D., English, UC Irvine

Dr. Hall began her work at Caltech in Fall 2012. At Caltech, in addition to her work directing the Hixon Writing Center, she regularly teaches Introduction to Academic Writing for Multilingual students (Wr 1), Introduction to Academic Writing (Wr 2), Principles and Practices of Academic Writing (Wr 4), and Writing About Science (En 84).

Dr. Hall's research interests are in the field of writing studies. She is a Co-PI in an NSF-funded study of text recycling in scientific research writing. Her broader interests include learning transfer and how writing centers can promote it, particularly across the boundaries between the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields. She has recently presented her work at the International Writing Center Association Convention, the Conference on College Composition and Communication, and the Council of Writing Program Administrators Conference. She is an editor of Prompt, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to college writing assignments. You can find links to her published writing via ORCID.

Writing Specialists

Our writing specialists are professional tutors who hold advanced degrees in their areas of expertise.
They have extensive training and experience in the tutoring and teaching of academic writing.

Lilien Voong, STEM Writing Specialist and Lecturer

Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences (Molecular Biology), Northwestern

Lilien believes great communication opens doors to great opportunities. Before joining Caltech, she served as a scientific strategist for biotech start ups while specializing in content and communications. Through her teaching outreach, she has worked with students from The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, and Cross-Cultural Solutions Tanzania. 

Lilien was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow at Northwestern University, where she earned her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences (Molecular Biology). In her graduate research, she developed new chemical and computational tools to investigate genome structure and organization. Her previous research experience also includes studies in cancer immunology and immunotherapy at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Erin Burkett, STEM Writing Specialist and Lecturer

Ph.D., Geophysics, UC Davis

Erin welcomes opportunities to collaborate with members of the Caltech community wishing to become better writers and communicators, particularly within STEM disciplines.

Erin earned a B.S. in physics and a minor in art from the University of Delaware while also serving as a Writing Fellow tutor for undergraduate peers.  In 2010, Erin completed a Ph.D. in Geophysics at the University of California, Davis, where she conducted computer modeling research of plate tectonic processes.  Erin continued geodynamic modeling during postdoctoral research at Caltech while exploring a growing interest in outreach and communication.  Outreach collaborations led to a Staff Scientist position with the US Geological Survey where she worked to help improve communication of natural hazards science and earthquake early warning technology.

Through her varied background in both research and communication, Erin has acquired insights and skills that are valuable in working with diverse audiences and disciplines.

Emma Burris-Janssen, Generalist Writing Specialist

Ph.D. in progress, English, University of Connecticut
M.A., English, University of New Hampshire

Emma received her M.A. in English literature from the University of New Hampshire in 2013 and is currently writing the dissertation for her Ph.D. in literature from the University of Connecticut. Her dissertation project brings together her interests in the medical humanities and gendered criminality by exploring the ways in which abortion was represented in British fiction from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.

Emma has taught writing at the University of New Hampshire, the University of Connecticut, Manchester Community College, and Northeast Community College. In addition to her work with Caltech, Emma also serves as a Writing Specialist for the Professional and Academic Resource Center (PARC) at Mount St. Mary's University in Los Angeles.

Charlyne Sarmiento, Generalist Writing Specialist

Ph.D., Education, UC Santa Barbara
M.A., English, University of Chicago, Illinois 

Charlyne received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara with an emphasis on Language, Literacy, and Composition.  While pursuing her M.A. at the University of Chicago, Illinois, Charlyne was an Assistant Director of the Writing Center. She has taught writing at UC Riverside, the University of Illinois, Chicago, and Glendale Community College. 

Her current research interests include genre theory, writing research across the disciplines and communities, and civic engagement in the teaching of writing.

Peer Tutors

Our peer tutors are undergraduates who are recommended by faculty and receive extensive
and ongoing training in the tutoring of academic writing.

Alex Bardon, Page

Alex is a sophomore majoring in Computation and Neural Systems. She hopes to help Caltech students to appreciate the importance of effective communication in their scientific work. As a tutor, Alex seeks to support students as they develop these communication skills in both scientific and non-scientific writing situations. In her free time, Alex likes to read, run, and bake. 

Jonathan Chan, Lloyd

Jonathan is a senior majoring in Chemistry. He tutors at the Hixon Writing Center because he believes that all great scientists must also be great writers. Over his freshman summer, Jonathan worked in the Gharib Group on a SURF project involving the dewetting of superhydrophobic surfaces for solar desalination applications. As Outreach Coordinator for Caltech's Chemistry Club, Jonathan is passionate about getting kids of all ages excited about science. In his free time, Jonathan enjoys running, making memes, and binging on TV shows like Black Mirror and Law & Order: SVU.

Myra Cheng, Lloyd

Myra is a sophomore in computer science, conducting research on learning in robots. She hopes to help students understand and explore the intersections among writing, communication, and science. She loves writing as a medium for reflection and introspection. She also likes bread, yoga, and wordplay.

Ishani Ganguly, Page

Ishani is a senior majoring in Computation and Neural Systems with a minor in Computer Science. As a student at Caltech, she sometimes wishes she had the chance to write more outside of her humanities classes. She is excited about peer tutoring because it is a chance for her to sustain her interest in writing while also working with students on writing projects across a variety of fields. In the summer of 2017, she worked in the Shimojo Lab, studying how the brain perceives and organizes audiovisual stimuli.

Reggy Granovskiy, Dabney

Reggy is a junior in History and Computer Science with an interest in physics. They believe that a humanistic perspective is vital to working in the sciences, and that writing is particularly essential not only to communicate effectively but also to develop one's ideas and work through complex topics. Being a part of the Hixon Writing Center has been a great opportunity for them to reflect on different writing processes and engage with a variety of interesting ideas. They like to spend their free time playing board games, trying new teas, and having weird and cool conversations.

Rashida Hakim, Ruddock

Rashida is a sophomore majoring in Computer Science. She tutors for the writing center because she wants to encourage other students to see writing as enjoyable (or at least as a practical skill) rather than a chore. Over the summer of 2019, Rashida conducted research in the Nonlinear Photonics Group on how fast neural networks can run on optical architectures, and by reading (many!) scientific papers gained an appreciation for clarity in written communication. In her free time, Rashida likes to read science fiction, crochet, and doodle.

Laura Hu, Ruddock/Page

Laura is a junior majoring in Computer Science and English. She deeply appreciates writing as both a communication medium and a creative outlet. Her summers at JPL and Facebook have underscored the importance of writing within technical disciplines. As a peer tutor, she seeks to support the Caltech writing community and share her love for writing.

Angela Li, Lloyd

Angela is a senior majoring in Computer Science. Since starting Caltech, she has vigorously enjoyed being a "scientific sellout" and has worked for Facebook and Latham & Watkins LLP on software engineering and financial legal analysis, respectively. As former President of her high school Speech and Debate team, inventive composition and dynamic argumentation excite her, and she brings that excitement to her approach for tutoring at the Writing Center. In her free time, Angela enjoys working out, talking about working out, being very loud (talking, singing, playing piano), and knowing more about memes than you.

Moya Ly, Ruddock

Moya is a sophomore majoring in Mechanical Engineering. After working in research, in industry, and at a startup, she firmly believes that technical skills do not negate the necessity of effective communication. Moya also encourages writing as a creative outlet from academics and other stressful endeavors. In her nonexistent free time, she plays soccer, runs track, builds things for the Caltech Robotics Team, and attempts to paint a Doctor Who mural in her room.

Maitreyi Nair, Avery

Maitreyi is a senior majoring in Computer Science. Thanks to an abiding love of reading and some particularly excellent classes in literature, history, and philosophy both in high school and in college, she developed a deep appreciation for the power of effective expression and communication through writing. Outside of her studies and academic work at Caltech, Maitreyi is involved with the California Tech, SWE, and several music and dance groups on campus.

Jenny Wan, Ruddock

Jenny is a sophomore majoring in physics. Ever since she was a tiny child, she has always loved to play with words. But as her passion for science deepened, writing began to fade into the backdrop, and it wasn't until not-so-long-ago that she found solace in her words again. Through the Hixon Writing Center, she hopes to help students find their reasons to write and to learn how to enjoy (or at least, not hate) the process. Currently, Jenny is working at JPL to model the distribution of dark matter within clusters of galaxies. She also highly enjoys sugar, caffeine, and sweaters.

Support Staff

Leslie Rico, Office Administrator

Leslie is the Office Administrator for the Hixon Writing Center. She brings to our Center over 25 years of Caltech experience. Leslie has worked for the Caltech Libraries, the Earthquake Engineering Research Library, and the Divisions of Geology and Planetary Science and Engineering and Applied Science. In addition to Leslie's Caltech experience she brings to our office great enthusiasm and a team-building spirit.

Leslie earned a BA from the University of LaVerne in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Leslie enjoys being a part of the Caltech Community and especially being a member of the Hixon Writing Center team.

Affiliated Staff

Robyn Javier, STEM Communication Specialist and Lecturer in Engineering

Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco
M.S., Biomedical Engineering, UCLA

Robyn Javier is a member of the division of Engineering and Applied Science who specializes in spoken communication in STEM. Dr. Javier teaches courses, offers consultations, and presents workshops on topics related to STEM communication. Check out her website to learn more about the support she offers to the Caltech community.