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Senior Advisor to the President    Michelle Hoffner O’Connor

Michelle Hoffner O’Connor (she/her/hers) serves as the Senior Advisor to the President for The Graduate and Professional Student Federation for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Michelle is originally from the New York metro area and graduated from Colgate University (yes, like the toothpaste) in 2012 with a B.A. in Molecular Biology. She is a PhD candidate in the curriculum of Genetics & Molecular Biology and is in the final year of her program. Her research focuses on the epigenetic changes associated with macrophage dysfunction in the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis). Outside of the lab, she enjoys spending time with her husband and fur-children, experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, and spending time with her friends and family.

As Senior Advisor, Michelle is providing the GPSF President, as well as other members of the Executive and Legislative branches, with the institutional knowledge and history of the organization. Additionally, she looks forward to continuing to push the mission of the organization forward in emphasizing the challenges faced by graduate and professional students and contribute ideas as to how UNC could address these challenges.


The Solicitor General    Zach Tilley

The Solicitor General serves to advise and represent The Executive and Legislative branches of The GPSF in matters pertaining to its code.

Zach Tilley (he/him/his) serves as the Solicitor General for The Graduate and Professional Student Federation for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Zach is originally from Ormond Beach, Florida.  After graduating from the Florida State University with a B.S. in International Affairs in 2012, Zach entered active-duty service with the United States Marine Corps, and was stationed aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina from 2014 – 2019.  Currently a second-year J.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Law, Zach intends to return to the Marine Corps as a military lawyer.  When not in school, Zach thoroughly enjoys the outdoors and annoying his wife.  

As Solicitor General, Zach intends to provide full support to the Executive and Legislative branches of the GPSF in navigating and interpreting the governing Codes, and also to set a foundation for the Codes’ optimization and improvement.


Special Advisor for International Student Affairs    Shiwei Fang

Shiwei Fang (he/him/his) serves as the Special Advisor for International Student Affairs for The Graduate and Professional Student Federation for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Shiwei Fang is a graduate student with the Department of Computer Science at UNC Chapel Hill. He is interested in using radio frequency to improve sensing in various applications. He is also into photography and inspired under the night sky.

Shiwei is working with the GPSF President and various departments and offices on campus to better understand and address the needs of international students and scholars.


Special Advisor for Research    Tom Diprospero

Tom DiProspero (he/him/his) serves as the Special Advisor for Research for The Graduate and Professional Student Federation for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Tom is a 5th year PhD student in the Chemistry department. After graduation, he would like to work at small to medium sized biotech companies focusing on bringing new technologies and therapeutics to market. Outside of academics, Tom enjoys salsa dancing, woodworking, and digital imaging.

In his position as Special Advisor for Research, Tom’s main goal is to establish what the Special advisor to research looks like moving forward and lay groundwork for this position to be successful in years to come. Specifically, he would like to have a working relationship with the OVCR to influence decisions being made regarding graduate researchers during the COVID-19 pandemic.