KU News Release


April 19, 2011
Contact: John Augusto, Office of Research and Graduate Studies, 785-864-8040

KU to honor outstanding graduate students at April 25 ceremony

More Information

LAWRENCE — Twenty-eight outstanding graduate students at the University of Kansas will be recognized at the annual Graduate Student Awards Ceremony, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 25, at the Kansas Room in the Kansas Union.

“Graduate students are vital to KU as teachers, researchers and members of the university community,” said Sara Rosen, dean of graduate studies. “The Graduate Student Awards Ceremony celebrates their contributions to the mission of the university.”

Awards from KU’s recent Graduate Student Research Competition will be presented, and participants in February’s Capitol Graduate Research Summit will be recognized. Winners of other awards are:

Chancellor’s Teaching Assistant Award — Gillian A. Weatherley, doctoral student in French from Lawrence

Carlin Graduate Teaching Assistant Award — Stephanie Ann Scurto, doctoral student in English from Oskaloosa

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award — Maria Garcia Puente, doctoral student in Spanish from Pontevedra, Spain; Shelley Marie Cline, doctoral student in history from Belleville; and Alan F. Halfen, doctoral student in geography from Prairie du Sac, Wis.

Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes outstanding service provided by a graduate student to the larger community — Lisa Tiemann, doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology from Littleton, Colo.

The Graduate Student Research Competition awards were provided by funds from the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, the School of Engineering and the Graduate Engineering Association. The Capitol Graduate Research Summit awards were provided by funds from KansasBio and Tom and Jill Docking of Wichita.

KU students and representatives of academic programs throughout the university nominated graduate students for the teaching awards. A selection committee chose winners based on their departmental nominations and student evaluations.

Award recipients are listed below by hometown, major, parents’ names and high school (when available), previous degrees earned and award.

DOUGLAS COUNTY
From Lawrence 66044
Cedric Dewayne Burrows, doctoral student in English; master’s degree from Miami University of Ohio; bachelor’s degree from Alcorn State University in Mississippi; Graduate Student Research Competition Award — Humanities and Fine Arts. His research explores how the writings of Martin Luther King Jr. have been “distorted” within contemporary composition readers.

Emily Diane Kessler, doctoral student and master’s student in clinical child psychology; Cheryl Ragar; bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and sciences from Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Ga.; Lawrence Free State High School; Capitol Graduate Research Summit participant. Her research investigates factors that may predict higher sedentary behavior in elementary school children.

Jeremy Norbert Manternach, doctoral student in music education; master’s degree from KU; bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University in Minnesota; Graduate Student Research Competition Award — Humanities and Fine Arts. His research analyzes how a conductor’s facial gestures influence the tone and intonation of singers.

Greta K. Wendelin, doctoral student in communication studies; master’s degree from KU; bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in Nebraska; Graduate Student Research Competition Award — Social Sciences and Education. Her research explores the rhetoric and politics of pornography through an analysis of “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon.”

From Lawrence 66046
Kristi Nicole Bond, master’s student in linguistics; bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and sciences from Harding University, Searcy, Ark.; Graduate Student Research Competition Award — Social Sciences and Education. Her research investigates claims that first-language and second-language acquisition are qualitatively different.

Joshua O. Sestak, doctoral student in pharmaceutical chemistry; master’s degree from KU; bachelor’s degree from Gonzaga University in Washington; Graduate Student Research Competition Award — Science and Engineering. His research evaluates the efficacy to modulate immune response in the disease multiple sclerosis.

From Lawrence 66047
Natasha Mary DeVore, doctoral student in biochemistry and biophysics; master’s degree from KU; bachelor’s degree from Evangel University, Springfield, Mo.; Graduate Student Research Competition Award — Science and Engineering. Her research shows how the drug abiraterone inhibits CYP17A1, an enzyme which is a central contributor in the development of prostate cancer.

From Lawrence 66049
Gillian A. Weatherley, doctoral student in French; master’s degree from KU; bachelor’s degree from University College in London, England; Chancellor’s Teaching Assistant Award. Weatherley has been described as a facilitator in the classroom, keeping students at the center of her lessons. She is an ideal teacher because she is never satisfied, always searching for new and better ways to engage her students and make learning French easier and more successful for them.

Lindsey Marie Witthaus, doctoral student in environmental science; James and Marlene Witthaus; bachelor’s degree in engineering from University of Pittsburgh; Lawrence Free State High School; Capitol Graduate Research Summit participant. Her research is focused on EUTROMOD, a spreadsheet-based model that estimates nutrient loading and predicts water quality from watershed land-use data, local soil characteristics and the morphological and hydraulic characteristics of lakes and reservoirs.

JEFFERSON COUNTY
From Oskaloosa 66066
Stephanie Ann Scurto, doctoral student in English; master’s degree from KU; bachelor’s degree from Indiana University-South Bend; Carlin Graduate Teaching Assistant Award. Scurto is a talented teacher who approaches her classes in ways that show students how their academic work connects to the world around them. She has been described by her students as “confident, friendly, poised, on-task, very respectful — an exemplary teacher who is highly reflective and insightful about her own teaching practices.”

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Olathe 66062
Brian D. Cordill, doctoral student in electrical engineering; son of Linda Cordill; master’s degree in engineering from University of California-Los Angeles; bachelor’s degree from KU; Olathe South High School; Capitol Research Summit participant. His research investigates reducing design costs in modern aircraft through virtual measuring.

From Roeland Park 66202
Gustaf M. Van Acker III, doctoral student in molecular and integrative physiology in medicine; Capitol Research Summit participant. His research explores how the brain activates muscles to accomplish desired voluntary movement.

LYON COUNTY
From Emporia 66801
Adam David Sundberg, master’s student in history; bachelor’s degree from Truman State University, Kirksville, Mo.; Graduate Research Competition Award — Humanities and Fine Arts. His research examines the cultural and technological impact of the Christmas Flood of 1717.

REPUBLIC COUNTY
From Belleville 66935
Shelly Marie Cline, doctoral student in history; daughter of Bob and Pat Cline; master’s degree and two bachelor’s degrees from KU; Belleville High School; Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award. Cline brings to her classes and students a tremendous zeal for the “great books” and the history of which they are a part. Her teaching philosophy is centered on the belief that the purpose of all schooling is to produce a truly educated person.

SHERMAN COUNTY
From Kanorado 67741
Michael D. Mangus, doctoral student and master’s student in mechanical engineering; Danny and Charlene Mangus; two bachelor’s degrees from Kansas State University; Capitol Research Summit participant. His research investigates the performance and emission testing of feedstock biodiesels.

COLORADO
From Littleton 80130
Lisa Tiemann, doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology; daughter of Christ Tiemann; bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming; Distinguished Service Award. At KU, Tiemann has participated and/or coordinated numerous programs designed to increase students exposure to science and provide mentorship and leadership for undergraduate students. In the words of one of her recommenders, “Lisa is a true standout in terms of her massive contributions to the learning environment.”

ILLINOIS
From Decatur 62521
Griffin W. Roberts, doctoral student in chemical and petroleum engineering; bachelor’s degrees from University of Illinois and Parkland College, both in Champaign, Ill.; Graduate Student Research Competition Award — Engineering. His research is part of a collaborative study that examines the use of algae as a fuel source.

INDIANA
From Otisco 47163
Brad M. Neal, doctoral student in chemistry; bachelor’s degree from Bellarmine College, Louisville, Ky.; Capitol Research Summit participant. His research is titled “Developments in the chemistry of hybrid metal/azulene platforms featuring azulene-based monolayer films anchored to the atomically flat metallic gold surface via thiolate junction groups.”

MINNESOTA
From Columbus 55025
Sommer L. Amundsen, doctoral student in bioengineering; bachelor’s degree from Hope College, Holland, Mich.; Capitol Research Summit participant. Her research explores how the brain activates muscles to accomplish desired voluntary movement.

WISCONSIN
From Prairie du Sac 53578
Alan F. Halfen, doctoral student in geography; son of Alice and Frederick Halfen; bachelor’s degree in geography from University of Wisconsin-Platteville and master’s degree in geography from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award and Capital Research Summit participant. His nominators noted that Halfen’s primary goal as an educator is to prepare students to become more informed members of society. He accomplishes this by teaching students to explore, understand and appreciate the natural world. Halfen’s students, peers and mentors have all commented on his excellent work, stating that he “has clearly adopted the professional ethic and is becoming an outstanding teacher, as well as scholar.” His research is significant to Kansas because knowledge of past droughts is key to understanding the potential for future droughts. By exploring dune fields across Kansas, spatial and temporal patterns of drought activity can be identified, and these patterns can be used to predict how future drought will initiate in Kansas.

BANGLADESH
From Dhaka
Sharmin Kader, doctoral student in architecture; master’s degree from Texas A&M University; bachelor’s degree from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology; Graduate Research Competition Award — Humanities and Fine Arts. Kader’s research is an initial approach to assess the spatial layout of different types of long-term care settings according to the design criteria of wayfinding.

CHINA
From Harbin
Chunmei Zheng, doctoral student in education psychology and research; Graduate Research Competition Award — Social Sciences and Education. Zheng investigated what impact academic achievement has on the self-determination and self-concept for students with learning disabilities.

From Tianjin
Shuang Cai, doctoral student in pharmaceutical chemistry; master’s degree from KU; master’s degree from University of Toledo in Ohio; bachelor’s degree from Nankai University in Tianjin; Graduate Research Competition Award — Science and Engineering. Cai’s research demonstrates that intralymphatic delivery of platinum and nitric oxide chemotherapeutics may greatly increase the local drug concentration in drain lymph node basin.

From Wuhan, Hubei
Huan Rui, doctoral student in bioinformatics; bachelor’s degree from Huazhong University Science and Technology in Wuhan; Graduate Research Competition Award — Science and Engineering. Rui investigated the structure, dynamics and mechanisms underlying the electrophysiological properties in the outer membrane of mitochondria.

INDIA
From Mumbai, Maharashtra
Piyush Mukesh Mehta, doctoral student in aerospace engineering; bachelor’s degree from KU; Graduate Research Competition Award — Engineering. Mehta’s research examines the effects of ballistic coefficient errors in using precision orbits to estimate total density along satellite orbits.

LIBYA
From Khums
Hadi Ali Shateh, doctoral student in architecture; bachelor’s degree from El-Mergheb University in Al Khums; Capitol Research Summit participant. Shateh’s research is titled “Effective Methods for Analyzing the Spatial Structure of Urban Areas Using Space Syntax and GIS Techniques: The Case Study of Topeka, KS.”

SINGAPORE
Mark Sai Leong Chan, doctoral student in psychology; master’s degree from KU; bachelor’s degree from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan.; Graduate Research Competition Award — Social Sciences and Education. Chan researched the potential benefits of a concurrent task when feeling fatigued due to prolonged driving or monotonous driving conditions.

SPAIN
From Pontevedra
Maria Garcia Puente, doctoral student in Spanish; master’s degree from KU; Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award. Puente was nominated as an “eclectic” teacher, who uses multiple teaching approaches to stimulate the intellectual interest of her students. Her students describe her as a teacher who has “great expectations for her students, is always available and helpful, and who never gives up.”


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