KU News Release

May 20, 2011
Contact: Sara Rosen, Office of Graduate Studies, 785-864-8040

Two students win Argersinger Prizes for outstanding dissertations

More Information

LAWRENCE — Two doctoral students at the University of Kansas will receive 2011 Marnie and Bill Argersinger Prizes for their outstanding dissertations.

The awards will be presented at the annual Doctoral Hooding Ceremony at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 21, in the Lied Center.

This year’s winners are Hsueh-Chin (Serena) Huang from Pittsburg, Kan., and Taiwan for her study of the economic impact of highly skilled immigrants and Nathan Dormer from Topeka for his bioengineering research on regeneration of tissue in the human body.

Huang is receiving a doctorate in economics. Her dissertation, “An Evaluation of Skilled Immigration in the United States,” was defended April 13. Huang’s interest in the impact of immigrants on the economy grew from her experiences as the teenage daughter of a visiting professor of philosophy at Pittsburg State University.

“I saw reports in the media about immigrants taking jobs from Americans and was puzzled,” Huang said. “I knew there were outstanding scholars at universities making important contributions.”

Huang’s adviser, Donna Ginther, professor of economics, said, “Serena’s research has important implications for economic policy by suggesting future policies should address the differences between high and low-skilled immigrants.”

Huang received a grant from the Alfred Sloan Foundation to support her dissertation research.

Dormer is receiving a doctorate in bioengineering. He defended his dissertation, “Osteochondral Interface Tissue Engineering using Macroscopic Gradients of Physicochemical Signals,” on April 5. Dormer’s research is in the sub-discipline of interfacial tissue engineering within the field of tissue engineering.

“Interfacial tissue engineering is focused on regeneration of two different tissues in the body that meet at an interface, for example the transition of muscle to tendon, ligament to bone or cartilage to bone,” said Dormer’s adviser, Michael Detamore, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering.

As a doctoral student, Dormer participated in the KU pharmaceutical biotechnology training program sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. The program prepares students to work in the biotechnology industry and requires an industry internship, which Dormer completed at Kinetic Concepts Inc. in San Antonio, Texas.

“This year, KU will confer 399 doctoral degrees,” said Sara Rosen, dean of graduate studies. “To be considered for the dissertation award, a student’s defense must be awarded honors by the defense committee. In addition, each department can only nominate one graduating doctoral candidate per year. Receiving honors and being nominated for this award is a significant achievement at KU. The review committee was impressed by the quality of dissertations nominated for this award across all 19 fields of study represented.”

Winners of the the Argersinger Prize receive a cash award and their names will be listed on a plaque in the Kansas Union.

The Argersinger Prize was established through KU Endowment in 1992 and is named in honor of William J. Argersinger and his wife. He was KU’s first vice chancellor for research and graduate studies and dean of the graduate school.

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

The 19 nominees are listed below by hometown, major, dissertation title and, when available, other degrees earned, high school and parents’ names.

From Pittsburg 66762 and Taiwan
Hsueh-Chin (Serena) Huang, doctoral candidate in economics, won the award for her dissertation “An Evaluation of Skilled Immigration in the United States.” Huang has master’s and bachelor’s degrees from KU. Huang is a graduate of Pittsburg High School. Her parents are Frank Huang and Helen Lee of Taiwan.

From Lawrence 66044
Rebecca Kaye Barrett-Fox, who earned a doctorate in American studies from KU in fall 2010, was nominated for her dissertation “Pray Not for this People for Their Good: Westboro Baptist, the Religious Right, and American Nationalism.” Based on extensive field research, Barrett-Fox’s dissertation provides an ethnographic history of the Topeka church and its activities. Barrett-Fox has master’s and bachelor’s degrees from KU.

From Lawrence 66046
Nathaniel L. Williams, who earned a doctorate in English from KU in fall 2010, was nominated for his dissertation “Steam, Men, Edisons, Connecticut Yankees: Technocracy and Imperial Identity in Nineteenth Century American Fiction.” His research analyzes the representation of technology in U.S. popular fiction of the 19th century, particularly as it relates to concepts of imperial expansion that shore up the period’s constructions of American identity. Williams has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo.

From Lawrence 66049
Wendy Jean Herd, doctoral candidate in linguistics, was nominated for her dissertation “The perceptual and production training of /d, r, r/ in L2 Spanish: Behavioral, psycholinguistic, and neurolinguistic evidence.” The study investigates whether American English-speaking learners of Spanish can be trained to perceive and produce the intervocalic tap, trill and /d/ contrasts in Spanish. Herd has master’s degrees from KU and Missouri State University and a bachelor’s degree from University of Missouri-Columbia.

Mary Elizabeth Krause, doctoral candidate in chemistry, was nominated for her dissertation “Structure/Function Relationships in Nickel-Peptide Complexes: Impact of the Primary Coordination Sphere on Square-Planar Nickel Chemistry.” The research investigates the development of metal-protein complexes that could be used to develop targeted contrast agents used in the diagnosis, treatment and evaluation of cancers and other diseases. Krause has master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Missouri State University in Springfield.

From Lenexa 66219
Gail Meier Rodriguez, who earned a doctorate in political science from KU in fall 2010, was nominated for her dissertation “Weighted Policymaking: The Federal, State and Individual Politics of Obesity.” The work examines the politics surrounding obesity and decision making in the United States.

From Overland Park 66213
Theresa Clare Brown, doctoral candidate in physical education, was nominated for her dissertation “Effects of an Intervention to Foster a Caring, Supportive Environment to a University Recreation Center.” The study combined two unique theoretical frameworks by examining participants’ experiences while exercising at a campus recreation center before and after an intervention with recreation center staff. Brown has a master’s degree from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree from Truman State University, Kirksville, Mo.

From Overland Park 66214
Natalia Loskutova, doctoral candidate in physical therapy and rehabilitation science, was nominated for her dissertation “Bone Loss in Relation to Hypothalamic Atrophy in Alzheimer’s disease.” The research provides initial evidence that accelerated bone loss observed in individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease may be partially due to distortion of central regulatory mechanisms.

From Westwood 66205
Aaron J. Gottschalk, who earned doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology from KU in summer 2010, was nominated for his dissertation “Biochemical and Developmental Characterization of a SNF2-like ATPase Amplified in Liver Cancer (ALC1).” Gottschalk has a master’s degree from KU and a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University in Manhattan.

From Topeka 66609
Nathan Henry Dormer, doctoral candidate in bioengineering, won the award for his dissertation “Osteochondral Interface Tissue Engineering using Macroscopic Gradients of Physicochemical Signals.” Dormer has a bachelor’s degree from KU and is a graduate of Shawnee Heights Senior High School. His parents are Lonnie and Mary Dormer.

From Kansas City 66103
Yue Cui, a postdoctoral fellow in medicine, received a doctorate in toxicology from KU in summer 2010. Cui was nominated for her dissertation “Developmental Regulation of the Drug-Processing Genome in Mouse Liver.” The research characterizes the expression and regulatory mechanisms of the drug-processing genes during postnatal liver maturation.

From Denver 80206
Emily Zimmerman Lehman, doctoral candidate in speech-language pathology, was nominated for her dissertation “The Effects of Vestibular Stimulation Rate and Magnitude of Acceleration on Central Pattern Generation for Chest-Wall Kinematics in Preterm Infants.” The research tested a set of hypotheses concerning the role of vestibular inputs on respiratory and oromotor systems during suck and early feeding development in preterm infants. Lehman has master’s and bachelor’s degrees from KU. Lehman is a graduate of Cherry Creek High School, Englewood, Colo. Her parents are Rand and Cynthia Zimmerman.

From Littleton 80130
Lisa K. Tiemann, doctoral candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology, was nominated for her dissertation “Soil Microbial Community Carbon and Nitrogen Dynamics With Altered Precipitation Regimes and Substrate Availability.” The research looks at how environmental changes affect soil microorganisms and how these changes alter the ecosystem processes. Tiemann has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming. Her parent is Chris Tiemann.

From Clear Lake 50428
Autumn J. Ruiz, postdoctoral fellow in medicine at KU Medical Center, was nominated for her dissertation “Vpu Mediated Enhancement of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Pathogenesis: The Role of Conserved and Unique Domains in Protein Function.” Ruiz researched pathogenic mechanisms of HIV-1. Ruiz has a doctorate in anatomy and cell biology from KU and a bachelor’s degree from University of Iowa. Her parent is Echo Ruiz.

From St. Joseph 64501
Kim Faye Schutte, doctoral candidate in history, was nominated for her dissertation “Marrying by the Numbers: Marriage Patterns of Aristocratic British Women, 1485-2000.” The research investigates the marriage patterns of aristocratic women in England from the 16th century to the 20th century. Schutte has a master’s degree from the University of Missouri and a bachelor’s degree from Missouri Western State University.

From Buffalo 14216 and Grand Forks, N.D.
Elizabeth Miklya Legerski, who earned doctorate in sociology from KU in summer 2010, was nominated for her dissertation “Hierarchies of Risk: The Longitudinal Dynamics of Family, Work, Welfare, and Health Insurance in Low-Income Women Lives.” The research assesses the role of individual-level welfare, work and family changes in predicting low-income women’s access to insurance and poverty over time to inform social policy. Legerski has a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in Utah. Her parent is Thomas Donnelly of Buffalo, N.Y.

From Grand Island 14072
Alison C. Donnelly, doctoral candidate in medicinal chemistry, was nominated for her dissertation “Design, Synthesis and Evaluation of Non-Canonical Hsp90 Modulators.” The study investigates the design and development of new C-terminal inhibitors of Hsp90, based on the natural product, novobiocin. Donnelly has a master’s degree from KU and a bachelor’s degree from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. Her parent is Martha Donnelly.

From Grand Forks 58203 and Buffalo, N.Y.
Elizabeth Miklya Legerski. SEE NEW YORK.

From Seattle 98125
Hillary Eve Pedersen, who earned a doctorate in history of art from KU in fall 2010, was nominated for her dissertation “The Five Great Space Repository Bodhisattvas: Lineage, Protection, and Celestial Authority in Ninth-Century Japan.” The research explores the protective role of the Five Great Space Repository Bodhisattva (Godai Koduzo Bosatsu) sculptural pentads played in Japan during the middle of the ninth century. Pedersen has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington.

From Enkhuizen
Leon Van Haandel, who earned doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry from KU in fall 2010, was nominated for his dissertation “Bioanalysis of Pteroyl Derivatives in Various Aspects of Human Health.” The research focused on the quantitative determination of a group of chemically related substances important in human health and disease therapy.

Hsueh-Chin (Serena) Huang. SEE CRAWFORD COUNTY.

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