KU News Release

May 9, 2012
Contact: Thomas Heilke, Office of Graduate Studies, 785-864-8040

Dissertations awarded Argersinger Prizes

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LAWRENCE — Two doctoral graduates will be presented with the 2012 Marnie and Bill Argersinger Prize for outstanding doctoral dissertations at the annual Doctoral Hooding Ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 12, in the Lied Center.

Kathryn Mickle is receiving a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology and is being recognized for her outstanding work on the systematics of palaeoniscoid fishes. Her dissertation, titled “Unraveling the Systematics of Palaeoniscoid Fishes—Lower Actinopterygians in Need of a Complete Phylogenetic Revision,” was defended April 10. According to Professor E.O. Wiley, “Kathryn embarked on a comprehensive study of Palaeoniscoid fishes rather than following the usual practice of selecting only a subgroup or studying only species from a particular geologic era.” While completing her research at KU, Kathryn earned a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, a Summer Research Fellowship and the Ernst Mayr Travel Grant in Animal Systematics.

Halle O’Neal is receiving a doctorate in art history from the Kress Foundation Department of Art History at KU. Professor Sherry Fowler noted that Halle’s dissertation, titled “Written Stupa, Painted Sutra: The Relationships of Text and Image and the Construction of Meaning in the Japanese Jeweled-Stupa Mandalas,” “is a serious and groundbreaking study that analyzes the relationships and functions of word and picture in a highly significant group of paintings through a semiotic perspective largely grounded in Buddhism, but aided by Western semiotic theory.” While completing her doctoral degree, Halle received a Foreign Language Area Study Fellowship and a Monbugakusho fellowship from the Japanese Department of Education to work on her dissertation as a research associate at Kobe University in Japan with Buddhist painting specialist Donohashi Akio.

All of the dissertations nominated were defended with honors, the highest mark given to a dissertation defense. “In a typical academic year, less than 10 percent of all the dissertations defended at KU earn honors,” said Thomas Heilke, dean of Graduate Studies. “KU grants over 250 research doctoral degrees a year. Additionally each department can only nominate one graduating doctoral candidate per year. Earning honors and being nominated for this award means that you have achieved a significant accomplishment at KU.”

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.

All nominations are listed by their hometown, major, dissertation title and when available, their previous degrees, high schools and parent names.

• Jo Zanice Bond de Perez, “Race, Place and Family: Narratives of the Civil Rights Movement in Brownsville, Tennessee and the Nation,” American studies.

• Alexander Grenning, “Palladium-Catalyzed Allylic Alkylation via Decarboxylative and Retro-Claisen C−C Cleavage Methods,” chemistry.

• Hilary Hungerford, “Water, Cities, and Bodies: A Relational Understanding of Niamey, Niger,” geography.

• Makiko Imamura, “Functions of the Common Ingroup Identity Model and Acculturation in Intercultural Communication: American Host Nationals’ Communication with Chinese International Students,” communication studies.

• Kathryn Mickle, “Unraveling the Systematic of Palaeoniscoid Fishes—Lower Actinopterygians in Need of a Complete Phylogenetic Revision,” ecology and evolutionary biology.

• Halle O’Neal, “Written Stupa, Painted Sutra: The Relationships of Text and Image and the Construction of Meaning in the Japanese Jeweled-Stupa Mandalas,” history of art.

• Brian Ruzicka, “Ultrafast Optical Studies of Electronic Dynamics in Semiconductors,” physics and astronomy.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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