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The University of Alabama

Graduate Student Award Winners Honored at UA

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama Graduate School has announced the recipients of the 2012 Outstanding Graduate Student awards to be presented during UA Honors Week.

Dr. John Schmitt, associate dean of the UA Graduate School, coordinates the awards process and said that three committees reviewed nominations from the University’s colleges and schools. From those students who had won an award in their respective college or school, the University committees selected the winners of the seven campus wide awards.

The award winners are:

Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation – Dr. Sally A. Zengaro, College of Education, department of educational studies in psychology, research methodology and counseling, for “Biofunctional Embodiment of Moral Development: The Impact of Affect, Moral Cognition, Maturation and Experience Playing Sports on Acceptance of Aggression in Sports by Italian Adolescents.” Her dissertation chairperson is Dr. Asghar Iran-Nejad, professor in the department of educational studies in psychology, research methodology and counseling.  Zengaro’s dissertation contributes to the field of moral research in sports and includes new ideas in biofunctional science.

Outstanding Master’s Thesis – Miguel Sequera, College of Engineering, department of mechanical engineering, for “A Conceptual Framework for the Assessment of the Criticality of Key Failure Modes in Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) Accelerometers.” His thesis chairperson is Dr. Daniel Fonseca, associate professor of mechanical engineering.  Sequera’s research has practical applications for microelectronics in health care, the automotive industry and the military.  Faculty in mechanical engineering said the thesis “represents a tremendous advancement in reliability engineering practice and theory.”

Excellence in Teaching by a Master’s Student – Adam J. Sharples, College of Communication and Information Sciences, department of communication studies. Sharples, teaching has included coaching a team of 30 forensics students for the Alabama Forensics Council.  Faculty and students describe him as having a presence in the classroom that is professional, yet enthusiastic and comforting to students who are hesitant about public speaking. Faculty members have recognized his unwavering devotion and his selflessness in engaging, challenging and educating his students.

Excellence in Teaching by a Doctoral Student – Ashley J. George, doctoral program in the College of Communication and Information Sciences. George has taught six different courses and presented at numerous workshops and an orientation. She was selected as a Graduate Teaching Fellow to instruct new Graduate Teaching Assistants and her research and publications on effective teaching earned an award from the Southern States Communication Association. Faculty and students describe George as a dedicated, passionate, effective teacher who “loves what she does and she really cares about whether or not her students learn the material.”

Excellence in Research by a Master’s Student – Brock M. Huntsman, College of Arts and Sciences, department of biological sciences. Huntsman is committed to his teaching responsibilities and research, such as that on the energetics of the Tennessee cave salamander, Gyrinophilus palleucus. He also has published as first author in two of the most prestigious journals in aquatic biology.  Faculty members describe his work as extremely impressive, commending him for his creation of a “sophisticated model” for his research.

Excellence in Research by a Doctoral Student – Meisam Salahshoor, College of Engineering, department of mechanical engineering, for conducting interdisciplinary research enhancing the bioperformance of a novel, biodegradable magnesium-calcium medical material by adjusting surface integrity through hybrid manufacturing.  His research has been lauded as a remarkable stepping stone in engineering, industry and medical science. Salahshoor has presented numerous refereed conference papers, has been the senior author of 14 prestigious journal articles, was the key developer to initiate a start-up company funded by UA and has mentored six undergraduate students in their research.  Faculty praise his “exceptional” and “impressive” skills in the scientific community.

Outstanding Service by a Graduate Student – Krystal Anne Hedge, College of Arts and Sciences, department of psychology. Hedge has been a dedicated Graduate School Ambassador, a mentor to undergraduates and fellow doctoral students and has served as an internal consultant to leaders of the Psychological Clinic and the department of psychology.  She has served on multiple committees and has long provided exemplary service to campus police. She was a founding member of UA’s National Alliance on Mental Illness and she serves as chief consulting editor for the Law and Psychology Review, published by the UA School of Law. Faculty describe her as stand-out student and a highly valued member of the intellectual and service community.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.