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The University of Alabama

UA Announces Outstanding Graduate Student Awards for 2016

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama Graduate School has announced the recipients of the 2016 Outstanding Graduate Student awards.

The awards will be presented during UA Honors Week from Monday, April 4, to Friday, April 8.

Three faculty committees selected seven outstanding graduate students from award winners nominated by their individual departments and colleges.

The winners are:

Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation: Dr. Nicholas Helms (Rockmart, Georgia), College of Arts and Sciences, department of English, won for “To Essay the Mind: Shakespearean Character and Theories of Mindreading.” His dissertation chair was Dr. Sharon O’Dair, professor of English and director of the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies. Helms applied cognitive philosophy to Shakespearean character criticism, contending that Shakespeare’s characters can be understood through mindreading and the cognitive ability to contemplate and anticipate the thoughts, emotions and actions of other people. Helms has published three articles from his dissertation.

 Outstanding Master’s Thesis: Joanna Clark (Scotia, New York), College of Arts and Sciences, department of geological sciences, won for “Determination of S Specimen Ontogenetic Age and Paleoseasonality Using Shell Spiral Deviations and Chemical Proxies From Fossil Brachiopods.” Her thesis chair was Dr. Alberto Perez-Huerta, assistant professor of geological sciences. Clark’s thesis focused on developing a method to determine past seasonal seawater temperatures so scientists may gain a better understanding of how seasonal temperatures vary.

Excellence in Teaching by a Master’s Student: Katy Rossing (Portland, Oregon), College of Arts and Sciences, department of English. Her major professor was Dr. Joel Brouwer, chair of the department of English. Rossing has exemplified excellence in teaching with her dedication and commitment to the field. Her mentors and students describe her as a lively teacher who conducts “astounding and meaningful lessons.” She also has a “contagious enthusiasm for teaching.”

Excellence in Teaching by a Doctoral Student: Sara Steele (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), College of Arts and Sciences, department of psychology. Her major professor was Dr. Beverly Roskos-Ewoldsen, associate professor of psychology. Steele is described as a tenacious individual who has a repeated enthusiasm for instruction in her classes, regardless of size. Sara is also known for creating pedagogical techniques and learner-centered activities in her lectures.

Excellence in Research by a Master’s Student: Alice Kleinhuizen (Dauphin Island), College of Arts and Sciences, department of biological sciences. Her major professor was Dr. Behzad Mortazavi, associate professor of biological sciences. Kleinhuizen’s research examined the spatial and temporal rates of nutrient exchange in marsh sediments. Her research has generated two co-authored publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Excellence in Research by a Doctoral Student: Mohammad Hokmabadi (Tabriz, Iran), College of Engineering, department of electrical and computer engineering. His major professor was Dr. Seongsin Margaret Kim, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. Hokmabadi has designed and reproduced THz metamaterial devices. His research has increased the department’s visibility in the research community, attracted media attention and resulted in 19 publications.

Outstanding Service of a Graduate Student: Rachel DeLacy (Mount Laurel, New Jersey), College of Arts and Sciences, department of psychology. Her major professor was Dr. Stanley Brodsky, professor of psychology. DeLacy is known for her record of service in the mental health field. Her service activities include work for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Public Defender’s Office of Tuscaloosa County and the American Cancer Society. In addition, she donated her time to provide services to defendants charged with capital murder. Her pro bono work in examining individuals with possible intellectual disabilities and severe psychological disorders for court-appointed attorneys has contributed to the field; an article stemming from this work was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. 

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.