TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama Graduate School has announced the recipients of the 2017 Outstanding Graduate Student awards.
The awards will be presented during UA Honors Week from Monday, April 3, to Friday, April 7.
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. Terry Harrell (Germantown, Tennessee), College of Arts and Sciences, department of geological sciences.
Harrell won for “Biogeochemical analysis of late Cretaceous vertebrate fossils of western Alabama, USA.” His dissertation chair was Dr. Fred Andrus, associate professor and chair of the department of geological sciences. Harrell conducted three different studies to determine the environmental conditions of organisms during the Cretaceous era. By examining vertebrate fossils found primarily in Alabama and Mississippi, Harrell was able to determine the temperature, age and depth of the water. The results from Harrell’s study were published in the journal Paleontology, and his work on mosasaurs is the subject of a BBC feature.
Outstanding Master’s Thesis: Lauren Cox (Florence), College of Arts and Sciences, department of geography.
Cox won for the manuscript, “Effects of an intermediate-scale wind event on forest composition, structure and structural complexity.” Her thesis chair was Dr. Justin Hart. Cox examined the effects of an EF1 tornado on forest composition and structure in a white oak forest. She found that an EF1 tornado “preferentially removed larger trees” but did not affect species composition or diversity. The findings from Cox’s case study are important to the conservation of Alabama forests and can help guide future forest management decisions.
Excellence in Teaching by a Master’s Student: Andrew Stevens (Cleveland, Mississippi), College of Arts and Sciences, department of English.
Stevens’ adviser was Robin Behn, professor of English and head of the creative writing program. Stevens has exemplified excellence in teaching with his dedication and commitment to the field. His mentors and students alike describe him as a lively teacher who “is a master at drawing up original lesson plans.” He also has a “contagious enthusiasm for teaching” and continues to receive “very positive course evaluations” from students.
Excellence in Teaching by a Doctoral Student: Ken Corbit (Jonesboro, Arkansas), College of Communication and Information Sciences, department of communication studies.
Corbit’s major professor was Dr. Beth Bennett, senior associate dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences. He is described as a dynamic teacher who has enthusiasm for instruction in his classes. Corbit is particularly known for his ability to motivate students beyond the classroom. Many of his students have presented course papers at conferences and have participated in an international debate competition. His enthusiasm and success as an instructor have made him an invaluable teaching resource for the department.
Excellence in Research by a Master’s Student: Lauren Neal (Acworth, Georgia), College of Arts and Sciences, department of psychology.
Neal’s major professor was Dr. Philip Gable, associate professor of psychology. Her primary line of research examines the neural correlates of core biological personality systems. The list of Neal’s achievements includes two peer-reviewed publications and a published book chapter. Neal’s adviser has ranked her in the top 1 percent of students with whom he has worked.
Excellence in Research by a Doctoral Student: Andrew Flatt (King City, Ontario), College of Education, department of human performance.
Flatt’s major professor was Dr. Mike Esco, associate professor of exercise science. Flatt has contributed to the field of human performance with his research in heart rate variability. Most noteworthy is his project measuring HRV in UA’s football team during the season. Flatt is highly sought after as an international consultant for major athletic teams across the world. His research has increased the department’s visibility in the research community, attracted media attention and resulted in 22 peer-reviewed publications.
Outstanding Service by a Graduate Student: Jamileh Mohammadi (Karaj, Iran), College of Arts and Sciences, department of physics.
Mohammadi’s major professor was Dr. Patrick LeClair, professor and chair of the department of physics and astronomy. Mohammadi is known for her record of service both in her field and outside her discipline. Mohammadi has served as vice president of the International Students Association at UA and as a member on the Community Affairs Board of Advisors Discussion Panel. One highlight of her service is promoting underrepresented groups and women in science and engineering. Her efforts in this area include serving as a mentor to university and local high school students. Mohammadi is also an active member in the Women in Science and Engineering and Women in Physics organizations. In addition to her many contributions outside the field, she also maintains a 4.0 GPA. Recently, Mohammadi received the Best Student Presentation Award at the 61st Annual Conference on Magnetism and Magnetic Materials.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.