Graduate school awards top students honors

Adrienne Burch

In addition to the undergraduate awards given last week during the University’s Honors Week, The University of Alabama Graduate School awarded its students with top honors.

Three faculty committees selected the eight most outstanding graduate students from a pool of students from each individual college.

John Schmitt, assistant dean of the graduate school, said the selected students won awards previously within their college or school and then went on to be awarded overall graduate school awards.

“These are the best of the best from the college-wide winners,” Schmitt said. “These are the most advanced degrees the University has to offer, making this a really outstanding accomplishment.”

Schmitt said these awards were bestowed primarily based on the students’ work on either their master theses or dissertation, and every award is different because the individual pieces of research are vastly different.

“The work they have done is going to launch them into their careers whether it is a doctoral student going into education or a master’s student looking for a job,” he said.

Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation

John C. Mitcham, College of Arts and Sciences, department of history

Mitcham won for his manuscript, “Sea League of All the Britons: Race, Identity, and Imperial Defense, 1868–1914.” His dissertation chairperson was John Beeler, a professor in the department of history. In his work, Mitcham explores the cultural, social and political dimensions of British imperial policy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His project provides the first comprehensive study of the cultural and racial origins of the imperial defense partnership.

Yanping Zhang, College of Engineering, department of computer science

Zhang won for her manuscript, “Surveillance and Intrusion Detection in Wireless Sensor Networks: Design, Analysis, and Evaluation.” Her dissertation chairperson was Yang Xiao, a professor in the department of computer science. Zhang’s research incorporated ideas from multiple disciplines including computer science, biology, animal behavior and communication. She modeled the social and communication behavior of primates, which provide biological inspiration for solving problems in communication and networking.

Outstanding Master’s Thesis

K. Lance Wilson, College of Arts and Sciences, department of geological sciences

Wilson won for his manuscript, “The Origin and Development of the Tampa Embayment: Implications for the Tectonic Evolution of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.” His thesis chairperson was Delores Robinson, an associate professor of geological sciences. The thesis provided a tectonic evolution of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico based on the seismic lines that he interpreted. His research allows people to determine where rocks which may be full of hydrocarbons might be located.

Excellence in Teaching by a Master’s Student

Allison Hiss, College of Arts and Sciences, department of modern languages and classics

Hiss’ teaching style demonstrates resourcefulness as well as understanding of communicative language teaching methods. She has been instrumental in implementing creative extra-curricular activities for the French program and served as the assistant to the director of the Alabama-in-France study abroad program in summer 2012.

Excellence in Teaching by a Doctoral Student

Jefferson Walker, College of Communication and Information Sciences, doctoral program in Communication and Information Sciences

Walker possesses the ability to teach and lead his students and fosters a sense of life-long learning that contributes to his teaching success. He is consistently evaluated among the top doctoral teachers in the department.

Excellence in Research by a Master’s Student

Zachary Wahl-Alexander, College of Education, department of kinesiology

Wahl-Alexander has produced an impressive list of publications that includes three publications in American and European journals, three published abstracts and nine peer-reviewed presentations. He has been able to secure external funding to support the research projects that he initiated, organized and conducted.

Excellence in Research by a Doctoral Student

Matthew Shannon, College of Engineering, department of chemical and biological engineering

Shannon has conducted groundbreaking research in his field that is consistently cited by external research groups. He has eight peer-reviewed publications in highly respected chemical engineering and chemistry journals and he has made six presentations at conferences. He is also the co-inventor on one U.S. and PCT patent application.

Outstanding Service by a Graduate Student

Dr. Rosemary Clement, College of Nursing, DNP Program

Dr. Clement has worked tirelessly to promote breast cancer awareness in her home state of South Carolina and internationally through her volunteer work in Ghana, Africa. She has established support groups for women with cancer, funding sources for women who cannot afford mammograms and pet therapy sessions with her certified therapy dog.