Recipients of Achievement Awards

Thanks to generous alumni donations, the Graduate Achievement Fund gives awards to students who excel in their field each year. These donations support student research, conference attendance, and other tools to strengthen the graduate education experience. To receive an award from the Graduate Student Achievement Fund, students must complete a rigorous application and describe in depth why they are deserving of these esteemed prizes.

2018 Winners

Pankhuri Aggarwal, doctoral student in Psychology

Prachi Bhuptani, doctoral student in Psychology

Mojtaba Edalatpour, master's student in Mechanical Engineering

Dustin Hornbeck, doctoral student in Educational Leadership

Lasith Kariyawasam, doctoral student in Chemistry

Katelyn Palmer, master's student in Educational Psychology

Rachel Pilla, doctoral student in Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology

Justin Pratt, doctoral student in Chemistry

Jessica Smith, master's student in English

Brenda Tyrrell, doctoral student in English

Elizabeth Weeks, master's student in English

Nicolyn Woodcock, doctoral student in English

Thaiesha Wright, doctoral student in Chemistry

2017 Winners

Tasneem Amatullah, doctoral student in Educational Leadership

Aeriel Ashlee, doctoral student in Student Affairs in Higher Education

Wladyslaw Betkowski, doctoral student in Geology

Lauren Forrest, doctoral student in Psychology

Winona Landis, doctoral student in English

Amy McDonnell, doctoral student in Psychology

Ellen Parsons, doctoral student in Psychology

Marissa Smith-Millan, doctoral student in Psychology

2016 Winners

Annabelle Arbogast, doctoral student in Gerontology.

Jsaon Deska, doctoral student in Psychology.

Shannon Fasola, master's student in Geology and Earth Science.

Melissa Fuesting, doctoral student in Psychology.

Anne Kalomiris, doctoral student in Psychology.

Kathryn Mancini, doctoral student in Psychology.

Mary Munroe, doctoral student in Psychology.

Minqian Shen, doctoral student in Cell, Molecular, & Structural Biology.

Jieming, Shi, doctoral student in Cell, Molecular, & Structural Biology.

Robert Skoumal, doctoral student in Geology and Earth Sciences.

2015 Winners

Tasneem Amatullah, a doctoral student in Educational Leadership, received an Achievement Fund Award in the fall of 2015 for her work with Islamic feminism, women and leadership, and women’s education in Islam. Amatullah analyzed the concept of “equality” and rights of women to education in Islam and studied the contrasting views of western and Islamic cultures on feminism. Her work culminated in a paper titled “A philosophical analysis of Western Feminism and Islamic feminism: A scholarly tug of war,” which she presented to the Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society in September 2015.

Elizabeth Cedillos, a doctoral student in Psychology, received an Achievement Fund Award in the fall of 2015 for her work with argumentation discourse by an Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS). Cedillos studied the effectiveness of using ITS in argumentation discourse for the purpose of educating women about their genetic risk for breast cancer. She analyzed the effectiveness of ITS in eliciting argument elements and achieving learning outcomes. Her manuscript on the subject, titled The Effectiveness of Argumentation in Tutorial Dialogues with an Intelligent Tutoring System for Genetic Risk of Breast Cancer, was accepted for publication by the peer-reviewed journal Behavior Research Methods.

Shinjini Goswami, a doctoral student in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, received an Achievement Fund Award in the fall of 2015 for her work with nutrient limitation in large-scale forest eco-systems. Goswami’s research involved stoichiometry of soil microbes in these eco-systems and their influence on nutrient availability. Goswami presented a poster at the Long Term Ecological Research Network’s (LTER) All Scientists Meeting (ASM) at Estes Park, Colorado in September 2015 and received second place.

Tyler Hoskins, a doctoral student in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, received an Achievement Fund Award in the fall of 2015 for his work with endocrines in amphibian species. Hoskins’s research examines how a common endocrine-disrupting chemical influences the fitness of an amphibian species that is facing population declines. His study found that, in environmentally expected concentrations, the endocrines did not appear to cause delayed effects in adult life stages that would not have been predicted by those observed at earlier life stages. Hoskins presented his paper on his research at the annual Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR) meeting and received an award for Best Student Paper in the Conservation Category in the Henri Seibert contest at the meeting.

Taylor Leach, a doctoral student in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, received an Achievement Fund Award in the fall of 2015 for her work with radiation and plankton habitats. Leach specifically researched the role of ultraviolet (UV) radiation in the habitat selection of zooplankton and how the role of UV may differ based on lake clarity and presence of predators. The first chapter of her dissertation was published in a selective, peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Plankton Research.

Joseph Paushel, a master's student in Art (Ceramics), received an Achievement Fund Award in the fall of 2015 for his artwork highlighting vanity and gender. Paushel’s research manifested itself in a creative series of ceramic sculptures that explore the distinctions between high and low art while exploiting contemporary symbols of vanity and gender. In his art, he uses decorative objects to create images that depict the human form. He hopes that his art pieces will help re-contextualize the previous definitions of the objects and their meanings and that class, category, and hierarchy are considered in this merging of different elements. Paushel was recognized for having two Ceramic pieces selected for inclusion in two international juried exhibitions and having had twenty-two pieces from the same body of research selected for inclusion in fourteen national juried exhibitions.

Alyssa Straight, a doctoral student in English, received an Achievement Fund Award in the fall of 2015 for her work with literature and cycling. Straight’s research focuses on juxtaposing literary texts that incorporate cycling women with scientific and medical discourses about women’s loss of femininity and physical deterioration. Her article, “The Face of the Bicyclist: Women’s Cycling and the Altered Body in The Type-Writer Girl,” was accepted for publication as a chapter in the peer-reviewed collection Culture on Two Wheels: Bicycling in Literature and Film.

Audrey Weil, a doctoral student in Psychology, received an Achievement Fund Award in the fall of 2015 for her work with difference measures in predicting risk assessment. Her research focused on understanding how people estimate risks associated with breast cancer and how two different tools that measure individual differences in handling numerical information were able to predict how well participants were able to estimate medical risk. Weil is recognized for having her paper on the subject accepted for publication in Learning and Individual Differences.

Lauren Fussner, a doctoral student in Psychology, received an Achievement Fund Award in the spring of 2015 for her work with positive emotion processes associated with symptoms of depression. Fussner worked with a sample of adolescents between the ages of 12-16 to explore three positive emotion processes in relation to adolescent depression: “expression of positive emotion, positive emotion response to reward, and positive emotion maintenance (i.e., the ability to “hold on” to positive feelings).” Her manuscript, “Dynamics of Positive Emotion Regulation: Associations with Youth Depressive Symptoms” was accepted for publication in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 

Laurel Sarfan, a doctoral student in Psychology, received an Achievement Fund Award in the spring of 2015 for her work with factors contributing to Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). Sarfan’s research sought to find potential mechanisms that drive the symptoms of BDD, a “psychological disorder characterized by a preoccupation with a perceived defect in appearance.” She used a computerized treatment process to train participants to interpret ambiguous situations in a positive way to target their tendencies toward maladaptive interpretations. She presented her research project, titled “Training Interpretation Biases Among Individuals with Body Dysmorphic Disorder Symptoms,” at the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Convention in 2014.

Samantha Rumschlag, a doctoral student in in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, received an Achievement Fund Award in the spring of 2015 for her work with environmental contamination and amphibians. Rumschlag’s research “focused on how environmental contamination (via pesticides) and temperature can influence amphibians’ susceptibility to a fungal disease.” Her manuscript was selected for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Jamie Viars, a masters student in Student Affairs and Higher Education, received an Achievement Fund Award in the spring of 2015 for her work with crisis communication in higher education. Viars and her co-author created a case study based on research and interviews with members of Miami University’s Institutional Response Team. Her study was chosen for publication “in the peer-reviewed Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership December 2014 edition.” She also presented the research at a conference for the Division of Student Affairs at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill in December 2014.

2014 Winners

Daniel Kochli, a doctoral student in Psychology, received an Academic Achievement Award in the fall of 2014 for his work with trace fear conditioning. Kochli studied the contribution of amygdala sub nuclei to trace fear conditioning over a three-year period. The research he did contributed to his Master thesis and both oral and poster presentations at various national and international conferences. His work was accepted for publication in Learning and Memory because it is one of the first studies to provide evidence of amygdala involvement in trace fear conditioning.

Tedros Berhane, a doctoral student in the Geology Department received an Academic Achievement Award in the fall of 2014 for his research on emergent contaminants threatening public health and ecosystems. Berhane completed laboratory based experiments to determine new approaches for removing surface groundwater contaminants. Berhane did so by using clay as a potential alternative filter material. Some of his research has been published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials and he has presented this information at two National Groundwater Association conferences and a Geological Society of America conference. He has also been awarded a total of $4,330 in grant money to pursue his Ph.D. research.

Michael Sitvarin won his second Academic Achievement Award as a doctoral student of Biology in the fall of 2014 for his work that was published in two peer-reviewed journals. First, the “Fear of Predation Alters Soil Carbon Dioxide Flux and Nitrogen Content” chapter of Sitvarin’s dissertation was published in the biojournal Biology Letters. This chapter discussed his research on the indirect linkage between aboveground spiders and belowground soil processes. He was interested in studying how spider soil consumption impacted soil carbon-dioxide flux and nitrogen content. Overall he determined that the simple presence of a spider could alter important aspects of an ecosystem. Another chapter from his dissertation was published in the journal Ecology and focused on how the survival of prey can be predicted by the characteristics of the predators.

Linduo Zhao, a doctoral student in Geology, received an Academic Achievement Award in the fall of 2014 for research on biological oxidation of structural Fe(II) in clay mineral smectite, coupled with nitrate reduction. The purpose of the research was to understand microbial Fe(II) oxidation in clay minerals and its environmental application for removing nitrate contaminants, an area that has gone unstudied for almost 20 years. Zhao’s work was published in Geochimica et CosmochimicaActa under the title “Biological oxidation of Fe(II) in Reduced Nontronite Coupled with Nitrate Reduction by Pseudogulbenkiania sp. Strain 2002.” 

Joseph Paushel received his first Academic Achievement Award as a master’s student in Art for his work on a collection of sculptures. Paushel says that his sculptures “explore distinctions between high and low art while exploiting contemporary symbols of vanity and gender.” To do this, he took trash and placed it in a new context in the form of a sculpture with hopes to decontextualize its previous definitions. Paushel created twelve pieces and out of those twelve, eight were selected for international or national juried exhibits. Most successfully, Paushel was one of the 97 pieces out of 12,000 to be selected for the international exhibit From the Ground Up: The Zanesville Prize for Contemporary Ceramics.

Lishan Liu, a doctoral student in Biochemistry and Chemistry, received an Academic Achievement Award for her research of Electron Spin Echo Envelope Modulation (ESEEM). Liu established and developed an approach to characterize the secondary structure of membrane proteins utilizing ESEEM. Lishan explained, “This ESEEM approach is advantageous because it can provide secondary structure information on specific protein segments in a straightforward qualitative matter.” Her research was published in American Chemical Society’s Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 

Kentaro Inoue, a doctoral student in Biology, received his second Academic Achievement Award in the spring of 2014. Inoue wrote his paper on a study uncovering the current genetic structure and evolutional history of imperiled freshwater mussels, Cumberlandia monodonta. Once widespread throughout the Mississippi River systems, alterations of the habitats have caused many of the mussel populations to reduce in size. Through the analysis of data collected from five rivers in the Mississippi, Inoue reveals the importance for biologists to understand biogeography and the conservation and recovery for imperiled species.

Katelyn Rowekamp received her first Academic Achievement Award as a master’s student in Art in the spring of 2014 for her work in an Apprenticeship Exhibition with professional artist Casey Millard. Rowekamp had the honor to work with Millard on a two-person exhibition, displaying her work of characters drawn on colored paper, bleached and then inked. These characters were part of her personal narrative based on “emerging adulthood,” a new stage of human development. She has previously had her work featured at shows in New York, California and Cairo, Egypt.

Nathaniel Foley, a master’s student in Art, won his forth Academic Achievement Award in the spring of 2014 for his NICHE Magazine Student Award. Foley won the NICHE Award at the national juried craft competition for his presentation of his sculpture, F-105 Thunderchief. Foley’s work beat a total of 600 sculptures because of his “technical excellence and quality of unique, original and creative thought.” Foley’s work was displayed in the 2014 spring issue of NICHE magazine.

Lance Cummings, a doctoral student in English received an Academic Achievement Award in the spring of 2014 for his essay, “Comparison as a Mode of Inquiry: Rearticulating the Contexts of Intercultural Communication,” that engages new theories for intercultural communication by developing a new way to examine communication events within global relationships to advance transnational studies. Cummings’ essay was published by the online Journal of Rhetoric, Professional Communication, and Globalization. 

Melissa Youngquist, an Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology doctoral student, received an Academic Achievement Award for her dissertation research on spatial distribution of species, which received the National Science Foundation’s Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (NSF DDIG). The NSF DDIG award is based on intellectual merit and the benefits it has to society. With this grant, she plans to examine how the spatial distribution of Blanchard’s cricket frogs is affected by land-use in a human dominated area. Youngquist says that species distribution depends on the availability of habitat for growth and habitat between populations that allow for connectivity. To study this, she will be using ecological niche modeling and ground-truthing surveys.

Xian Liu, a Cellular, Molecular and Structural Biology student received an Academic Achievement Award in the spring of 2014 for her work involving the interaction of sex hormone estrogen and anorectic signals, which tells you when to suppress your appetite. Her research indicates the differences in gender, indicating that the approaches to fight obesity in men and women should involve different strategies to achieve a successful weight loss. Liu’s researched was published by the official journal of the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, Hormones and Behavior and in Physiology and Behavior, the official journal of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society.

Qiuyuan Huang, a doctoral student in Geology, received her third Academic Achievement Award in the spring of 2014 for her work on a portion of her Ph.D. dissertation. In this project she conducted diffusion experiments to measure permanganate diffusion and reaction in four different types of sedimentary rocks. The results of this study were useful in assessing benefits of In Situ Chemical Oxidation. As a result, Huang’s work was published in the Journal of Contaminant Hydrology. 

John Hankiewicz, a master's student in Art, won his second Academic Achievement Award for two pieces that were featured in the New Prints 2014 show at the International Print Center New York and the 2014 Delta National Small Prints Exhibition at Arkansas State University. Hankiewicz created two pieces, The Intermission Festival 4 and The Box and the Vein and the Sidewalk, with a printmaking process known as etching that involves slitting an image on metal, using acid and acid-resistant wax. The etchings were one of the 50 works chosen from over 3000 entries for the IPCNY show and one of 55 from over 600 entries for the Delta Show.

Minqian Shen, a Cell, Molecular and Structural Biology doctoral student, received an Academic Achievement Award for two publications on the roles of high-fat diets. The first publication investigated different high-fat diets rich in saturated and non saturated fat, discovering that the rapid occurrence of low-grade inflammation and insulin resistance are tissue and sex specific. This study was published at the Endocrine Journal. The second article, published in Hormone Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigation, is the first study to compare the affects of estrogen on insulin signaling, determining that the protective role of estrogen is independent of energy status. Shen’s research provides an understanding of gender differences in response to diets with different fats, identifying the role of estrogen in insulin sensitivity and tissue inflammation. 

Julie Premo, a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology, received an Academic Achievement Award in the spring of 2014 for her publication titled “The Effect of Toddler Emotion Regulation on Maternal Emotion Socialization: Moderation by Toddler Gender.” This article summarized findings from her master thesis, which involved data collected on 106 mother-toddler pairs from the age of 24 months to 36 months. Premo’s focus was on toddler coping strategies and how that affects mother’s parenting and if it differed by toddler gender. These observations were helpful in determining how maladaptive and adaptive parenting behaviors develop and to what extent children contribute to them. “We are interested in how children’s regulation strategy affected how mothers responded to their children’s negative emotions,” expressed Premo. Premo’s study was published in Emotion.

Alexandra Hummel, a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology, was awarded an Academic Achievement Award in the spring of 2014 for her publication titled “Maternal Depressive Symptoms, Maternal Behavior and Toddler Internalizing Outcomes: A Moderated Mediation Model.” This paper was published in Child Psychiatry and Human Development, a peer-reviewed journal in the area of clinical psychopathology. Hummel’s paper presented a model for understanding how parenting behaviors and mothers with depressive symptomatology contribute to the development of internalizing behaviors in young children. She used advanced statistical techniques to examine the characteristics of children and the characteristics of mothers and how their interaction contributes to children’s outcomes.

2013 Winners

Rachel Chandley, Psychology
Aminata Coulibly, Cellular, Molecular, and Structural Biology
Nathaniel Foley, Art
Peter Guiden, Botany
Sangheon, Chemical Engineering
John Hankiewicz, Art
Qiuyuan Huang, Geology
Sandra Mardonovich, Botany 
Rosemary Okoli, Architecture
Xi Pan, Gerontology 
Mariah Ritz, Educational Psychology
Andrew Rosendale, Biology 
Samatha Rumschlag, Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
Sarah Saddler, Theatre
Sarah Senff, Theatre 

2012 Winners

Nathaniel Foley, Art
Steve Garst, Art
Amber Rock, Ecology, Evolution, & Environmental Biology
Ann Showalter, Ecology, Evolution, & Environmental Biology
Michael Sitvarin, Zoology
Jennifer Van Horn, Architecture
Jing Zhang, Geology
Jie Zhu, Zoology
Chanon Adsanatham, English
Stephen Becker, Psychology
Steve Garst, Art
Dominika Jurkovic, Microbiology
Brian Webb, Art

2011 Winners

Michael Bishop, Geology
Qiuyuan Huang, Geology
Yuta Kawarasaki, Zoology
Samantha Skelton, Art
Erika Uzmann, Art
Stephen Becker, Psychology
Kimberly Haverkos, Educational Leadership
Kentaro Inoue, Zoology
Khalid Long, Theatre
Andrew Tucker, Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology
Kokulapalan Wimalanathan, Botany
Samantha Skelton, Art