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UW Graduate Students, Mentor Receive Annual Awards

April 29, 2019

The University of Wyoming’s Office of Academic Affairs and the Graduate Council have selected the 2019 winners of graduate student and mentor awards for outstanding teaching and research.

The Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor Award recognizes outstanding faculty commitment to graduate student mentoring. The John P. Ellbogen Outstanding Graduate Assistant Teaching Awards go to graduate teaching assistants to honor their excellence in teaching. The Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award recognizes a graduate student for an exemplary master’s thesis. And the Outstanding Dissertation Award is granted to a graduate student for an exemplary doctoral dissertation. Each award carries a stipend.

Here are the 2019 award winners:

Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor: Professor Matt Gray, Department of Psychology

“During his career, Matt has recruited bright students, but I would argue that his mentoring and training are what helped a bright group of students become amazing,” wrote Professor Narina Nuñez, chair of the Department of Psychology. “His current and former students attribute their many successes to Matt. Though I think we could argue that they all would have done well in any endeavor, I truly believe (and so do they) that their mentorship by Matt was and will continue to be a key ingredient in their ongoing and future success.”

John P. Ellbogen Outstanding Graduate Assistant Teaching: Jordan Eischen, Department of Communication and Journalism

“Jordan’s skills as an instructor are evident by observing her in the classroom,” wrote Beau Bingham, senior lecturer in the Department of Communication and Journalism, and director of the Oral Communication Center. “Jordan guides students toward answers and solving problems. She accomplishes this by asking students a series of questions (to help students recall information). As a result, students leave her classroom with increased confidence and feeling as if they accomplished the task themselves. This method of instruction is available to Jordan because of her in-depth knowledge of the subject matter she teaches.”

Adrianne Griebel, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

“Adrianne has put in countless hours and taken on a lot of extra responsibility to refine her teaching, work with students and ensure she has the most up-to-date information,” wrote Associate Professor Christine Wade, interim head of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. “She has sought out external experiences to enhance the examples she brings to class and is dedicated to enriching student learning. I am impressed with Adrianne’s abilities, commitment and enthusiasm, and feel she could rival many of our strongest faculty instructors.”

Mary Hill, Department of English

“Mary’s teaching methods are a model of effectiveness,” wrote Associate Professor Kelly Kinney, Department of English chair, and Assistant Professor Nancy Small, director of writing programs. “Across her evaluations, Mary is consistently referred to as a good listener, student-centered, skilled at communicating and helpful with feedback. She doesn’t just care about her students; she discovers their individual learning needs and provides smart, targeted strategies to support their growth as communicators. Mary outpaces departmental and college scores in almost every evaluation category. Mary demonstrates excellence through innovative teaching as a way to deepen student learning and enrich their experiences.”

Ashton Hooker, Department of Communication and Journalism

“Frankly, Ashton’s teaching is some of the strongest I have seen in my tenure of supervising graduate students,” wrote Lecturer Margaret Stewart, course director for media writing in the Department of Communication and Journalism. “Not only is she well-versed in the content and comes with professional experience, but she’s also approachable and willing to help all students succeed.”

Outstanding Master’s Thesis: Hillary Yoder, Division of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, for “Cross-shift Body Mass Change and Associated Health Outcomes Related to Chronic Kidney Disease in Sugarcane Workers in Guatemala”

“Hillary has displayed exceptional passion and commitment to research, which has translated into acquiring remarkable capabilities that are evidenced in her thesis research,” wrote Associate Professor Derek Smith, director of the Division of Kinesiology and Health Promotion. “Hillary is articulate and able to convey scientific information in an understandable manner. Further, her master’s thesis project accomplished much more than providing an assessment of her learning as a component of her program of study; it also made an important and impactful contribution to scientific knowledge and discovery.”

Outstanding Dissertation: Brett Jesmer, Department of Zoology and Physiology, for “Behavior, Physiological and Demographic Consequences of Resource Limitation for Large Herbivores”

“Brett did everything we hope that our best doctoral candidates will do in their studies at UW. He collected great data; built a strong collaborative network; pushed the edges of our knowledge as only the brightest scholars can do; and published a landmark UW study in the most prestigious journal in our fields,” wrote Associate Professor Matt Kauffman, who co-advised Jesmer along with Associate Professor Jake Goheen, of the Department of Zoology and Physiology. “And, he is clearly poised to conduct his own independent research. In fact, I have no doubt he will obtain a permanent position as a wildlife researcher or university faculty in the next year or two.”

“Of the many Ph.D. students I had the pleasure of mentoring, including ones that previously won the best dissertation award, I would rank Brett as top,” added Professor Merav Ben-David, chair of the Department of Zoology and Physiology.

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