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UW Graduate Students Honored with Annual Awards

April 24, 2017
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Each year, the University of Wyoming’s Office of Academic Affairs and the Graduate Council solicit nominations for awards that honor graduate students and their mentors. This year’s winners draw from colleges across campus and celebrate outstanding graduate 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. The 2017 winners are listed below.

Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor: Narina Nunez, professor of psychology

“Professor Nunez has a long and impressive history of mentoring graduate students in psychology’s doctoral program,” writes Department of Psychology Chair Karen Bartsch Estes.

Nunez currently advises four doctoral students and has mentored 12 to their doctoral degrees. Former student Andre Kehn, now an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota, writes: “I cannot sufficiently explain how influential Narina has been on my life, both professionally and personally.”

John P. Ellbogen Outstanding Graduate Assistant Teaching:

Stephanie Bachtelle Stacy, Ph.D. in psychology, 2018 (Tustin, Calif.)

“Across multiple settings Stephanie Bachtelle Stacy has proven herself to be an outstanding teacher,” writes Department of Psychology Professor Carolyn Pepper. “She cares deeply about her students, is organized in her presentations, and challenges herself to grow as an instructor.”

Stan DeVore, Master of Science in zoology and physiology, May 2017 (Casper)

“Stan’s character is the key to his success,” writes Department of Zoology and Physiology Department Head Donal Skinner. “He holds himself to the highest standards, with the result being that his knowledge and understanding of the material is superb. … There is no doubt that he is one of the most dedicated teaching assistants we have ever had the privilege of working with.”

Peyton Lunzer, Master of Arts in English, May 2017 (Bainbridge Island, Wash.)

“Peyton is one of the most impressive graduate students that I’ve had the good fortune of working with in my time here at UW,” writes Department of English Assistant Chair Julia Obert. “Indeed, Peyton’s students have been raving about her since her very first semester as a UW instructor; her students frequently note that she is accessible, caring and accommodating, and they comment that both her in-class instruction and her written feedback are highly effective in helping them to hone their skills.”

Emily Pifer, MFA in creative writing, May 2017 (Canal Winchester, Ohio)

“Emily has described ENGL 1010 as a gift,” writes Creative Writing Program Director Jeffrey Lockwood. “This is her opportunity to cultivate a generation capable of clear thinking and potent writing -- and she takes this as a profound responsibility.”

Hadi Shafei, Ph.D. in computer science, summer 2017 (Rasht, Iran)

“Hadi is an exceptional teacher; I would say he is among the best I have ever known,” writes Department of Computer Science Head James Caldwell. “… [H]e found ways to explain the material to students in ways I often had not thought of. He is a patient teacher with a quiet and respectful manner.”

Jessica Sutter, Ph.D. in physics and astronomy, 2020 (Portland, Ore.)

“Jessica is one of the best TAs I have ever seen,” writes Physics and Astronomy Department Chair Daniel Dale. “She has really shined in helping me develop a completely new set of lab activities. She also has made the lab exercises fun, by suggesting engaging scenarios in which to embed the work.”

Outstanding Master’s Thesis: Amy Reece, Master of Science in chemical engineering, December 2016

“Her thesis, titled ‘Microfluidic Inertial Focusing Fundamentals, Limitations and Applications for Biomedical Sample Processing,’ was an exceptional undertaking that would have been ambitious for most Ph.D. students,” writes Department of Chemical Engineering Head Vladimir Alvarado. “This project involved a background and expertise in several disciplines, from applied physics to chemistry and cell biology.”

Outstanding Dissertation: Abdullahi Hussein Ali, Ph.D. in zoology and physiology, March 2016 (Garissa, Kenya)

“I am simply not aware of a more deserving candidate for this prestigious award, certainly in my past four years but possibly ever,” writes Department of Zoology and Physiology Department Head Donal Skinner. “A student who has raised over $1.25 million for their research on his own, started an NGO, received numerous international accolades AND published/submitted six papers from his dissertation.”

Hussein Ali’s work focuses on the range collapse, demography and conservation of the critically endangered hirola antelope in Kenya. Read more here.

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