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UW Academic Affairs, Graduate Council Select 2021 Graduate Award Recipients

May 26, 2021
Bowers, Budowle, Liebelson, Patterson, Shader, Williamson, Young and Zamora-Williams

The University of Wyoming’s Office of Academic Affairs and the Graduate Council have selected the 2021 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.

The 2021 award winners are:

Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor Award: Professor Bryan Shader, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

“Bryan is an amazing teacher. He is known for delivering very high-quality courses for first- and second-year graduate students. These courses benefit most of the students in our graduate program. During most of Bryan’s career, there have been several graduate students studying under his supervision at the same time,” says Jason Williford, a professor and head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “Two students obtained their Ph.D.s in 2020 under his supervision, one of whom now has a postdoctoral position at Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea, and the other is teaching for Redeemer University in Canada. His current student is expected to graduate in 2021. This reflects Bryan’s efficient way of mentoring by recruiting a group of three to four students who enter the program in the same period, so they have opportunities to grow together as a team.”

John P. Ellbogen Outstanding Graduate Assistant Teaching Awards:

-- William Bowers, Salt Lake City, Utah, Department of Botany

“Will has complemented this graduate teaching experience with several professional development activities to enhance his teaching and mentoring skills, such as participation in UW’s Learning Actively Mentoring Program (LAMP) -- a substantial investment of time and energy,” says Naomi Ward, a professor and head of the Department of Botany. “His mentoring of undergraduates has included the UW McNair Scholars Program, while his experience with high school students has involved mentoring for the Wyoming EPSCoR Summer Research Apprenticeship Program and serving as an academic workshop host for the Native American Summer Institute. Thus, Will has not only contributed substantially to UW’s teaching mission at all levels, but also actively pursued opportunities to improve his teaching and mentoring skills with diverse student populations, and his understanding of best pedagogical practices.”

-- Dana Liebelson, Bozeman, Mont., Department of Visual and Literary Arts, and Creative Writing Program

“Liebelson has tapped her apparently limitless initiative and enthusiasm to figure out some way, somehow, to have a constructive impact on Wyoming students -- all while publishing in The Atlantic and Elle on the side. And, in each of these engagements, Liebelson has proven herself a teacher of admirable talents and of exemplary generosity -- a dedicated writer/scholar expecting a great deal from herself and others, while working overtime to create a compassionate academic environment in which students feel heard, respected, appreciated and encouraged,” says Andrew Fitch, an associate professor of visual and literary arts. “In a creative writing program with many well-credentialed and high-performing teachers, our grad students frequently win awards and have gone on to successful academic careers in top pedagogy-focused Ph.D. programs. Liebelson still stands alone as an exceptional nominee for this award.”

-- Bailey Patterson, Casper, Department of Communication and Journalism

“Of course, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Bailey, like all college instructors, had to adjust and adapt her teaching midspring 2020 semester when the pandemic began. Her teaching evaluations did not seem to skip a beat in terms of reports of her high-quality instruction,” says Kristen Landreville, an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism. “In addition to her success in the classroom, her nominating teaching supervisor, Justin Stewart, discusses how Bailey played an instrumental role in developing the asynchronous public speaking course delivered in the 2020-21 academic year. This work shows her dedication to her teaching, leadership among her peers and initiative to implement best teaching practices during a stressful and isolating pandemic. I am confident that our public speaking students have all benefited from Bailey’s leadership, innovation and hard work.”

-- Laverl “Zach” Williamson, Mountain View, Department of Psychology

“In talking with Zach, I know that he has a strong commitment to a teaching career. He has not forgotten the opportunity he received at the local community college that launched his academic career. He is, in fact, applying to a faculty position there so that he can give back to the next generation of students,” says Sean McCrea, a professor and head of the Department of Psychology. “Zach has a tremendous record of supporting the success of his students, particularly first-generation college students and those who may need a little extra help. He puts a great deal of thought into course organization and student engagement. It is not surprising, then, that his students love his courses.”

-- Alyssa Young, Atlanta, Ga., Department of English

“Here is where the truly exceptional nature of Alyssa’s work as a graduate assistant becomes evident. In English 1010, she had a predesigned curriculum and standard major assignments; in English 2005, she had to design and develop the course herself,” wrote Kelly Kinney, an associate professor and head of the Department of English, and Nancy Small, an assistant professor of English, in their nomination letter. “She did have experienced faculty to consult, but the reality was that everything -- from choosing texts to designing assignments to building her WyoCourse shell to developing strategies for teaching via Zoom -- would fall on her shoulders. Alyssa did not buckle under the pressure. Instead, she wisely and methodically proceeded to make careful decisions, put in dozens of hours of work and developed what would prove to be a highly successful course.”

Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award: Miranda Zamora-Williams, Ruidoso, N.M., Division of Kinesiology and Health, “Feasibility of Heat Acclimation in Wildland Firefighters.”

“Miranda’s project, with her as the principal investigator and Assistant Professor Evan Johnson as the supervisor, was funded competitively by an external funding source in the category of ‘pilot research.’ This means that the independent proposal that she developed was strong enough to be awarded while competing against established doctoral-level researchers,” says Derek Smith, an associate professor and director of the Division of Kinesiology and Health. “For our department, and I would surmise many other UW departments, this is extremely rare, is a testament to the work Miranda put in prior to study initiation, and reflects the atypical and outstanding body of work that Miranda achieved.”

Outstanding Dissertation Award: Rachael Budowle, Laramie, Department of Anthropology, “Growing Social-Ecological Community Resilience: Culturally Specific Mechanisms in Two Wyoming Participatory Food Systems Projects.”

“A typical dissertation in anthropology includes three chapters of original research, each being a publishable manuscript, along with thematic introductory and concluding chapters. Dr. Budowle’s dissertation certainly meets that standard. Most dissertations will explore a fairly narrow question and make one or two novel contributions to anthropology,” says Todd Surovell, a professor and head of the Department of Anthropology. “Dr. Budowle’s dissertation breaks new ground in several important ways. It not only fleshes out existing theoretical constructs, but also develops new ones. Her methodological innovations are significant as well. Finally, her dissertation research is not only an academic exercise but, importantly, it is improving lives for communities in Wyoming struggling with chronic health issues, health disparities, food sovereignty issues and historical traumas.”

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