George W. Kunze Endowed Graduate Student Award

Dr. George W. Kunze was the long-time Dean of the Graduate College at Texas A&M University. Upon his retirement, university faculty and friends generously contributed an endowment in honor of Dr. Kunze to provide an award for a doctoral student nearing completion of the degree program. Several years ago, this endowment matured sufficiently to begin providing an annual award.

The Kunze Graduate Student Award has been incorporated into the Texas A&M Distinguished Dissertation Award nomination process. As a result, nominations for the Kunze Award must adhere to the Texas A&M Distinguished Dissertation Award eligibility and submission requirements.

George W. Kunze Endowed Graduate Award

2020 Award Recipient

Akshi Singla

Akshi Singla is a Chemical Engineering doctoral student graduating in May 2020. Her research focuses primarily on bacteria and antibiotics. Specifically, Singla studies how bacteria as bacterial develop resistance to antibiotics. She has made a breakthrough discovery of how bacteria first latch on to a cell before an infection sets in. Armed with that knowledge, she has developed a new drug delivery system to administer antibiotics at the site of infection to help drugs work more efficiently and effectively, while restricting the microbe’s ability to develop resistance and reducing side effects for patients.
She has published seven articles in peer reviewed journals, including three as first author, and has two more under review, one of those as first author. She has given presentations at 15 national and international conferences. Additionally, she is the recipient of numerous honors, including Travel Awards from the Society for Glycobiology (2018 and 2019) and “Best Presenter” at the Texas A&M Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association Research Symposium (2017).
In addition to her research, Singla contributes to “Bighelp for Education,” an organization in India that helps provide education to kids from underprivileged backgrounds. In her spare time, she enjoys painting and dancing. She is currently learning belly dancing.

2019 Award Recipient

Thomas Giustino
Thomas Giustino is a PhD candidate in the Texas A&M Institute for Neuroscience working in the Emotion and Memory Systems laboratory of Dr. Stephen Maren. He successfully maintained a 4.0 GPA while publishing 10 peer-reviewed articles, including 7 he published as first author.  Tom received numerous honors and awards including the prestigious Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Mental Health.
His research focuses on understanding the neurobiological basis of deficits in fear extinction, a behavioral approach for reducing pathological fear. His work demonstrates how the stress-sensitive neurotransmitter, norepinephrine, alters the neural circuits necessary for this type of learning. The ultimate goal of his work includes better informing empirically-driven therapeutic interventions for individuals suffering from stress- and trauma-related disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder.
In addition to his scholarly achievements, Tom actively contributes to community service.   His service includes participating in several outreach and fundraising events including “Brain Day,” a science communication event in which neuroscience graduate students work with local elementary schools to teach 5th graders about the brain and to inspire future scientists.

2018 Award Recipient

Judy Amanor-Boadu

Judy Amanor-Boadu is a doctoral candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering. She received her bachelor’s and master’s in Electrical Engineering from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana in 2010 and Texas A&M University in 2013. Her research focuses on power management, specifically battery charging and management. She investigates the impact of battery charging methods on lithium-ion (li-ion) battery life cycle and characteristics. Her research looks at developing li-ion battery charging algorithms that factor on the basic chemical processes and internal characteristics of the battery in order to reduce charge time and improve battery charge and energy efficiencies. This will enable users of portable electronics to experience faster charging and increased battery runtime. Her proposed methodology can be implemented in several platforms, from electrical vehicle applications to standby power applications. Her research has been published in the IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics and presented at IEEE sponsored conferences.

Aside form her research, Ms. Amanor-Boadu, works with established student organizations, namely Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Students Association (ECEGSA), for which she served as the Vice President for Professional Development. She also works with The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Women in Engineering Texas A&M Affinity group, and the Society of Women Engineers Texas A&M graduate chapter; for which she served as co-chair from 2014 to 2016. Judy has helped organize the first African workshop on Circuits and Systems in Kumasi, Ghana in 2017, which brought local faculty and students in contact with experts in the field of circuits and systems.

2017 Award Recipient

Nicole Frances Angeli

Nicole Frances Angeli is a conservation biologist working to save species in a changing world. She entered the NSF- IGERT program at Texas A&M University in Applied Biodiversity Sciences.  She was a Merit Fellow, and a Smithsonian Predoctoral Fellow at the National Museum of Natural History. Her research largely deals with differing conservation statuses of closely related species. She has worked with the extensive collections of amphibians and reptiles at the TAMU Biodiversity and Research Teaching Collections (TCWC) to formulate comparative questions to test the ability of species to adapt to a changing world.
She is interested in ways to integrate spatial and biological frameworks to understand which species will rapidly adapt with morphological and physiological change to survive the Anthropocene. She is also the author of ‘The Lizard Lady’, a fully illustrated children’s book (Arbordale Press) to translate my technical research for the public.

2016 Award Recipient

Nathan Favero‚Äč

Nathan Favero, currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science, began his time at Texas A&M University in 2009 as an undergraduate freshman. His research focuses on public administration, the management of government organizations, racial and ethnic social disparities, the public policy making process, and quantitative research methods. During his time at Texas A&M University, Nathan has had 9 articles accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals, has presented research at 14 national conferences, and has had his work cited over 70 times. He has served the University as a member of his department’s diversity committee and by volunteering for the last two years as the assistant coach of the highly successful undergraduate moot court team. Nathan also serves on the graduate student advisory board for the International Public Management Journal, widely regarded as one of the top journals in the field of public management. Nathan has won several awards and fellowships, including the Doctoral Graduate Merit Fellowship from the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, the Vision 2020 Graduate Fellowship from the College of Liberal Arts, and the Bryan D. Jones Award for the Best Graduate Student Paper in the Department of Political Science. Nathan is expected to graduate in May of 2016 and in the fall will begin a tenure-track faculty position at the Department of Public Administration and Policy in the School of Public Affairs at American University. In his new position, Nathan will teach classes to master’s students who are training to become public administrators, managers, and policy analysts.

2015 Award Recipients

Amanda Rutherford

Since joining the Department of Political Science at Texas A&M University in 2011, Amanda Rutherford has written ten refereed articles, presented research at 18 national conferences, and has helped with the writing of four national grant applications.  Amanda has won university-wide and national awards, including the Bryan D. Jones Outstanding Political Science Graduate Student in the Department of Political Science, a Vision 2020 Fellowship in the College of Liberal Arts, the Southerland Aggie Leader Scholarship, the Academic Excellence Award, a graduate fellowship from the Delta Gamma Fraternity Foundation, a Scholar Award from P.E.O. International, and a Volcker Junior Scholar Research Grant from the American Political Science Association.  She serves as an editorial assistant for the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory and Journal of Student Financial Aid and has been an active reviewer of manuscripts for many others. In the Department of Political Science, Amanda has planned five mini-conferences as well as three recruitment weekends for prospective graduate students, has represented students on a faculty hiring committee, and has managed operations of the Project for Equity, Representation, and Governance research group. At the university level, Amanda just completed two terms as the Executive Vice President of the Graduate and Professional Student Council, which represents all 10,000+ graduate and professional students on campus and has also served as an advisor for multiple undergraduate organizations. Upon graduation in May of 2015, Amanda will join the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University-Bloomington as a tenure-track assistant professor of public management.  SPEA was most recently ranked in the top two of 266 graduate schools offering a Master of Public Affairs by the U.S. News & World Report.

Andrew J. Brown

Andrew J. Brown is a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry working under the mentorship of Prof. Kim R. Dunbar. His research encompasses the syntheses and characterization of nanometer-sized magnets based on underexplored rare earth and transition metal complexes. His work has potential applications in next-generation electronic devices with specific promise in high density data storage, quantum computing, and molecular spintronics. His research discoveries garnered him an invitation to present his work as a “Hot-Topic” at the 2014 Gordon Research Conference on Conductivity & Magnetism in Molecular Materials. Subsequently, he received a travel scholarship from the Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter. Andrew has currently authored four publications and has four more in preparation to publish before graduation.

As a unique and truly beneficial aspect of his graduate research experience, Andrew was solicited as a synthetic chemist for a collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration. In this role, Andrew synthesized a variety of hexacyanoferrate Prussian blue analogs with specific modifications to the crystal structure. Andrew’s efforts have the potential to advance the manufacturing design of the Prussian blue drug known as Radioguardase® which is the current antidote for radioactive poisoning.

Apart from his research activities, Andrew has contributed to the advancement of the community. He has been responsible for demonstrations given to thousands of children at the Chemistry Open House here at Texas A&M University, as well as Greens Prairie Elementary and Oakwood Intermediate Schools in College Station. Andrew has also recently been a volunteer at the Science Olympiad and was a recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award given by the Chemistry First Year Program. He is an active member in many outreach organizations, such as the Organization for Cultural Diversity in Chemistry, the Texas A&M Entrepreneurship Society, the Brazos Valley Mountain Bike Association, and others. He also developed a social app for chemistry graduate students to discuss safety considerations when using caustic and hazardous chemicals in the laboratory. 

2014 Award Recipients

Joey Jabbour

Joey Jabbour is a PhD candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Her research involves the design, development and testing of a multi-resolution multi-modal endoscope using fluorescence lifetime imaging and reflectance confocal microscopy for early detection of oral cancer. During her time as a doctoral student, Joey has authored six journal articles and has collaborated with engineers, researchers, physicians and industry professionals from prestigious institutions such as the Comparative Medicine Program in College Station, the Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas and the Metrology Concepts in New York. Joey has also guest lectured several graduate classes and journal clubs, mentored diverse electrical and biomedical engineering students and participated in various research projects in biomedical engineering. Along with the George W. Kunze Endowed Graduate Fellowship, she has been awarded the 2013 SPIE Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship; the 2013 Outstanding Chapter Office Award from the National Biomedical Engineering Society; the 2013 Texas A&M Office of Graduate and Professional Studies Research and Presentation Grant; the 2013 Texas A&M College of Engineering Graduate Climate Travel Grant; and several other awards throughout 2011 and 2012. In addition to her academic achievements, Joey contributes to the Texas A&M and Bryan-College Station community through her Matlab and Labview workshops for students, her social potlucks for the Biomedical Engineering department and her outreach activities for high school students.

Emily Rose

Emily Rose is a PhD candidate working in Dr. Adam Jones’ lab in the Biology Department. Emily’s dissertation focuses on mating system evolution and the effects of anthropogenic impacts on syngnathid fishes, including seahorses and pipefishes. One major goal of her thesis is to determine the effects of synthetic estrogen exposure on the Gulf pipefish’s mating system using evolutionary theory and genetics. For this work she received a three year STAR Fellowship from the Environmental Protection Agency. Emily currently has two peer-reviewed publications with a third currently in review and also has several additional projects which will be submitted for publication before she graduates next year.  Emily has been involved in several organizations during her time as graduate student including the Biology Graduate Student Association, Women in Science and Engineering and the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Student Organization. Emily has served as a student representative on several committees for the College of Science and the Biology Department and she recently served as an organizer for this year’s Ecological Integration Symposium here at Texas A&M University.

2013 Award Recipient

Emre M. Demirezen

Emre M. Demirezen is a PhD candidate in the Information and Operations Management Department in the Mays Business School. His research encompasses healthcare management and information systems and operations management. Described by one of his professors as a “very prolific researcher,” Emre has an established track record of excellence in academics, research and service.

Emre’s research agenda includes 16 conference presentations, 8 papers in refereed conference proceedings in which he is first author and 7 additional papers in various stages of publication. His scholarly work has resulted in the Best Young Researcher, Best Theoretical/Empirical Research, Doctoral Award for Outstanding Research, Best Paper Award and Distinguished Track Paper award recognitions, to name a few.

Emre also taught an undergraduate Operations Management course. In this required, hugely unpopular course, Emre rated among top faculty teaching similar courses, receiving extremely high reviews. One professor noted, “Although he [Emre] taught a difficult course and maintained high expectations of his students, the students saw him as a highly effective and caring instructor”.

In addition to his scholarly achievements, Emre contributes to the Texas A&M student community, having served as the vice president of Turkish Student Association at Texas A&M University in 2011 and 2012. As an active contributor, Erme participated in many local activities, helped newcomers adjust to life in College Station, and organized several seminars, picnics and other local events.

2012 Award Recipient

Mr. Tony Joseph Akl

While pursuing his PhD in the Optical BioSensing Laboratory in the department of Biomedical Engineering here at Texas A&M, Tony has excelled in academics, research, and service. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA while generating 4 articles (3 of which are first-authored) in peer-reviewed journals, with many more in review; he has also made 16 presentations at national and international conferences. The Kunze Award honors excellent students who have also made important service contributions. Tony has devoted himself to outreach and service through holding both the Design Chair position in the student chapter of Engineering World Health (EWH) and as Secretary for the local student chapter of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. As a founding member of the local student chapter of EWH, Tony makes his mark on society by aiding in the design of low-cost, high quality medical devices for developing countries. In addition, Tony helped organize an outreach program with the SPIE student chapter to educate K-12 children on optical sciences and biomedical optics through fun and informative demonstrations; these were delivered to over 500 students in a 3-day tour of high schools in East Texas.

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