2012 U.S. Senator Phil Gramm Doctoral Fellowship Recipients

Dr. Gramm spent two decades serving in the U.S. Congress and Senate, using his economic and financial expertise to create important laws and policies and to provide advice to legislators and the White House. Currently, Dr. Gramm serves as the Senior Partner of Gramm Partners, a public policy firm in Washington, D.C.

Two of the most important elements that graduate students contribute to University success include research and teaching. Often doctoral students may prove outstanding in one or the other, but the students receiving this Fellowship excel in both research and teaching – the mark of a true scholar.

Top row, left to right: President R. Bowen Loftin, Sara Lowmaster, Jeremy Beus, Kathryn Schreiner, Meng Gao 
Bottom row, left to right: Alison Bockoven, William Flatley, Allyson Martinez

Award Winners

Alison Bockoven

Alison Bockoven is a PhD student in the Entomology Department. Her research focused on genetic variation for foraging traits in red imported fire ants. Alison’s results will make a major impact on effectively controlling these pests via their attraction to insecticide-laced food baits. Alison started her A&M career as a Merit and Regent’s Graduate fellow, and her diligent research efforts subsequently earned her top prizes in several competitive research forums and multiple national presentations. As a teaching assistant for general entomology classes, Alison is known for connecting with her students and motivating them to work hard. In fact, one student states, “by the end of the semester, I was so influenced by Alison’s passion for insects that I decided to declare Entomology as my major.”

Sara Lowmaster

Sara Lowmaster enjoyed tremendous success while pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Texas A&M. Sarah’s research interests lie in assessing personality and interpersonal behavior and its relationship to psychopathology. She established a truly distinguished record of research accomplishments with multiple national presentations and 6 peer-reviewed publications (two as first author) in high impact journals; she also co-authored 3 book chapters.  Sarah spends a significant amount of time mentoring undergraduate students in her research area.  She served as an instructor and teaching assistant for varied Psychology classes at A&M and inspired many students to pursue a career in psychology. Sara soon begins her clinical internship at the prestigious Massachusetts General Hospital affiliated with the Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Jeremy Beus

Jeremy Beus is a PhD student in the Department of Psychology.Jeremy’s research helps to expand our understanding of the reciprocal relationship between safety climate and workplace injuries.  He is first author on four out of his 7 papers published in the top journals in his field. Jeremy’s effectiveness as a teacher parallels his research success. Students describe him as organized, devoted and entertaining, and many of them labeled Jeremy as the best lecturer they’ve had in college. Jeremy has accepted a tenure-track position in the Psychology Department at the University of Central Florida to begin in the fall of 2012.

William Flatley

William Flatley is a PhD student in the Department of Geography. His research on past and present fire regimes and vegetation dynamics in the southern Appalachian Mountains contributes to a core area in the field of geography. This research has important implications for controversial practices in wildfire management and prescribed burning. From 2007 to 2010, William served as a graduate research assistant for the USDA Joint Fire Science Program Grant. William presented his research at 6 national conferences and one international meeting in Beijing, and has two peer-reviewed publications (one as first author). In addition, William served both as an assistant lecturer and teaching assistant for multiple geography courses. In fact, one student wrote “he came to class every day with an aura of excitement that I would like to see in every professor.”

Kathryn Schreiner

Kathryn Schreiner is a PhD student in the Department of Oceanography. Her research focuses on carbon cycling and climate change in the Arctic.  Kathryn published 3 peer-reviewed articles, one as first author, and gave numerous presentations at world class conferences. This summer she will spend 3 months at one of the top ranked universities in the world, ETH University, in Zurich, Switzerland, working with Dr. Timoth Eglinton, one of the most notable marine biogeochemists in her field. In addition to her productive research efforts, Kathryn is an excellent teacher as well. One of her students wrote “I thought studying oceanography was boring until the very first lab session with Kathryn. Because of Kathryn’s optimism and energy, and her obvious interest in the subject I, myself, began to develop a curiosity about the science behind our waters.”

Meng Gao

Meng Gao is a PhD student in the Department of Physics. His research pertains to the optical properties of skin cells of cephalopods, namely, the octopus, squid and cuttlefish. He aims to understand how they use optics for camouflage.  Meng’s professors describe him as an exceptionally intelligent young scientist and a brilliant researcher. His research yielded insights into previously unknown mechanisms of optical physics, and these results have potential to yield exciting new technologies. Meng is already the lead author on two peer-reviewed publications in prestigious journals in physics, and has several more in preparation. Not only is Meng a superb researcher, but he is also a very gifted teacher. In the classroom Meng is always very patient and helpful, making students feel that he genuinely cares about them.

Allyson Martinez

Allyson Martinez is pursuing a doctoral degree in Microbiology. Her project aims to understand the molecular basis for the mechanisms for small intracellular proteins to stall ribosomal function in response to small molecules produced by bacteria or fungi. One professor notes, “ Allyson is developing as a first-class research scientist” who has published a first- authored paper in a respected journal, Nucleic Acids Research. In addition to her high academic achievement as a research scientist she is an exceptionally skilled, committed, and effective teacher. Students feel she has unwavering dedication to their improvements and that she upholds a high level of professionalism. Students say “she challenged us to write to our full capabilities and we are thankful for the level of academic integrity she held us to.”

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