2013 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.

GrammAwards-9787_1 Group(1)
Top row, left to right: Arupa Mohapatra, Christopher Labosier, Alex Bayeh, Felipe Avila, Justin Stachnik, KangJae Jerry Lee
Bottom row, left to right: Michael A. Istvan Jr., Tiffany Pinder, Jennifer Cox, Warren Sconiers 

Award Winners

Felipe Avila

Felipe Avila obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Brasilia (Brazil) in 2005 and joined the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences at Texas A&M University in 2009. Currently, he is a Ph.D. candidate in the Laboratory of Animal Molecular Cytogenetics and Genomics under the supervision of Dr. Terje Raudsepp. Felipe’s primary interests include chromosome structure and evolution in camelids, as well as chromosomal abnormalities that affect the health of different camelid species. His Ph.D. research project involves generating a whole genome physical and comparative cytogenetic map for the alpaca. With this study, Felipe aims to integrate genome sequence data with physical chromosome information in order to obtain the location of various candidate genes, such as those for disease resistance, congenital disorders, reproduction, fiber color and texture. He hopes to lay the foundation for research on genetic contributions to traits of economic and biological importance in different camelid species. http://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/press-releases/avila-awarded-phil-gramm-doctoral-fellowship

Alex Bayeh

Alex Bayeh is a PhD candidate in the department of Aerospace Engineering. He received both his BS and MS in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M in 2008 and 2009, respectively. His past and current research involves developing a miniature supersonic burner and applying a new laser diagnostics technique to the high-speed flames. In 2009 Alex received a 3-year National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship, funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Jennifer Cox

Jennifer Cox, a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology, has enjoyed great success while at Texas A&M University. Jennifer’s research focuses on the effect of psychological assessment on legal decision making.Her dissertation explores how psychological expert testimony influences verdicts in capital murder trials. She has multiple publications in scholarly journals including three publications as first author. Jennifer has also demonstrated a vested interest in undergraduate student development. She taught undergraduates in both lecture and laboratory courses with one student remarking, “(she) was very enthusiastic and you could tell she liked what she was teaching. It was inspiring and made me want to try harder.” Jennifer also spends a significant amount of time mentoring undergraduate students in different research areas and has been noted by multiple students as having a significant impact on their academic careers. In July, Jennifer will move to Washington D.C. to begin a clinical internship at the prestigious and historical St. Elizabeth's Hospital.

Arupa Mohapatra

Arupa Mohapatra is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University. He received the B.Tech. degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli, India. His research interests include optimization and performance evaluation in networked systems, with emphasis on wireless communication networks. Arupa has been a teaching assistant for seven different courses while at Texas A&M University. Students describe Arupa as a fair and challenging professor who genuinely cared about the success of his students. In fact, one student states “Professor Mohapatra was one of the youngest professors I have ever had; however he was one of the most influential”.

Michael A. Istvan Jr

Michael A. Istvan Jr. is a PhD candidate and instructor in the Department of Philosophy, and an MA candidate in the Department of English. A recipient of numerous honors and grants here at Texas A&M (most recently the College of Liberal Arts Vision 2020 Dissertation Enhancement Award), Michael served as a referee and copyeditor for high-impact philosophy journals, presented at five national conferences, authored five scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals of international reach and published numerous other works: poems, reviews, essays and translations. His dissertation exposes a case of apparent inconsistency in the philosophical system of the preeminent 17th century thinker Baruch Spinoza. Guided by the methodological belief that historians of philosophy must make a concerted effort to show the strength, resourcefulness and coherence of the work under examination, Michael aims to reconcile this apparent inconsistency in a way that honors the constraints of Spinoza’s vision. Michael taught a wide-range of upper-level undergraduate courses, and one of his overarching pedagogical goals is cultivating an appreciation for the sort of charitable approach to philosophy that his dissertation enacts.

Christopher Labosier

Christopher Labosier is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography. His interests include wildfire climatology, as well as drought and hydroclimatology. Christopher’s dissertation examines the relationships between wildfire activity and hydroclimatology and synoptic climatology in the southeastern United States. He received a B.S. in Biology from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama and his M.S. in Geography from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Christopher previously taught at both of his alma maters and now serves as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Geography.  In addition to his research and teaching, Christopher is the co-director of the Graduate Teaching Academy.

KangJae Jerry Lee

KangJae Jerry Lee is a PhD student in the Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University. His research focuses include leisure behavior of racial/ethnic minorities, serious leisure and recreational specialization and interracial contact during leisure and sport activities. Jerry is the lead author of three papers published in the top journals in the field of leisure sciences and six conference papers. He taught several courses at the university and has been recognized as an effective and committed instructor. Jerry also pursues to community service and served as the President and Vice-President of the Korean Student Association at Texas A&M University.

Tiffany Pinder

Tiffany Pinder, a native of the Bahamas, is a PhD student in the Department of Chemistry.  As an inorganic coordination chemist, Tiffany’s research focuses on metallodithiolates as ligands to various reporter units such as dinitrosyl iron complexes and tungsten carbonyls in order to examine the structures, magnetism and donor properties of these heterobimetallic complexes.  Tiffany co-authored two peer-reviewed publications with two others nearing submission. She presented her research at several national conferences and one international meeting in France.  She served as a teaching/instructor’s assistant for upper level chemistry courses including Descriptive Inorganic, Metals in Medicine and Biology and Green Chemistry.  Additionally, Tiffany mentored two outstanding undergraduates over the past three years and won the Ethel Ashworth-Tsutsui Memorial Award for mentoring in 2012.  Beyond academics, she participates in a number of organizations including WISE and NOBCChE that provide outreach programs for the local community.

Warren Sconiers

Warren Sconiers is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Entomology. His research examines the effects of water stress on plant and insect herbivore communities in both natural and agricultural systems. His career goals include becoming a professor conducting research and teaching. Warren currently serves as the Assistant Director of University Affairs for the Graduate Teaching Academy. He also serves on the steering committee for the National Science Foundation’s Center for the Integration of Teaching and Learning chapter at Texas A&M. In addition, Warren founded and serves as President for the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Independent Student Organization.

Justin Stachnik

Justin Stachnik is a PhD student in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. His doctoral research focused on the observed properties of clouds and precipitating systems associated with large-scale tropical atmospheric circulation. Justin published two first author papers related to his work in top-tier journals, with several more in preparation. Justin taught numerous lab and lecture courses while at Texas A&M. He also served as an undergraduate research mentor for three years, designing projects and guiding students through the research process, culminating with student presentations at local and national conferences. Justin will begin a prestigious post-doc at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the spring of 2013 where he will continue his research on clouds, climate and precipitation.

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