2015 U.S. Senator Phil Gramm Doctoral Fellowship Recipients

Dr. Phil 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 is the Senior Partner of Gramm Partners, a public policy firm in Washington, D.C.

Graduate students make contributions to the success of the University through research and teaching. Often, doctoral students may be outstanding in one or the other, but the students who are awarded this Fellowship excel in both research and teaching – the mark of a true scholar.

Left to right: Deanna Kennedy, Amanda David, Kayoung Kim, Christine M. Bergerson, Liang Chen, Ryan C. Neighbors

Award Winners

Christine Bergerson

Christine Bergerson is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Her dissertation focuses on the development of a novel bone-implant interface for the tibial tray of total knee replacements. Christine’s dissertation is a partnership with 4Web Medical, Inc., and it will be submitted for FDA 510(k) clearance with the hopes of her work being available commercially one day.  Christine’s research has given her the opportunity to mentor eleven undergraduate students, the majority of whom have gone on to graduate school.  In service to the Department of Biomedical Engineering, she developed and taught a course on experimental design in biomechanical testing for undergraduate seniors. In this course, students are given a project statement and eight to ten articles from the literature (some helpful, some distracting); they are then asked to design and run the experiment. Through cognitive conflict, the students learn both how to run the machines and the basics of experimental design.  Christine is also the founder of the BMEN Ambassadors, an organization dedicated to enhancing accessibility to the department for the community, prospective students, visiting scholars and prospective faculty.  

Liang Chen

Liang Chen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography. Liang received his B.S. in Geographic Information Systems and M.S. in Physical Geography at Lanzhou University in China in 2008 and 2011, respectively. His research interests include climate modeling and climate change and land-atmosphere interactions over China. Liang’s dissertation focuses on the impacts of land cover changes, such as agricultural activities and urbanization, on climate in the past and future over China. Liang has two peer-reviewed publications, several under-review, several nearly completed manuscripts, and has presented at multiple conferences. In addition to his research achievements, Liang has also been a teaching assistant in the Department of Geography since 2011, and he has taught several introductory courses in Physical Geography and Geographic Information Systems. Liang anticipates graduating with his Ph.D. in summer 2015, and aims to pursue a career in academia with both teaching and research.

Amanda David

Amanda David is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemistry. Her research is focused in the area of metals used in medicine, particularly of dirhodium-based anticancer agents. During her time at Texas A&M, Amanda has been able to balance her work as a synthetic inorganic chemist with her passion for reaching out to the community. Amanda was involved in community service by mentoring students who, like her, came from underrepresented backgrounds. During her graduate career she also visited schools and talked to students about chemistry and exposed them to the different opportunities available if they pursue careers in the sciences. Through her community service, Amanda has received various prestigious awards, such as the Susan M. Arseven Make-A-Difference Memorial Award and the Faculty Senate Aggie Spirit Award. Amanda is also an active member of the Society for the Advancement of Chincanos and Native Americans in the Sciences (SACNAS), Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and the Organization for Cultural Diversity in Chemistry (OCDC).

Deanna Kennedy

Deanna Kennedy is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Health and Kinesiology. Her dissertation research addresses theoretical questions related to motor synergies and bimanual coordination as well as more applied questions that have important implications for stroke rehabilitation and aging. Her dissertation work has been recognized for a number of awards, including the Robert B. Armstrong Graduate Scholar Award and the North American Society for Psychology and Sport and Physical Activity Student Research Award. As a graduate student Deanna has been exceptionally productive with 13 published manuscripts and several more in the review process, over 30 national and international presentations, and she has secured a number of internal and external grants. In addition, Deanna has taught several courses for the Physical Education Activity Program as well as an upper division undergraduate course in Adapted Kinesiology. Her teaching has received some of the highest evaluations in her department and she was recognized for her teaching excellence with the Student Led Award for Teaching Excellence. Upon graduation, Deanna plans to continue her career in academia.

Kayoung Kim

Kayoung Kim is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology. Prior to coming to Texas A&M, she received her B.A. in Psychology from Yonsei University in South Korea and her M. S. in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University. Kayoung’s research looks at the cognitive effect of biliteracy in adults, particularly in reading across different scripts. Kayoung has received numerous honors and national grants for her research, such as the Vision 2020 Dissertation Enhancement Award from College of Liberal Arts and the Dissertation Research Award from the American Psychological Association. In addition to her research, Kayoung has taught several introductory courses in Psychology at Texas A&M. Her teaching excellence has been recognized by her students and peers. One student noted, “Kayoung has enough energy and excitement to power a small town, and her vehemence truly motivates all her students. No matter the topic, her class was always exciting, interactive, vigorous, and more importantly, enjoyable. More students should take her course.” As further evidence of her dedication to teaching, Kayoung earned the Graduate Teaching Academy Fellows Certificate and is also a recipient of the 2015 Fasken Teaching Award from College of Liberal Arts and the 2015 Distinguished Graduate Student Award, Excellence in Teaching. After graduating in May 2015, Kayoung will begin her career as an Assistant Professor at University of Wisconsin, Fond du Lac.

Ryan Neighbors

Ryan Neighbors is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English. His research interests involve the intersection of southern studies and Native American studies, specifically examining how Native American authors have written about their ancestral homelands. His dissertation analyzes Cherokee authors’ use of fiction to represent the historical removal of their tribe from the American southeast, and the project includes a historical novel surrounding these events. While at Texas A&M, Ryan has won numerous honors and awards, including the Stanley Creswell Teaching Award from the English Department and the Distinguished Graduate Student Award from the Association of Former Students. He has worked as a screener and correspondent for the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, Callaloo, and the World Shakespeare Bibliography, and he has taught a variety of literature and writing courses. Currently, Ryan serves as a consultant for the University Writing Center, where he will become a Team Leader in the fall. He has published an edited collection and several essays, as well as creative works in over fifteen journals.

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