2016 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.

Award Winners

Forrest J. Bowlick will graduate with his doctorate in Geography from Texas A&M University in May 2016. A native Coloradoan, he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, continuing to the University of Idaho for his Master’s of Science, also in Geography. Forrest’s dissertation research, conducted with the support and guidance of Sarah W. Bednarz, focuses on the ever-changing landscape of instruction in geographic information science (GIS), especially concerning the growing fusion of computer science and programming concepts within GIS. As GIS has grown into a fundamental information technology, the knowledge, skills, and practices associated with GIS have changed.

Forrest’s research investigates this fusion, building an evidence-based understanding of what topics compose this new conception of GIS, and how GIS practitioners value those topics. Using a mix of methodologies, including Q-method interviews, syllabi reviews, and analysis of degree programs, his work outlines the divergent frameworks structuring coursework and instruction in this field. His results show little consistency or emphasis in current educational efforts concerning computer science and programming, especially in how they function in building competencies required for use in state-of-the-art GIS. The fractured and uneven nature of basic computer science and programming instruction in GIS indicates that to achieve a computer science-enabled GIS future, a much larger chasm between GIS and computer science must be bridged.
Forrest is supported in his work by his awesome wife, Katie, who teaches middle school in Caldwell. They and their three cats will be moving to Amherst, Massachusetts, where Forrest is joining the faculty at the University of Massachusetts as a lecturer in GIS, developing a new professional Master’s program in GIS.

Adolfo R. Escobedo is a PhD candidate in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and is set to graduate in August 2016. He received his B.A. degree in Mathematics from California State University, Los Angeles in 2009. His research interests are in the theory and application of mathematical programming, specifically in the design and analysis of algorithms, optimization of power systems, and decision theory. Adolfo has published in multiple top peer-reviewed journals, and he has presented his work at over ten national conferences and workshops. His research awards include an honorable mention in the INFORMS Junior Faculty Interest Group Forum Paper Competition for joint work with his advisor, Erick Moreno-Centeno, on roundoff error-free optimization and the Texas A&M Energy Institute Fellowship on two consecutive years for his power systems research as a member of the ARPA-E Robust Adaptive Topology Control project. In addition, Adolfo is a former recipient of the LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship, the Texas A&M Graduate Diversity Fellowship, and the highly competitive Jimmy H. Smith, Ph.D., P.E. Graduate Scholarship. Adolfo was involved in community service throughout his graduate studies by mentoring international and underrepresented graduate students; by helping found Aggies in Science, Technology, and Engineering Policy (ASTEP); as well as by his long-tenured participation in the Texas A&M System Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), Engineers Without Borders, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Matthew Josefy is completing his Ph.D. in strategic management at Texas A&M. His research examines corporate governance, social capital and organizational size and has been published or is forthcoming in the Academy of Management Annals, Journal of Business Ethics and Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies. His dissertation, which has been recognized with a grant from the Strategic Research Foundation, is titled “To Conform or Not to Conform: Board Responses to the Financial Crisis.” At Mays Business School, he has taught over 1,000 undergraduate students as well as in the M.B.A., M.S. and Executive programs and received the Service Excellence Award for his contributions. Josefy will join the management and entrepreneurship faculty at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University this summer.
Josefy started his career with multiple roles in the financial sector across London and Hong Kong before returning to pursue his academic career. He received his B.B.A. (accounting) and M.S. (financial management) from Texas A&M University, where he served as student body president, was recognized as the Brown-Rudder Outstanding Student Award, and was recently recognized with the 12 Under 12 award for young alumni.

Krista Lange is a Ph.D. candidate in Clinical Psychology. Krista’s research focuses on investigating sociocultural and psychological factors that affect disordered eating behaviors and body esteem in childhood and adolescence. More specifically, her doctoral dissertation examines the role of virtual avatars on the experience of self-objectification and subsequent disordered eating behaviors. In 2014, Krista was awarded the University 20/20 Dissertation Enhancement Award in order to examine this relationship in adolescence.  Krista has published 7 articles in peer-reviewed journals, presented 2 oral presentations at an international conference, and presented or co-authored 25 poster presentations at U.S. or international conferences. In addition to her contributions to research, Krista has instructed three undergraduate courses and was a teaching assistant for two lab sections. Further, she has mentored several undergraduate thesis projects. Krista has a passion for stirring excitement and critical thinking about the material presented in her courses, with one student remarking “[Krista] really stimulated my interest in the subject. The enthusiasm with which she presents the material engages the student and in doing so ensure[s] learning.” Krista accepted a clinical internship at Children’s Hospital Colorado, where she focuses her clinical work with children and adolescents diagnosed with an eating disorder and her research on obesity in low-income, minority preschool-aged children. Following the completion of her internship and postdoctoral training, Krista intends to pursue a career in an academic-medical setting in which she can continue to provide clinical care and complete research with children and adolescents struggling with an eating disorder and/or obesity, as well as continue to mentor and teach aspiring psychologists and medical students.

Troy Smith is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Management within the Mays Business School. His dissertation explores the dark-side of empowering leadership within work teams. Specifically, Troy is analyzing when and how empowering leadership – a traditionally very positive form of leadership –detrimentally impacts the proactivity of the team as a whole and its individual team members. At present, he is collaborating with six different companies across five unique industries to test his dissertation. During his time at Texas A&M University, Troy has been highly productive having published seven manuscripts, participated in 13 local, national, and international research presentations, and received an $82,000 research grant. Troy has been recognized for his research productivity by the Mays Business School with the 2014 Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research by a Doctoral Student. In addition, Troy has taught six different sections of “Managing Human Resources,” a writing intensive course for juniors and seniors in the Mays Business School. Troy has consistently received strong teaching evaluations and has also been recognized for his exceptional teaching by receiving the 2015 Dean’s Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Doctoral Student from the Mays Business School. Troy recently accepted a tenure-track position in the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Xuan Zhang is a Ph.D. candidate from the Dunbar research group in the Department of Chemistry. His research is focused on the structures and functions of novel inorganic-organic hybrid materials such as semiconductors and nanomagnets. During his time at Texas A&M, Xuan has been able to balance his work as a chemist with his passion for mentoring undergraduate and young graduate students, as well as reaching out to the community. Xuan has nine peer-reviewed publications, with two more submitted and several manuscripts to be submitted. His has won awards for his research and presentations at national and international meetings, such as the 13th International Conference on Molecule-Based Magnets and the 23rd Congress of the International Union of Crystallography. In addition to his research achievements, Xuan has also been a teaching assistant instructing several lab courses in the Department of Chemistry since 2011. Xuan is actively involved in community service by mentoring students in research and participating in outreach events such as National Chemistry Week, Chemistry Open House and chemistry demonstrations to K-12 students in community schools.

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