Auburn graduate student receives Fulbright U.S. Scholar International Education Administrator Award

Carolyn Campbell-Golden, a doctoral candidate in administration of higher education in Auburn University’s College of Education, has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar International Education Administrator Award to Germany from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Campbell-Golden is one of more than 200 United States citizens who will teach, conduct research and provide expertise abroad for the 2016-17 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholars Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as a record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields. Campbell-Golden is vice chancellor for advancement at Auburn University at Montgomery.

Submitted by: Stacey Nickson

Last updated: 08/31/201

Six honored with 2016 Distinguished Dissertation Awards

Six recent Auburn University graduates have been selected as winners of the Graduate School’s 2015-16 Distinguished Dissertation Awards.

Award winners are David Adams, Kim Gregson and Hans Saint-Eloi Cadely in the Social Sciences category and Hasan Babaei, Xunfei Jiang and Fang Yu in the Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Engineering category. Babaei and Saint-Eloi Cadely will go on to compete for the Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards.

The Distinguished Dissertation Awards recognize the scholarship of doctoral graduates whose dissertations make an unusually significant contribution to their respective disciplines. Auburn’s colleges and schools nominate students for the awards, and an award committee composed of graduate faculty selects the award winners.

This year’s winning dissertations are:

  • “The Environmental Outcomes of Collaborative Natural Resource Institutions” by David Adams (dissertation embargoed). His dissertation committee consisted of Auburn faculty members Kathleen Hale (chair), M. Mitchell Brown, Linda F. Dennard, Gerard Gryski and Elise Irwin. Adams graduated in May 2016 with a doctorate in public administration and public policy and will join California State University, Fullerton this fall as an assistant professor of public administration.
  • Distinguishing Behavioral and Cognitive Dimensions of Parental Social Coaching: A Focused Examination of Parents’ Social and Psychological Influence During Early Adolescence” by Kim Gregson. Her dissertation committee consisted of Auburn faculty members Stephen Erath (chair), Gregory Pettit, Mona El-Sheikh, Margaret Keiley and Christine Totura. Gregson graduated in May 2015 with a doctorate in human development and family studies and works as a research associate with the Peer Relations Lab at Auburn University, while she also stays home full time with her two children and awaits the arrival of her third child. She is ultimately seeking a research or teaching position at a college or university.
  • The Development of Interpartner Aggression from Adolescence to Young Adulthood” by Hans Saint-Eloi Cadely. His dissertation committee consisted of Auburn faculty members Joe F. Pittman Jr. (chair), Gregory S. Pettit, Jennifer L. Kerpelman and Amy Rauer. Saint-Eloi Cadely graduated in August 2015 with a doctorate in human development and family studies and is now an assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island.
  • Molecular-Level Modeling of Thermal Transport Mechanisms within Carbon Nanotube/Graphene-based Nanostructure-enhanced Phase Change Materials” by Hasan Babaei. His dissertation committee consisted of Auburn faculty members Jay M. Khodadadi (chair), W. Robert Ashurst and Rik Blumenthal and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute faculty member Pawel Keblinski (co-chair). Babaei graduated in August 2014 with a doctorate in mechanical engineering and is now a postdoctoral associate with the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Thermal Modeling and Management of Storage Systems” by Xunfei Jiang. Her dissertation committee consisted of Auburn faculty members Xiao Qin (chair), Cheryl Seals, David Umphress and Saad Biaz. Jiang graduated in August 2014 with a doctorate in computer science and software engineering and is now an assistant professor at Earlham College.
  • Ag Sintering Die and Passive Components Attach for High Temperature Applications” by Fang Yu. Her dissertation committee consisted of Auburn faculty members R. Wayne Johnson (chair), Michael C. Hamilton, John L. Evans and Dong-Joo Kim. Yu graduated in May 2016 with a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering and is now a research associate at the University of Arkansas.

Award winners receive an honorarium of $500 and a certificate.

The two categories for the Distinguished Dissertation Awards rotate each year. The Graduate School will solicit nominations in the fall for the 2016-17 categories: Humanities/Fine Arts and Biological/Life Sciences.

2016 NCAA Graduate Student Research Grant Program

The NCAA has released a call for proposals for its 2016 Graduate Student Research Grant Program. The NCAA Research Committee invites research proposals within the general topic areas of student-athlete psychosocial well-being and college athletics participation. Graduate students studying topics of specific interest to the NCAA and its membership, while demonstrating the competencies necessary to successfully complete the proposed study, will receive the highest consideration.

The research grant is a one-time award set at a maximum of $7,500. Proposals are due by 4 p.m. CT on August 12, 2016. Please see the PDF on NCAA.org for full eligibility and submission requirements.

Six faculty members chosen as Outstanding Graduate Mentors

Six Auburn University faculty members have been selected as the Graduate Student Council’s 2016 Outstanding Graduate Mentors.

The winners are:

  • Baker Ayoun, Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management
  • Jonathan Fisk, Department of Political Science
  • Beth Guertal, Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences
  • Wendy Hood, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Randolph Pipes, Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation and Counseling
  • Wesley Zech, Department of Civil Engineering

The winners were selected from a pool of 45 nominees for the awards, which recognize graduate faculty members who go above and beyond their duty as teachers, advisors and mentors. A committee of graduate students reviewed the nominations and picked the winners based on the strength of the nominees’ letters of support.

This year’s Outstanding Graduate Mentors will be recognized at an April 27 awards ceremony hosted by the Graduate School and the Graduate Student Council. The Graduate Student Council has presented the Outstanding Graduate Mentor Awards since 2008.

Auburn researcher, world hunger advocate Esther Ngumbi makes a difference in Africa and beyond

By Brianna Womack

Imagine yourself in Africa, standing alongside a Kenyan farmer during harvesting season.  The sun beats heavy on the farmer’s back. He scans carefully for any sign of hope among his crop. What insects haven’t destroyed, the sun has scorched. How many must go hungry because of this loss?

One such solution was discovered within the soil by Esther Ngumbi, a world hunger advocate and a postdoctoral researcher in Auburn University’s College of Agriculture. During her time as a doctoral student, she discovered that microscopic bacteria living in the soil (soil microbes) can change the chemistry of a plant so that it repels insects.This is a problem that plagues people from all over the world. But could there be a solution to protect his crops so his family and many others don’t go hungry?

Her research led to a U.S. patent and to companies pursuing rights to create commercialized products. She didn’t stop there.

“As a continuation of my work with the bacteria, we realized these bacteria have so many other uses, so now I’m looking into how they can help crops tolerate drought,” says Ngumbi, who earned her PhD in entomology from Auburn in 2011. “Some of the microbes can help plants tolerate the stress. The difference is tremendous!”

But her work goes far beyond her research. She is a Food Security Fellow with New Voices and The Aspen Institute, and she has also served as a Clinton Global University Initiative (CGIU) mentor for agriculture. Additionally, she has been involved in Universities Fighting World Hunger.

Born and raised in Mabafweni, Kenya, Ngumbi experienced harsh living conditions. She grew up going to the farm every day, walking to and from school. She is the only woman from her community to earn a PhD.

“I always talk about how we would go with our parents to collect their salaries,” she says. “I looked at the people who would go into the bank and thought they dressed so elegantly. They were in an air conditioned room, and I wanted to be just like that. I wanted a better life.”

Ngumbi said her dreams of being an accountant were finished the moment she discovered science in university. After completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Kenya, a friend convinced her to pursue a doctoral degree in the US at Auburn University.

With the help of associate professor and integrated pest management specialist Henry Fadamiro, Ngumbi discovered ways to help farmers protect their crops.

Ngumbi’s resourcefulness and innovative thinking drive her to search for solutions to problems like world hunger and poverty. Ngumbi says she believes education is the answer, and she hopes to provide other children from her country the same kind of opportunities she has experienced.

In addition to her research on crops, Ngumbi pours most of her time and energy into the development of a school she and her parents pioneered in Kenya called Faulu Academy. “Faulu” means success in Swahili.

Ngumbi speaks nationally at events and conferences to share about her work in entomology and about Faulu Academy.

“The school is what keeps me up at night,” she says. “I have a personal love for Africa. I hope that all the research I do here in Auburn will feed off into my native country and into African life. For me, everything I learn and that I’m engaged in is all about giving back.”

Faulu Academy, originally built from mud, now educates 94 students from elementary to grade seven. Ngumbi says her parents informed her there may be 26 new students soon. The school has grown from one building to a compound, and she plans to continue expanding. She hopes to gain more support so more students can attend the school and experience a 21st century learning environment.

“There’s a picture that always comes to me,” she says. “I went home in 2015 and we were opening the library. We had students from our school in there and then students from the neighborhood standing outside the windows. They’re looking in the windows and they want to come in and I can’t let them. I don’t want that situation. I want everyone who wants to learn to be accepted.”

Ngumbi commends the Auburn Family for their support and participation. Former Miss Auburn Tara Jones helped collect money from the Auburn community to build a well for Faulu Academy. Additionally, The Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) donated six iPads for the school’s use.

Ngumbi says she dreams Faulu Academy will one day be an institution like Auburn, and she believes Auburn has the resources to help build the next portion of the school, a science lab. She hopes the lab will give students the opportunity to fall in love with science the same way she did when she was at university.

Ngumbi reiterates that her life is truly dedicated to giving back and investing in others. She feels there is poverty all around, but she dreams of a world that doesn’t look as bleak in the next 10 years. Because of what education has done for her, she hopes to instill its importance in the young minds at her school.

“I tell the students at Faulu Academy that even if they don’t get a PhD like me and they choose to be a farmer, an educated farmer will always be better than a non-educated farmer,” she says. “You can never compare.”

Her message is simple: Education is an extremely valuable tool, and she envisions a world where everyone is provided an opportunity to take flight. For graduate students, she reminds us that education is one of the most important assets that can sometimes be taken for granted throughout the journey.

“Treasure and value the privilege you are given,” she says. “If you are here in Auburn, you are really privileged. You are in the top 2 percent of the world. Use it and get the most out of the opportunity to have an education. There is somebody who wants to get that, but they can’t. They didn’t get to choose where they were born.”

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Nominations open: Graduate Education Development Council

The Graduate School is seeking new Graduate Education Development Council members. Summer 2016 nominations are due by Friday, July 15.

The Graduate Education Development Council is a group of distinguished alumni, corporate representatives, parents, friends and supporters who recognize the importance of graduate education. Members serve three-year terms, act as advocates on behalf of graduate education and promote all Auburn University graduate programs and students by securing new resources.

“We strive to bring the best and brightest graduate students to Auburn University,” Graduate School Dean George Flowers said. “To remain competitive with other universities, we need funding to create prestigious fellowships and to support the research endeavors of our graduate students.  With the generous support of the Auburn Family, we can achieve — and even eclipse — our lofty goals.”

Because council members assist in and promote the philanthropic advancement of graduate education, they are asked to set an example of giving by an annual leadership gift to the Graduate School. This leadership gift allows the Graduate School to provide the resources necessary to foster a positive learning environment for its graduate students, and contributes to the success of its students, faculty and programmatic priorities.

The council meets in various locations across campus twice a year. During these meetings, council members have the opportunity to: closely interact with the Dean, Associate Dean and staff members of the Graduate School; learn about diverse areas of study within graduate education; discuss the progress, needs and goals of graduate education; and create a plan of action for enhancing the advancement efforts of the Auburn University Graduate School.

If you would like to nominate yourself or someone you know who has an interest in advancing graduate education at Auburn University and helping graduate students achieve their dreams, please fill out this brief interest form. For more information, email Melanie Roehm at melanieroehm@auburn.edu.

Established in 1872, the Auburn University Graduate School enrolls approximately 4,200 graduate students and offers more than 160 highly-ranked graduate programs, including those leading to graduate certificates, master’s degrees, educational specialist degrees and doctorates. Working alongside world-class faculty members, Auburn graduate students are addressing real-world problems while honing their critical thinking and research skills in preparation to emerge as leaders and innovators in academia, industry and government.

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Burkhart to give Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lecture Sept. 22

Barry Burkhart, a professor in the Department of Psychology, will give Auburn University’s 2015-16 Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lecture on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 4 p.m. in 112 Thach Hall.

The lecture honors a faculty member who has made significant contributions to graduate education at Auburn University. Burkhart’s address is titled “The gifts of the university: Reflections and a case study.”

“Of all the tasks that come with being a graduate faculty member, that of being a mentor to young scholars is the most dear to me,” Burkhart said. “I am honored to have an opportunity to be recognized for this labor of love.”

Burkhart received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Florida State University in 1970 and his PhD in clinical psychology in 1974, also, from Florida State University. He has been on faculty at Auburn since 1974 and is a former chair of the Department of Psychology. His main research interests center around the assessment and treatment of problems resulting from violence and victimization.
Burkhart is the 41st lecturer in the Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lecture series, which is jointly sponsored by the Graduate School and the Auburn Alumni Association. Since beginning in the 1975-76 academic year, it has developed into a major university lecture series that fosters a better understanding of the scholarly contributions made by Auburn’s faculty. Nominations for the honor are solicited from the university’s faculty, and the recipient is selected by a committee of graduate faculty members. The lecturer receives a $2,000 award from the Auburn Alumni Association.
Following the lecture, a reception with light refreshments will be held outside Thach Hall. Students, faculty and members of the community are invited to attend. For more information about the Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lecture, visit www.grad.auburn.edu/dgfl.

Five honored with Distinguished Dissertation Awards

Five recent Auburn University graduates have been selected as winners of the Graduate School’s 2014-15 Distinguished Dissertation Awards.
Award winners are Chris Eklund and Libby Jones in the Humanities/Fine Arts category and Justin Havird, Farruk Lutful Kabir and Rui Malinowski in the Biological/Life Sciences category. Eklund and Lutful Kabir will go on to compete for the Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards.
The Distinguished Dissertation Awards recognize the scholarship of doctoral students whose dissertations make an unusually significant contribution to their respective disciplines. Auburn’s colleges and schools nominate students for the awards, and an award committee composed of graduate faculty selects the award winners.

This year’s winning dissertations are:

  • “Private Paths to Protecting Places: The Creation of a Conservation Infrastructure in the American South Since 1889” by Chris Eklund (dissertation embargoed). His dissertation committee consisted of Auburn faculty members Aaron Shapiro (chair), Jennifer Brooks, Cathleen Giustino and David Lucsko. Eklund graduated in May 2015 with a doctorate in history and has accepted a position teaching high school in North Carolina. He is ultimately seeking a teaching position at a college or university.
  • “The Devolution of Irish Masculinity in Twentieth Century Irish Drama: Representations of Manliness in the Plays of John Millington Synge, Sean O’Casey and Martin McDonagh” by Libby Jones (dissertation embargoed for non-Auburn University users). Her dissertation committee consisted of Auburn faculty members Jonathan Bolton (chair), Chris Keirstead, Sunny Stalter-Pace and Ralph Kingston. Jones graduated in May 2015 with a doctorate in English and now teaches at the University of South Alabama and Spring Hill College.
  • “Disturbance in the anchialine ecosystem: ramifications for ecology and physiology” by Justin Havird. His dissertation committee consisted of Auburn faculty members Scott Santos (chair), Raymond Henry, Mark Liles and Alan Wilson. Havird graduated in May 2014 with a doctorate in biological sciences and is now a postdoctoral fellow at Colorado State University.
  • “Altered Expression Profiles and Defects in a Group of Cell Cycle Regulators and Tumor Suppressor Genes (INK4) and Evaluation of Comprehensive Expression Profiles of Canine miRNAs in Spontaneous Canine Breast Cancer Models” by Farruk Lutful Kabir. His dissertation committee consisted of Auburn faculty members R. Curtis Bird (chair), Bruce Smith, Frederik van Ginkel and Jacek Wower. Lutful Kabir graduated in December 2014 with a doctorate in biomedical sciences and is now a postdoctoral fellow at Auburn.
  • “Carbonyl inhibition and detoxification in microbial fermentation of biomass hydrolysates” by Rui Malinowski (formerly Rui Xie). Her dissertation committee consisted of Auburn faculty members Maobing Tu (chair), Yoon Lee, Maria Auad and Eduardus (Evert) Duin. Malinowski graduated in May 2014 with a doctorate in forestry and now works as an analytical chemist at Cool Planet Energy Systems.

Award winners receive an honorarium of $500 and a certificate.
The two categories for the Distinguished Dissertation Awards rotate each year. The Graduate School will solicit nominations in the fall for the 2015-16 categories: Social Sciences and Mathematics/Physical Sciences/Engineering.

428 graduate degrees to be awarded at summer graduation

Auburn University will award 428 graduate degrees during the university’s two graduation ceremonies Saturday, Aug. 1, in Auburn Arena.
Of the degrees to be awarded, 300 are master’s degrees, 110 are doctorates and 18 are education specialist degrees.
Auburn alumnus Mike Warren Jr., president and CEO of the pediatric acute care facility of Children’s of Alabama, will be the speaker at the commencement ceremonies.
Warren, who graduated from Auburn in 1968, received the Auburn Alumni Association’s 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award and he is also a 2015 inductee into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame. After graduating from Auburn, he attended law school at Duke University and began his career practicing law in Birmingham. He became president of Alagasco in 1984 and was named president and CEO of Energen in 1997 and chair in 1998. In 2008, he was named president and CEO of Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham.
The 10 a.m. ceremony will include the colleges and schools of Architecture, Design and Construction; Engineering; Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; University College, formerly Interdisciplinary Studies; Liberal Arts; and Sciences and Mathematics. The 2 p.m. ceremony will be held for the colleges and school of Agriculture; Business; Education; Human Sciences; and Nursing.
The ceremonies can be viewed live through the university’s website at www.auburn.edu/graduationlive.
Since awarding its first graduate degree in 1870, the Graduate School has awarded more than 44,000 degrees. Click here to read more about summer graduation.