News: 2022, April 19


Graduate Student Award Winners Recognized in April 18 Awards Brunch


The Auburn University Graduate School and the Graduate Student Council hosted the annual Graduate Awards Brunch on April 18 in the Melton Student Center Ballroom. Over 150 graduate students, faculty mentors, friends and family attended the awards ceremony to recognize outstanding graduate students in more than a dozen different categories including outstanding master’s thesis, outstanding doctoral dissertation, and three different graduate fellowships. In addition, one staff award and seven faculty awards were presented, including the Outstanding Graduate Mentor Awards.

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) recognized ten Graduate Student Senators, as well as the Executive Board members from the past academic year while introducing the newly elected 2022-2023 GSC Executive Board.


The Graduate School congratulates the following students and faculty for their dedication, perseverance, and achievements:

Outstanding Graduate Student Awards
Masters’ recipients 

  • Mahmoud Abdalkarim, Computer Science & Software Engineering
  • Suman Budhathoki, Biosystems Engineering
  • Hannah Decker, Crop, Soil & Environmental Science
  • Tark Raj Giri, Aerospace Engineering
  • Andrew Kauffman, Industrial & Systems Engineering
  • Gregory Mifflin, Mechanical Engineering
  • Andrea Paez, Wildlife Sciences
  • Lydia Pena, Biomedical Sciences
  • Jeremiah Christian Pfitzer, Pharmacology
  • Tristan Reyes, Animal Sciences
  • Carolyn Ritchey, Cognitive and Behavior Sciences
  • Victoria Spencer, Biological Sciences
  • Ashton Kate Turner, Plant Pathology
  • Menglin Wei, Human Development & Family Studies

Doctoral recipients 

  • Ferrin Antony, Pathobiology
  • Mariane Faria Bacelar, Kinesiology
  • Zihao Bian, Earth System Science
  • Yan Dai, Educational Psychology
  • Silvareddy Dondeti, Mechanical Engineering
  • Kabre Heck, Drug Discovery & Development
  • Aya Saied Hussain, Aquaculture and Fisheries
  • Sarah Krichbaum, Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences
  • Jiaming Liu, Chemistry
  • Cassidi McDaniel, Health Outcomes Research and Policy
  • Amna Salman, Building Construction
  • Maria Tereza Terra, Poultry Science
  • Chunhao Wei, Hospitality Management
  • Bianca Williams, Chemical Engineering
  • Sarah Wilson, Biological Sciences


Merriwether Fellowship

  • Erin Cooper, Human Development and Family Studies
  • Sara Rains Gonzalez, Nutrition
  • Julia Salamat, Biomedical Sciences
  • Cody Shelton, Aerospace Engineering
  • Kaniz Afroz Tanni, Pharmaceutical Sciences


President’s Award

  • Oluchi Lynda Aroh, Biological Sciences


Frank Sturm Memorial Fellowship 

  • Ashley Williams, Biological Sciences


Williams Graduate Fellowship

  • Laura Delvers, Nutrition
  • Daniel Robinson, Adult Education


C.L. “Shot” Senn Fellowship

  • Philip Clarke Smith, Mechanical Engineering
  • Jonathan Walker, Adult Education
  • Devontae Williams, Finance


Three Minute Thesis Winners

  • First Place and People’s Choice Award winner: Summia Rahman, College of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences
  • Runner-up : Ja’Lia Taylor, College of Education


Rebecca Roden Award

  • Sherry Ray, Graduate School


Distinguished Dissertation Awards  

Humanities & Fine Arts Category:

  • Andrew Swartzer, History

Biological / Life Sciences Category:

  • Priscilla Ayine, Nutrition
  • Michael Coogan, Aquaculture
  • Donald Lamb, Nutrition
  • Xiaoli Ma, Aquaculture
  • Lauren Woodie, Nutrition


Master’s Thesis Awards

Social Sciences, Business, and
Education Category:

  • Rory Aurora Gernert, Sociology
  • Carolyn Ritchey, Psychology

Life Sciences Category:

  • Darshika Hettiarachchi, Fisheries & Allied
  • Andrew Johnson, Fisheries & Allied
  • Amrit Pal, Poultry Science
  • Yilue Zhang, Pharmaceutical Sciences


Outstanding Graduate Mentor Awards

  • Joseph Bardeen, Psychology
  • Jane Kuehne, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Guy Mount, History
  • Michael Perez, Civil Engineering
  • Richard Sesek, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Chih-hsuan Wang, Educational Foundations, Leadership & Technology
  • Tracy Witte, Psychology


Outstanding First Year Experience (FYE) Mentor Award

  • Kaitlin Stewart, Business Administration


Outstanding Graduate Student Council Senator Awards

  • Benjamin Jackson, Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Mackenzie Leavitt, Psychological Sciences
  • Hannah Luz, Communication
  • Shifat Monami, Geosciences
  • Laura Oldfather, Biological Sciences
  • Ishwor Poudel, Drug Discovery and Development
  • Susan Bonilla Rosales, Poultry Scence
  • Tayler Schillerberg, Crop, Soil & Environmental Science
  • Nayer Sultana, Chemical Engineering
  • Thomas Wilmore, Psychological Sciences


The Graduate School sponsors a variety of awards and fellowship programs for faculty and students to recognize achievement in teaching, research, and service. For more information on student awards, visit or contact the Auburn University Graduate School’s Associate Dean, Dr. Maria Witte, at

Last modified: April 18, 2022