News: 2021, May 14th


Graduate Student Award Winners Recognized in April 16 Virtual Ceremony


The Auburn University Graduate School and the Graduate Student Council hosted the annual graduate student spring awards ceremony on April 16 via Zoom. Over 100 graduate students, faculty mentors, and university staff joined the virtual ceremony to recognize outstanding graduate students in 11 different categories including outstanding master’s thesis, outstanding doctoral dissertation, and two different graduate fellowships. In addition, six faculty awards were presented, including the Student Government Association Outstanding Faculty Award and the Outstanding Graduate Mentor Awards.

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) recognized 15 Graduate Student Senators, as well as the Executive Board members from the past two academic years while introducing the newly elected 2021-2022 GSC Executive Board.


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

Outstanding Graduate Student Awards
Masters’ recipients 

  • Christopher Thomas Bangert, English
  • Bidur Banjara, Health Outcomes Research & Policy
  • Jessica Colbaugh, Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
  • Poulomi Dey, Crop, Soil & Environmental Sciences
  • Karly Hicks, Clinical Sciences
  • Zubair Khalid, Pathobiology
  • Amrit Pal, Poultry Science
  • Haley Sherman, Human Development and Family Studies
  • Hunter Smith, Animal Sciences
  • Sanjita Wasti, Biosystems Engineering

Doctoral recipients 

  • Haishun Du, Chemical Engineering
  • Harsha Galkanda-Arachchige, Fisheries, Aquaculture & Aquatic Sciences
  • Diego Gomez-Maldonado, Forestry & Wildlife Sciences
  • Elijah Johnson, Geosciences
  • Hemendra Kumar, Biosystems Engineering
  • Tharikaa Ramesh Kumar, Aerospace Engineering
  • Marcus Merfa, Entomology & Plant Pathology
  • Francesca Mowry, Anatomy, Physiology & Pharmacology
  • Hailey Parry, Kinesiology
  • Dan Xu, Civil Engineering
  • Chao Yang, Electrical & Computer Engineering


Merriwether Fellowship

  • Akua Adu-Gyamfi, Curriculum & Teaching
  • Kate Clauss, Clinical Psychology
  • Maria Celeste Iglesias, Forestry
  • Arash Tehrani, Mechanical Engineering


President’s Award

  • Sumaiya Islam, Chemical Engineering


SGA Outstanding Student Award

  • Shahariar Mohammed Fahim, GSC President


SGA Outstanding Faculty Award

  • Danilea Werner, Social Work, College of Liberal Arts


Frank Sturm Memorial Fellowship 

  • Heather M. Haley, History
  • Olivia I. Nichols, Human Development & Family Science


Distinguished Dissertation Awards  

Social Sciences Category:

  • J. Good, Political Science
  • Courtney Haun, Political Science
  • Elizabeth Spitzer, Psychology

Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Engineering Category:

  • Richard Cullum, Chemical Engineering
  • Shubbhi Taneja, Computer Science
  • Erol Sozen, Hospitality


Master’s Thesis Awards

Humanities and Fine Arts Category:

  • Jessica Brown, History

Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Engineering Category:

  • Nathan Backenstose, Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures
  • Vitale Kyle Castellano, Mechanical Engineering
  • Rajveer Singh, Agronomy – Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences
  • Karthik Sridhar, Mechanical Engineering
  • Sanjita Wasti, Biosystems Engineering


Three Minute Thesis Winners

  • First Place: Sophie Boorman, Clinical Sciences, Veterinary Medicine
  • Runner-up and People’s Choice Award winner: Eleanore Larson, Geology & Geography, Department of Geosciences


Outstanding Graduate Mentor Awards

  • Antonio Duran, Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology
  • Davide Guzzetti, Aerospace Engineering
  • Joseph (Joe) Majdalani, Aerospace Engineering
  • Maria Soledad Peresin, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
  • Jared Russell, Kinesiology


First Year Experience (FYE) Mentorship Awards

  • Duha Ali, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering
  • Daniel Cabral, College of Education
  • Alicia Harkless, College of Education
  • Rachel Miller, College of Education
  • Ishwor Poudel, Harrison School of Pharmacy
  • Cody Shelton, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering
  • Haley Sherman, College of Human 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 at

Last modified: June 22, 2021