McMahon, Zeng, 6 students honored by grad studies

Six graduate students and two faculty members were honored for scholarship and support to students by Office of Graduate Studies at its annual awards reception Feb. 2.

Maureen Todd received the 2012 Lowe R. and Mavis M. Folsom Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Award. Todd, of Rawlins, Wyo., completed her doctoral degree in child, youth and family studies under Associate Professor Yan Xia and Professor John DeFrain. Her dissertation is titled, “The Process of Becoming a Strong GLBT Family: A Grounded Theory.”

Aprille Phillips received the 2012 Lowe R. and Mavis M. Folsom Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award. Phillips earned her master’s in teaching, learning and teacher education under Associate Professor Edmund Hamann. Phillips’ thesis is “Transnationalism and the Dominican Republic: The Effect on Student Identity and Achievement.” Phillips is from Hastings, Neb.
Susan Martens and Tiffany Wang both received 2012 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards. Martens, of Fremont, Neb., is a doctoral student in English and is a teaching assistant under the supervision of Professor Robert Brooke. Wang, of Arlington, Texas, is a doctoral student in communication studies and is a teaching assistant under the supervision of Professor William Seiler.

Ines Martinez and Rhitankar Pal received 2012 Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant Awards. Martinez, of Montevideo, Uruguay, is a doctoral student in food science and technology and is working as a research assistant with Assistant Professor Jens Walter. Pal, of Calcutta, India, is a doctoral student in chemistry and is working as a research assistant with Professor Xiao Cheng Zeng.

The 2012 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Education was given to Patrice McMahon, associate professor of political science, and Zeng, professor of chemistry.

McMahon has served on 24 master’s and doctoral graduate committees, is the adviser for seven Ph.D. students and five master’s students, and is a reader on six supervisory committees. Her nominator wrote, “she has done so much for graduate education from so many different angles: as graduate chair in the Political Science Department, as a teacher of many graduate classes over the years, and in her capacity as adviser or supervisory committee member to an inordinately large number of graduate students in the department. She is deeply committed to working with and mentoring graduate students.”

Zeng is Ameritas University Professor in chemistry and also in physics and astronomy. His nominators note that he has published more than 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals in the 18 years he has been at UNL. Most, they note, have been co-authored with his former and current graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. “Professor Zeng is always willing to give graduate students key suggestions to improve their teaching skills,” nominators said. “He has demonstrated, time after time his determination, passion, and patience in guiding and advising graduate students. His diligent work not only has broadened theoretical knowledge of the students in his courses, but also provided them concrete instructions for creative research, and inspired them to pursue scientific discovery.”

- Jane Schneider, Graduate Studies