Students rack up recognitions

July 6, 2012
Six more Fulbrights

Six recent Baylor graduates were selected to receive the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship -- the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government -- bringing the number of Baylor students and/or graduates who have received the honor since 2001 to 32.

The Fulbright Program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries and selects participants based on their academic merit and leadership potential. Through the program, students are provided opportunities for one academic year to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. The six new Baylor recipients are:

Elisabeth A. Black, BA '12 (Russian/international studies) from Dallas, who was selected for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Russia.

Rachel Cliburn, BS '12 (neuroscience/pre-med) from Long Grove, Ill., who will conduct research in neuropharmacology -- drugs that affect the brain -- through a master's degree research program in neuropsychology at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.

Elizabeth A. Dratz, BBA '12 (Baylor Business Fellows/economics) of Wheat Ridge, Colo., received the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship and will spend the 2012-13 academic year in Turkey teaching English as a foreign language at a university.

Jackie Hyland, BA '09 (international studies/journalism) from Houston, who was selected for the Fulbright Binational Award to Mexico City, Mexico.

Ross Natividad, BA '10 (Spanish/international studies), MA '12 (Spanish), who was selected for an English Teaching Assistantship to Indonesia.

Huong Nguyen, BA '12 (medical humanities/pre-med) from Houston, who was selected for the Master's of Science in Health Sciences and Public Health Research program at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

"These students are indeed impressive," said Elizabeth Vardaman, BA '65, MA '80, associate dean for special programs at Baylor's College of Arts and Sciences and the university's Fulbright representative. "At Baylor they have taken full advantage of learning languages, maximizing their education and becoming responsible citizens. Additionally, they all have proven commitments to service at home and abroad and all of them brought formidable research experiences in their fields of study to their proposals. In short, these young people are marvelously prepared to represent our university and the U.S. in memorable, wonderful ways."

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards approximately 1,700 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 155 countries.

Baylor senior one of only 282 Goldwater recipients

Baylor senior Taylor P. Kohn, a University Scholar on a pre-med track from Wichita, Kan., has been selected as one of only 282 U.S. undergraduates to receive the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate award in the United States and its territories in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. Kohn will use his Goldwater Scholarship to study and research at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Jeffrey S. Olafsen, associate professor of physics and Baylor's Goldwater representative, said the Goldwater selection process is highly competitive and students who apply from Baylor compete with students from Stanford, MIT and Cornell, just to name a few.

"Because the award is part of a national competition, it speaks to the value of Taylor's Baylor education and the opportunities available to all Baylor students to participate in journal-publishable research, mentored by exceptional faculty, while pursuing an undergraduate degree," Olafsen said. "His selection reflects the ongoing strength of Baylor's competitiveness in the sciences on a national level in the 21st century."

Recent grad earns fellowship at top criminology program

Daniel Jang, BA '12, has accepted a prestigious Edwin Sutherland Fellowship at the University of Maryland's Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

"The list of those who have held the fellowship represents a who's who of prominent criminologists," said Dr. Charles Tolbert, BA '73, MA '75, chair of the sociology department in Baylor's College of Arts and Sciences. "This is a very big deal. Daniel was a hot property on the sociology/criminology graduate recruitment market this year."

Jang, a University Scholar major from Waco, said he plans to pursue his doctorate in criminology and criminal justice and hopes to eventually conduct research and teach sociology and criminology at a research university.

The fellowship includes a stipend of $35,000 for 12 months plus tuition remission, according to the University of Maryland website.

The University of Maryland's Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice boasts the No. 1-ranked doctoral program in the United States (U.S.News & World Report, 2005, 2010). It conducts research on a wide variety of topics related to criminology and criminal justice, including crime and justice decision-making, crime control and prevention, and life-course criminology.

TIE3S doctoral student awarded NSF fellowship

Zack Valdez, doctoral candidate in The Institute of Ecological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (TIE3S) at Baylor, has been awarded a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship in the geosciences.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based graduate degrees. GRFP fellows receive three years of support, a $30,000 annual stipend, a $10,500 cost-of-education allowance to the institution, international research opportunities and TeraGrid Supercomputer access.

As an NSF fellow, Valdez said he is studying how nitrogen fertilization and harvesting techniques affect the belowground carbon stocks associated with the switchgrass agriculture, a potential plant for biomass and biofuel use.

"The extensive root system of this plant sequesters carbon underground, acting as a sink for CO2, and by optimizing the associated agricultural practices, I hope it can create a positive environmental option that supports global food supplies and provides an alternative form of energy," Valdez said.

Sociology grad student awarded NSF grant

Sam Stroope, doctoral candidate in the department of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor, has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support his dissertation on community context, gender and health in India.

The grant provides $4,690 toward Stroope's dissertation research through March 2013.

In his research, Stroope said he uses large-scale social survey data to examine the patterning of disease and sickness as a consequence of different social roles of women and men in India. His dissertation will focus on a variety of social positions, stressors and coping resources that affect both men's and women's health.

Philosophy and religion departments celebrate grad student accomplishments

Three graduate students in Baylor's College of Arts and Sciences -- Blake McAllister, doctoral candidate in philosophy; Kyle Welty, doctoral candidate in religion; and Michael Whitenton, doctoral candidate in religion -- were recently recognized for research accomplishments in their fields.

McAllister's paper, "Escaping Murphy's Trilemma," was named best graduate student paper at the annual conference of the Society of Christian Philosophers held March 22-24 at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.

McAllister, who earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy from Pepperdine University in 2010, said his paper defends a particular kind of divine command theory against an objection developed by philosopher Mark Murphy.

Welty was awarded the F. Bullitt Lowry Prize for his paper, "Evangelical Missionaries in the Slave Societies of the British West Indies, 1800-1835," at the annual meeting of the Southwestern Historical Association held April 4-7 in San Diego.

Welty said his research centers on the work of two British foreign missionary societies, the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society and the Church Missionary Society, in Sierra Leone and the West Indies between 1785 and 1835.

Whitenton recently published his fourth academic journal article, "Rewriting Abraham and Joseph," in Novum Testamentum, a prestigious journal devoted to the study of the New Testament and related subjects.

"Since my primary research interest is in ancient rhetoric and the New Testament, especially the Synoptic Gospels, for my paper, I chose to investigate the interpretation of Scripture in a particularly rhetorically charged section of the New Testament, 'Stephen's Speech,' in the Book of Acts (specifically, Acts 7.2-16)," Whitenton said.

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