Baylor Doctoral Students Make School History With Awards

Dec. 7, 2011

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Two Baylor University doctoral students in the College of Arts and Sciences have made school history by winning two awards at the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), the leading global environmental science society, held in Boston last month.

Bikram Subedi, a chemistry doctoral student working with Dr. Sascha Usenko, assistant professor of environmental science, won second place for a best student platform and oral presentation and Bowen Du, an ecological, earth and environmental sciences doctoral student working with Dr. Bryan Brooks, professor and graduate program director of environmental science, won third place for best student poster presentations.

Subedi presented his research techniques and findings in "Dioxins, Furans and PCBs in Fish, Clams and Crabs from San Jacinto River Waste Pits," which are based on a project funded by the Texas Environmental Health Institute. Du's presentation was based on a study funded by the City of Waco Water Utilities. Both projects are facilitated by Baylor's Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research.

Only six awards are usually given to doctoral students at SETAC meetings of about 3,000 people and 780 oral presentations, and Brooks said it is rare that two students from the same school win multiple awards on an international level.

"In the 15 years I've been attending the SETAC meetings, I cannot recall two students from the same university winning these awards," Brooks said. "For two doctoral students who are mentored by faculty in the same department to receive these awards is a gold standard external validation of the excellent work our students are doing, and highlights the outstanding opportunities for graduate studies in the environmental sciences at Baylor."

Subedi said he enjoyed the experience of the conference and is thankful for his award.

"I felt really fortunate and greatly honored to present my research in front of expertise from the specific research area from all over the world," he said. "Winning such a prestigious award certainly boosts my confidence and enhances my research intuition. At this point, I would like to acknowledge my advisor Dr. Sascha Usenko and co-authors for their inputs and suggestions, Texas Environmental Health Institute for research funding, Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research at Baylor University, Baylor Graduate School and SETAC for travel award to attend the conference."

Du echoed the sentiment.

"It was great to present my research work at SETAC annual meeting in Boston," Du said. "I was glad that my research work was recognized by judges and colleagues at the meeting. The award represented the success of teamwork that was accomplished by not only myself, (but) also all the co-authors. I also highly appreciated all the academic and financial support that came from (the) environmental department, The Institute of Ecological, Earth and Environmental Science (TIEEES), and the Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research (CRASR)."

But the awards do not just benefit the students, since Brooks said the students' wins will bring greater recognition to the department.

"A few years ago, Baylor embraced the importance of interdisciplinary student training by development of curriculum and research approaches that facilitate exchange among departments, colleges and schools at the university," Brooks said. "These awards are a decided testament to the benefits of the interdisciplinary training and research facilitated by faculty mentors in the Department of Environmental Science in collaboration with our colleagues in other departments, centers and institutes."

by Carmen Galvan, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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