Read more about these students' accomplishments below!
The accomplishments listed here represent only a small portion of what the graduate community at Texas State has discovered, created, and innovated. If you have an achievement that you would like to share, please contact us!
Congratulations are in order for Sarah J. (Saj) Zappitello, M.S. '16 in aquatic resources, who was recently selected as a finalist for the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program! Her commitment to service and science made her a perfect candidate for the PMF Program, a flagship leadership development program run by the U.S. government that recently broadened its inclusion of STEM participants. The Program, designed to develop a cadre of potential government leaders by providing sustenance during the first years of employment and by encouraging leadership capabilities, instills the spirit of public service, ultimately leading to a career in the government.
As a water scientist, Saj believes that the most important task in this field is communicating relevant research and information to the public, land managers, and policy makers. Her master’s research is already helping to shape policy: through her delineation of aquifer sources of the Pedernales River in central Texas, groundwater regulating authorities and policy makers are able to inform management strategies for water usage during drought conditions. In participating in the PMF Program, she hopes to attain a position in the federal government where she can work as a technical expert to apply current research to real-world situations — much like she did at Texas State.
True or false: northern Texas is home to a rat that jumps around like a kangaroo?
Texas Parks and Wildlife on PBS recently featured research on the Texas Kangaroo Rat conducted by faculty member, Dr. Randy Simpson, and graduate student, Silas Ott, from the Texas State University Wildlife Ecology graduate program! To learn more about their efforts to understand this threatened species, watch the segment.
The Texas State School of Social Work is being recognized by the Texas Distance Learning Association (TxDLA) for Outstanding Commitment to Excellence and Innovation in Distance Learning by an Organization in the 4 Year Higher Education Category at the 2017 annual conference.
This is testament to everyone’s dedication to ensuring access while developing an educational platform that ranks the online M.S.W. program of the best in the country.
We are pleased to announce that Jared Coplin has been selected as an awardee in the 2017 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) competition! The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. This year, NSF received over 13,000 applications and Jared’s selection as one of only 2,000 awardees is a testament to his extraordinary academic achievements, promising research capabilities, and exceptional academic goals and aspirations.
Jared, a current master’s student in the computer science program, has already made substantial contributions to ongoing research by co-authoring two book chapters and four scientific papers, which he has presented at professional and academic conferences. Further, he has won numerous scholarships as well as academic and research awards, including the title of Computing Research Association’s (CRA) 2016 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher.
His current research, conducted under the guidance of Dr. Martin Burtscher, professor of computer science, focuses on developing general strategies for increasing the energy efficiency on modern processors by studying hardware features, code transformations, and algorithmic implementations that maximize performance per watt. Even a small increase in performance per watt will greatly reduce the fiscal and environmental cost of computing.
A veteran of the Army, his excellence in military service demonstrates his ability for problem-solving, critical thinking, self-motivation, and perseverance in the face of strong adversity. As a veteran and nontraditional student, he aspires to add to the diversity of his graduate program as well as the ranks of faculty researchers.
The Graduate College is pleased to announce that Lina Padegimaite, doctoral student in the physical therapy program, has received the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) International Peace Scholarship. The International Peace Scholarship Fund provides scholarships of up to $12,500 for women from other countries to study at the graduate level in the United States and Canada. Members of P.E.O. believe that education is fundamental to world peace and understanding.
Lina comes from Kaunas, Lithuania. She has been in the US since 2011 when she began undergraduate course work in exercise science and played tennis (she was even a member of the Lithuanian national tennis team at the 2011 Fed Cup!) at the University of Texas at Austin. With her clinical courses still ahead, Lina is not certain which specialization she will choose, though she is leaning towards sports, orthopedics and women’s health specialties.
One thing Lina is certain of, however, is that she can fulfill the mission of P.E.O and be a role model for her community by empowering women to take care of their bodies and helping them stay healthy throughout their lifespan. This scholarship is a tremendous resource for her (especially as an international student with limited access to funding opportunities) to achieve her goals and make a difference in her home country. She aims to inspire a generation of confident and educated women to stand up for themselves and use their energy to create peaceful, equal communities.
Congratulations are in order for Kathryn Burns, master’s student in international studies! Kathryn was recently awarded the highly coveted Boren Fellowship. A Boren Fellowship provides up to $30,000 for U.S. graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad. The award gives students the opportunity to have an experience that they otherwise would not.
Kathryn graduated from Howard Payne University with a double major in psychology and political science and was a member of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy. An avid traveler, she decided to study Arabic in Jordan because of past experiences studying in Amman with the Consortium for Global Education and the Kelsey Arabic School. While abroad, she will continue her graduate studies online. She hopes to work for the State Department in the Middle East once she graduates.
The Graduate College is happy to congratulate Brittany (Mari) Landgrebe, master’s student in business administration, on her American Association of University Women (AAUW) Selected Professions Fellowship. This marks the first time a Texas State student has received this award! The AAUW is the nation’s leading voice promoting equity and education for women and girls and provides a myriad of programs, including funding, to help support students. The Selected Professions Fellowship provides up to $18,000 for women in fields where their participation has traditionally been low – and for M.B.A. programs, AAUW supports women of color only.
Since only 24 Selected Professions Fellowships are awarded annually, Mari’s award is a true tribute to her passion, creativity and dedication to her studies: fostering entrepreneurship among women and minorities in the video games industry. Throughout her undergraduate studies at Texas State University, Mari consistently found ways to apply her course work to video games or the industry, eventually culminating in her honors thesis, “Collaborative Game Design: An Interdisciplinary Video Game Production Team.” Acting as a producer for the honors project team, she realized that she had a natural aptitude for the business elements of the project and decided to pursue her M.B.A. She is especially passionate about diversifying the video games industry by fostering entrepreneurship among women and minorities as reflected in her current research.
After graduation, Mari intends to continue her career in game development, focusing on strategic planning for independent game studios and publisher/studio relations.
The Graduate College is excited to announce that Alfredo Ramirez, master’s student in international studies, has received the prestigious Boren Fellowship! A Boren Fellowship provides up to $30,000 for U.S. graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad. The fellowship also provides students with an opportunity and experience they otherwise would not have. Alfredo will study Portuguese at the University of Chicago in summer 2017 and at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianópolis, Brazil, during the 2017-18 academic year.
Alfredo earned his B.A. in Spanish from Texas State, and, as part of his program, studied in Spain for a semester. During this trip, Alfredo recognized his deep interest in international relations and decided to explore this field further by pursuing it at the graduate level. Receiving the Boren Fellowship will allow him to supplement his master’s degree program with long-term experience abroad. His goal is to return from Brazil functionally trilingual in all major Western hemisphere languages — Spanish, English, and Portuguese — in order to work in federal bureaus where his language proficiencies, IT skills, and academic expertise can intersect.
For the first time in the university’s history, two Texas State graduate students received the prestigious Boren Fellowship. The fellowships, which provide funding opportunities to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, were awarded to Kathryn Burns, master’s student in international studies, to study in Arabic in Jordan and to Alfredo Ramirez IV, master’s student in international studies, to study Portuguese in Brazil.
Jared Coplin, master’s student in computer science, was awarded a highly competitive fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GFRP). The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), STEM education, and NSF-supported social sciences.
Brittany (Mari) Landgrebe, master’s student in business administration, received an American Association of University Women (AAUW) Selected Professions Fellowship, which supports women in underrepresented fields. In MBA programs, only women of color are eligible. Mari’s award marks the first time a graduate student from Texas State has received a Selected Professions Fellowship.
Lina Padegimaite, doctoral student in physical therapy, was awarded the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) International Peace Scholarship, which provides funding for women from other countries pursuing graduate-level study in the U.S. or Canada. Lina is from Lithuania.
Dr. Andrea Hilkovitz, external funding coordinator in The Graduate College, has worked closely with these students, recruiting them to apply and advising them throughout the submission process. In the past year and half, Dr. Hilkovitz has helped Texas State graduate students apply for more than $2 million in external funding.
"We are very excited that these exceptional students have been awarded highly competitive and prestigious fellowships. These awards have a significant impact on the students’ careers by allowing them to pursue their educational goals and research interests," explains Dr. Andrea Golato, dean of The Graduate College. "They also serve to strengthen Texas State’s reputation for outstanding academic performance and contribute to the university’s goal of achieving Tier One status as a research university.”
Congratulations to these students on the academic achievements that merited these awards!
If you are interested in applying for external funding, we offer a variety of resources, including a Graduate Funding Opportunities databasedesigned specifically for Texas State graduate students, free access to Pivot™, an online database filled with national and international funding opportunities, and workshops to understand the overall funding landscape as well as individual opportunities and tools. Contact us to get started!
We are pleased to announce that Elizabeth LeBlanc, doctoral student in the Materials Science, Engineering and Commercialization program, is a recipient of one of the first Solar Graduate Student Research Internships. The Solar Graduate Student Research internship provides qualified students an opportunity to conduct research and to access research expertise and state-of-the-art equipment available at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Elizabeth has cultivated her research at Texas State, earning her B.S. and M.S. in physics and winning the Physics Department’s Excellence in Graduate Research Award for her master’s thesis work. Her thesis focused on characterizing the material properties of Cadmium Telluride (a material that would provide a more efficient and cost-friendly alternative for solar cells and panels) and has earned her multiple publications and awards. She has continued her research into this potentially solar industry-changing material, working to resolve current challenges of mass producing this material for solar devices. Elizabeth’s time with NREL will be focused on understanding some of these difficulties. After she obtains her Ph.D., she would like to go work in R&D for a large solar panel manufacturing company, putting her passion for alternative energy solutions into practice.
We are pleased to share that TX2O, a company created and run by the Texas State graduate students, has won third place in the Challenge Round of the 2017 Rice Business Plan Competition at Rice University!
The team consists of
- Archana Gujjari, chief executive officer and doctoral student in the Materials Science, Engineering, and Commercialization (MSEC) program
- Michael Opoku, chief operating officer and doctoral student in the Materials Science, Engineering, and Commercialization (MSEC) program
- Conor Brantley, chief marketing & sales officer and master’s student in the Business Administration program
- Thi Nguyen, chief creative officer and master’s student in the Communication Design program
The Rice Business Plan Competition is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition. 42 teams from around the world compete for more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes. The competition is designed to give collegiate entrepreneurs a real-world experience to fine tune their business plans and elevator pitches to generate funding to successfully commercialize their product.
The competition presented the perfect opportunity for the multidisciplinary team of TX2O to pitch the product they have developed — a cost effective, eco-friendly, reusable, regenerative polymer media that can remove oil from contaminated water that has the potential to change the oil and gas industry.
The team of TX2O not only took third place in the challenge round, but also networked with major industry players and angel investors. Through the team’s networking, they applied for and received a Stage 1 grant from VentureWell’s E-Team Student Grant Program. The team is using their $5,000 grant to attend entrepreneurial workshops, to present investor pitches at conferences, and to develop pilot-scale manufacturing. The team has successfully incorporated TX2O as a C-corp in Delaware and plans on demonstrating their technology in the field.
We wish them the best in their future endeavors!
We are pleased to announce that Christian Lopez, M.S. ’16, has been named a National Wildlife Foundation EcoLeaders Labor Economist Research Fellow. The fellowship lasts for 4–6 months and comes with a $3,000 stipend, professional development assistance and networking opportunities, and the possibility of academic credit for successful completion of the project. Christina’s fellowship will focus on researching green job trends in large metropolitan areas, and she plans on completing it by January 2018.
Christina, who graduated from Texas State with her master’s in geography, researched how eco-villages in Texas contribute to sustainability. During her studies, she taught physical geology labs and created a field trip for her students to visit McKinney Falls State Park. She also served as a volunteer environmental educator and eco-event organizer for the Colorado River Alliance. She is currently a research assistant at the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment studying water conservation potential in Texas. Christina is starting a doctoral program in geography at Texas State this fall and plans to continue researching conservation and sustainability through human-environment interactions.
Congratulations on this accomplishment, Christina!
We are thrilled to announce that Shijun Chen, master’s student in instrumental conducting, has been awarded the Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning Award. The $500 award helps active Phi Kappa Phi members fund post-baccalaureate professional development pertaining to their graduate studies, doctoral dissertations, continuing education, career development, and travel related to teaching, research and/or learning.
Shijun, who has already received a master’s in music in violin performance from Texas State, has received multiple awards and scholarships for his work. He has a robust performance background, playing in solo, ensemble, and orchestral environments not only in Central Texas but also in Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. Now honing his skills as a conductor, he served as the concertmaster of the Texas State Symphony Orchestra for the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 terms.
Because Shijun plans on continuing his education in conducting after graduating from Texas State, his award will help defray the cost of future application fees. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors!
Congratulations to Irma Pedraza, specialist student in school psychology, on receiving the Texas Outstanding Graduate Student Award at the Specialist Level from the Texas Association of School Psychologists! This award recognizes students who demonstrate evidence of impact upon graduate education in school psychology and display strong leaderships and interpersonal skills and professional competencies.
Irma, who has an extensive career as a bilingual educational diagnostician, left her job to pursue her lifelong ambition of becoming a school psychologist. Dr. Sue Hall, clinical assistant professor, says that she has “used her background to strengthen the learning experience of herself and her classmates” since entering the school psychologist program at Texas State in 2014. During her graduate studies, Irma earned a spot as a Project SUBERB scholar, won multiple scholarships, presented her work at conferences, and recently received the designation of Outstanding Graduate Student. She aspires to continue her work as a bilingual school psychologist to serve the growing population of Spanish-speaking children as well as all children. Ultimately, she would like to assist in training school psychologists, specializing in bilingual school psychology, to pay forward the education she received.
For Irma, winning the award has been a truly validating experience. She describes that she grew up in a small south-Texas town without the support of bilingual education and faced prejudice and discrimination along the way. She states, “I hope to inspire others to never give up and to continue pursue their dreams, even when there are obstacles in their path. It’s never too late to pursue your career goals!”
Congratulations once again to Irma on her accomplishment!
Congratulations are in order for Kevin Ambrocio, master’s student in communication disorders, who was accepted into the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Minority Student Leadership Program (MSLP)! The MSLP is a leadership development program established for historically underrepresented students enrolled in communication sciences and disorders higher education programs. The program provides focused educational programming and activities to build and enhance leadership skills. In addition, the MSLP also offers student leaders the opportunity to interact with leaders in the professions of audiology, speech-language pathology, and speech, language, and hearing sciences.
Kevin, with an undergraduate background in communication and language disorders, was selected as one of 40 out of 213 applicants. His primary interests in the field of speech-language pathology are stuttering or fluency disorders, as well as multiculturalism. While his short-term plan includes pursuing his Ph.D. in speech-language pathology, he would also like to continue working with some of the faculty in the CDIS program to conduct research related to multicultural diversity in student leadership roles at the state and national levels in speech-language pathology and audiology fields. His goal is to determine if the findings affect student representation and decisions made in these disciplines and how it affects service delivery to clients/patients.
He says, “To me, this award is a catalyst for change in the way I view thoughts and ideas, as well as how I will serve my clients/patients as a future speech-language pathologist. The MSLP has taught me that diversity serves a purpose in our society. Individuals of minority backgrounds can be the agents of meaningful change if they take risks and share their unique perspectives with the world.”
We wish Kevin the very best in his studies and in the MSLP!
Congratulations to Mary Swearinger, master’s student in the anthropology program, on receiving the Golden Key Graduate Scholar Award! The Golden Key Graduate Scholar Award is offered by the Golden Key International Honour Society, whose mission focuses on enabling members to realize their potential through the advancement of academics, leadership, and service. The organization strives to harness the power of their membership make a significant difference in their communities through a variety of means, one of which is to fund students in advancing their knowledge through foundation-backed research.
Mary’s current work certainly exemplifies all three pillars of the Golden Key Honour Society — her research aims to aid in the identification of border crossers who died during their migration across the U.S.-Mexico border in examining various methods used to estimate age-at-death in U.S.-Mexico unidentified Latin American migrants. Short-term, Mary hopes to complete missions in post-conflict regions to identify the victims of genocide, eventually completing her Ph.D. and working on human rights investigations in Peru and Somalia.
Despite winning several other awards throughout her academic career, she says that “receiving the Golden Key Graduate Scholar Award is one of the most remarkable things to have happened to me. There are truly no words to express the joy and motivation I have received following the news of receiving this award.” She also encourages other students interested in funding opportunities to “look up scholarships and grants every chance you get and give yourself plenty of time to research what the organization is looking for, so you can market yourself to them. It all pays off in the end!”
Congratulations once again to Mary on her accomplishment!
We are pleased to announce that four Texas State students have received Phi Kappa Phi’s Love of Learning Award in the 2017 Session B competition!
- Tajudeen Basiru, master’s student in public administration
- Joslyn Johnson, doctoral student in adult, professional, and community education
- Christina Lopez, doctoral student in geography
- Khan Siddique, master’s student in engineering
This $500 award helps active Phi Kappa Phi members fund post-baccalaureate professional development pertaining to their graduate studies, ranging from costs associated with doctoral dissertations, continuing education, and career development to travel expenses for teaching, research and/or learning. Texas State students took advantage of the flexibility in the award criteria: Khan applied for the research category and will use the funds to help build a cyber-security testbed in which he can implement the results of his work, whereas Joslyn will be using her funds to help defray the cost of her dissertation transcription fees.
Dr. Andrea Hilkovitz, external funding coordinator in The Graduate College, says that Texas State students have continued success in securing the Love of Learning Award. “This is the third year in a row that Texas State students have received this award. The Love of Learning Award is a great external funding opportunity because it can be used to fund many different activities and has a relatively straightforward application process.”
Khan also comments on the ease of applying. “The application process is very simple. To apply, you must be a member of …Phi Kappa Phi…members log in to the website, and follow some simple instruction to apply for this award.”
Despite the straightforward application process, Tajudeen advises prospective applicants “[to pay attention to] the timeline and the eligibility criteria, and – most importantly – format your resume in a professional manner.” Joslyn mentions that she created a document to help keep track of the application components. Christina recommends to “be specific with your action plan [as] funds will not usually be offered if the research/travel plan is not fully developed. Demonstrate the significance, explain what you (and others!) gain from receiving this support.” Dr. Hilkovitz also advises prospective applicants to utilize the resources on the Phi Kappa Phi website, such as the sample applications, as well as to make an advising appointment with her if needed for additional assistance.
Congratulations to all on earning this award!
Skyller Walkes describes her time researching in Chile with the Adult, Professional, and Community Education Ph.D. program in her blog post: A Combination of Passion, Experience, Work, Learning and Legacy.
The Graduate College is very pleased to announce that Dr. Anne Li Kringen, who earned her Ph.D. in criminal justice, has been selected to receive The 2016 Graduate College’s Outstanding Dissertation Award in the Social Sciences. Her dissertation, “Understanding Barriers that Affect Recruiting and Retaining Female Police Officers: A Mixed Method Approach”, was directed by Dr. Joycelyn Pollock, Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice.
As the winner of this year’s competition, Dr. Kringen will receive $1,000 and be recognized at the annual Graduate College’s Awards Ceremony. Dr. Kringen’s dissertation has also been entered into the Council of Graduate School’s national competition for best dissertation in the above mentioned category.
Congratulations to Dr. Kringen for her outstanding work! A special mention also goes to Professor Pollock for her exemplary mentorship and commitment to her students.
We are pleased to announce that Mariana Ocampo, doctoral student in the Materials Science, Engineering, and Commercialization program, has been awarded an NSF-funded travel grant to attend the ASSIST Early-Career Faculty Development Symposium at the 2016 Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference (HENAAC). The travel grant, awarded by Great Minds in Science (GMiS), in partnership with Latinos in Science and Engineering (MAES), will cover expenses incurred traveling to and attending the symposium and conference, up to $2,000. The symposium, held for traditionally under-served early-career and aspiring faculty in engineering, has a tremendous line-up of engaging seminars and networking opportunities intent on increasing the diversification of the engineering professoriate by helping attendees navigate the academic hiring and tenure and promotion pathways.
You may already know of Mariana as the first-place winner in Texas State’s 3MT® Competition in April 2016. A first-generation college student (and the first to go into a STEM discipline as well as pursue a Ph.D.), she is passionate about organic chemistry, sustainability, and renewable energy and hopes to discover environmental solutions through chemistry and engineering. One of her aspirations is to become a faculty member in the predominantly male-dominated science and engineering field. We wish Mariana an informative, beneficial time spent at HENAAC and continued success in her doctoral studies and beyond!
Cari Gray is a graduate of the political science graduate program and a high school social studies teacher at New Braunfels High School. She was recently awarded the Frank R. Kemerer Award for her teaching. Hear her speak about the experience in this video!
The Graduate College is pleased to announce that Thomas (Thom) Marshall, graduate student in the population and conservation biology program, has been awarded a fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and STEM education. With almost 17,000 students applying for this prestigious fellowship, Thom’s selection as one of only 2,000 awardees is a testament to his excellent academic achievements and his promising research capabilities.
Thom, working with advisor Dr. David Rodriguez, is investigating a species of chytrid fungus, Batrochochytrium dendrobatidis, that infects amphibians worldwide. Because the results of the infections are varied – some areas have high mortality rates while infections are completely benign in others – he is working toward isolating and examining strains in the state of Texas, a region where no amphibian mortalities have been reported. Through genotyping and genome sequencing, he hopes to understand the evolutionary history of this strain and its recent emergent virulence.