Two doctoral candidates have been selected as the 2008 Graduate Man of the Year and Graduate Woman of the Year in recognition of their outstanding academic accomplishments and their commitment to service within the community. The recipients of the awards are Osama Marzouk, originally from Egypt, and LaChelle Waller, of Chester, Va., respectively.

The graduate man and woman of the year awards recognize students with high academic achievements and contributions in research, teaching, and scholarship, who are actively involved with professional organizations, campus activities, and the graduate school community and have shown a strong commitment to diversity on the Virginia Tech campus.

Marzouk came to Virginia Tech in 2003 as a student in the engineering science and mechanics Ph D. program after earning his master’s degree in aerospace engineering at Cairo University. He received highest recommendations for the award from his professors due to his remarkable performance in research and his service in the Virginia Tech and New River Valley communities.

Marzouk’s research focuses on vortex-induced vibrations in order to find ways to reduce the vibration of offshore structures to increase the lifespan of the buildings. He has published or presented more than 25 articles and papers in both American and international professional journals and conferences, is a reviewer for a number of journals and technical conferences, and is a member of numerous professional organizations and honor societies.

As Graduate Ambassador and Citizen Scholar he takes part in enhancing the community of the graduate school and actively contributes to the university’s mission of service and outreach. Marzouk has also garnered respect and praise as an instructor of fluid mechanics and aerospace engineering courses at Virginia Tech.

Other awards and recognition Marzouk has received include the Outstanding Graduate Student Service commendation award, the Manual Stein Scholarship, Pratt Fellowship, and the Cairo University Honor Medallion. In addition to his scholastic pursuits, he has been active in the Graduate Student Assembly and the Graduate Scholar Society, served on the Commissions on Outreach and International Affairs and Graduate Studies and Policies, received Leadership Seminar Series certificates, and volunteered as a judge for Lego league robot design tournaments.

LaChelle Waller, of Chester, Va., is a student in Virginia Tech’s genetics, bioinformatics, and computational biology Ph.D. program who earned a bachelor's degree in biology with a minor in chemistry in 2001 from Chowan University. She is working with the Tyler research group at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute on a project designed to identify the interactions among plant and pathogen genes that determine quantitative disease resistance in soybean.

Waller says her other research interests include genomic research, autoimmune diseases and disorders, pathogen and host interactions, and the education of and outreach to underrepresented and disadvantaged youth. She is currently working on several research articles and has earned Citizen Scholar and Teaching the Future Professoriate certificates. She was also listed in Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities and was awarded the Science Program for Excellence in Science scholarship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Annotation Jamboree Fellowship.

Waller’s extensive work with student organizations and in the community has allowed her to take part in the lives of many graduate, undergraduate, and high school students. She has held leadership positions in the Black Graduate Student Organization and the Graduate Student Assembly, and is currently vice president of Virginia Tech’s genetics, bioinformatics, and computational biology student organization.

She mentored students through the VT-Prep and VT STARS programs, as well as for the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. Waller has also made a positive impact on the community as the graduate representative for Hokies United, and a member of the Task Force on Race and the Institution, the Diversity Summit, the University Athletic Committee, and the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy.

The Graduate School at Virginia Tech promotes graduate education as a critical component in the transmission of new knowledge, research, ideas, and scholarship. It is responsible for the development, administration, and evaluation of graduate education throughout the university, providing support to faculty, staff, and more than 6,000 graduate students. The Graduate School is committed to building a diverse graduate community and vibrant intellectual environment to help prepare graduates to lead. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

Written by Stephanie Haugen-Ray.

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