Two winners of the university's prestigious William Preston Society's Master's Thesis Award were recognized with a plaque at the society's recent annual meeting.  

Ryan C. Smith of Hardyville, Va., who graduated in spring 2011 with a master's degree in psychology and Alperen Ketene of Bellevue, Va., who graduated in spring 2011 with a master's degree in mechanical engineering were recognized for original research that best met the criteria of having the potential to benefit all people. 

The William Preston Society is comprised of former members of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors and the current president and past presidents of Virginia Tech. 

"Both of these theses received the highest scores our review committee has ever given," says Janet Rankin, associate dean of the graduate school, and professor in the department of human nutrition, foods, and exercise. Rankin facilitated the thesis review committee comprised of graduate deans from each college.

Smith's thesis, "Incorporating Motives into the Theory of Planned Behavior Implications for Reducing Alcohol Abuse among College Students," was selected in the Social Sciences, Business, Education and Humanities category. 

His advisor, Alumni Distinguished Professor E. Scott Geller, said Smith's thesis provides an important modification to the theory of planned behavior, one of the most prominent psychological theories for promoting positive behavior change, and that  this revised theoretical framework could have profound implications into all fields of public health and policy.

Ketene was selected in the Innovative Application of Technology in a Master's Thesis category for his thesis, "The AFM Study of Ovarian Cell Structural Mechanics in the Progression of Cancer." 

His advisor, Associate Professor Masoud Agah, who is also director of the Microelectromechanical Systems Laboratory, where the research was performed, said Ketene's work within an  interdisciplinary team studying ovarian cancer was significant enough to allow him to be first author and main contributor to an article published in the Journal of Nanotechnology. The article immediately generated worldwide interest in the research results.

Both theses have been submitted as nominees for the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) Master's Thesis Awards for outstanding research.

"We are very grateful to the William Preston Society, as well as the CSGS, for establishing an award to recognize and honor graduate students and the quality research they perform each day on this campus," said Karen P. DePauw, vice president and dean of graduate education.

The CSGS is an organization of more than 200 graduate schools in the southern region of the United States. It is dedicated to the advancement of graduate education and academic research. CSGS is affiliated with the Council of Graduate Schools headquartered in Washington, D.C.



Written by Pat Goodrich.
Share this story