The Graduate School recently recognized master's and doctoral degree students from across Virginia Tech’s programs and campuses for their work, honoring them with awards of excellence. Additionally, seven faculty members have been honored for their work as mentors.

In past years, the winners have received their awards at a dinner held during Graduate Education Week and have been publicly recognized during Graduate Commencement, but the university’s efforts to stem the COVID-19 outbreak led to canceling the celebratory week and the awards dinner and to holding a university-wide online commencement ceremony.

Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw said the Graduate School is working on ways to make sure the award winners receive recognition.

“I extend congratulations to all the awards recipients,” said DePauw. “I’m pleased that you were acknowledged for your significant accomplishments and contributions. Although the Awards Banquet had to be canceled this spring, please be assured that we are planning a celebratory initiative in the near future.”

Doctoral and master's degree students were nominated for the awards by the university's eight colleges. The colleges also chose the faculty mentors who received awards.

Student of the year and service awards

  • 2020 Graduate Students of the Year: Joseph Kozak, a Ph.D. candidate in electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering, and Negin Forouzesh, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science in the College of Engineering.
  • Graduate Service Excellence Award: Alexa Salsbury, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biochemistry in the College of Science.

Thesis and dissertation awards

  • Outstanding Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Dissertation Award: Sydney Hope, in fish and wildlife conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment.
  • Outstanding Social Sciences, Business, Education, and Humanities (SSBEH) Dissertation Awards: Karen Zwanch, in the School of Education, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
  • William Preston Master's Thesis Award, STEM: Kobla Setor Zilevu, computer science, College of Engineering.
  • William Preston Master's Thesis Award, SSBEH: Benjamin Troy Garrett, political science, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Teaching awards

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Instructor of Record Excellence Award: Kathleen Carper, agricultural, leadership, and community education, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant Excellence Award: Kirsten Davis, engineering education, College of Engineering.

Outstanding doctoral degree students

  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Ibukun Alegbeleye, Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education.
  • College of Architecture and Urban StudiesJohnson Olayiwola, Environmental Design and Planning.
  • College of Engineering: Ashley Taylor, Engineering Education.
  • College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences: Amy Morgan, Human Development and Family Science.
  • College of Natural Resources and Environment: Patrick Corey Green, Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation.
  • College of Science: Christopher Griffin, Geoscience.
  • Pamplin College of BusinessHakseung Shin, Hospitality and Tourism Management.
  • Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary MedicineBruno Menarim, Biomedical and Veterinary Science.
  • Interdisciplinary doctoral student: Camden Chatham, Macromolecular Science and Engineering, College of Science.

Outstanding master's degree students

  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Morgan Roth, Entomology.
  • College of Architecture and Urban Studies: Mahsa Hedayati, Architecture.
  • College of Engineering: Nayara De Oliveira Faria, Industrial Systems Engineering.
  • College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences: John Legg, History.
  • College of Natural Resources and Environment: Katie Walker, Fish and Wildlife Conservation.
  • College of Science: Elizabeth Shadle, Biological Sciences. 
  • Pamplin College of Business: Kaitlyn Horinko, Business Information Technology. 
  • Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine: Giulio Menciotti, Biomedical and Veterinary Science.

Outstanding faculty mentors

  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Professor Brenda Davy
  • College of Architecture and Urban Studies: Associate Professor Marcia Feuerstein
  • College of Engineering: Professor Subhash Sarin
  • College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences: Associate Professor Laura Welfare
  • College of Natural Resources and Environment: Associate Professor Chad Bolding
  • College of Science: Professor Martha Ann Bell
  • Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine: Associate Professor Irving Coy Allen

For more information about the awards, visit the Graduate School’s awards and honors webpage

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