Kristi Henderson
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

College recognizes outstanding graduate students with annual awards

Wed, 06/05/2013

LAWRENCE — The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recently presented awards to graduate students for accomplishments in research and academics. This year’s recipients represent a broad span of fields in the College: psychology, theatre, physics and astronomy, and speech-language-hearing.

Sahana Mukherjee was awarded the Howard Baumgartel Peace and Justice Award. This annual award is granted to support a graduate student in the College or the School of Business for thesis or dissertation research whose interests, achievements and talents are in the peace and justice field. Mukherjee, a doctoral student in psychology, is researching the bidirectional relationship between national identity and memory. Mukherjee’s project “Representations of History as Tools for Social Change: A Cultural Psychological Analysis” will travel to India to investigate minority communities’ perspectives on historical narratives in India and Pakistan. Mukherjee was nominated by Glenn Adams, associate professor of psychology, who praised her project as a significant contribution to outcomes of social justice by opening a space for marginalized voices within the practice of psychological science through a critical reflection of content and practice of intellectual activity.

Jeanne Tiehen, recent recipient of a master’s degree in theatre, received the Outstanding Thesis Award. Her thesis, “‘Frankenstein’ on Stage: Galvanizing the Myth and Evolving the Creature,” explored why the nearly 200-year-old story of Frankenstein continues to enthrall audiences through comparative analyses of its history, mythology and several dramatizations of the story. Tiehen was nominated by Rebecca Rovit, assistant professor of theatre. Rovit nominated Tiehen for her sophisticated research, sound methodology, cogent writing and success at conferences. Tiehen has presented her research at national conferences, panels and workshops. Tiehen graduated with honors from the Department of Theatre in May 2012.

Gopolang Mohlabeng, a recent master’s graduate in physics and astronomy, was awarded the Outstanding Research Project Award for “A Redshift Dependent Color-Luminosity Relation in Type 1a Supernovae.” His project examined raw data from Type 1A supernovae, which are the main evidence for dark energy. In his analysis Mohlabeng and his research adviser discovered a discrepancy with the data that no one — including a team that won the 2010 Nobel Prize — had noticed. The project found that most supernovae do not act as previously expected. Mohlabeng’s project has been submitted to the Astrophysical Journals Letters, the top journal in the field of urgent discoveries. John Ralston, professor of physics, worked with Mohlabeng on the project and nominated him for the award, calling Mohlabeng the strongest student with the highest scientific integrity he has ever supervised. Mohlabeng completed his master’s degree in physics this spring.

Natalie Pak was awarded the Allen S. Wilber Scholarship. Pak will enter the master’s program in speech-language pathology in the fall. The scholarship will support her research in the graduate program. She graduated from KU with bachelor’s degrees in speech-language-hearing and Spanish and a minor in linguistics this May. Holly Storkel, associate professor of speech-language-hearing, nominated Pak for the scholarship. She praised Pak’s exemplary performance as an undergraduate with a “zest for learning” that would carry over into her graduate studies. The Wilber scholarship goes to a graduating senior to assist him or her in pursuing graduate study at KU, with a preference to students planning graduate work in a social science field or modern languages and literature.

Funds for the awards are managed by KU Endowment, the independent nonprofit foundation serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences encourages learning without boundaries in its more than 50 departments, programs and centers. Through innovative research and teaching, the College emphasizes interdisciplinary education, global awareness and experiential learning. The College is KU's broadest, most diverse academic unit.

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