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.

Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here:
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

.@KU bschool 's KIP team includes @KU _SADP students in all-ages housing project. #KUworks
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times