Campus News

2022 Graduate Student Awards

Graduate Student Excellence-in-Teaching Awards

The Excellence-in-Teaching Award was established by the Graduate School to recognize those students who have demonstrated superior teaching skills and have contributed to teaching beyond their own classroom responsibilities, making a significant contribution to the instructional mission of the university.

Stephanie Eldridge is a fourth-year graduate student in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Social Studies Education. Prior to attending UGA, Eldridge was a high school science teacher and adjunct professor in Charleston, South Carolina, teaching methods and curriculum courses for pre-service science teachers and serving as a supervisor during student teaching internships and practicums. Eldridge’s research addresses gender equity in science teacher preparation programs with a focus on supporting teachers’ development of gender inclusive practices through curricular design choices. Eldridge’s teaching, research and service work reflects a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Examples include teaching lessons and facilitating workshops for UGA faculty, graduate students, pre- and in-service teachers and international researchers on trans-affirming practices and supporting LGBTQ+ students in science and culturally responsive science teaching.

Elise Robinson is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies and writing her dissertation on the British Women’s Suffrage movement as performance. A committed scholar of feminist activist performance, Robinson’s research demonstrates that the militant suffrage movement also was an essentially performative movement and must be analyzed as such. Robinson currently teaches for the Institute for Women’s Studies at the University of Georgia, serving as the instructor of record for both introductory and upper-level courses. Prior to her arrival at UGA, Robinson taught theatre and performance at the college level for more than 20 years at institutions across the United States. In addition to her scholarly work in theatre, Robinson has also directed more than 30 productions and holds a graduate certificate in women’s studies.

Michael Starling is a Ph.D. candidate and has served as an instructor of record in the Department of Philosophy since fall 2018, teaching courses in informal logic, history of philosophy and ancient Greek philosophy. He believes that the classroom has the potential to be a positively transformative space for every student and that his role is to learn with and from students through critical dialogue and problem-posing pedagogical techniques. His courses are designed to encourage student agency in the learning process through the use of group discussions, student-issue based assignments and peer-to-peer teaching. He has also worked to support the teaching mission of UGA by leading workshops for fellow graduate students on topics ranging from new teaching technology to making the classroom fun. Starling also has been approved to teach, in partnership with Common Good Atlanta, an introduction to philosophy course at Whitworth Women’s Facility in Whitworth, Georgia, in summer 2022.

Gabrielle Stecher is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English. Since 2018, she has served as an instructor of record for English and First-Year Writing. Most recently, she has taught an upper-level English literature course on 19th century British women writers. Stecher’s research interests include 18th and 19th century British literature and visual culture, and her dissertation project examines Victorian engagements with the Ancient Near East in the British Museum.

Carol Yang is a fifth-year graduate student in the Odum School of Ecology. Her research focuses on the ecological role of freshwater crabs in tropical streams. Prior to attending UGA, she worked in K-12 environmental education at a bilingual school and other nonprofits in Costa Rica. At UGA, she has continued to integrate, build and expand on her interests in research, science and education. Yang has taught in both co-instructor and teaching assistant roles, including courses such as “Ecological Problem-Solving,” where she engaged students with community stakeholders. With other graduate students, she led a seminar and modules that focused on inclusion and intersectional identities in the sciences. Yang also has taken on leadership roles with EcoReach and SciREN, graduate student-led organizations that provide science education programming for K-12 schools, motivated by the impacts of thoughtful teaching and learning at UGA rippling far beyond the classroom.

Graduate Student Excellence-in-Research Awards

Graduate Student Excellence-in-Research Awards were initiated in 1999 to recognize the quality and significance of graduate-student scholarship, these awards may be given in five areas: Fine Arts, Humanities and Letters, Life Sciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and Applied Studies.

Malissa Alinor graduated with a Ph.D. in sociology in August 2021. She is a postdoctoral scholar at the Stanford VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab and will join the Department of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill as an assistant professor in 2023. Alinor’s research focuses on how women and racial minorities experience bias. In her published and current work, she has used a mixed methods approach to study emotional reactions to racial discrimination, exposure to racial discrimination over a lifetime, how competency microaggressions affect workplace outcomes and the unintended consequences of sexual harassment policies. She intends to use her findings to inform policies to improve societal and workplace outcomes for women and racial minorities. Alinor was the recipient of the American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship Program and the Southern Regional Education Board Dissertation Award as well as several grants to support her research.

Martin Douglass, who graduated with a Ph.D. from the Department of Infectious Diseases in August 2021, is now a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. At UGA, Douglass studied how critical pathogenic bacteria build their outer membrane, the first line of defense against antibiotics. The outer membrane is composed of Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and glycerophospholipids (GPLs), where synchronized synthesis and transport of these constituents to the outer membrane is essential for bacterial viability. Douglass discovered a unique family of proteins that are responsible for the transport of GPLs to the outer membrane, a highly sought-after mechanism. This discovery led to the identification of novel therapeutic targets for antibiotic discovery and a deeper understanding of how bacteria construct their formidable barrier.

Megan Douglass graduated with a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering in December 2021. During the program, Douglass developed and evaluated antimicrobial and hemocompatible surface modifications to prevent infection and thrombosis related to medical device use. Currently, she is a senior engineer and part of the Technology Leadership Development Program at Becton Dickinson. Within the program, Douglass will rotate among three assignments that aim to address critical health care concerns. The program will take her across multiple locations, exposing her to diverse projects within the company and allowing her to develop leadership, business and cross-functional skills. In her first rotation, Douglass is serving in a deputy program management function on vascular access devices.

Anna Forrester graduated with a Ph.D. in English in May 2021. Her research focused on early modern and postcolonial literatures, especially the intersection of theater and nation-building. Her dissertation project examined adaptation of Shakespeare in Turkish culture, arguing that Turkey’s relationship with Shakespeare evidences an ongoing political struggle between past and future, nostalgia and modernization, absolutism and democracy. During her doctoral study, she was a recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award to Turkey; a Fulbright Student Research Award to Turkey, where she was affiliated with Boğaziçi University in Istanbul; and a Dissertation Completion Award administered by the UGA Graduate School. She now works as an artist, illustrator and editor for several libraries, research institutes and presses.

Hoang Luong, who completed his Ph.D. in physics in 2021, is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara. At UGA, he made three important contributions to the metallurgical coating and thin-film community. He explored fabricating nanostructures of composite noble metals and magnetic materials as magneto-plasmonic systems. He investigated the design and apprehension of active chiral metamaterials, and he made a breakthrough in hydrogen sensor applications using a similar approach. He contributed as the first or co-author for more than 20 published research papers over nearly five years at UGA, some with high-impact factor journals in cutting-edge research topics. In his postdoctoral position at UCSB, he has been working on an entirely new research direction, studying long-term stability of organic photodetectors and organic photovoltaics.