Campus News

2023 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.

Vera Bulla (Submitted photo)

Vera Bulla will graduate in May 2023 with a Ph.D. in Romance languages. Her research of contemporary novels of Brazilian Literature focuses on the interconnection between novels of formation and environmental disasters. During her doctoral study, she was a teaching assistant for the Portuguese Program and for the Institute for Women’s Studies. This past year, she was a Future Faculty Fellow with the Center for Teaching and Learning. She connects literature and srt in her classes, and because of that, she developed an interest in creative writing and illustration. Her talents also led her to publish short studies and poetry.

Rachel Ramey (Photo by Cassie Wright)

Rachel Ramey is a Ph.D. candidate in marketing at the Terry College of Business. Her research examines using marketing strategy to positively impact the world. She ran a large-scale randomized controlled trial in Malawi to increase financial inclusion for women. She also researches what can be learned from the role of marketing in the opioid epidemic. She has been a TA and taught as an Instructor of Record in the marketing department. She was a Future Faculty Fellow for the Center of Teaching and Learning in 2022. In her classroom, she helps students develop a global perspective and understand the role of data and technology in marketing. She is passionate about teaching the next generation of business leaders how to make the world a better place.

Derek Denney (Submitted photo)

Derek Denney is a Ph.D. candidate in plant biology. His research investigates the link between plant performance and physiology under contemporary and future climate conditions and examines the genetic basis of local adaptation. Prior to attending UGA, Denney was a teaching assistant at Washington State University, where he helped develop an inquiry-based curriculum for organismal biology labs. While at UGA, Denney has been a graduate lab assistant, teaching assistant and co-instructor for biology and plant biology courses. Most recently, Denney co-taught plant taxonomy and redesigned the course to include a course-based research experience. This project provided students with hands-on experience preparing herbarium specimens and digital collections through an online citizen science repository. He was a participant in the Center for Teaching and Learning’s Future Faculty Fellow Program in 2022. Denney enjoys mentoring and helping undergraduates pursue their interests in research. He also enjoys teaching and strives to create a classroom that values diversity of thought and inclusion. He hopes to become a faculty member at a university, where he can continue to research and teach the next generation of scientists

Anne Waswa (Submitted photo)

Anne Waswa is a doctoral candidate in mathematics education in the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Education in the Mary Frances Early College of Education. Her research focuses on investigating and supporting pre-service teachers’ mathematical creativity. Waswa’s outstanding contributions at UGA are in teaching, research and service. She took a lead role in conducting COVID-19-related research in Kenya in collaboration with researchers from the United States and South Korea. In this COVID-19-related research, her team developed quantitative data representations that aid citizens in understanding and assessing pandemic information and risks. They developed a tool that was featured in the New York Times and other news channels. Additionally, Waswa has supervised pre-service math teachers towards their certification, served as a treasurer for a student organization, editor for a student-run journal, and was a founding member of the African Graduate Students Forum at UGA. Her awards include the outstanding teaching assistant award, the top research presentation award at a conference and more.

Savannah Jensen is a Ph.D. candidate in the English department where she teaches first-year and British literature to 1,700 students. In addition to her work in the classroom, she also serves as a consultant at the UGA Writing Center. Jensen co-authored an activity with Emily Beckwith that is included in Michal Reznizki and David T. Coad’s “Dynamic Activities for First Year Composition,” which was published in March 2023. She is a member of UGA’s Center for Teaching and Learning Future Faculty Fellowship 2022’s cohort. UGA’s Center for Teaching and Learning granted her the Emerging SoTL Scholar Award for her work examining her students’ experiences of learning in a gamified composition class. Jensen was also a member of the National Humanities Center’s Virtual Graduate Summer Residency program. Her experiences have informed her teaching practice, which emphasizes connection and creativity in the classroom. She believes that students should be able to make course content their own and have opportunities to share their learning with their peers.

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.

Manjyot Kaur Chug (Submitted photo)

Manjyot Kaur Chug is a postdoctoral research associate at Handa Biomaterials Lab at the College of Engineering. She graduated with a doctorate from UGA’s College of Engineering and is the first person to earn her Ph.D. in the new biomedical engineering program in 2022, where she was mentored by Elizabeth Brisbois. Her doctoral research focused on developing antibacterial and antifouling medical device interfaces. To date, Chug’s research has resulted in several peer-reviewed publications in some of the top journals in the field. Her innovative thinking and excellent scientific aptitude have also resulted in her becoming an inventor on two patent applications filed to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. For her contributions, she received the UGA Graduate School Summer Research Grant 2022, Nano-Bio REU Excellence in Mentorship Award, an ORC Doctoral Fellowship (which supported her first year of Ph.D.), Graduate Student Travel Award at SFB, UCF, UGA Graduate Presentation Fellowship, and a travel grant from the Indian Council of Medical Research. Chug won two prestigious teaching awards for her excellence in teaching from the College of Engineering and the Outstanding Teaching Award from the Graduate School. Through these experiences, Chug has developed skills to collaborate with a wide range of translational researchers from basic scientists to clinicians, with the goal of working together and solving biomedical technology challenges of the future. She is currently continuing her work in developing smart antibacterial materials that can be tuned for their applications depending on the severity of the situation.

Emma Frank (Submitted photo)

Emma Frank graduated with a Ph.D. in Management (Organizational Behavior) in May 2022. Her research focuses on the implicit theories that people hold about their lives, their work and their relationships. This focuses on the emotions that such beliefs trigger, the implications of chasing (or achieving) what people believe to be the trademarks of a “good” or “successful” life, and how general ideas about relationships and relationship expectations guide or disrupt workplace social dynamics. Some of her current projects explore how employees develop implicit theories about what is expected of themselves and others, the effects of regulating emotions in the pursuit of those expectations, and the emotional and relational consequences triggered when employees fail to “live up” to desired-self goals and others’ expectations. During her doctoral studies at the University of Georgia, she was a recipient of the Knox Scholarship. She now works as an assistant professor in the Department of Management at the University of New Hampshire.

Bethany Bateman McDonald (Submitted photo)

Bethany Bateman McDonald graduated with a Ph.D. in Romance languages with an emphasis in Hispanic linguistics in May 2022. Her dissertation research used novel methodological procedures to investigate variation in simple and compound past forms by speakers of Cusco Spanish. She operationalized semantic-pragmatic factors and collected natural speech data from monolingual and bilingual speakers of Cusco Spanish and/or Quechua in collaboration with a non-profit women’s health clinic, CerviCusco. Her findings indicated that the Present Perfect in Cusco Spanish is developing along a process of subjectivization, encoding speaker-oriented information. Specifically, McDonald’s work demonstrated that the Present Perfect can mark events that are emotionally relevant to the speaker, regardless of temporal distance. Funding for this research came from the Graduate School Dean’s Award, the Dolores Artau Scholarship Award, the Willson Center Graduate Research Award and the Global Research Collaboration Grant. During her graduate studies, McDonald taught various courses in Spanish and linguistics, including upper-level courses like Spanish Linguistics and 1st and 2nd Language Acquisition. Additionally, she was the Quechua Instructor for the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute and developed a four-course sequence of curriculum materials for the Quechua program. McDonald was nominated for the Philanthropic Educational Organization Scholar Award in 2018 and received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in 2019. She has also been recognized by various students in the UGA Thank-a-Teacher Program. Currently, McDonald is a Spanish instructor for the Department of Romance Languages at UGA.

Ashley Rasys (Submitted photo)

Ashley Rasys is a veterinarian clinician-scientist. She graduated with her doctorate from the College of Veterinary Medicine and received her Ph.D. from the department of cellular biology in 2022, where she was co-advised under James Lauderdale and Douglas Menke. Her research focused on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the development of the fovea of the eye, which is a pit-like structure that is critical for vision in the retina of humans and some vertebrates. Rasys investigated fovea development in the Brown anole lizard and pioneered the development of gene-editing technology in this species. For her contributions, she received the International Society for Transgenic Technologies Young Investigator Award and the Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Research Award for Graduate Veterinarians. She is also an ARCS Foundation Scholar and over the years, has received several fellowships and grants to support her research. She is currently continuing her work investigating fovea development in lizards as a postdoctoral fellow with the Hufnagel group at the National Eye Institute a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Alanna Koritzke (Submitted photo)

Alanna Koritzke graduated with a Ph.D. in chemistry in December 2022, where she was advised by Brandon Rotavera. Her dissertation research focus was on the chemical kinetics of biofuel combustion which is motivated by ongoing challenges in sustainable energy. She used a jet-stirred reactor coupled with advanced analytical diagnostics including gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and absorption spectroscopy to probe chemical reactions of tetrahydrofuran, a promising next-generation biofuel. She published her work on tetrahydrofuran combustion in Combustion and Flame and presented her work at several conferences, including the Eastern States Section of the Combustion Institute Meeting, the American Chemical Society National Meeting and the International Symposium on Gas Kinetics and Related Phenomena. Koritzke contributed significantly to method development within the Rotavera Group, which has a lasting impact on current and future projects. She has more than 10 co-authored publications attributed to her contributions to other projects within the laboratory in collaboration with the Air Quality and Climate Research Laboratory at UGA and with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories. In recognition of her significant contributions to research and scholarly publishing in the Rotavera Group, Koritzke has also received numerous awards and Fellowships, including the Chateaubriand Fellowship from the Embassy of France, the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship from the Department of Transportation and the Beverly Hirsch Frank Graduate Fellowship from the UGA Graduate School, in addition to the 2019 Martin Reynolds Smith Award for from the Department of Chemistry.