UA Honors Outstanding Graduate Students in 2013

TUSCALOOSA, Ala – The University of Alabama Graduate School has announced the recipients of the 2013 Outstanding Graduate Student awards, to be presented during UA Honors Week,  April 1–5.

Three faculty committees selected the eight most outstanding graduate students. According to Dr. John Schmitt, associate dean of the graduate school and coordinator of awards selection, the University’s winners were selected from among nominees who first had won graduate student awards in their respective colleges and schools. The University’s graduate student honorees during Honors Week 2013 appear below.

Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation: Dr. John C. Mitcham, College of Arts and Sciences, department of history, won for “Sea League of All the Britons: Race, Identity, and Imperial Defense, 1868–1914.” His dissertation chairperson was Dr. John Beeler, professor of history. Mitcham explores the cultural, social and political dimensions of British imperial policy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His project provides the first comprehensive study of the cultural and racial origins of the imperial defense partnership.

Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation: Dr. Yanping Zhang, College of Engineering, department of computer science, won for “Surveillance and Intrusion Detection in Wireless Sensor Networks: Design, Analysis, and Evaluation.” Her dissertation chairperson was Dr. Yang Xiao, professor in the department of computer science. Zhang’s research incorporated ideas from multiple disciplines including computer science, biology, animal behavior and communication. She modeled the social and communication behavior of primates, which provide biological inspiration for solving problems in communication and networking.

Outstanding Master’s Thesis: K. Lance Wilson, College of Arts and Sciences, department of geological sciences, won for “The Origin and Development of the Tampa Embayment: Implications for the Tectonic Evolution of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.” His thesis chairperson was Dr. Delores Robinson, associate professor of geological sciences. The thesis provided a tectonic evolution of the eastern Gulf of Mexico based on the seismic lines that he interpreted. His research allows people to determine where the rock that may be full of hydrocarbons might be found. In addition to his research abilities, he has demonstrated a talent for networking and facilitating relationships with industry.

Excellence in Teaching by a Master’s Student: Allison Hiss, College of Arts and Sciences, department of modern languages and classics, received the award. The teaching style of Hiss demonstrates resourcefulness as well as understanding of communicative language teaching methods. She has been instrumental in implementing creative extra-curricular activities for the French program and served as the assistant to the director of the Alabama-in-France Study Abroad Program in summer 2012.

Excellence in Teaching by a Doctoral Student: Jefferson Walker, College of Communication and Information Sciences, doctoral program in communication and information sciences, received the award. Walker is able to teach and lead his students and fosters a sense of life-long learning that contributes to his teaching success. He is consistently evaluated among the top doctoral teachers in the department.

Excellence in Research by a Master’s Student: Zachary Wahl-Alexander, College of Education, department of kinesiology, received the award. Wahl-Alexander has produced an impressive list of publications that includes three publications in American and European journals, three published abstracts and nine peer-reviewed presentations. He has been able to secure external funding to support the research projects that he initiated, organized and conducted.

Excellence in Research by a Doctoral Student: Matthew Shannon, College of Engineering, department of chemical and biological engineering, received the award. Shannon has conducted groundbreaking research in his field that is consistently cited by external research groups. He has eight peer-reviewed publications in chemical engineering and chemistry journals, and he has made six presentations at conferences. He is also the co-inventor on one U.S. and PCT patent application.

Outstanding Service by a Graduate Student: Dr. Rosemary Clement, College of Nursing, DNP Program, received the award. Clement has worked tirelessly to promote breast cancer awareness in her home state of South Carolina and internationally through her volunteer work in Ghana, Africa. She has established support groups for women with cancer, funding sources for women who cannot afford mammograms and pet therapy sessions with her certified therapy dog.


Richard LeComte, media relations,, 205/348-3782


Lesley E. Campbell, 205/348-0051