UA Announces Outstanding Graduate Student Awards for 2015

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama Graduate School recently announced the recipients of the 2015 Outstanding Graduate Student awards.

The awards will be presented during UA Honors Week from Monday, March 30, to Friday, April 3.

Three faculty committees selected the seven most outstanding graduate students from award winners selected in their individual departments and colleges, said Dr. John F. Schmitt, associate graduate dean and assistant to the provost.

The winners are:

Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation: Dr. Yuanyuan Su (Chengdu, Sichuan), College of Arts and Sciences, department of physics and astronomy. Su won for the manuscript “X-Ray Observations of Hot Gas in Early-Type Galaxies and Groups of Galaxies.” Her dissertation co-chairpersons were Dr. Raymond E. White III, professor of physics and astronomy, and Dr. Jimmy Irwin, assistant professor of physics and astronomy. Su investigated the hot gas properties of galaxies and galaxy groups in three major scientific projects. Su already published her findings in a major international journal in the field.

Outstanding Master’s Thesis: Steven Price (Huntsville), College of Engineering, department of mechanical engineering, won for the manuscript “On Temperature Measurements and Analysis in Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing Using Near Infrared Thermography.” His thesis chairperson was Dr. Y. Kevin Chou, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. The thesis focused on the development of process monitoring techniques to provide accurate temperature measurements for the electron beam additive manufacturing process.

Excellence in Teaching by a Master’s Student: Christopher McCarter (San Jose, California), College of Arts and Sciences, department of English, received the award. His major professor was Robin Behn, professor of English. McCarter exemplified excellence in teaching with his dedication and commitment to his field.  His mentors and students described him as a highly engaged and student-centered teacher, intensely dedicated to his students, “bringing enormous energy, charisma and thoughtful course design” to his classes.

Excellence in Teaching by a Doctoral Student: Adam Sharples (Peoria, Illinois), college-wide doctoral program in Communication and Information Sciences, received the award. His major professor was Dr. Jason Black, associate professor of communication studies. His enthusiasm and success as a teacher, researcher and mentor made him invaluable to students in the college, a “tremendously gifted teacher and academic citizen.”

Excellence in Research by a Master’s Student: Achsah Dorsey (Newnan, Georgia), College of Arts and Sciences, department of anthropology, received the award. Her major professor was Dr. Jason DeCaro, associate professor of anthropology. Her research focused on how parenting practices, household food insecurity, psychosocial function and household wealth interact to shape the health trajectories of children in Mwanza, Tanzania. She is described as “a gifted, tenacious and highly motivated” young researcher and scholar.

Excellence in Research by a Doctoral Student: Yaolin Xu (Taiyuan), College of Engineering, department of chemical and biological engineering, received the award. His major professor was Dr. Yuping Bao, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering. He researched ways to develop multifunctional iron oxide nanoparticles and explore their applications in both fundamental research and biomedical fields to broaden and improve their use. He has been highly successful in translating technology to useful applications.  One of his research articles was a highlighted article in Nature, one of the most elite journals in the scientific field.

Outstanding Service by a Graduate Student: Michelle Gannon (Jamison, Pennsylvania), College of Arts and Sciences, department of geological sciences, received the award. Her major professor was Dr. Alberto Perez-Huerta, assistant professor of geological sciences. Gannon is a leader in outreach services including the Tuscaloosa Magnet School Initiative, Night at the Museum and the Science Olympiad. She has been active in increasing community awareness of the field of geology to spark interest in the field, especially among children.


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


Lesley E. Campbell, Graduate School, 205/348-0051,