UA Announces Outstanding Graduate Student Awards for 2018-2019

UA Announces Outstanding Graduate Student Awards for 2018-2019

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama Graduate School named recipients of the 2018-2019 Outstanding Graduate Student awards.

The awards will be presented as a part of UA Honors Week (Monday, April 1, to Friday, April 5).

Three faculty committees selected seven outstanding graduate students from those nominated by their individual departments and colleges. The winners are:

Outstanding Dissertation Award:

Dr. Briana Whiteside, English, College of Arts and Sciences

Whiteside’s dissertation, “Octavia E. Butler: History, Culture, and the Future: A Comprehensive Approach,” investigates the works of Butler, an African American science fiction writer, in the context of alternative healing practices. “I suggest that Butler highlights how communal culture, familial ties, linguistic practices, spirituality, body awareness and activism are necessary components to healing African Americans while en route to freedom and social justice,” Whiteside said. Her committee chair was Dr. Trudier Harris, University distinguished research professor.

Outstanding Thesis Award:

Kevin Willson, geography, College of Arts and Sciences

Willson’s work, “Temporal dynamics affecting ground flora recovery after fire in thinned Pinus-Quericus stands,” utilizes nature as a model in forest management. “Although diminutive in stature, the ground flora of a forest affect nutrient cycling, light capture, forest composition and broader taxonomic richness by feeding insects, birds and mammals at other trophic levels,” Willson said. His committee chair was Dr. Justin Hart, associate professor of geography.

Outstanding Research by a Master’s Student:

Jillian Sico, MFA Book Arts, School of Library and Information Studies, College of Communication and Information Sciences

Sico’s research delves into Mexican paper tradition of Amate “a form of bark paper found in Mexico with history dating back to the Maya, Mexica and Mixtec peoples,” said her adviser, Anna Embree, professor of book arts. “Sico‘s work focuses on the papers themselves, their production techniques, and the artists who are today revitalizing and modernizing these traditions.”

Outstanding Teaching by a Master’s Student:

Sarah Price, communications studies, College of Communication & Information Sciences

Price has taught two sections of COM 122 – Critical Decision Making and one section of COM 123 – Public Speaking. “Sarah has excelled in these teaching assignments, garnering high scores on Student Opinion of Instruction items, many positive comments from students and high praise from faculty who supervise Sarah in her teaching assignments,” said Dr. Beth Bennett, senior associate dean and chair for communication studies.

Outstanding Service by a Graduate Student:

Dr. Adora Hicks, counselor education, College of Education

Hicks received funding to develop the Crimson Career Closet and stock it with professional clothing for UA students’ interviews. “Adora gladly took on the additional responsibilities of managing the Career Closet while working full time as a career adviser,” said Melinda J. King, assistant vice president of Student Life. “As a result of her efforts, we received an overwhelming level of support in the form of both financial and clothing donations.” Hicks’ faculty adviser is Dr. Joy Burnham, professor and program coordinator in counselor education.

Outstanding Teaching by a Doctoral Student:

Mary K. Foster, English, College of Arts and Sciences

Foster has taught eight classes, including British Literature (1): Pre-1800: Myth, Memory, & Monsters; and Academic Writing (II): Pop, Rock, & Nerd Culture. “In her few years at UA, M.K. has established herself as a sought-out teacher, as is clear from her superb teaching scores and superlative student comments,” said Dr. James McNaughton, her adviser and associate professor of English. “A number of Foster’s students have written forcefully in celebration of her excellence.”

Outstanding Research by a Doctoral Student:

Adam Coffey, psychology, College of Arts and Sciences

Coffey has developed a breadth of forensic psychology expertise and published work on psychopathy, intimate partner violence, the LGBTQ community and jury duty. “Broadly, my research investigates relationships between psychological science and legal decision-making,” Coffey said. “I am interested in understanding personality traits associated with criminality and increased involvement in the criminal justice system.” His mentor is Dr. Jennifer Cox, assistant professor of psychology.


Richard LeComte, communications, 205-348-3782,