2012 Graduate School Student Awards

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Chemical Engineering Doctoral Candidate William B. Liechty Wins
$10,000 Granof Outstanding Graduate Student Award

AUSTIN, Texas—William B. Liechty, a Cockrell School of Engineering doctoral candidate at The University of Texas at Austin, has won the $10,000 Michael H. Granof Outstanding Graduate Student Award at the Graduate School/University Co-op Awards for Excellence in Graduate Education.

William LeichtyThe Excellence in Graduate Education Awards recognize and reward outstanding graduate students for distinguished scholarship, research, writing, service and teaching.

Liechty, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, is completing his dissertation, which involves the development of dual-responsive nanoscale hydrogels for the oral delivery of small interfering RNA. According to his dissertation advisor, Professor Nicholas Peppas, his dissertation project is one of major importance to the biomaterials world. He has been recognized with numerous awards, including travel grants to conferences, a presentation award from the Society for Biomaterials, and notably the 2011 Excellence in Graduate Research Award from the Graduate School.

Liechty represented The University of Texas at Austin at the 61st meeting of Nobel Laureates at Lindau (one of 70 delegates from the U.S.), and he has also been instrumental in the development and growth of Texas Venture Labs, where he led several cross-functional deal teams, and helped partner companies raise nearly $8 million. He has served as department representative to the Graduate Student Assembly, as President of the Graduate Chemical Engineering Society, and also as a member of the President's Student Advisory Committee. In summer 2011, Liechty co-founded a summer program that provides high-school students, most of whom would be first-generation college students, an internship focused on drug delivery and biomaterials research. All of the participants expressed serious intent to pursue degrees in STEM fields after completing the internship. Outreach initiatives like these are critical to improving the diversity of future researchers in science and engineering.

Prior to UT, William earned a B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Iowa, and as a Gates Cambridge Scholar, received a M.Phil in Chemical Engineering from The University of Cambridge.

Liechty plans to graduate in May 2013.

Also, read about the winners of the 2012 Graduate School Professional Awards.

Outstanding Dissertation Award

The Outstanding Dissertation Award recognizes exceptional work by doctoral students. Three awards of $4,000 each were presented to: Guillermo Blanc, Astronomy; Chiyuma Elliott, American Studies; and Julio Cesar Postigo Mac Dowall, Geography.

Guillermo Blanc



Guillermo Blanc, Astronomy
Studying Star Formation at Low and High Redshift with Integral Field Spectroscopy.
Dissertation supervisor: Karl Gebhardt.

Chiyuma Elliott



Chiyuma Elliott, American Studies

Blackness and Rural Modernity in the 1920s.
Dissertation supervisor: Shirley E. Thompson.

Julio Cesar Postigo Mac Dowall



Julio Cesar Postigo Mac Dowall, Geography

Responses of Plants, Pastoralists, and Governments to Social Environmental Changes in the Peruvian Southern Andes.
Dissertation supervisor: Kenneth R. Young.



Outstanding Thesis/Report Award

The Outstanding Thesis/Report Award recognizes exceptional work by a master's student. An award of $2,000 was presented to Sarah Anne Murray from Radio-Television-Film.

Sarah Anne Murray



Sarah Anne Murray, Radio-Television-Film
The Raw and the Cooking Channel: Gender and the Branding of a Niche Cable Identity.
Thesis supervisor: Mary Celeste Kearney.



Excellence in Graduate Research Award

The Award for Excellence in Graduate Research recognizes outstanding research that is substantially in progress. Three awards of $2,000 each were presented to: Eric W. Campbell, Linguistics; Gabrielle A. Russo, Anthropology; and Brandon V. Slaughter, Chemical Engineering.

Eric Campbell



Eric W. Campbell, Linguistics
A grammar and documentation of Zenzontepec Chatino, an endangered indigenous language of Oaxaca State, Mexico, with a trilingual Chatino-Spanish-English dictionary and historial-comparative classification of Chatino languages.
Supervising professor: Anthony Woodbury.

Gabrielle Russo



Gabrielle A. Russo, Anthropology

Functional morphology of mammalian sacra and caudal vertebrae: implications for tail loss and positional behaviors in extinct primates.
Supervising professor: Liza Shapiro.

Brandon Slaughter



Brandon Vaughn Slaughter, Chemical Engineering
Temperature-Responsive Nano-Composites for Advanced Drug Delivery.
Supervising professor: Nicholas A. Peppas.



William S. Livingston Outstanding Graduate Student Academic Employee Award

The William S. Livingston Outstanding Graduate Student Academic Employee Award recognizes an outstanding teaching assistant, assistant instructor and graduate research assistant. Three awards of $2,000 each were presented to Hayriye Kayi Aydar, Middle Eastern Studies, for Outstanding Assistant Instructor; Maria Angelica Zapata, Curriculum and Instruction, for Outstanding Teaching Assistant; and Tamer Saad Gabr Kaoud, Pharmacy, for Outstanding Research Assistant.

Hayriye Kayi Aydar



Hayriye Kayi Aydar, Assistant Instructor, Middle Eastern Studies.
Supervising faculty member: Kristen Brustad.

Maria Angelica Zapata




Maria Angelica Zapata, Teaching Assistant, Curriculum and Instruction.
Supervising faculty members: Nancy L. Roser and Beth Maloch.

Tamer Saad Gabr Kaoud




Tamer Saad Gabr Kaoud, Graduate Research Assistant, Pharmacy.
Supervising faculty member: Carlton K. Erickson.


The Graduate School and the University Co-op hosted the awards presentation on May 16, 2012 at The Four Seasons Hotel. The University Co-op provides the funding that makes these awards possible.

May 17, 2012

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