Initiated in 1999, the Graduate Student Excellence-in-Research Awards recognize the quality and significance of graduate student scholarship at the University of Georgia. These awards may be given in five areas: Fine Arts, Humanities and Letters, Life Sciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and Applied Studies.
Hannah Bullock, a recent doctoral graduate in microbiology, is recognized for the new insights her research has provided into a major pathway of the ocean sulfur cycle. Her work focuses on the metabolism by marine bacteria of an organosulfur compound named dimethylsulfoniopropionate that is a major source of the atmospheric sulfur that facilitates cloud formation. Her research offers new insights into the biochemical regulation of the pathway as well as its evolutionary history. Bullock has also made essential contributions to three other papers, has distinguished herself as a contributor to scientific work outside her own field, and has been an active collaborator with fellow graduate students and a mentor for undergraduate students in the laboratory. She currently is a postdoctoral associate in microbiology at UGA.
Nickolas Castro, a recent doctoral graduate in mathematics, distinguished himself by making a major breakthrough in mathematics in his thesis on decomposition of smooth 4-manifolds, a 4-dimensional space like the space-time universe we live in. His research has proved essential for the development of the theory of trisections of 4-manifolds—the idea that smooth 4-manifolds can be understood by cutting them into three pieces, each with simple topology. He provided an elegant and simple proof of a theorem, thereby opening up a new way of thinking about smooth 4-dimensional topology with many new wonderful questions. Castro has been recognized nationally and internationally. He is now working at the University of California, Davis, as a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow.
Brian Crawford, a recent doctoral graduate in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, is recognized for his dissertation, which integrated creative field research, ecological population modeling, assessments of stakeholder attitudes toward management and stakeholder-based structured decision-making. He was instrumental in the development of a conservation plan for diamondback terrapins, which are killed by the thousands on the causeways to Georgia’s barrier islands. His research, combined with his willingness to understand the priorities and needs of various stakeholders, resulted in the first-in-the-nation “smart” warning system for wildlife, which alerts motorists when turtles are most likely to appear on the road. Crawford is continuing his work as a postdoctoral researcher in the Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.
Charles Adron Farris III, a recent doctoral graduate in theatre and performance studies with a certificate in Native American Studies, is recognized for his contributions to the study of indigenous American theater and performance. His dissertation was the first intensive study of two well-known Cherokee outdoor dramas originally intended to attract tourists: Unto These Hills, performed since 1950 in North Carolina, and Trail of Tears, performed since 1969 in Oklahoma. Farris analyzed the plays’ construction of misleading historical narratives, recent efforts to replace the scripts with more accurate and culturally sensitive versions, and the mixed response from Cherokee communities and tourists. He identified the need for historical outdoor drama to match the cultural expectations of audiences as the cause of repeated commercial disappointment, and ultimately the decline of this theatrical genre.
Matt Hauer, a recent doctoral graduate in geography, has academic training spanning sociology, demography and population geography, or “spatial demography.” He displays remarkable acumen in identifying timely policy-relevant research topics and is recognized for his dissertation, which explored sea level rise and human migration. He developed his own population projection methods that addressed the limitations of existing approaches, and, working with detailed geographic assessments of sea level, he generated the first national estimates of sea level rise-induced migration and its impacts. He has already developed a keen ability to communicate his research in a variety of governmental and nongovernmental settings and is a sought-after speaker and participant in policy-making. Hauer is currently a faculty member at UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government and serves as director of the CVIOG Applied Demography Program.
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