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### Prestigious University Awards Recognize Forty Graduate Students

Penn State Graduate Student Recognition Awards

Intercollege Graduate Student Outreach Achievement Award

Recipient: Ana V. Leon-Apodaca

Ana V. Leon-Apodaca, a doctoral candidate in bioinformatics and genomics, spearheaded the establishment of DNA Day at Penn State. She focused on eliminating language barriers to make science more inclusive, particularly for English language learners from Hispanic and Latino communities. As the vice president and science ambassador for DNA Day at Penn State, she has successfully demystified science careers and empowered students to explore STEM fields.

Ardeth and Norman Frisbey International Student Award

Recipient: Olanrewaju Shittu

Olanrewaju Shittu, a doctoral candidate in plant pathology, has made significant contributions to global food security by studying the management of Fusarium head blight disease in wheat. His research not only addressed disease outbreaks but also provided crucial cultural management practices for farmers in Ethiopia. Beyond research, Shittu actively engages in Penn State’s international student community, demonstrating exceptional leadership and commitment.

Graduate Student Service Award

Recipient: Tanveer Ahmed

Tanveer Ahmed, pursuing a doctoral degree in civil and environmental engineering, has showcased exemplary leadership through various extracurricular roles. He has led initiatives to foster inclusivity, promote cultural exchange, and advocate for graduate student needs at multiple levels within the university. Ahmed’s dedication to service has been recognized through prestigious accolades and scholarships, highlighting his exceptional commitment to the university community.

Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award

Recipients: Benton Bickerton, Allison Carothers, Andrew Domzal, Carolin Jolitz, Timothy D. Smith, Abigail Stebbins, Kelly Sweeney, Yin Tang, Brooke Tybush, Morgan Vincent

These exceptional doctoral candidates have demonstrated outstanding teaching abilities across diverse disciplines, elevating the learning experience for students. Their innovative approaches, dedication to student engagement, and commitment to fostering inclusive learning environments have earned them accolades and high praise from both peers and students alike.

AT&T Graduate Fellowship Award

Recipient: Mohammadreza Abbasi

Mohammadreza Abbasi, a doctoral student in electrical engineering, is at the forefront of developing advanced silicon-based circuits for next-generation sensing and communications systems. His groundbreaking research on RF and millimeter-wave integrated IC design has garnered prestigious awards and recognition, positioning him as a rising star in the field. Abbasi’s contributions hold immense promise for shaping future technologies and driving advancements in the field of electrical engineering.

Harold K. Schilling Dean’s Graduate Scholarship

Recipient: Ryan Naylor

Ryan Naylor, a doctoral student in recreation, park, and tourism management, is dedicated to studying socio-environmental challenges in Arctic communities. His research on governance issues related to tourism development and environmental change exemplifies a commitment to community engagement and ethical research practices. Naylor’s work has been instrumental in addressing critical issues impacting communities in the Arctic latitudes, showcasing his dedication to sustainable practices and community well-being.

Professional Master’s Excellence Award

Recipients: Allison Brault, Grace Buddle, Kimberly Cunningham, Erin Stanek

These master’s students have showcased excellence in their respective fields, demonstrating a deep commitment to advancing knowledge and addressing societal challenges. From innovative research in voice performance and pedagogy to groundbreaking work in regenerative architecture and sustainable design, these scholars exemplify the highest standards of academic achievement and professional excellence.

Graduate Student Excellence in Mentoring Award

Recipient: Rebecca Welch

Rebecca Welch, a doctoral student in materials science and engineering, has exhibited exceptional mentorship qualities by guiding undergraduate students in computational research. Her commitment to fostering research skills and facilitating collaborative learning experiences has resulted in impactful contributions from her mentees. Welch’s dedication to mentorship underscores her role as a supportive and inspiring figure within the academic community.

Graduate Student International Research Award

Recipient: Sarah Richards

Sarah Richards, a doctoral candidate in ecology, is at the forefront of international research aimed at understanding agricultural soil management in diverse global contexts. Her efforts to bridge the gap in agricultural knowledge transfer and incorporate traditional practices into modern agricultural systems highlight her commitment to sustainable practices. Richards’ research has the potential to revolutionize agricultural approaches and promote environmental sustainability on a global scale.

Thomas and June Beaver Fund Award

Recipients: Kiran Bhaskar, Chowdhury Ali Imam, Arjun Kizhakkemarakkattil Janardhanan, Adam Park, Kimberly Cunningham, Erin Stanek

These master’s students have demonstrated exceptional research acumen and dedication to addressing pressing societal challenges in their respective fields. From innovative architectural designs focused on sustainability to groundbreaking advancements in bioinformatics and tissue engineering, these scholars are paving the way for transformative solutions in their disciplines.

Penn State Alumni Association Scholarship for Penn State Alumni in the Graduate School

Recipients: Sarah Torhan, Tyus Yeingst

Sarah Torhan and Tyus Yeingst, doctoral students in civil and environmental engineering and biomedical engineering, respectively, have exhibited exemplary academic achievements and a strong commitment to advancing knowledge in their fields. Their research contributions and dedication to mentorship underscore their potential to make significant impacts in their respective disciplines and inspire future generations of scholars.

Penn State Alumni Association Dissertation Award

Recipients: Dima Abu-Aridah, Katie Bernhard, Mason Breitzig, Haoyang Chen, Mayura Dhamdhere, Marius Jürgensen, Myoung Hwan Kim, Corinne Lajoie, Mengqi Liao, Meredith Persico, Gavin Rackoff, Maria Rovito, Divya Singh

These doctoral candidates have excelled in their dissertation research, addressing complex societal issues and advancing knowledge in diverse fields. From groundbreaking studies on neurological disorders to innovative approaches in bioengineering and social sciences, these scholars have demonstrated exceptional research acumen and a commitment to scholarly excellence.


The recipients of the Penn State Graduate Student Recognition Awards have showcased exemplary achievements and dedication to advancing knowledge and addressing societal challenges in their respective fields. Their outstanding contributions underscore the diverse talent and impactful research endeavors within the Penn State graduate student community.