Dr. Tova Samuels

 First WMU Mi-AGEP Graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences

The Graduate College is proud to announce that Ms. Tova Samuels graduated with herPhD in chemistry in June 2012, the first Western Michigan University affiliated MI-AGEP student to graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences at WMU since the inception of the program. MI-AGEP stands for Michigan Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate, a National Science Foundation grant program geared toward increasing the number of under-represented students in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Social, Behavioral and Economic (SBE) fields.

Besides Western Michigan University, other member institutions are Michigan Tech, Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University. AGEP students may be supported in their pursuit of doctoral degrees for up to four years.

Ms. Samuels’ advisor in the Chemistry Department was Dr. Sherine Obare, whose tireless work on behalf of recruiting and retaining highly qualified students has resulted in a number of AGEP awardees in the Chemistry Department. Ms. Samuels’ specialty in the field of chemistry is nanoscience; her dissertation title is “Strategies for Studying the Interaction of Nanoscale Materials with Chemical and Biological Contaminants.” In this area of specialization, Ms. Samuels primarily studied the interaction of silver, gold, and bimetallic-silver/gold nanoparticles with pesticides, specifically organophosphorus pesticides. These are a particular class of pesticides that are similar in structure to some chemical warfare agents.  She also used silver and gold nanoparticles coated with an antibiotic, ampicillin, to study their effects on antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Ms. Samuels received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA, in 2007. She chose Western Michigan University for graduate study on the strength of a recommendation by her advisor. She has earned several scholarships, awards and honors at WMU, including the Gwen Frostic Doctoral Fellowship for Spring 2011, the Graduate College Graduate Travel Fund award, 2010, and the MPI Research, Inc. Graduate Research Scholarship, 2011. When asked about her most outstanding experience at WMU, she said the entire experience of earning her PhD was memorable and life-changing. In five years, she sees herself wearing many hats and serving many positions. She has interests that expand far beyond the classroom, leading her to pursue a career as an educator and a business entrepreneur.

Her extra-curricular professional activities include membership in NOBCChE, the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. She volunteers for the Secondary Education division of NOBCChE and plans to pick up more volunteer opportunities outside of NOBCChE now that she has graduated. She also does free-lance tutoring. Ms. Samuels is interested in promoting an eco-friendly, natural lifestyle and proudly states, “I’m out to change the world!” Given her outgoing personality and her many professional skills, the Graduate College has no doubt that she will do just that and congratulates Ms. Samuels on her achievement in attaining a Ph.D. in Chemistry at WMU.

Kevin Grazioli—Winner of Two EMMY awards!

Kevin Grazioli, MBA student at Western Michigan University, has two beautiful golden statues to commemorate his undergraduate film career. His film “Seeing Stars in Indiana” won two EMMY awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2012. Completed while he was a senior at Ball State University majoring in telecommunications, the film has been airing on Public Broadcasting System stations across Indiana since 2011.

In “Seeing Stars in Indiana,” Grazioli’s film crew followed professional and amateur astronomers as they traveled through Indiana and to Arizona to explore the night sky.

The film, which was created to, in Grazioli’s words, encourage people to “look up!” was nominated by PBS station WIPB-PBS, which funded the work. It won the overall prize for Health/Science Program or Special. Grazioli also won an EMMY for his role as Director—Post Production. In pre-production, Grazioli proposed the idea, obtained funding, and hired the crew, including narrators for the voice-overs and film editors.  In post-production he hired the film editors and consulted with them as they edited the work on its journey to completion. Grazioli has made contacts in Los Angeles while working on the film and this worked to his advantage in hiring his crew.

Since it has come out, the film has been a stepping stone for Grazioli as he has worked on commercials for Wal-Mart as well as on Fox Sports and ESPN. Acting as producer, writer and director, as well as cinematographer,  has given him great experience in his future career. Grazioli, who is from Canton, Michigan, is in his first year in the Master’s of Business Administration program at Western Michigan University. He works on campus as a Graduate Residence Hall Director at Ackley-Schilling. He has been working on a film project with Sindecuse Health Center and wants to pursue the financial and accounting side of filmmaking. For more information please visit his website at www.kevingrazioli.com.

Dr. Zella Jackson Hannum

Western Michigan University’s First AGEP Ph.D. Graduate in Engineering

Zella Jackson Hannum, who will be WMU’s first National Science Foundation (NSF) Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) grant doctoral graduate in engineering, successfully defended her dissertation on May 16, in Walwood Commons.  Western Michigan University is partnered in a special AGEP Alliance with the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University in a federally funded initiative aligned with efforts to increase participation among underrepresented groups in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Dr. Hannum was awarded a Ph.D. at the June 2012 commencement ceremony from the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, which is chaired by Dr. Paul Engelmann.

Dr. David Lyth, professor and co-director of the Engineering Management Research Laboratory in the College of Engineering, served as Dr. Hannum’s dissertation chair and guided her research, titled Development of a New Technology Balanced Scorecard Derived from Critical Factors that Impact Product Quality.  Hannum’s study used multiple linear equations to predict critical factors that drive product quality and that demonstrated significant correlations with measures of product quality management practices and product quality performance.  The second part of the study developed and tested scorecard performance capability and usability and demonstrated significant correlations with measures of scorecard performance capability and managers’ decisions to use the scorecard as a tool in making quality management decisions. Such a performance measurement tool will be important to business environments interested in cultivating new technology ventures (NTVs) through the use of continuous process improvement and quality efforts.

Other members of Dr. Hannum’s dissertation committee include the following: Dr. Tarun Gupta and Dr. Leonard Lamberson, professors, WMU Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, and Dr. John Lloyd, University Distinguished Professor emeritus, College of Engineering, Michigan State University.