Graduate College names six Dissertation Completion Fellows

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KALAMAZOO--Six doctoral students were named recipients of Dissertation Completion Fellowships for 2012-13 by Western Michigan University's Graduate College. Three full-year fellowships worth $21,180 each and three half-year fellowships worth $10,590 were awarded. Each recipient also receives paid tuition during the fellowship period and $500 for reimbursement of dissertation expenses. The annual competition drew 16 applications.

2012-13 Dissertation Completion Fellows

  • Mohamed Ahmed, a geosciences student from Egypt, was awarded a half-year fellowship for his dissertation, "Integrated Approach for Hydrogeologic Investigations in Africa: Inferences From Space-borne and Land-based Gravity, Geochemistry, Modeling, GIS, and Remote Sensing Data." His dissertation advisor is Dr. Mohamed Sultan. Ahmed studied water resources in arid and semi-arid areas including the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt and northern Kuwait. His research involved the use of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) data and other remote sensing datasets to measure and model terrestrial water storage on sub-basin scales. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Suez Canal University in Egypt. Besides the Dissertation Completion Fellowship, he also is the recipient of the Gwen Frostic Doctoral fellowship, the Department of Geosciences Graduate Research and Creative Scholar Award and All-University Graduate Research and Creative Scholar Award.
  • Katherine E. Ellison, a history student from Hemlock, Mich., was awarded a half-year fellowship for her dissertation "Building a House of Peace: The Origins of the Imperial Presidency and the Framework for Executive Power, 1933–1960." Her dissertation advisor is Dr. Edwin Martini. Ellison's dissertation bridges history and political science to explore the origins of the National Security State, the expansion of executive power in the United States, and the relationship between the imperial presidency and a state of perpetual warfare since World War II. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Central Michigan University. At WMU, her honors include the Department of History Graduate Research and Creative Scholar Award, the A. Edythe Mange Distinguished Scholarship in History, Gwen Frostic Doctoral Fellowship and Department of History Graduate Teaching Effectiveness Award.
  • Isurika Fernando, a chemistry student from Kalamazoo, was awarded a full-year fellowship for her dissertation "Metal-organic and Supramolecular Architectures Based on Mechanically Interlocked Units." Her dissertation advisor is Dr. Gellert Mezei. Fernando's dissertation investigates mechanically interlocked molecules, which have unusual physicochemical and mechanical properties and have great potential for applications in the field of molecular machines and high-strength materials. Fernando received her bachelor's degree from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. She has received the All-University Graduate Research and Creative Scholar Award, Chemistry Graduate Research and Creative Scholar Award and Graduate Student Travel Grant while at WMU.
  • Renee Lee Gardner, an English student from Kalamazoo, was awarded a half-year fellowship for her dissertation "Reconceiving Self-Abnegation: Female Vulnerability as Embodied (Un)Sovereignty." Her dissertation advisor is Dr. Todd Kuchta. Her dissertation will examine a recent trend of female self-abnegation in fiction from various time periods and from around the world. In this work, she will investigate in feminist discourse the possibility of political and personal empowerment implicit in and/or resulting from individual self-sacrifice, what she calls the "potential power of submission." She received her bachelor's degree from Purdue University and Her master's degree from the College of Charleston. Besides the Dissertation Completion Fellowship, she was awarded a universitywide doctoral Student Teaching Award at WMU.
  • Travis Hayden, a geosciences student from Plainwell, Mich., was awarded a full-year fellowship for his dissertation "Tectonics, Ice and Backstripping in the Ross Sea, Antarctica." His dissertation advisor is Dr. Michelle Kominz. In his dissertation, Hayden uses data from Antarctic drilling expeditions for a modeling technique known as backstripping, which has allowed him to examine the breakup age of Australia and Antarctica into separate continents and revise previously accepted dates for the continental separation. This new information has significant consequences on existing paleo-climate and paleo-ocean-circulation history and models. Hayden received a bachelor's degree in at the University of Michigan and a master's degree at WMU. His other awards include WMU's All-University and Department Graduate Teaching Effectiveness Awards as a master's student and the Department Graduate Research and Creative Scholar Award as both master's and doctoral student. He has also received two Graduate Student Travel Grants from the Graduate College
  • Stephen Staggs, a history Student from Grand Rapids, Mich., was awarded a full-year fellowship for his dissertation "'Gentiles by Nature:' Indian-Dutch Relations in New Netherland/New York, 1562-1749." His dissertation is jointly supervised by Dr. José António Brandão and Dr. James Palmitessa. It examines the cross-cultural encounters between American Indians and Dutch colonists in and around New Netherland during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by looking at the writings of Dutch Protestant theologians and public archival materials. He has a bachelor's degree from Calvin College in Grand Rapids. His WMU awards include a Graduate College Research and Creative Scholar Award, research grants from the departments of history and the Graduate College and the Ernst Breisach Scholarship and John and Carolyn Houdek Award from the Department of History.

For more information, contact Dr. Julie Nemire, Graduate College, (269) 387-8208 or julie.nemire@wmich.edu.