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Fellowships reward doctoral students' research

September 13, 2006

Five ASU doctoral students from various disciplines have been awarded fellowships from the Division of Graduate Studies (DGS) for their scholarly promise and outstanding dissertation research.

DGS introduced the dissertation fellowship program three years ago to support students in the final stages of their post-candidacy doctoral work and to allow them to focus entirely on their studies and research for an entire year.

“Completing a dissertation may be one of the most challenging endeavors a person undertakes in their lifetime,” says University Vice Provost and Dean Maria T. Allison. “This fellowship rewards graduate students for their outstanding research and their potential to play a leading role in the transformation of societal knowledge and discovery.”

“The selection process was very competitive this year and we had 50 students apply for funding,” adds Andrew N. Webber, associate dean for graduate student programs. “These five should be very proud of themselves, as they represent the best and the brightest of our Ph.D. students.”

The fellowship recipients are in the final year of their dissertation research, and they all agree that receiving the award will make the completion process a bit more manageable because it will let them concentrate exclusively on their projects for an extended period of time.

“This award is an invaluable asset to any Ph.D. candidate,” says DGS dissertation fellow Rajen Sidhu. “The benefit of these financial resources will allow me to devote all my efforts to writing and completing my work here at ASU in a timely manner.”

Mariana Bahtchevanova agrees.

“I consider myself extremely fortunate to be one of the recipients of this generous award,” she says. “I believe that my experience and work this year will contribute to my growth as a researcher.”

The 2006-2007 DGS dissertation fellows were selected for their superior academic achievement and potential as scholars and researchers.

They are:

• Cristian R. Aquino-Sterling, a doctoral candidate in the interdisciplinary doctoral program in curriculum and instruction, received a bachelor's in Western philosophy from Fordham University and a master's in Latin-American and Spanish literatures from Columbia University . Aquino-Sterling is researching the way culture informs critical responses to the federal No Child Left Behind Act. His analysis focuses on the political and educational assumptions and ideologies underlying the discourses around this controversial educational policy.

• Bahtchevanova, a doctoral candidate in rhetoric, composition and linguistics, received a bachelor's degree in Romanian language from Sofia University in Bulgaria and a master's in French from ASU in 2001. She is fluent in Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian, French and English, and her dissertation research examines the cross-linguistic variation in modal complementation, which is the area in the sentence where mood is marked.

• Angela N. Harvey, a doctoral candidate in justice and social inquiry, graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor's degree in psychology and in 1999. She received a master's in social work from ASU. Her dissertation research examines how court actors understand and construct youths' competency to stand trial in Arizona juvenile courts, and the impact this early decision has on case processing.

• James B. Heffernan, a doctoral candidate in biology, received a bachelor's degree in biology from Cornell University . His dissertation research uses the process of wetland formation in desert streams as a model system to better understand how ecological systems respond to disturbance, with particular emphasis on the potential for catastrophic changes in response to perturbation.

• Sidhu, a doctoral candidate in material science and engineering, began his graduate career in 2003 after obtaining a bachelor's degree in materials engineering from the University of British Columbia . As part of his dissertation research, Sidhu is studying the thermomechanical behavior of environmentally benign, lead-free solders for microelectronic applications to understand their overall mechanical properties.