Four graduate students in the College of Science at Texas A&M University recently received Distinguished Graduate Student Awards for their exemplary efforts in research, teaching and mentoring.

Michael Grubb and Casey Wade (Department of Chemistry), Wenlong Yang (Department of Physics and Astronomy) and Scott Crawford (Department of Statistics) are among 15 outstanding graduate students across the university who were honored in an April 10 ceremony at the Clayton W. Williams Jr. Alumni Center in conjunction with a "Community of Scholars" event sponsored by The Association of Former Students and the Texas A&M Office of Graduate Studies.

Each year up to 15 recipients are recognized by the university in one of three categories: Excellence in Research-Doctoral, Excellence in Research-Master's, and Excellence in Teaching. Students are nominated by their faculty advisors or their departments, and officials say that to be nominated is truly an honor and an accomplishment in itself due to the strenuous eligibility requirements. The award recipients are chosen by a panel of reviewers that includes faculty and administrators.

"These awards recognize the dedication of our graduate students beyond their scholarly pursuits to include their efforts to assist Texas A&M's advancement in many important ways," said Karen Butler-Purry, associate provost for graduate studies. "Graduate students provide teaching support for undergraduate courses, they mentor undergraduates in research and scholarly activities, they volunteer as mentors to student organizations and they support activities that provide service to the community and promote cultural awareness on campus. Texas A&M is extremely proud of these students and their accomplishments that have earned recognition through these programs."

Grubb (Excellence in Research-Doctoral) is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry, where his work as a member of Dr. Simon North's research group focuses on the reaction dynamics of the nitrate radical nitrogen oxide. Using velocity map ion imaging, he has successfully defined the mechanisms underlying this photodissociation reaction. One nominator describes Grubb's work as impressive, noting that "his sheer brilliance is evident to anyone who has the opportunity to work alongside Michael." Grubb has six manuscripts -- four as first author -- published in peer-reviewed, top-tier journals, including a recent paper published in Science magazine and highlighted in a recent issue of Nature Chemistry that is generating significant "buzz" in the research community, according to one nominator. Grubbs has won several departmental awards in both teaching and research, including the Dow Chemical Graduate Scholarship Award in Chemistry and the Bruno J. Zwolinscki Award in Physical Chemistry.

Wade (Excellence in Research-Doctoral), who is now working as a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was cited for research excellence in inorganic chemistry during his Texas A&M doctoral studies as a member of the Dr. François P. Gabbaï research group that focused on assessing the binding of fluoride ions to various species of N-methyl pyridium groups. Wade's work has resulted in advancing concepts in structure and bonding as well as molecular orbital theory of the main group elements. His nominator credits Wade's motivation as the deciding factor that allowed him to quickly amass an impressive 12 publications in high-impact journals, including 10 for which he is first author. For his efforts, Wade recently was selected to receive the 2012 Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society's Division of Inorganic Chemistry -- an annual honor reserved for the top eight inorganic Ph.D. students in the United States.

Yang (Excellence in Research-Master's) earned a master's of science degree in physics last August and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry and chemical biology Harvard University, from which he "attended" the Texas A&M ceremony via Skype. His research at Texas A&M addressed basic optical science questions and their practical applications. Yang is senior author on three papers and co-author on two additional papers published in some of the most prestigious journals in physics, including Physical Review A -- an outstanding accomplishment for a master's student, according to one of his professors in the Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering (IQSE). "I have supervised and advised a plethora of graduate students in my 43 years here at Texas A&M, and I can honestly say that I have never seen a better master's student than Wenlong," the professor adds.

Crawford (Excellence in Teaching-Doctoral) is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Statistics, where he has served as an instructor since fall 2007 for three different introductory statistics courses. One student commented, "He is possibly the best instructor I have ever had. I look forward to coming to class; he's hilarious, and class is never boring." The enthusiasm, effort and humor Crawford brings to the classroom are perhaps best evidenced by the music videos he created to relate statistical concepts musically and visually for his students. One professor commented, "Initially, students enrolled in these introductory courses are unenthusiastic about statistics and, as a result, must be 'won over' by the instructors. Scott's students often exclaim in their evaluations that they not only learned the material well -- they had fun doing so!"

To learn more about the Distinguished Graduate Student Awards and related programs and events to celebrate graduate student accomplishment at Texas A&M, visit http://ogs.tamu.edu/.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • 2012 Distinguished Graduate Student Awards

    (Top row, left to right:) Michael Grubb, Jeremy Beus, Scott Crawford. (Middle row, left to right:) McKinzie Craig, Amelia Romoser, Kelly Lemmons. (Bottom row, left to right:) Kelly Winsco, Ashley Kroon Van Diest, Chen Xu, John Tyler Jr.

  • Wenlong Yang

    Wenlong Yang (inset as well as pictured on the laptop screen), virtually among the crowd and watching the Texas A&M ceremony via Skype from Harvard.

  • Accepting Yang's award on his behalf was his graduate adviser, physicist Dr. Alexei Sokolov (second from left), pictured with (from left) Karen Butler-Purry, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Karan L. Watson and The Association of Former Students' Barbara Kasper.

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