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USM Graduate School Presents Major Awards for 2018

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 14:16pm

The University of Southern Mississippi Graduate School announced its two most prestigious awards at the Susan A. Siltanen Graduate Student Research Symposium Awards Luncheon held March 26 on the Hattiesburg campus.

Jessica Guzman, a doctoral student in the Department of English, was named the 2018 Graduate Assistant of the Year, while Dr. Sarah Morgan, Professor and Associate Director of the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, was chosen as the 2018 Graduate Mentor of the Year.

Guzman's major professor, Dr. Angela Ball, describes her graduate student as “the standout in a stellar group.” Added Ball, “her blazingly beautiful poems illuminate and record nature's resilience and suffering, and those qualities in human beings as well.”

Guzman has won numerous prestigious awards in poetry, including the Tinhouse Workshop Scholarship; the American Literature Review's poetry award; and the Melton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry by Harpur Palate.

Morgan was selected by a panel of graduate coordinators from a group of outstanding faculty mentors nominated by their current students.

Doctoral student April Fogel described Morgan's mentorship style as “action-oriented,” and noted “Dr. Morgan is a champion of graduate student development with relentless dedication to providing scientific growth and career advancement opportunities.”

The program also included the announcement of 2018 Graduate Student Hall of Fame inductees Katherine Burton and Haley Dozier. Their portraits were unveiled on April 3 in the second floor hallway of the McCain Library.

Nearly 100 graduate students showcased their original research by giving oral or poster presentations during the annual symposium. Students competed for best oral presentation and best poster prizes in four categories: Arts and Humanities; Life, Health, and Environmental Sciences; Physical Sciences and Mathematics; and Social and Educational Sciences and Business.

The winners in each category were:

Arts and Humanities

  • Oral: First Place – Taylor Hanes; Second Place – Victoria Brown and Amanda Ladner (tie)
  • Poster: First Place – Ecaterina Stepaniuc; Second Place – Braden Bagley

Life, Health, and Environmental Sciences

  • Oral: First Place – Luke Pearson and Christopher Pellecchia (tie)
  • Poster: First Place – Ryan Lehman; Second Place – Yetunde Adewunmi

Physical Sciences and Mathematics

  • Oral: First Place – Matthew Patterson and Cassandra Reese (tie)
  • Poster: First Place – Jeremy Weigand; Second Place – Alison Hart, Travis Palmer, Rahul Shankar (3-way tie)

Social and Educational Sciences and Business

  • Oral: First Place – Malin Lilley; Second Place – Amy Ellefson
  • Poster: Tamar Gregorian; Second Place – Hallie Jordan

To learn more about the USM Graduate School, call 601.266.4369 or visit: