The Graduate College recognized five graduate scholars as winners of its most prestigious dissertation and thesis prizes: the D.C. Spriestersbach Dissertation Prize and the Graduate Deans’ Distinguished Dissertation Award.
The scholars were formally honored for their exemplary research on March 25, 2011 at a UI ceremony held in conjunction with the James F. Jakobsen Graduate Research Conference.
Amrit De (physics) and Vanessa Simmering (psychology) received top doctoral honors with the D.C. Spriestersbach Dissertation Prize along with a $2,500 award.
J.V. Loperfido (civil and environmental engineering) and Michael Waugh (economics) earned the Graduate College Deans’ Distinguished Dissertation Award.
Ronald Bedford (occupational and environmental health) won the L.B. Sims Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award.
The Spriestersbach Prizes are named for D.C. Spriestersbach, dean of the Graduate College from 1965-1989. When the prize was founded, Spriestersbach hoped it would "serve as tangible evidence—‘gold standards’—of the outstanding work of which graduate students are capable and to which all others should aspire."
De, who earned his Ph.D. in physics in 2009, won the Spriestersbach Prize in mathematical, physical sciences and engineering for his dissertation, “Spin Dynamics and Opto-Electronic Properties of Some Novel Semiconductor Systems.”
Simmering, who earned her doctorate in psychology in 2008, won the Spriestersbach Prize in social sciences for her dissertation, “Developing a Magic Number: The Dynamic Field Theory Reveals Why Visual Working Memory Capacity Estimates Differ Across Tasks and Development.”
Loperfido, who received his Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering in 2009, won the Graduate Deans’ Distinguished Dissertation Award in mathematical, physical sciences and engineering for his dissertation, “High-Frequency Sensing of Clear Creek Water Quality: Mechanisms of Dissolved Oxygen and Turbidity Dynamics, and Nutrient Transport.”
Waugh, who earned a Ph.D. in economics in 2008, receivedthe Deans’ Distinguished Dissertation Award in social sciences for his dissertation, “Essays on International Trade and Economic Development.”
Bedford, who received his master's in occupational and environmental health in 2009, won the Sims Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award for his thesis, “Utility of Death Certificate Data in Predicting Cancer Incidence.”