“Presidential Graduate Fellowships honor students who are conducting extraordinary research and scholarly activity,” Milliken said. “We are fortunate to have a level of private support that allows us to give students an opportunity to devote full time to their academic efforts.”
Fellows each receive an annual stipend provided through the University of Nebraska Foundation.
This year’s Presidential Graduate Fellows are:
University of Nebraska-Lincoln:
Amy Hillard, Lincoln, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology. Hillard’s broad areas of interest are stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination toward disadvantaged groups. Her research helps her and others understand everyday prejudice and learn how to effectively address it. For example, Hillard was part of a team that studied how political candidates’ gender influences perceptions and voting. Hillard has also been active in teaching and mentoring other students, and her research papers have been presented at a number of national conferences. Hillard graduated summa cum laude from Hendrix College, where she was awarded a President’s Medal for her exemplary scholarship, citizenship and service.
Jesús Orozco Araújo, Lincoln, a Ph.D. candidate in entomology. Orozco works as a research and curatorial assistant for the Division of Entomology at the Nebraska State Museum. His research involves the systematics of cetoniines, a group of about 4,000 species of scarab beetles. Orozco has conducted expeditions in Africa, Europe, Central and South America, leading to the discovery of new species and generating new knowledge on the distribution and ecology of cetoniines. His studies also have implications for conservatism, education, pest management and habitat monitoring. Orozco earned his bachelor’s degree from Universidad Industrial de Santander in Columbia.
Lauren Ronsse, Omaha, a Ph.D. candidate in architectural engineering. Ronsse has studied the perceptual impacts of noise on humans, speech intelligibility in rooms, and archeological acoustics. In her current research, Ronsse is relating acoustical measurements in classrooms to standardized student achievement scores to determine the impact of acoustical conditions on student learning. The outcomes of her research could be used to specify acoustical conditions in building standards that will maximize student achievement. Ronsse also serves as president of the National Acoustical Society of America Student Council. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas.
Cixin Wang, Lincoln, a Ph.D. candidate in educational psychology. Wang’s research interests are how families and schools can collaborate to promote children’s social and emotional development, and how they can help children cope with the effects of bullying, including depression, anxiety and suicide risk. In addition to her research and teaching, Wang has been active in the community. She was involved in a parent education program that provides immigrant parents with research-based advice on parenting, and has volunteered for a crisis line that helps women and children who experience domestic violence. Wang earned her bachelor’s degree from Peking University in China.
University of Nebraska at Omaha:
Jessica Dempsey, Omaha, a master’s degree candidate in school psychology. Dempsey’s research focuses on at-risk children, such as those with behavioral disorders, mental issues or academic troubles. She has been a key part of a research team studying play strategies that parents can implement at home to improve children’s play behaviors. Dempsey has presented her work at a number of national meetings and is involved in service learning activities on- and off-campus. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Creighton University, holds a 4.0 grade point average at UNO and plans to pursue her Ed.S. in school psychology.
Travis Morris, Omaha, a Ph.D. candidate in criminology and criminal justice. Morris’ areas of interest include terrorism, comparative criminology and criminal justice systems, justice philosophy and restorative justice. He has taught a number of undergraduate courses at UNO and consistently earns high scores from students. Morris also has a strong record of service, having worked with the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council as a grant writer to secure funding for two projects. He won the UNO School of Criminology and Criminal Justice Outstanding Graduate Student Award in 2008-2009. Morris earned his bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University. At UNO, he holds a 4.0 GPA.
University of Nebraska Medical Center:
Ari Nowacek, Omaha, an M.D./Ph.D. candidate in medical sciences. Nowacek’s dissertation topic is “Cell Mediated Delivery of Nanoparticle Anti-retrovrial Therapy for Treatment of HIV-1 Infection.” As an undergraduate at Indiana University Bloomington, he won the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Award for Neuroscience Research multiple times and was admitted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society. During graduate school, Nowacek has won the Society on Neuroimmune Pharmacology Young Investigator Travel Award and the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections Young Investigator Travel Award. While in medical school, Nowacek is also pursuing an MBA from UNO.
Laura Simone, Omaha, a Ph.D. candidate in cancer research. Simone is interested in both cancer research and the immune system, and hopes to bridge the two during her graduate career. At UNMC, she has received the Norman Harris Award for Cancer Research and an Exceptional Incoming Ph.D. Student Assistantship. She carries a 4.0 GPA. In addition to her scholarly publications and research presentations, Simone has held several leadership positions at UNMC, including serving as a cancer research graduate program student co-representative. Simone graduated summa cum laude from Truman State University.