VCU Graduate School January 2017 Newsletter
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In this edition...
  • Mission of the Graduate School
  • New Assistant Dean
  • Graduate School events
  • Master's Thesis awards
  • 3MT (3 minute thesis) competition
  • Southern Regional Educational Board Doctoral Scholars Program
  • Dissertation Assistantship Award Program
  • Travel Grant Program
  • Mentorship Program
  • VCU Graduate Students in the News


The mission of the Graduate School is to foster the nurturing of aspiring scholars and the maturing of established scholars by creating an intellectual, social and humanistic environment for teaching, learning, research, creative expression and public service at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The vision of the Graduate School is to become a model academic environment for nurturing intellectual growth, developing humanistic values and fostering a strong sense of community among graduate students and graduate faculty as they actively collaborate in becoming and maturing as scholars. In achieving the model academic environment, the Graduate School will distinguish and bring pre-eminence to Virginia Commonwealth University for explicitly and proudly recognizing academic research and graduate education as, first and foremost, the work of scholars interacting as a community.

The primary functions of the Graduate School
  • To promote graduate education at the University
  • To advance the well-being and professional development of graduate students
  • To ensure the integrity of master's and doctoral degrees offered at VCU
  • To provide administrative support for graduate education
Assistant Dean
Melissa Tyler has been appointed as the new Assistant Dean of the Graduate School. With over 20 years of experience in higher education, we are pleased to see Melissa in this new role. She will be responsible for overseeing the financial operations and administration of the Graduate School as well as managing graduate student funding and professional development.
Graduate School Events
Dr. Boudinot, Dean of the Graduate School, at the Meet the Dean wine tasting event.

Cabell Grad Fest
The James Branch Cabell Library held an open house event in August to tour the new graduate student space on the 4th floor. The event provided an overview of research services especially for graduate students.

Meet the Dean Wine Tasting Event
The Graduate School hosted the annual "Meet the Dean" wine tasting event in September held on the terrace of the library.  

VCGS Commonwealth Graduate Education Day
The second annual VCGS Commonwealth Graduate Education Day was held at William & Mary on November 4, 2016. The goal of this event is to inform primarily underrepresented second year community college/college students about opportunities in graduate education. 119 undergraduate students from underrepresented groups at community college and four-year universities across Virginia attended the highly successful event.

Fall 2016 Program Directors meeting
A graduate program directors meeting has held during the Fall 2016 semester. To view the meeting presentation, please visit our website.

Outstanding Master's Thesis Awards

Each year, the Graduate School recognizes outstanding master’s theses in four broad fields: 
  1. Life Sciences
  2. Social Sciences, Business, and Education
  3. Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Engineering
  4. Humanities and Fine Arts
We are please to announce the winners of the award in each field:
  • Life Sciences: Lauren Groskaufmanis, School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health
    • Source of care and variation in long-acting reversible contraception use
  • Social Sciences, Business, and EducationElizaveta Bourchtein, College of Humanities & Sciences, Department of Psychology
    • Positive Illusory Bias in Adolescents with ADHD: Prevalence, Stability, and Accuracy of Reporters
  • Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and EngineeringArmond Conte, School of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
    • Censoring and Fusion in Non-linear Distributed Tracking Systems with Application to 2D Radar
  • Humanities and Fine ArtsKathryn Parkhurst, College of Humanities & Sciences, Department of History
    • Expansion and Exclusion: A Case Study of Gentrification in Church Hill
Each winner received a $500 award. The fields of competition for this year's Conference of Southern Graduate Schools are Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Engineering, and Humanities and Fine Arts. The Graduate School nominated Armond's and Kathryn's theses for this regional competition.

Outstanding ETD Master's Thesis Award
Innovative Application of Technology to Scholarship in a Master's Thesis
Each year, the Graduate School recognizes an outstanding master’s thesis that utilizes innovative application of technology to scholarship.  The winner of this year's award:
  • Brian Smith, School of Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering
    • Computational modeling to assess surgical procedures for the treatment of adult acquired flatfoot deformity
Brian Smith received a $500 award and was nominated to the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools' regional ETD master's thesis competition.
Three Minute Thesis (3MT ®) Competition 
Three Minute Thesis (3MT ®) is a research communication competition originally developed by The University of Queensland in 2008, and now has been widely adopted at universities around the world. The exercise challenges master’s and doctoral students to present a compelling talk on their thesis/dissertation topic and its significance. Many theses and dissertations can be over 80,000 words and take hours to present, but students in this competition have just three minutes and one slide to convey their often highly-technical research to a lay audience. 

This year was the 2nd Annual 3MT competition held by the Graduate School.
Congratulations to our winners!!
  • 1st Place and $500 goes to Enjolie Levengood (center), a MS student in the Department of Biology
    • Research: The Race Against Resistance: How our wastewater system is helping bacteria prevail.
  • 2nd Place and $300 goes to Tennisha Riley (right), a PhD student in the Department of Psychology.
    • Research: The impact of chess training on positive behavior and social skills.
  • 3rd Place and $200 goes to Jaya Khushalani (left), a PhD student in the Department of Health Administration.
    • Research: Drivers of racial disparity in receipt of breast reconstruction.
As the first place winner, Enjolie will represent VCU at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools regional 3MT Competition in Annapolis, Maryland in March 2017.

Thanks to all of the participants who competed in the final round of the competition!

The judges for the final round: Vaughn Garland of the VMFA, Kelly Lockeman from the School of Medicine, and Garret Westlake from the DaVinci Center.
Southern Regional Educational Board Doctoral Scholars Program
The Graduate School is now participating in the Institutional Partnership program with the SREB. The goal of this program is to increase the number of minority students who earn doctorate degrees and wish to become university faculty (  Four VCU graduate students were chosen to receive this prestigious award:
  • Alesha Henderson, School of Medicine, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Nicole Jimenez, School of Medicine, Basic Sciences
  • Kofoworola Williams, School of Medicine, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Michele Pancoast, School of Nursing
These students participated in the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, held by the Compact for Faculty Diversity Institute, which is the largest gathering of minority Ph.D. scholars in the country this past October.
Dissertation Assistantship Award Program
The Graduate School awarded 45 dissertation assistantship awards for the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters. This funding program is for doctoral scholars who have completed all program requirements except for the dissertation. Qualifying students must be nominated to their school/college Dean's Office by their program directors. For more information on this program, please visit our website's funding opportunities page here.
Travel Grant Program
The Graduate School has awarded 47 Travel Grants to graduate students presenting their research at various conferences across the world during the Summer and Fall 2016 semesters. Students have traveled near and far to places such as Vancouver, Canada, Edinburgh, Scotland, Denver, Colorado, and much more.

In July, the Graduate School supported two graduate students in the Public Policy & Administration doctoral program, Michael Perkins and Yali Pang, with travel grants. They traveled to the American Society for Public Administration's International Young Scholars Workshop in Cape Town, South Africa. Congratulations to Michael Perkins who received an Honorable Mention for his presentation "The Black Male Collegiate: A Case Study Exploring Crime Alerts and Racial Battle Fatigue." Read more about the workshop

The Graduate School is currently accepting travel grant applications for the Spring 2017 semester.  For more information, please visit our website for details and the application form. 
Mentorship Program
The Graduate School's Mentorship Program matches undergraduate students with mentors who are graduate students as they make decisions about post-baccalaureate study and transition from undergraduate to graduate student status. The program provides graduate students with the opportunity to develop mentoring skills as they share personal experiences with undergraduate participants.

We are currently accepting graduate mentor and undergraduate mentee applications for the 2017-2018 academic year. For more information and the application, please visit the mentorship program page on our website.
VCU Graduate Students in the News
  • Ph.D. student, Amanda Hall, named Outstanding Young Virginian for service-learning, education projects in Richmond. Read more.
  • Doctoral student, Lauren Griggs, inspires as researcher and mentor. Read more.
  • Wilder School master's student, Sombo Chunda, receives top Zambia Prize for civil service. Read more.
  • Remarkable students who received their degrees in December. Read More.
  • Out of more than 6,300 applicants, Christine Ring, a graduate student in chemistry, and William Adams, a graduate student in physiology and biophysics, have been named as finalists for the 2017 Presidential Management Fellowship. Read More.
VCU Graduate Students wearing their VCU gear!
Matt Balazik (left), a former VCU graduate student from the Integrative Life Sciences doctoral program, was featured in the January/Febuary 2017 issue of Chesapeake Bay magazine. Jessica Russow (right), a graduate student in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program, wearing a VCU shirt while skiing in Colorado.
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