Top honors for Huskie graduate students announced

Four NIU scholars are being recognized by the Graduate Council’s Student Awards Committee for the exemplary work on their theses and dissertations.

This year’s honorees are Nicole Loring from the Department of Political Science; Anne Stoughton from the Department of English; Matthew Krogstad from the Department of Physics; and Logan Rice from the Department of Physics.

“Whether their research was conducted largely alone or as part of a team, dissertation and thesis writers contribute to the advancement of knowledge in their disciplines,” Bradley Bond, dean of NIU’s Graduate School, said. “It’s only right that we identify and recognize authors of exemplary theses and dissertations.”

The Graduate Council’s Student Awards Committee selected one dissertation and one thesis winner in each of the following two categories: Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Education; and Health Sciences and STEM.

Loring, who is currently a political science instructor at NIU, was named the recipient of the Outstanding Dissertation Award under the category of Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Education. Her work, titled “The Roadmap to Liberalization: Myanmar’s Transition from Military to Civilian Rule,” earned her a $750 prize.

“It means so much for my hard work to be recognized,” Loring said. “It took years of researching and writing to produce my dissertation, and I am really proud of the result.”

Loring said that Trude Jacobsen, Michael Clark, Kheang Un and Tharaphi Than were instrumental in shaping her dissertation, and the final draft was much improved thanks to their comments and suggestions.

“I am humbled by the faith and support that my committee had in me over that time,” Loring said.

Also honored in the same category for Outstanding Thesis Award is Stoughton, who is currently teaching English as a second language for the ELS Center in DeKalb. Stoughton received a $500 award for her work, titled “ITA Language Proficiency Testing: Recommended Replacement for the SPEAK Test.”

“I had undertaken my research based on the Department of English ESL Center’s need to find a replacement for the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) test to assess international teaching assistants,” Stoughton said. “I am very pleased that I was able to make a contribution to NIU while at the same time performing sound academic research.”

In the category of Health Sciences and STEM, Krogstad was recognized as the Outstanding Dissertation Award winner for his work, “Diffuse Scattering and Local Order in Lead-Based Relaxor Ferroelectrics.”

“I am very honored to be recognized with this award,” Krogstad said “There are many graduate students at NIU – all doing interesting and insightful work – and I hope my dissertation reflects positively on all of our efforts.”

Currently a postdoctoral researcher in the materials science division at Argonne National Laboratory, Krogstad earned a $750 award for his work.

Also in the Health Sciences and STEM category, the Outstanding Thesis Award and $500 prize went to Rice for his work, “Towards a DUNE Photon Detection System.”

Rice, who is currently a doctoral student in neutrino physics at University of Pittsburgh, said he was fortunate to have Department of Physics chair and professor, Vishnu Zutshi, as an adviser.

“Vishnu is involved in the photon detection system for the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) experiment and has connections at nearby Fermilab,” Rice said. “The experiment is a huge international collaboration that was rapidly developing its photon detection system at NIU, Fermilab and beyond while I was at NIU.”

The award winners will be recognized during NIU’s annual Outstanding Graduate Student Recognition Reception planned for Tuesday, April 21, 2020, at 3 p.m. in the Altgeld Auditorium.

“By recognizing these students, we recognize the students’ mentors, committees and academic programs that helped position them to write outstanding theses and dissertations,” Bond said. “I’m grateful for the effort that the committees put into identifying the recipients.”

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