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Natural Science Students and Faculty Win Graduate School Awards

Natural Science Students and Faculty Win Graduate School Awards
Lisa Piccirillo, Yang Huo and Aprile Benner

The University of Texas at Austin's Graduate School has announced the 2019 winners of its professional and student awards, which include two graduate students and one faculty member from the College of Natural Sciences. Generously underwritten by the University Co-op, the awards recognize excellence in graduate academics, teaching and professional services.

Lisa Piccirillo, a graduate student in the Department of Mathematics, earned the Michael H. Granof Award, the university's top dissertation and graduate student award. Her dissertation, entitled "Knot Traces and the Slice Genus," was written under the supervision of Professor John Luecke. Piccirillo graduates in May and will begin an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brandeis and MIT in the fall.

"The last time a math dissertation won this award was 2002," said Dan Knopf, professor of mathematics and associate dean for graduate education in Natural Sciences. "Her work solved a conjecture that had been open for over 50 years, and even experts in the field were surprised by her creative approach."

Yang Hou, who graduated with her Ph.D. from the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences in August 2018, earned an Outstanding Dissertation Award for "Concordance and Discordance in Parents and Adolescents Perceptions of Parenting: A Meta-Analytic Study." Hou is currently a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Cancer Institute. Professor Su Yeong Kim supervised Hou's dissertation work, and she was co-advised by Aprile Benner.

Benner, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, earned the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award. The award recognizes one faculty member for distinguished graduate teaching—including demonstrated excellence in the classroom or laboratory, mentorship of students and service to students' thesis and dissertation committees.

"The winners are a testament to the quality of teaching, research and support in graduate education that transpires on the Forty Acres," said Mark J. T. Smith, senior vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School. "Each winner has done something extraordinary—the winners have conducted groundbreaking research and inspired others to discover their potential and enabled them to succeed."

Candidates for the awards are nominated by individuals across campus, and winners are determined by selection committees composed of faculty and staff members and students. This year's recipients were honored at an awards banquet held April 30, 2019.

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Sunday, 26 March 2023

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