Campus Life

Graduate and Professional School Launches Spring Awards Ceremony

The inaugural ceremony honored Distinguished Dissertation, Montgomery and Outstanding Mentoring awardees, and GRAD Aggies certificate earners.
By Rob Dixon, Texas A&M University Graduate and Professional School April 17, 2024

Grad school leaders pose with the winners
Grad School leaders with awardees at Tuesday’s ceremony in Rudder Theatre.

Texas A&M University Graduate and Professional School


The Texas A&M University Graduate and Professional School held its inaugural spring awards ceremony on April 16 at Rudder Theatre. The program included presentations of Distinguished Dissertation Awards, Montgomery Awards, Outstanding Mentoring Awards and GRAD Aggies Certificates. The ceremony was followed by a reception in Rudder Exhibit Hall.

“Graduate and professional students and faculty teach and mentor our more than 60,000 undergraduates, conduct ground-breaking research, and lead campus initiatives and organizations,” said Dr. Fuhui Tong, interim associate provost and dean of the Graduate and Professional School. “They enrich our campus community and our growing Aggie Network and make the world better. Presenting our awards at a single event broadens our recognition and celebration of exceptional and well-deserving awardees,” Tong said.

The Montgomery Awards are sponsored by the Jeff ’41 and Leonora Montgomery Family Endowment. Distinguished Dissertation Awards are sponsored by the George W. Kunze Endowment, the Carol J. Cantrell Endowment, and the Mobil Aggies Graduate Endowment.

Distinguished Dissertation Awards

Distinguished Dissertation Awards honor current or recent former students whose dissertations make a significant, impactful contribution to their field of study. Awards are given in four categories.

Biological and Life Sciences

  • Hannah Justen, ecology and evolutionary biology
  • Faculty advisor: Dr. Kira Delmore

Social Sciences

  • Marianne Rice, educational psychology
  • Faculty advisor: Dr. Florina Erbeli


  • Jacob Rogers, mechanical engineering
  • Faculty advisors: Dr. Thomas Lacy and Dr. Justin Wilkerson

Humanities and Fine Arts

  • Hyunjoo Yu, English
  • Faculty advisor: Dr. Ira Dworkin

Montgomery Awards

Montgomery Awards are presented to graduate students who, through leadership in recognized graduate student groups or service organizations, make major contributions toward creating academic and professional opportunities and enhancing quality of life for their fellow graduate and professional students, while also excelling as scholars. Each awardee receives a commemorative plaque and $1,000.

  • Sambandh Dhal, computer engineering
  • Leah Kocian, biological and agricultural engineering

Outstanding Mentoring Awards

Outstanding mentoring awards honor individuals who have shared their knowledge, skills or experiences with graduate and professional students at Texas A&M, assisting in their development and activating their success at our university and beyond. Awards are presented in two categories: faculty and graduate student.

Outstanding Graduate and Professional Student Mentoring for Faculty

  • Dr. Sarbajit Banerjee, chemistry and materials science and engineering
  • Dr. David E. Claridge, mechanical engineering
  • Dr. Sarah Hamer, epidemiology

Outstanding Graduate and Professional Student Mentors

  • Heather Baldi, agronomy
  • Saifur Rahman, biomedical engineering
  • Maiya Turner, multicultural education

GRAD Aggies Certificates

Graduate Resources and Development for Aggies (GRAD Aggies) provides professional development opportunities that help students find success in graduate or professional program, on the job market, and in their professional career. Certificates demonstrate to potential employers that students are prepared for the professional world.

For full bios of the award winners and a full list of GRAD Aggies Certificate earners, visit the Grad School website.

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