fall 2017 DISSERTATION FELLOWSHIP AWARD BIOGRAPHIES

Texas A&M University’s Office of Graduate and Professional Studies recently awarded five dissertation fellowships as part of their Dissertation Fellowship Program. Developed in Fall 2011 by the Associate Provost for Graduate and Professional Studies, Dr. Karen Butler-Purry, the Dissertation Fellowship supports doctoral students in the late stages of degree program completion, namely final research topics analysis and dissertation writing. Eligible applicants included U.S. Citizens, permanent residents, and international doctoral students.

The following students received the Fall 2017 Dissertation Fellowships:

Caroline Arantes is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Her dissertation evaluates the effects of land-cover in the Amazon River floodplains on three main aspects of fish community ecology: (1) taxonomic and functional structure of communities, (2) food web ecology; and (3) fisheries production. Understanding the influences of human-driven impacts on ecological communities is a fundamental goal of ecology and conservation science. Arantes’ research provides a better understanding of how changes in natural floodplain landscapes affect ecological communities. Such understanding of these changes is beneficial to finding ways to improve the management of river ecosystems in South America and globally.

Maria Belen Castanon Moreschi is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Hispanic Studies in the College of Liberal Arts. Her dissertation focuses on the work of MarĂ­a Zambrano (1904-1991) who was one of the most important women in Spanish philosophy. Through her dissertation, Moreschi examines the notions of myth and metaphor in the context of the poetic reason, the central proposition of Zambrano’s work. Moreschi’s research departs from focusing strictly on Zambrano’s contribution to Spanish philosophy to a broader discussion in European philosophy. The nature of Moreschi’s dissertation allows her to explore how the notions of myth and metaphor are essential to the originality of Zambrano’s work in comparison to the contributions to this topic by different European philosophers.

Luxi Feng is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture in the College of Education and Human Development. Her dissertation explores beginning reading teachers’ training and self-efficacy profiles to understand their job satisfaction and motivation to leave the profession. Feng uses various methods such as, surveys, questionnaires, and self-profiles to examine the role of teacher education and professional development in beginning reading teachers’ self-efficacy and job satisfaction. Through her research, she highlights the significance of teacher education and professional development concerning on teacher status and retention.

Guillermo Garcia Urena is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Hispanic Studies in the College of Liberal Arts. His dissertation focuses on the interconnection of religious conversion and translation within the Iberian Peninsula during the Early Modern period. Urena’s research is framed in a larger interdisciplinary research context that involves disciplines such as, Hispanic Studies, Jewish Studies, Transatlantic Studies, Political Science and Law. Through his research, Urena aims to study and reveal forgotten and hidden perspectives that have been buried for centuries by the hegemonic power of inquisition with the belief that these perspectives are fundamental to having a plural and diverse society.

Thomas Loder is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography in the College of Geosciences. His dissertation focuses on the examining environmental subjectivity and policy formation in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale. Loder’s research seeks to determine how discourses and policies regarding fracking-related economic development are generated. He then plans to examine their relationship to the everyday experiences of boomtown residents. Through his research, Loder aims to provide more understanding about the specifics of fracking-related development, particularly outside more populated areas such as Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, and Colorado.

Erin Simmons is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Her research examines applied nutrition, specifically the integration of total daily protein intake and timing of protein supplementation on muscle anabolism during high intensity exercise training in fit young males. Through her research, Simmons will provide more understanding of the relation between total and timing of protein intake in trained individuals engaged in a stable exercise program. This information will help guide revisions and integrate nutritional and exercise recommendations to optimize skeletal muscle function which is important to overall health.

Philipp Tesch is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geology and Geophysics in the College of Geosciences. His research examines architecture variations and their controls in carbonate clinoform systems. Tesch focuses on the interaction between environmental controls (e.g. climate, sea level, variations, and plate tectonics) and carbonate systems, such as the Bahamas or the Trucial Cost of the Persian Gulf. Through his research, Tesch seeks to provide improved understanding of ancient carbonate systems to subsequently offer predictable insight into modern carbonate systems where millions of people reside.

Xuanren Wang is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology in the College of Liberal Arts. Her research examines wage assimilation of young adult children of post-1965 immigrants. Wang investigates how parental characteristics and investments, ethnic capital, and life events affect wage attainments and social mobility among second generation Americans. Due to limited studies on the wage attainment of second generation immigrants, current knowledge of the socioeconomic assimilation of this group is inadequate. Through her research, Wang’s focus will highlight the effects of the transfer of parental characteristics, ethnic capital, and how life events influence the accumulation of wage (dis)advantages.

Michael Whitely is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering. His research examines the development of polyHIPE grafts for guided bone regeneration. A pressing need exists to develop an improved bone replacement to treat millions of non-union fractures that occur each year as a result of severe trauma, tumor resection, spinal fusions, and bone loss during joint replacements. Through his research Whitely will highlight the strong potential of polyHIPE scaffolds to serve as an improved bone replacement with the ability to actively guide bone regeneration.

Shuru Zhong is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts. His research examines the sustainability of traditional food trade within a Chinese city as well as the challenges surrounding that food trade. More specifically, Zhong examines the procedures used by government and city officials to intervene in the market and analyze the effects of these policies. Through his research Zhong aims to facilitate dialogue between economic anthropologists and practitioners of close disciplines founded on market rationality, such as agricultural economist, marketers, and geographers.