We are fortunate in Chemical Engineering to have a wonderfully dedicated student population, committed to making our environment, community, and University the best possible place to be. This year’s Mason Graduate Fellowship committee: Lisa Hwang and Stella Minaev have been challenged with selecting only one student from a very strong pool of nominees.
Mason Graduate Fellowship is a prestigious award that has been made possible by the Mason Lectureship fund. It is a 3-quarter fellowship, funding the student’s quarterly stipend at the level of an SGF as well as tuition, and it is awarded to a graduate student who provided leadership to the student community and who went above and beyond to serve the department outside of their normal studies and research. We want to recognize outstanding dedication and efforts for contributing to the department and serving the graduate student community as a whole.
This year’s Mason Graduate Fellowship has been awarded to Shayla Nikzad and it will be presented to her at the 45th Annual David M. Mason Lectures on May 19th, 2021. Shayla has served as the chair of the student-sponsored colloquium committee for the last 2 years (she has served on the committee for 3 years). Under Shayla’s leadership, the committee has made significant changes to the program:
- Introducing additional student speaking events - This has given more students the opportunity to participate in planning seminars in the department and has produced a better reflection of student interest in the colloquium series
- Expanding the breadth of topics - This has moved to schedule events that involve primary research related to STEM teaching and education, identified as a core competency for students pursuing a Ph.D. in our department.
- Improving talk quality - Shayla identified criteria for producing enriching student talks, particularly clarity in speaking and speaker diversity. The committee has also collected and vetted accessible scientific speaking resources and provided these to Ph.D. student speakers to make their talks more accessible to younger students. They also moved to encourage all speakers to emphasize their scientific process rather than just results.