University of Virginia’s Faculty Senate Awards $100,000 in Fellowships to Four Graduate Students

March 21, 2006 — Four graduate students from the University of Virginia will receive Faculty Senate Dissertation-Year Fellowships, given to support graduate student teaching and research. The fellowships are valued at $25,000 apiece.

The students are Volker H.W. Rudolf of Muhldorf, Germany; Peter V. Swendsen of Bethany, Pa.; Cedar Riener of Washington, D.C.; and Elizabeth Mary Rohlman of Birmingham, Mich.

Each fellowship will consist of funding for the final year of doctoral work. The $25,000 award includes tuition, fees, health insurance and a stipend. The fellowships are funded by the University’s Office of the Vice President and Provost, the Athletics Department and the College of Arts & Sciences.

“I am honored to receive this fellowship,” said Riener. “It will help sustain and grow my scholarship, from my dissertation to my future in academia. I want to thank the Faculty Senate for its important recognition of the integration of research and teaching.

The Faculty Senate, which administers the program, based this year’s awards on excellence in scholarly achievement and outstanding performance in teaching.

“Often doctoral students’ degrees get stretched out in timeas they are working as teaching assistants or [in] other jobs while atthe same time trying to write their dissertation,” said Faculty SenateChairman Houston G. Wood, “The Dissertation-Year Fellowships areintended to reward students who have demonstrated excellence in both theirscholarly research and in their teaching duties so they can focus on theirwriting in their last year of graduate school. This recognition may encourageand enable these excellent students to obtain teaching jobs in academia.”

Rudolf, in the Department of Biology, is working on a dissertation titled, “The Influence of Cannibalism and Size Structure in Aquatic Food Webs.”

“The fellowship allows me to spend more time on my research in myfinal year,” said Rudolf, most of whose research takes place undernatural conditions in the field. “I try to spend as much time possibleat my field sites.

Unfortunately, my field season is generally longer thanthe summer break, so my research often conflicts with my teaching schedule.With the fellowship, I will be able run more experiments which will provideimportant new insight into my research questions. I am grateful that Igot this opportunity and I will take full advantage of it.”

Swendsen, in the McIntire Department of Music, is working on a dissertation titled, "Seven Conversations: Etudes and Interludes for Electroacustic Media and Interactive Dance."

Riener, in the Department of Psychology, is working on a dissertation titled, “An Influence of Mood on Geographical Slant Perception.”

Rohlman, of the Department of Religious Studies, is working on a dissertation titled, “Religion, Literature and Geography: Narrative Design in the Sarasvati Purana.”

Among the selection criteria for the fellowships were overall effectiveness as an instructor in lectures, discussions, studios, problem-solving sessions, laboratories and/or mentoring; command of the subject area; skills in organizing, developing and presenting material in class or in other pedagogical venues; and capacity to motivate and inspire students.

This is the fourth time the Faculty Senate has offered the fellowships.