U.Va. Faculty Senate Awards Five $25,000 Dissertation-Year Fellowships

April 1, 2010 — Five graduate students at the University of Virginia have each received a $25,000 dissertation-year fellowship to help them in their last year of doctoral work.

The winners are Tristan Bridges, 29, of Denver, studying sociology; Jennifer Maeng, 30, of Charlottesville, studying education; Lydia Mattice Brandt, 28, of Crozet, studying art history; Adam Harr, 36, of Abingdon, studying anthropology; and Daniel Sloan, 29, of Kennebunk, Maine, studying biology.

The fellowships are designed to reward graduate students whose teaching at U.Va. has been extraordinary, even as they maintained a record of excellence in their research. Each fellowship consists of funding for the final year of doctoral work, including tuition, fees, health insurance and a stipend.

This year, two fellowships are funded by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and one each by the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the Athletics Department and the Curry School of Education.

"The University's ability to attract talented and promising graduate students to our schools is enhanced by these fellowships, just as these students enhance the teaching and research conducted here," Faculty Senate Chair Ann Hamric said. "These fellowships provide crucial support to enable these award recipients to focus on completing their dissertations and advancing their careers.

"We wish we could offer more fellowships, as every year the competition is great with many worthy applicants." 

"Most dissertation-year fellowships reward excellence in research alone," said Stephen Macko, an environmental sciences professor and chair of the Dissertation-Year Fellowship Committee. "In the Faculty Senate's Dissertation-Year Fellowship program, scholarly achievement is used as a criterion, but also includes outstanding performance in teaching."

This year's recipients have a wide array of research topics:

• Harr, a graduate of the University of Tennessee, is researching linguistic and cultural anthropology. His dissertation investigates newly localized national politics in Indonesia in a time of decentralization and democratization.

• Bridges, a graduate of Colorado College, is researching men's involvement in contemporary gender inequality in the U.S. as well as their attempts to challenge inequality. 

• Brandt, a summa cum laude graduate of New York University, is writing on "Re-living Mount Vernon: Replicas and Memory of America's Most Famous House, 1893-1934," which looks at a series of full-scale replicas of George Washington's home.

• Sloan, a graduate of Wesleyan University, is researching evolutionary explanations for why the size, structure, organization and function of genomes differ so profoundly from one organism to the next.

• Maeng, who received her bachelor's of science in chemistry and a master's in teaching from U.Va., is researching the experiences of high school science teachers who successfully differentiate science instruction through classroom observations and teacher interviews.

 "Graduate students make invaluable contributions to the life of the University," Hamric said. "They teach students, collaborate with faculty in teaching and research, and contribute to important scholarship. Through the Faculty Senate, the entire faculty expresses its commitment to support doctoral students and their work."

Since beginning the program in 2001, the senate has awarded 46 fellowships with a value of more than $1 million. Funds for the support of these fellowships have come from the Provost's Office, the Curry School, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the College andGraduate School of Arts & Sciences, as well as the Department of Athletics, the Jefferson Trust and the Alumni Foundation.

— By Matt Kelly