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

March 24, 2009 — Four 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 Chris Forster, 27, of Barrington, R.I.; Carolyn Pinkerton, 30, of Roanoke; Jesse Graham, 30, Kansas City, Mo., and Kristine Grayson, 27, of Harrisonburg, Va.

The fellowships are designed to reward graduate students who have excelled in teaching at U.Va. while maintaining 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.

"The Faculty Senate is honored to confer these four fellowships on such accomplished students," said Edmund Kitch, chairman of the Faculty Senate. "Our ability to attract talented and promising graduate students to participate in the teaching and research work of the University is enhanced by these fellowships, which enable promising graduate students to focus on completing their dissertation and advancing in their careers."

Kitch credited Dr. Arthur Garson, executive vice president and provost; Meredith Woo, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and Robert Pianta, dean of the Curry School of Education, for their support for the awards. Forster's and Graham's fellowships are funded by the Office of the Provost; Grayson's fellowship is funded by the College of Arts & Sciences; and Pinkerton's fellowship is funded by the Curry School of Education.

Forster, who is studying 20th-century literature and culture, is writing a dissertation on the relationship between modernist literature and art, and the history of the concept of the obscenity. He completed his undergraduate work at Providence College.

Pinkerton, who is studying the social foundations of education, is examining anthropologically how women learn the culture of holistic mothering through participation in online communities of practice. She completed her bachelor's and masters' degrees at the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech.

Graham, who is studying social psychology, is writing his dissertation on morality and ideology, specifically differences in moral judgments between liberals and conservatives, and investigating how deep these differences go using implicit measures to gauge automatic and unconscious moral judgments and reactions. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Chicago.

Grayson, who is studying ecology, is writing her dissertation on migration and population dynamics among red-spotted newts, to understand how migration evolved in animals and to inform conservation decisions for pond-breeding amphibians. She completed her undergraduate work at Davidson College.
 
Among the selection criteria for the fellowships are 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.

"Graduate students make an invaluable contribution to the University by teaching students, interacting with and assisting faculty and contributing to important scholarship," Kitch said. "Through the Faculty Senate, which administers this fellowship program, the entire faculty expresses its commitment to support of graduate students."

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

— By Matt Kelly