College of Education and Human Sciences announces graduate education awards
Friday, April 9, 2021
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The Oklahoma State University College of Education and Human Sciences recognized excellence among both students and faculty at the annual Graduate and Professional Education Appreciation Awards Event.
The college presented awards to an outstanding student at the master’s and doctoral level and recognized a faculty member in the area of mentorship. Student award winners received stipends and a plaque to recognize their achievements.
“The College of Education and Human Sciences is at the forefront of research, education and outreach because of its faculty, staff and students,” Johnson said. “These award recipients demonstrate excellency each day, and their contributions truly make a difference.”
Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student
Luis Mejia-Puig, a doctoral student in the Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising, received the Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student Award. The award recognizes both teaching and professional involvement.
As a teaching assistant, Mejia-Puig organized Designathon, an opportunity for OSU students to collaborate with students from Colombia. Mejia-Puig mentors fellow graduate students in researching the cognitive load of design, and during COVID-19, he was instrumental in helping the courses for which he was a teaching assistant transition to virtual learning. Mejia-Puig’s advisor is Dr. Tilanka Chandrasekera.
“Luis should be applauded for his efforts, not only doing what is asked of him but going the extra mile to make sure students learn,” Chandrasekera said. “The most unique characteristic in Luis’s teaching is that his teaching is informed through his research.”
Outstanding Research by a Graduate Student
Joel Komakech, a nutritional sciences doctoral student, received the Outstanding Research by a Graduate Student Award. The award recognizes both research and professional involvement.
Komakech led a year-long research project in the western Nile region of Uganda to assess the role of peer groups in improving infant and young child feeding practices in post-emergency camps. He recruited 400 women in the third trimester of pregnancy to participate in his research and trained community health extension workers to train peer educators on child feeding, stress management and sanitation practices.
“Joel is passionate about improving health outcomes, especially among maternal and child populations,” Hildebrand said. “He critically assesses the research and applies it to address needs; in other words, he practices sound science to solve human problems.”
Julie Branch Staton Award
Carlee Vogt Boccacci received the Julie Branch Staton Award. The award recognizes a graduate student on the OSU Tulsa campus who exhibits drive and leadership in the field of child development with a passion for helping families. Boccacci earned a bachelor’s in human development and family science (HDFS) from OSU and is now pursuing a master’s in HDFS.
Her advisor Dr. Karina Shreffler, Ramona Ware Emmons professor of human development and family science, believes Boccacci’s award is only the start of her career impacting Oklahoman youth.
“Carlee has built her understanding of brain development in young children so she can help with early intervention for those who have experienced trauma and neglect,” Shreffler said. “She has taught pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, and she is passionate about helping her students meet their fullest potential.
Graduate Faculty Excellence Award
Dr. Gary Duhon, school psychology professor, received the Graduate Faculty Excellence Award. The award recognizes exemplary achievement in leadership, scholarship, professional involvement and university and community service.
Duhon has led numerous grants, reaching thousands of Oklahoma public school students to provide mental health screenings and care; chaired more than 40 dissertation committees; and taught graduate-level courses. Dr. Brian Poncy, school psychology associate professor and director of training, has worked closely with Duhon.
“Dr. Duhon pours extensive time and efforts into training students in how to conduct research and incorporate these skills in applied settings,” Poncy said. “Our graduate students are clearly drawn to work with and learn from him.”