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Nth DEGREE Spring Edition | Volume I | No. 9 © 2009 Graduate Student Council Editor: Tracey Wellington Nth Degree is a monthly publication of the Graduate Student Council (GSC). Special Editions are published in the Winter and Spring. It contains news related to graduate students at Texas A&M University and shares graduate student achievements with the University community. Articles for the Nth Degree are welcome from graduate students. Articles must include the name of the author to be included in publication. GSC reserves the right to select and edit articles for clarity and length. All correspondence with regards to the Nth Degree should be directed to: Graduate Student Council, 1236 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-1236, E-mail:

Subscriptions: To subscribe to the electronic monthly newsletter send an email to with the following command as a single line in the body of the message: subscribe GSC-NTHD Firstname Lastname (Firstname and Lastname is your real name. No “Subject” is required. You do not need to include your email address in your message. LISTSERV automatically uses the address from your email.) The Graduate Student Council (GSC), serving as the graduate student government at Texas A&M University, exists to share and discuss information important to all TAMU graduate and professional students and to advocate for their interests in dealing with the University, its constituents, and all other appropriate entities.

contents Spring 2009

2 introducing the 2009-2010 executive committee Learn more about the team people that will lead the Graduate Student Council in 2009-2010.

4 student research week 2009 Student Research Week is the Graduate Student Council’s premiere event that schowcases the extensive research conducted by Texas A&M students. by Stephanie Zuniga

6 graduate students in the news News stories during the Spring semester highligting Texas A&M graduate student achievements.

7 graduate student leaders Meet a few of the 2008-2009 graduate student leaders.

8 graduate student profiles Highlighting graduate students excelling in academics and research at Texas A&M.

11 university awards and recognition 12 what’s in it for you?: a graduate student’s guide to student affairs by Kathy DiSanto 13 spring 2009 activities by Lauren Hulsman

13 legislative affairs Learn about the Council’s involvement in the 81st Legislative Session. by Brandi Reese

14 faculty profile - dr. kelli peck-parrott by Stefanie Stefancic

16 a look ahead by Husameddin AlMadani

Cover art: Birds of Paradise by Lauren Hulsman 2008-2009 GSC Executive Council President Tracey Wellington*, Materials Science and Engineering Executive Vice President Brandi Reese*, Oceanography Vice President for Information Lauren Hulsman’07*, Animal Science Vice President for University Affairs Paula Lorente*, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning Vice President for Finance Jeff Stanley*, Statistics Past President Shari Hilding-Kronforst, Geology Student Research Week Director Matthew Kopil’08, Sport Management Chair, Legislative Affairs Committee Arlene Ford, Physics Chair, Quality of Life Committee Joni Kincaid, Geography Chair, International Student Issues Committee Jia (Daniel) Liu, Materials Science and Engineering

ADVISORS Stefanie Stefancic, Educational Administration and Human Resource Development Coordinator, Adult, Graduate & Off Campus Student Services Robert Webb Dean of Graduate Studies Student Assistant Autumn Gardner’10, Health and Kinesiology * Members of the GSC Executive Committee

the new grads on the block Introducing the 2009-2010 Executive Committee

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Husameddin AlMadani, President Husam is a Master of Engineering student in the International Petroleum Management Program. He is advised by Stephen Holditch, department head of Petroleum Engineering, and his research focuses on the integration and enhancement of software applications for the estimation of unconventional gas resources and for the estimation of optimum drilling, stimulation and production practices. His previous involvements include the Diversity Service Awards Selection Committee, GSC Multicultural & Diversity Affairs Committee and Chairman of the 1st SPE Young Professional Technical Symposium in Saudi Arabia. AlMadani is originally from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Kansas in 2003.

Laura Ingels, Executive Vice President Laura is a graduate student in the George Bush School of Government and Public Service in the Masters in Public Service and Administration program. Her study focuses on security policy and law enforcement under the advising of Jim Griffin. Laura’s previous involvement include serving on the Bush School Student Government Association and Guide Dogs for the Blind Inc., an organization which partners blind and visually impaired people with trained guide dogs free-of-charge. Ingels is originally from Ukiah, California and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from California Polytechnic State University.

Natalie Hewitt, Vice President for Finance Natalie is a Master’s student in Water Management and Hydrological Sciences from Richmond, Texas. She is advised by Dan Roelke and her research focuses on the development of a mathematical model to demonstrate the impact of additional nutrients on the presence and growth of golden algae (P. parvum). Natalie’s is involved in numerous organizations including American Water Resources Association, American Water Works Association, Bike & Build and Habitat for Humanity. Hewitt received a Bachelor of Science degree from Brown University in Applied Math.

Brittany Jones, Vice President for Information Brittany is a doctoral student in Veterinary Pathobiology from Arlington, Texas. Her research focuses on sequencing an innate immune gene, TLR5, in river buffalo, bison and cattle and she is advised by James Womack. Brittany’s involvement at Texas A&M includes University Disciplinary Appeals Committee, University Fiscal Appeals Committee, Transportation Services Bike Sub-committee and the Transportation Services Committee. Jones received a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from Abilene Christian University.

Julian R. Avila-Pacheco, Vice President for University Affairs Julian is a doctoral student in Biochemistry and Biophysics. He is advised by Timothy Devarenne and his research focuses on the study of molecular mechanisms that lead to programmed cell death as a defense mechanism in tomato plants infected with the pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. Tomato. His involvement includes the Biochemistry Student Association and he serves as Webmaster for AGGIE Allies and GLBTA. Julian is originally from Bogotá, Colombia and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Microbiology from the Universidad de los Andes.

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student research

WEEK 2009

IN ITS’ 12TH YEAR, STUDENT RESEARCH WEEK IS BETTER THAN EVER The 12th Annual Student Research Week (SRW) was held Monday, March 23 through Friday, March 27, 2009. This year’s theme was “Global Issues, Innovative Solutions”. The week long event began with the opening ceremonies with guest speaker Dr. Bruce McCarl, Distinguished Professor from the Department of Agricultural Economics. As the keynote speaker of the evening, he discussed his research on global warming and mitigation issues. The competition officially began on Tuesday morning and ran through late Thursday afternoon. Over 450 undergraduate and graduate students from eight colleges competed in 56 oral sessions and 246 posters presentations. Posters and oral presentations were divided into taxonomies. Taxonomy classifications included: Ecology/Conservation, Medicine/Human Nutrition/Biomedical Engineering/, Geographic Information Systems, Genetics, Agriculture/Agronomy/ Botany/Plant Science, Anatomy/Physiology/Kinesiology, Active Living/Public Health, Soil Hydrology/Water Resources/Environmental Studies, Studies of Uses or Design of Places, Governmental Studies/Political Science, Business, Microbiology, Biochemistry/Structural Biology, Literature/Art/Music Studies, Teaching/Learning, People Places, & Cultures, Electrical Engineering, Nanoscience, Nuclear Science and Engineering, Computer Science, Industrial Engineering, System Engineering, Material Science, Aerospace Engineering, and Molecular Biology, Math science, Advances in Statistics, Geology/

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Oceanography/Earth Science, Applied Physics. Each session winner was awarded a plaque. First place taxonomy winners were awarded a cash prize of $300 while second place winners were awarded $100 cash prize. Approximately 200 faculty and staff volunteered their time and expertise to serve as judges for this year’s competition. Without the participation of these individuals SRW would not be able to occur. Students also assisted with the weeks’ events through the student volunteer competition. Over 100 students volunteered as oral presentation timers, poster session docents, and registration attendants. The Cassie Rutherford Volunteer Award was awarded to Eta Kappa Nu, an Electrical and Computer Engineering Society, for over 75 volunteer hours to the event. Students attended brown bag lunch panels on Tuesday and Wednesday to listen to renowned faculty members speak about their research as it related to global issues. Panel members included Dr. Fred Bonner, Associate Professor of the Department of Educational Administration and Human Development, Dr. Urs Kreuter, Associate Professor of the Department of Ecosystems Science and Management, Dr. Heath Mills, Assistant Professor of the Department of Oceanography, Dr. Jerry North, Distinguished Professor of the Department of Atmospheric Science, Dr. Jamis Perrett, Assistant Professor of the Department of Statistics, Dr. Anthony Rolle, Associate Professor of Educational Administration and Human Development, and Dr. Mario Torres, Assistant Professor from the Department of Educational Administration and Human Development. The SRW Research Report Card Program (RRCP), in its third year, had 70 participants. Students gained points for attending various events during the week including the opening and closing ceremonies, lunch panels, resource tables, and oral presentations. In addition, participants earned points for completing poster scavenger hunts which sent students delving through posters in search for research that met predetermined criteria. This year’s RRCP prizes included a SRW book light, SRW mug, $15 gift card, and $25 gift card. SRW resource tables ran Tuesday and Wednesday during the competition and gave students the

Global Issues: Innovative Solutions

opportunity to learn about the resources available to students at Texas A&M. In addition to taxonomy winners, SRW awarded four special designation prizes. The Melbern G. Glasscock Humanities Award was given to eight graduate and undergraduate students who showed exemplary work in the area of Humanities. First and second place poster and oral presentation winners received $100 and $50 cash prizes respectively. Students whose research displayed significant interdisciplinary research contributions were awarded the Interdisciplinary Research Ribbon. The Environmental Health and Safety Department Safety Recognition Award recognized students who valued the role of and demonstrated safety efforts during their research processes. Finally, the International Education Week Choice Ribbon was awarded to students who exhibited an understanding of issues, or investigated problems relevant to our globalizing society. SRW is hosted and sponsored in part by the Graduate Student Council. However, this event would not be possible without funds from University departments. The Graduate Student Council and the 2009 SRW Planning Committee would like to give a special thanks to the following sponsors: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Architecture, College of Education and Human Development, Dwight Look College of Engineering, College of Geosciences, College of Liberal Arts, College of Science, Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research, Office of Graduate Studies, Office of Undergraduate Programs and Academic Services, Office of the Vice President for Research and the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program.

2009 – 2010 Student Research Week Director Named Sarah Jaks joins the Graduate Student Council Executive Council team as the 2009 – 2010 Student Research Week Director. Sarah is a Master’s student in the Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education program through the College of Education and Human Development. Sarah completed her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Dramatic Media with a minor in Business from Texas Lutheran University (TLU) in May 2007. While at TLU she was actively involved in number of programs including Alpha Chi Honor Society and EnACT, an environmental organization chartered by her leadership class. Her interest of research and study include working with and serving international students and promoting the study abroad experience. The 13th Annual Student Research Week will be held Monday, March 22 through Friday, March 26, 1010. Registration for next year’s competition will open in early November, 2009. For more details please visit the website at

2009 Student Research Week Committee: Matt Kopil, Director; Sofia Agudelo, Technology Coordinator; Tiffany Fowler, Logistics Coordinator, Travis Humphries, Coordinator of Research Report Card Program; Elinor Martin, Coordinator of Judges and Scheduling; Gaby Sosa, Ceremonies Coordinator. Stefanie Zuniga is an Assistant Coordinator in the Adult, Graduate and Off Campus Student Services office and is a Masters student in Education Administration and Human Resource Development.

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graduate students in the news Geography Student Awarded Sea Grant Fellowship Walter Cox, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University, has been awarded the John D. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship for 2009 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The fellowship, which begins February 23, is administered through the Sea Grant program, which is NOAA’s primary university-based program in support of coastal resource use and conservation. Texas A&M was designated a Sea Grant College in 1971, and the Texas Sea Grant College Program is part of the College of Geosciences. During his fellowship, Cox will spend a year at NOAA headquarters in Silver Springs, Maryland, working in the office of Ocean Exploration and Research. College of Geosciences News Graduate Construction Student Earns Best Paper Award at UK Conference Vaibhav Malhotra, a student in the Master of Science in Construction Management program at Texas A&M’s College of Architecture, was awarded The University of Salford Pro-Vice Chancellor Prize for Best Paper in Research & Innovation at the Built and Human Environment International Postgraduate Research Conference 2009. Malhotra’s paper, “Identification of Strategies & Challenges of Decentralized Alternative Energy Source for Reduced CO2 Emissions in the Mercantile Sector,” was one of 74 papers shortlisted by the conference’s International Scientific Committee for presentation and inclusion in a conference publication. College of Architecture News Texas A&M Doctoral Candidate Awarded Gilder Lehrman Fellowship Jared Peatman, a doctoral candidate in history at Texas A&M University, was awarded a research fellowship by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Peatman will conduct research at the Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library in New York City for his dissertation, “The Gettysburg Address, 1863-1965.” Peatman is one of twenty-nine Gilder Lehrman Fellows for the first half of 2009. Peatman received his B.A., cum laude, from Gettysburg College and his M.A. from Virginia Tech. He has published a book chapter of Virginia at War, 1863 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2009), as well as articles in The Gettysburg Magazine and the Gettysburg Historical Journal. College of Liberal Arts News

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Nuclear Engineering Graduate Student Designing New Central Core Targets for Oakridge Reactor Megan Pritchard, a graduate student in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University, will be designing new central core targets for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) High Flux Isotope Reactor to further expand the reactor’s enabling mission for U.S. Department of Energy research programs. This work will be part of Pritchard’s Ph.D. effort advising of Texas A&M’s Dr. Pavel Tsvetkov and ORNL’s Trent Primm. Pritchard has worked in Tsvetkov’s group since 2004 as an undergraduate research scholar and then as graduate student. Her M.S. thesis was focused on neutronics analysis and modeling uncertainty quantification for pebble bed cores with transuranics. She currently holds the Dean’s Endowed Excellence Fellowship in the Dwight Look College of Engineering. College of Engineering News Grant Funds Student’s Research Eyeing the Effect of Landscape Patterns on Children’s Activities Jun-Hyun Kim, a Ph.D. candidate in the Urban and Regional Science program at Texas A&M’s College of Architecture, is studying the effects of landscape spatial patterns on the physical activities of Hispanic children in Houston’s East End through a $20,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Kim’s one-year study, “The Role of Landscape Spatial Patterns on Physical Activity: Does the Landscape Structure of Urban Forests Promote Physical Activity, Walking, and the Quality of Life of Hispanic Children?” will focus on research subjects living in an area bordered by Interstate 45 on the west, Highway 59 on the south, Loop 610 on the east, and an east-west line south of Interstate 10. College of Architecture News Graduate Student to Attend Nobel Laureates Meeting Brandi Kiel Reese, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University, has been accepted as a participant in the 59th meeting of the Nobel Laureates to be held in Lindau, Germany, June 28 to July 4. The annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings provide a globally recognized forum for the transfer of knowledge between generations of scientists. College of Geosciences News

graduate student leaders These are the students at the helm of graduate student organizations in 2008-2009 Name: Zengchao Hao Hometown: Shandong Province, China Degree Sought: PhD, Biological and Agricultural Engineering Organization Name: Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) Current Leadership Role: President The objectives of Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) are (1) provide social activities and services for the students, scholars, and their families from China. (2) promote cultural, academic, as well as science and technology exchanges between China and the United States and other countries. During this year, I worked with our CSSA executive committee members to organize various events such as the variety show, workshops and social meetings to serve our community members. Also, we take active roles in a number of events around campus and the local community to promote the diversity, foster new and continue existing collaborations with other organizations, and enhance mutual understanding and exchange between China, the United States and other countries. For additional information, please visit the CSSA Website or email us at cssa.

Name: Roxanne Longoria Hometown: Floresville, TX Degree Sought: Master of Public Health, Social and Behavioral Health Organization Name: Hispanic Graduate Student Association Current Leadership Role: President When I became a graduate student in 2007, I realized that there was no culturally sensitive support system for Hispanic graduate students. Many students were only familiar with the students in their program and were completely unaware of the many Hispanic students in different programs at Texas A&M. After doing some research I found that the Hispanic Graduate Student Association was once a thriving organization but had not been active since 2002. I decided that it was necessary to apply for re-recognition with Student Activities and get HGSA into the spotlight again. I found that there were many students interested in the organization and was fortunate enough to get a great officer board together. The officers and I decided that HGSA would be an organization focused on increasing awareness and sensitivity about Hispanic culture but open and welcoming to students from all backgrounds. In addition, HGSA strives to increase communication and networking within Texas A&M faculty, administration, staff, and graduate students. We have come a long way in 2 years and this was possible due to the dedication of HGSA’s amazing officers. To find out more information please go to or visit or Facebook page under TAMU Hispanic Graduate Student Association.

Name: Srirama Krishnareddy Home Town: Bangalore, India Degree Sought: PhD, Agronomy Organization Name: University Apartments Community Council (UACC) Current Leadership Role: President UACC is a student/resident run organization whose mission is to create better living environment for University Apartment residents through various programming efforts that promote diversity, cultural awareness, and leadership opportunities. UACC helps to provide a forum for residents to have an active voice in the affairs of University Apartments through meetings, listserv, and programming. UACC works with Department of Residence Life and other entities of university to address resident issues through monthly general meetings. While serving as president, I was involved in assisting with programming events, organizing monthly meetings, and channeling residents’ issues to respective departments for feedback and possible solutions. I have also participated and voiced resident concerns in Student Leader Communication Group meetings with Vice President of Student Affairs. For more information on the UACC, please visit

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Highlighting Graduate Students Excelling Name: Amy Haley Delgado Hometown: Merkel, TX College: Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Department: Veterinary Integrative Biosciences Degree sought: PhD, Biomedical Sciences (emphasis in epidemiology) Research: My research focuses on how the US responds to outbreaks of highly contagious animal diseases which could threaten not only our food supply, but could also result in severe economic hardship for ranching families and the nation as a whole. The successful control of these diseases relies on a rapid, well-coordinated, and wellcommunicated response. My research examines current response plans for foot-and-mouth disease, which is considered to be the most contagious animal disease known. In addition, through the use of a state-wide survey of Texas cattle producers, I am working to build a model that will predict and explain producers’ willingness to participate in disease detection and response. This model will be useful for improving risk communication with cattle producers, and ultimately decreasing the economic, social, and emotional costs associated with large-scale disease outbreaks. PI name: Bo Norby Awards/Fellowships: National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense Fellowship; National Science Foundation Fellowship; Summer Research Grant Award from the Texas A&M University European Union Center of Excellence; Graduate Student Research Grant Award from the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. Involvement/Organization Memberships: Christian Veterinary Fellowship (Past President); College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences- Graduate Student Association; Unites States Animal Health Association, Society for Risk Assessment; American Association for the Advancement of Science; Phi Zeta National Veterinary Honor Society. Additional Information: Summer Internship with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, United Kingdom. Name: Carly Ferguson Hometown: Highlands, TX College: Agriculture & Life Sciences Department: Intercollegiate Faculty of Nutrition Degree Sought: M.S. Nutrition and Registered Dietitian Double Degree Research: Dietary Non-starch Polysaccharides Differentially Stimulate the Proliferation of Native Gastrointestinal Bifidobacteria in vivo. Consumption of certain indigestible non-starch polysaccharides (i.e., dietary

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fibers or NSPs) can preferentially stimulate the growth and/or activity of beneficial gastrointestinal bacteria. This selective stimulation, commonly referred to as “the prebiotic effect”, may improve gastrointestinal functionality by stimulating the production of short chain fatty acids or ameliorating inflammation. The long-term goal of my research is to identify dietary prebiotic-based nutritional strategies that diminish the incidence of colon cancer by selectively stimulating the growth and activity of beneficial gastrointestinal microorganisms that moderate the severity of chronic gastrointestinal inflammation. Currently, we are determining the extent by which consumption of four different NSP diets affect the number of native species of health-promoting colonic Bifidobacteria. PI name: Joseph Sturino Awards/Fellowships: Texas Public Education Grant, Texas Aggie Graduate Scholarship, Houston Endowment Jesse H. Jones Scholarship, Choctaw Nation Higher Education Scholarship, Intercollegiate Faculty of Nutrition (IFN) Tuition Scholarship. Involvement/Organization Memberships: Fish Camp Councilor; Aggie Orientation Leader Program; IFN Graduate Research Symposium Planning Committee; Nutrition & Dietetics Association; American Dietetic Association; Texas Dietetic Association. Additional Information: Nutrition and Food Science Department Excellence in Teaching Award (2009 nominee, outcome pending); One manuscript in preparation; Laboratory teaching instructor for 4 semesters. Name: Krista Fritz Hometown: Caledonia, IL Department: Veterinary Integrative Biosciences Degree sought: PhD, Genetics Research: Defining Haplotypes of the Bovine Major Histocompatibility Complex. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is one of the most gene dense and polymorphic regions of the mammalian genome. More diseases have been associated with the MHC than any other genomic region. Previous studies have statistically linked polymorphisms within the bovine MHC (BoLA) to ineffective vaccination response and susceptibility to several infectious diseases of cattle; however, it remains unclear whether each polymorphic locus is causal or in linkage disequilibrium with the causal genetic element(s). Identification of the haplotypes in which these variants are embedded is critical to understanding the genetic basis of these traits. The goal of my research project is to identify and analyze polymorphic markers spanning BoLAwith the intention of characterizing patterns of genetic variation and haplotype structure. Knowledge of BoLA haplotypes can then be applied to marker assisted selective breeding of animals with superior disease resistance and productivity, as well as improved

in Academics and Research at Texas A&M vaccine development for livestock. PI name: Loren Skow Awards/Fellowships: L.T. Jordan Fellowship for Independent Research Abroad; First Place Oral Presentation at CVM GSA Research Symposium; Awarded “Exceptional Performance as a Genetics TA” by TAMU Genetics Faculty; Recipient of three CVM Graduate Student Association Travel Awards Involvement/Organization Memberships: Texas A&M CVM Graduate Student Association (Past President, Current Member) Texas A&M Genetics Graduate Student Association (Current Member); Texas Genetics Society (Current Member); TAMU CVM Graduate Student Instruction Committee (Past Member) Additional Information: 2 Publications. Name: Jia (Daniel) Liu Hometown: Shanghai, China College: Dwight Look College of Engineering Major: Materials Science and Engineering Degree sought: PhD, Materials Science and Engineering Research: My research interests include polymers and polymer nanocomposites, structure-property relationship, mechanical and fracture behaviors, and polymer toughening and strengthening. Nanotechnologies present tremendous potentials for the polymer industry. Among the many possibilities, polymer nanocomposites that contain either inorganic nanoparticles or organic nanodomains, or both, exhibit many promising properties that are suitable for various engineering and microelectronic applications. However, fundamental knowledge on the “nano-scale” phenomena is still lacking. Significant efforts are still needed. In my Ph.D. dissertation, focuses are placed on our recent findings on epoxies modified with nano-sized block copolymer micelle particles. A better understanding of the structure-property relationship of polymers containing nano-structures has been achieved. PI name: Hung-Jue Sue Awards/Fellowships: TEES Research Assistantship; TAMU Graduate Research and Presentation Grant; First Prize, Poster Contest, International Polyolefins Conference 2007; Second Prize, Poster Contest, International Polyolefins Conference 2006. Involvement/Organization Memberships: Member, International Programs Enhancement and Coordination Committee (IPECC); Chair, International Student Issues Committee; Representative, Graduate Student Council (GSC); Executive Vice-President, China-US Relations Forum; VicePresident, Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA); President of SPE Student Chapter at TAMU; Materials Research Society (MRS); American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME); International Microelectronics and Packaging Society (IMAPS); Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. Additional Information: 12 journal publications; 11 conference presentations; project collaborations with Dow Chemical,

Specialty Minerals, BASF, Huntsman, Sunoco, Metabolix and Cadillac Products. Name: Paula Lorente Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia College: Architecture Department: Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning Degree sought: PhD, Urban and Regional Sciences Research: My research attempts to coordinate ecological information with policy by examining the relationship between natural features and land use development decisions. The levels of environmental degradation along with global trends of population and urban growth have proven too disturbing and even dangerous to ignore. A careful understanding of how land use decisions are related to the long-term ecological integrity of the land (biodiversity, productivity) and quality of life (recreation, scenery) is needed to ensure sustainability. Spatial planning and landscape design can facilitate our understanding and be used to promote sustainable development. By more closely and rigorously identifying which spatial attributes of natural amenities and ecosystems most influence residential development decisions, we can gain better insight into policies to preserve critical urban habitat, advance those attributes that promote sustainable development, and improve quality of life in urban communities. PI name: George Rogers Awards/Fellowships: Texas A&M University Academic Excellence Scholarship; Urban and Regional Science Doctoral Departmental Scholarship; Tau Sigma Delta, Phi Kappa Phi and Pinnacle Honor Societies; Received David L. Pugh Outstanding MUP Student award (2005). Involvement/Organization Membership: Urban and Regional Science Student Organization (Treasurer); Executive Committee for Academics College of Architecture; Graduate Student Council (Vice President for University Affairs); University Disciplinary Appeals Panel; Chancellor’s Diversity Council; Texas A&M Colombian Student Association; International Ecotourism Society (TIES); National Association Javeriana Architects (ANAJ); Colombian Association of Architects (ACA). Additional Information: Licensed architect from Colombia (2000); Master in Urban Planning from Texas A&M (2005); Editorial Assistant for Landscape and Urban Planning, a top International Journal in the field published by Elsevier.

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Higlighting Graduate Students continued from page 9

Name: Jane Metty Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI College: Education and Human Development Department: Teaching, Learning, and Culture Degree sought: PhD, Curriculum and Instruction (emphasis in Science Education) Research: Professional development opportunities that bring science teachers at all grade levels together with scientists. My interests involve: (1) improving scientists understanding of the needs, challenges, and practices of science teachers and improving teachers understanding of what it is to “do” science so that teachers can convey an accurate understanding to students of the process and practices of science, (2) establish mutually beneficial lines of communication and networks between these two diverse communities, (3) improving teacher knowledge of science and classroom practice by providing effective, authentic experiences where science teachers engage in the practice of science, (4) improving student understanding of what it means to “do” science and develop scientific literacy skills in students, (3) understanding how scientist-teacher interactions affect the decisions science teachers make with respect to curriculum and instruction. PI name: Carol Stuessy Awards/Fellowship: Information Technology in Science (ITS), Policy Research Initiative in Science Education (PRISE). Involvement/Organization Memberships: Sigma XI Executive Board Member, Sigma XI Executive Chairman of Awards Committee; E-Bat Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program administrator under program education coordinator Carol Stuessy, PLC-METS (grant) – Professional Development Consultant; National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Sigma XI. Additional Information: 3 publications; Courses Taught: Integrated Math and Science Methods for Middle Grades, Problem Solving in Math with Science Emphasis (Inquiry), Introduction to Culture, Community, Society, and Schools, Senior Methods for Elementary Teacher; Multiple presentations at the following conferences: American Educational Research Association (AERA), National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), School Science and Mathematics Association (SSMA), Southwest Association of Science Teacher Education (SASTE), Conference in Research Education and Teacher Education (CREATE).

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Name: Mahesh S. Padanad Hometown: Bijapur, Karnataka, India College: Science Department: Biology Degree sought: PhD, Genetics Research: Deafness is the most common sensorineural deficit in children. Defects develop either from abnormal development of the inner ear or due to the inability of the sensory hair cells to maintain their physiology or structure. The vertebrate inner ear is a conserved sensory organ system that provides both vestibular and auditory functions responsible for balance and hearing respectively. The inner ear develops from a simple ectodermal structure known as the otic placode. My research is focused on understanding the mechanism by which members of pax2/5/8 gene family induce and maintain otic fate, together with understanding of their relationship with Fgfs and Foxi 1. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) provides an important model for vertebrate inner ear development. All the structures of the inner ear can be directly observed in live embryos and a number of molecular markers are available to analyze the early stages of otic placode development. PI name: Bruce B. Riley Awards/Fellowships: Who’s Who among students in American Universities and colleges; Texas A&M University Eppright Outstanding International Student Award (highest award bestowed by A&M to an international student); Buck Weirus Spirit Award; Texas A&M University Academic excellence award; AR & MB Turbeville Endowed Scholarship; Texas A&M University J. Malon Southerland Aggie Leader Scholarship; Texas A&M University Academic Excellence Award; Association of Former Student Memorial Scholarship; International education Fee Scholarship; Texas A&M University Shibata Memorial Scholarship. Involvement/Organization Memberships: University Apartments Community Council (Past President and Vice president); Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society; Phi Beta Delta; Society for International Scholars; Kappa Delta Pi; International Honor Society in Education. Additional Information: Four conference presentations. Two published abstracts.

university-wide awards & recognition

Association of Former Students Distinguished Graduate Student Awards Excellence in Teaching Thomas Dotzel – Marketing Rachel Jumper – Communication Ruth Mullins – Oceanography Aime Jo Lillard – Horticulture Sciences Matthew W. Tanner – Industrial and Systems Engineering

Kunze Prize – The Kunze Prize is presented to a doctoral student nearing completion of the degree program who has shown superior academic achievement and one or more publications in a refereed journal of national or international stature. The student also demonstrates good citizenship through contributions to the university and/or community. Philip Gable – Psychology

Excellence in Masters Research Annie Chu-Ching Hsueh – Psychology Sarah Joy Kornfield – Communication Igor Kraguljac – Visualization Science Kristin S. Mathe – Communication Tara Ramani – Civil Engineering

Montgomery Prize – The Montgomery Prize is presented to a graduate student who has excelled in scholarship and service to Texas A&M University and the community.

Excellence in Doctoral Research Christopher Hopwood – Psychology Todd William Hudnall – Chemistry Xiugang Li – Civil Engineering Ryan M. Pedrigi – Biomedical Engineering Masako Tominaga – Oceanography

Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges – Presented to students whose contributions in leadership, service, campus activities and academic achievement set them apart from others as models to emulate for students at Texas A&M University and other institutions of higher education.

Buck Weirus Spirit Award – Honors up to 55 students (up to 5 graduate students) annually who demonstrate high involvement, create positive experiences throughout the Aggie community, impact student life at Texas A&M and enhance the Aggie Spirit. Jena Bentley – Management Information Systems Brian Eisenbeis – Aerospace Engineering Lauren Hulsman – Animal Science Anand Narayanan – Biology Tracey-Ann Wellington – Materials Science and Engineering

Gayathri Chadalapaka – Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology Mohammad Chaudhry – Electrical Engineering Brady Dennis – Educational Administration Abdallah Farraj – Electrical Engineering Indira Jutooru – Toxicology Emad Kassem – Civil Engineering Anand Narayanan – Biology Shannon Schmidt – Food Science and Technology Paul Shockley – Philosophy Tracey-Ann Wellington – Materials Science and Engineering

Eppright Outstanding International Student Award – Recognizes an international student with high academic, leadership, service and extracurricular achievements. It is the highest honor bestowed on an international student at Texas A&M University.

U.S. Senator Phil Gramm Fellowship – This fellowship encourages and rewards outstanding teaching and research by doctoral students whose command of their respective disciplines exemplifies the meaning of scholar/mentor in the highest sense.

Meera Alagaraja – Human Resource Development

Kevin Curley – Animal Science Thomas Dotzel – Marketing Tyler Johnson – Political Science Michael Moreno – Biomedical Engineering Jennifer Mueller – Sociology Amanda Schuckman – Chemistry Matthew Tanner – Industrial and Systems Engineering

Guseman Award – Recognizes a graduate student for outstanding contributions to the success and prosperity of the Graduate Student Council, and the graduate student body of the Texas A&M University. Arlene Ford – Physics

Tracey-Ann Wellington – Materials Science and Engineering

Kunze Award – Recognizes a staff member or office for outstanding contributions to the success and prosperity of the Graduate Student Council, and the graduate student body of Texas A&M University. George W. Kunze was a former Dean of Graduate Studies. Association of Former Students

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What’s In It for You? A Graduate Student’s Guide to Student Affairs Admit it: When someone says, “Student Affairs,” you more or less tune out, because you figure the ensuing conversation simply won’t be relevant to your experience as a graduate student at Texas A&M. Student Affairs is about residence halls, Fish Camp, Midnight Yell, Student Government, and a whole bunch of other student organizations—all those things that make for the wonderfully unique Aggie undergraduate experience but have little or nothing to offer a time-crunched, nose-to-the-grindstone, one-foot-in-academia-one-foot-inthe-real-world individual like yourself. Well, if that’s your impression of Student Affairs, you’ll want to read on. Chances are, you’ll be pleasantly surprised! Let’s start with the obvious. The Division of Student Affairs has a special office set up to serve you, the graduate student. No, really. The Office of Adult, Graduate, and OffCampus Student Services (housed under the Offices of the Dean of Student Life) does everything from helping grad students find housing to sponsoring Graduate Student Mix and Mingles. AGOSS also offers Extended Grad Workshops designed to make your life easier in any number of ways—workshops like “Writing and Plagiarism,” “Writing an Abstract,” “Thesis Office Presentation,” “Health Insurance,” and “Grants and Fellowships,” for example. As if those services weren’t enough, the folks in Cain Hall C-114 can steer you to the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students Conference; connect you with special-interest, on-campus organizations geared to provide support, advocacy, and social outlets for graduate students; help you develop your financial “cents;” and hook you up with people who can advise you on the benefits of owning your own home versus renting. Do yourself a favor and surf over to http:// html to check out the resources available to you! You Think You’ve Got Pressure? This kind of pressure no undergrad can understand: It’s time to write your thesis/dissertation. The pressure is on, it’s do or die, and you’re wondering how in the world you can successfully maneuver your way through this incredibly daunting process that seems to be swallowing up your life. Enter Dr. Brian Williams of the Student Counseling Service and his Thesis/ Dissertation Support Group. “I started going to the SCS Dissertation Support Group in my 4th semester of the doctoral program,” writes Melanie Woods, a graduate research assistant in Mathematics Education. “[It’s] been a great source of strength for me. I was struggling with who I was and what I perceived to be the insurmountable task of writing a dissertation. After I shared my initial concerns with the group, I was overwhelmed by their generosity. They understood where I was coming from. I was not alone.” Health Education doctoral student Tina Garcia agrees. “Prior to participating in the weekly dissertation support group meetings, just the thought of working on my dissertation overwhelmed me. So much has changed for me since joining the group. I was amazed by how willing they were to share their struggles so openly. Their affirmations were so refreshing and gave me a sense of relief to know there are others who experience

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the same dissertation frustrations I do.” Dr. Williams has been helping Aggies like Melanie and Tina navigate this final stage of their graduate work since the 1994-95 academic year, leading them through battles with perfectionism, procrastination, and self-doubt. Screening students from every major, he selects two groups of 8, meeting with them weekly to help them set attainable goals (Melanie calls them “baby steps”) for the following week—say, for example, working 2 hours a day on their dissertations. “The members get very close,” he says. “They learn to pool their resources, and they acquire skills that will help them succeed—time management, life balance, assertiveness, and conflict resolution. It provides structure, too, in the form of regular meetings to check on the progress of their research.” “They’re my friends,” Melanie explains, “my family. Every week I look forward to sitting down with them to discuss the good and bad of being in a doctoral program. I no longer feel this is something I can’t do. I feel I will get there ... in baby steps.” Needless to say, a group with this much to offer has become very popular, which is why Dr. Williams had to form a second group and is willing to form more, if needed. Several spots in the existing groups will open soon, because a few members are about to defend their research and move on. If you would like to find out more about the group and/or register with the Student Counseling Service at pc.asp. A Regular Smorgasbord The truth is, the Division of Student Affairs offers a wide range of services, programs, and opportunities to Aggie grad students. Take, for example, programs like StrengthsQuest, Leading with Your Strengths, and Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, all housed in the Department of Student Activities’ Leadership and Service Center, all well attended by your peers. Program Coordinator Matt Starcke, tell us, “Each program is held several times throughout the year and focuses on differing aspects of personal development.” Nutrition major Kelly Vaughan took Leading with Your Strengths, and gained some valuable insights. “It gave me a different approach to life after graduate school,” she writes. “Now, when I am in a job interview, and somebody asks what my strengths are, I know exactly what to respond with ... and also how to respond to the dreaded, ‘What is your weakness?’ question. I now know what that is and know how to put a positive spin on it. Hopefully, it will help me when interviewing in a few months.” Down at Beutel Health Center, Patient Services Manager Courtney Waggoner wants graduate students to know Student Health Services has got their health needs covered. “If they have one of the TAMU-sponsored plans—International Student, Student, or Graduate Student—all covered services are paid for by the insurance company, 100%, no deductible, co-payment, or co-insurance applied.” And that includes the $15 after-hoursaccess charge. continued on page 16

Spring 2009 Activities

Legislative Affairs

The Spring 2009 semester has been a whirlwind of learning and fun filled with seminars, socials, workshops, and so much more. Each semester the Graduate Student Council in conjunction with The Association of Former Students, the Office of Graduate Studies, and the Offices of the Dean of Student Life provide activities designed to engage graduate students in personal growth and work-school-life balance. Seminars are one and a half hour sessions offered on various topics relevant to a grad’s life. This Spring, experts on nutrition, insurance, home buying, and finance gave of their time to help students answer personal questions. The semester kicked of with a helpful seminar on healthy eating on a tight budget. Students learned ways to go green, eat fresh, locally grown food while staying within a shoe string budget. Experts from Liberty Mutual Insurance presented two sessions on the importance of understanding your insurance policies, how to read them and what to look for. Back by popular demand, the home buying seminar talked about the current economy, why home buying is still one of the best investments a person can make, and how even graduate students can afford to purchase their first home to build equity. We wrapped up the semester with a fantastic financial “cents” session that covered everything from saving when you have nothing to save, to planning for that first job and what it takes to keep a healthy financial padding for your future. This semester, Student Activities, Leadership and Service Center sponsored two workshops designed to help graduate students get in touch with their strengths and develop strong time management skills. Leading with Your Strengths for Grads workshop helped graduate students reflect on who they are as individuals and the “strengths” they naturally bring with them to their work and tasks. Based on the Gallop Strengths Quest program, the workshop emphasized the importance of investing in your strengths instead of spending time trying to improve “weaknesses.” Students completed the Strengths Quest indicator and the facilitator walked the participants through the values and qualities of each strength and how they might play out in different settings. The other workshop focused on Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People for College Students.” In this two day workshop, students learned about time management and organizational skills. The session is designed to inspire grad students to develop tools and strategies to accomplish their goals with greater productivity. Wine anyone? 250 graduate students participated in the 5th Annual Graduate Student Wine Tasting. Darrin Allen, owner of WineStyles, instructed graduate students on wines, how to taste, and how to pair wines and food. Students also left the event with their own personal block ATM wine glass courtesy of the Graduate Student Council. Finally, we wrapped up the semester with a family social at Arctic Wolf Ice Center. Fifty students and their families enjoyed the cool ice, food, and laughter. Each semester Adult, Graduate, and Off Campus Student Services sponsors a social specifically designed to support Aggies with kids. The time together was a lot of fun and reminded us all of the importance family plays in the support of our students.

The Legislative Committee of the Graduate Student Council has had a busy spring semester. The Council passed a resolution in support of the Student Health Services’ Proposed Fee Legislation. This Legislation would increase the Student Health Services fee cap to $150 for each regular semester and $75 for each summer session term. The Council recognizes the rising cost of healthcare and the need for an increase of the current cap to provide the Student Health Center with the necessary resources to provide quality healthcare to the Texas A&M community. GSC President, Tracey Wellington, attended the 2009 Orange and Maroon Legislative Day (OMLD) activities on March 3, 2009 in Austin, Texas. The main goal of OMLD is to bring together a network of alumni and friends of the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. These alumni work to increase public and legislative support Texas higher education system, particularly UT Austin and Texas A&M. The main issues covered at this year’s event were the Texas Competitive Knowledge Fund; the Top 10% Law; Quality, Value and Affordability; and Infrastructure and Facilities. The day comprised of a resolution reading to honor OMLD participants and a number of legislative office visits in addition to a number of activities that allowed representatives from both schools to interact. Senate Bill 42, relating to the eligibility of certain postdoctoral fellows and graduate students to participate in health benefit programs at public institutions of higher education, was introduced to the Committee on State Affairs of the legislative session on February 10, 2009 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education. If passed, this bill will allow graduate students on fellowships in excess of $10,000 as well as postdoctoral fellows to be eligible for the same employee health insurance coverage provided to graduate students with teaching or research assistant positions. The Legislative Committee of the Graduate Student Council showed their support by drafting a resolution to support the bill and Zaffirini’s efforts. The general assembly passed the resolution on April 7, 2009 and the Legislative Committee got the opportunity to meet with legislators about the Bill during the Day on the Hill activities hosted by University of Texas at Austin on April 23, 2009. Schools from the UT and A&M system participated in daylong activities that addressed two main issues, 1) graduate student health insurance and 2) overall appropriations for undergraduate and graduate research. The day’s activities included workshops and a visit with Representatives. As this year’s legislative session winds down the Legislative Committee is still working on a number of resolutions including one to address the Concealed Carry Bill. The committee will continue to address legislations that affect graduate students. To get involved with the Legislative Affairs Committee please contact us at

Lauren Hulsman served as the 2008 – 2009 GSC Vice President for Information and is a Masters student in Animal Science.

Brandi Reese served as the 2008 – 2009 GSC Executive Vice President and is a doctoral student in Oceanography.

2008 – 2009 Legislative Affairs Committee: Arlene Ford (Chair), Claudia Miramontes, Sandra Nite, Brandi Reese, Kyle Streetman, Taylor Weiss

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Integrity, honesty, a caring heart, compassionate educator, wisdom, and so many other words have been used to describe this remarkable person. Dr. Kelli Peck-Parrott, Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education (SAAHE) program, was nominated by the Graduate Student Council (GSC) for the 2009 Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence Award.

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Both undergraduate and graduate students alike speak highly of her both as a person and as a faculty member. Kelli’s dedication and commitment to the values of higher education are evident both inside and outside of the classroom. According to Angela Passarelli, SAAHE Class of 2004, “Kelli stands out in my mind as one of the most influential faculty members of my career as a master’s student at TAMU. She not only prepared me with the skills I needed to be both a successful scholar and practitioner, but she also inspired me to believe in myself and achieve beyond what I thought was possible. An invaluable skill that Kelli taught me was writing in APA style, which is generally the preferred convention for manuscript submission to journals in our field. I vividly remember her guiding us through the APA manual section-by-section in one of her early classes. Though it was challenging to write papers to meet her high standard for style and writing, it prepared me well for my future doctoral work. Her feedback and coaching on my writing was so valuable that it positioned me to be able to help my peers in a doctoral program. It was in the same class that Kelli introduced me to numerous theories of adult development. With an eye toward practical application, she had us complete and discuss the Kolb Learning Styles Inventory. Kolb’s work – to which I was first introduced in Kelli’s class – became the theoretical underpinning of my career as a practitioner. I was so inspired by this model of learning that I decided to pursue a PhD with Dave Kolb as my advisor!” The above letter of support was one of over twenty received by the Graduate Student Council in preparing Kelli’s nomination packet. Former Students, current students, colleagues, and others gave the GSC selection committee a glimpse into the genuine heart of a true educator. It is notable that Dr. Peck-Parrott was not only praised for her teaching within the classroom, but for her commitment to the educational experience of students outside the academic class. According to Tonya Driver, student and advisor, “This institution can not possibly fathom how much students appreciate Dr. Kelli Peck-Parrott. I am aware my comments are to be directed to graduate experiences, however I feel moved to also mention the multiple occasions where I witnessed undergraduate students have transformational moments in their interactions with Dr. Peck-Parrott.” Several administrators and staff from across the institution provided stories of Kelli’s willingness to come speak at student organizational events. Her commitment to the students’ of Texas A&M University has been referred to as one of undeniable dedication to the growth and development of all people. Dr. Peck-Parrott volunteers her time freely for the betterment of our students and our campus. According to Dr. Bryan Cole, Professor, “The Kelli Peck-Parrott Center for Teaching Excellence! This is what the TAMU Center for Teaching Excellence should be named in honor of one of the best teachers that TAMU has ever had. This point is made to emphasize the significant level of teaching excellence that Dr. Peck-Parrott brings to her students each and every day. Her approach to teaching lays the foundation for her unyielding commitment to ensuring that every student is comfortable and engaged and masters the course content. However, her work and

commitment is not limited to content mastery – she is just as concerned about students’ welfare and their ongoing professional development.” It is because of this dedication that the Graduate Student Council has recognized Dr. Kelli Peck-Parrott with the 2009 Teaching Excellence Award. Summed up best by colleague Dr. Fred Bonner “In an age of false generosity, negativity, and an overall ethos of indifference, it is refreshing to see an individual that seems to not only embody a spirit of concern, compassion, and care, but who is willing to share this spirit with others. Much is to be said about creating safe and inclusive environments where the intellectual exchange of ideas can be hammered out on an anvil of uniform support. In creating these environments, you need individuals who are caring and compassionate, while serious and dedicated to the mission of the department and institution. You will not find a more caring and compassionate individual than Dr. Kelli Peck-Parrott. She is not only a wonderful scholar but she is a beautiful spirit—an individual that any college teaching and learning environment should truly treasure.” Note: The presidential professor designation, the highest honor bestowed by the University for teaching excellence, includes a $25,000 after-tax cash stipend believed to be the highest-valued awards in the nation presented annually by a single institution to honor its faculty. The presidential professorships were established in 2003 to underscore the importance of teaching at a major research university. Recipients retain the ‘presidential professor’ designations for the duration of their teaching careers.

Dr. Peck-Parrot was the recipient the 2009 Graduate Student Council Teaching Excellence Award. Also in the picture is Lauren Hulsman, 2008 - 2009 GSC Vice President for Information.

Stefanie Stefancic serves as advisor of the Graduate Student Council and Coordinator of the Adult Graduate and Off Campus Student Services office. Stefanie is a doctoral student in Educational Administration and Human Resource Development.

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A Look Ahead

What’s in it for you? continued from page 12 Howdy! The Health Center is a good option even if you don’t have health insurance, says Courtney, “because there’s no charge for the office visits due to accident or illness and only minimal charges for lab, radiology, physical therapy, and minor procedures. We also have a pharmacy for your convenience!” Speaking of convenience, plenty of folks know the Becky Gates Children’s Center offers the best of all possible worlds to Texas A&M parents by providing quality child care right here on campus. The fact that the Children’s Center schedule follows the University calendar is another big plus for Aggies with kids. But did you know that in addition to holding 61 of the 154 available slots open for students’ children, the Center offers student families a discounted tuition rate and the chance to apply for additional tuition assistance (supported by the Student Service Fee)? Or that graduate student families make up more than a third of the Center’s users? “The Children’s Center is phenomenal!” exclaims Julie Campbell, research fellow in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology. “My husband and I are both graduate students, and it is hard enough with both of us being in school, much less having to worry about where our child spends his day. Our little boy, Morgan, has blossomed socially and educationally. There’s a strong partnership between parents and the Children’s Center.” Her husband Ben, a graduate assistant in the Department of Agricultural Economics, agrees. “The Becky Gates Children’s Center adds many new educational alternatives that we’re implementing in our household. The warm, caring atmosphere of the Center toward our family is very important to us.” Julies sums up their feelings with an enthusiastic, “We love this place!” What’s In It For You? The List Goes On and On .... As you can see, there’s a lot of interaction between the Division of Student Affairs and our VIP (Very Important Population) Aggie graduate students. In addition to the programs and services already mentioned, Disabilities Services stands ready, willing, and able to consult with grads in teaching roles who have students with disabilities in their classes. AGOSS publishes the “Little Maroon Handbook,” a guide to services for adult and graduate students, while over in Student Legal Services, Attorney Rick Powell helps graduate students with a wide variety of issues. And, of course, the Department of Student Activities is always looking for good advisers for student organizations. But there’s so much more! If you would like to find out how you can get involved in Student Affairs, or discover exactly what the Division can do for you, give us a call! The Office of Adult, Graduate, and Off-Campus Student Services is a good place to start (845.1741). We look forward to serving you and enriching your Texas A&M experience! Contributed by: Kathy DiSanto, Communications Specialist Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs

It is my great privilege to serve you as the 2009-2010 president of the Graduate Student Council. The Graduate Student Council serves as the voice of the graduate students to the University administration on matters that affect all Texas A&M graduate and professional students. In the spring of 2009, the population of graduate and professional students exceeded 9000, constituting approximately 20% of the Texas A&M student community. The university, being a leading research institution, heavily counts on this significant group to contribute to achieving its Vision 2020 of building a culture of research excellence. Our role in GSC is to represent your needs and communicate your voice to the University administration in order to enrich your experiences, both academic and social, during your course of study. We can only achieve this when we have effective communication channels between the Council and the students. That is why the 2009-2010 Executive Committee has decided to first work on ensuring flawless communication between the Committee, GSC representatives and students. (To identify your department representative, please visit Following the footsteps of the 2008-2009 Executive Committee, we will continue to identify opportunities that seamlessly immerse the graduate students in the rich culture and traditions of the University and highlight their achievements campus-wide. This summer we will be introducing the inaugural Graduate Camp experience, a Fish Camp experience for graduate students. We will also reintroduce the Graduate Mentorship Program to assist new arrivals in their transition to the Aggie Land. (Please visit for more details). At GSC, we recognize that our graduate and professional students are distinguished by their academic excellence, talents, and cultural diversity. Therefore, we plan on tapping into the entire graduate population, international students and U.S. citizens, to collect creative ideas and feedback and execute effective programs that address their different needs. When I arrived to this great campus last semester, a friend of mine left me with an invaluable advice. She said, “students miss great opportunities when they only limit their university experiences to academic development. One of our Core Aggie Values is Selfless Service, and by serving, we become leaders.” She then left me with a powerful quote by Abraham Lincoln who once said “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” I recommend that you explore the GSC’s website for information about how to be involved in leadership opportunities, programs, and social activities that are specifically tailored for the needs of graduate students. Remember, we are Aggies first, and graduate students second. Thanks and Gig’em Husameddin AlMadani is the 2009 – 2010 GSC President and is a Masters student in International Petroleum Management.

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Texas A&M graduate students met with Senator Steve Ogden during the Day on the Hill activities on April 23, 2009 hosted by the Senate of College Councils and the Graduate Student Assembly at The University of Texas at Austin. L to R: Kyle Streetman, Arlene Ford, Senator Steve Ogden, Brandi Reese, Taylor Weiss.

The mission of the Graduate Student Council (GSC) is to work in cooperation with Texas A&M University administration, faculty, and other relevant entities to insure that the needs of graduate students are understood and considered when campus policies are made. The Council exists to share and discuss information important to all Texas A&M University graduate and professional students and to advocate for their interests in dealing with the University, its constituents, and all other appropriate entities. For more information on how to get involved with the Council, please contact us at

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GRADUATE STUDENT COUNCIL TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY 133 John J. Koldus Building 1236 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-1236

Page 4: Student Research Week showcases the research done by Texas A&M graduates and undegraduates. Photo by Bernardo Garza

Page 11: Graduate student university-wide awards and recognition. Dr. Webb, Interim Dean of Graduate Studies, and Kunze Prize winner Philip Gable

Page 13: Graduate students participate in Day on the Hill. L to R: Brandi Reese (A&M), Lauren Ratliff (UT), David Lie (UT), Kyle Streetman (A&M)

Spring Edition  

The Nth Degree is the monthly newsletter for the Graduate Student Council.

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