2013-14 Presidential Graduate Fellows announced

July 16, 2013

University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken has announced the seven recipients of 2013-14 Presidential Graduate Fellowships. These prestigious fellowships honor a select group of NU graduate students each year on the basis of high scholastic performance and personal accomplishment. Fellows receive a stipend provided through the University of Nebraska Foundation that allows them to pursue their studies full-time.

This year, fellowships are presented to three students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, two at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and two at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The honored students are pursuing advanced degrees in sociology, English, engineering, psychology, health services research and administration, and genetics and immunology.

“Presidential Graduate Fellows are among the University of Nebraska’s most outstanding students,” Milliken said. “They have already accomplished a great deal both inside and outside of the classroom, and I’m confident that they will continue to be successful as they complete their studies and begin their careers. The university is fortunate to have a level of private support that allows us to recognize these scholars and provide them an opportunity to devote full time to their academic pursuits.”

This year’s Presidential Graduate Fellows are:

Anna Bellatorre, of San Jose, Calif., a Ph.D. student in sociology at UNL. Bellatorre is a health disparities scholar with sophisticated methodological training. Her published work and active projects focus on health disparities resulting from discrimination based on race, gender or sexual identity, exposure to risk and access to health knowledge. Through her dissertation research, Bellatorre hopes to answer important questions related to the magnitude of diabetes risk in American young adults – a critical social problem because disparities at this point in individuals’ lives can significantly alter their future morbidity and mortality risk. Bellatorre earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from San Diego State University.

Trey Moody, of San Antonio, Texas, a Ph.D. student in English at UNL. Moody will use his fellowship to make significant progress on his second full-length manuscript of poetry. His first full-length collection, Thought That Nature, which he wrote during his first three years as a doctoral student, won the 2012 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry. His poems have been published in a number of anthologies and literary journals and he has presented at conferences and given readings, including at the 2011 (downtown) omaha lit fest. Moody’s primary academic interest is in place studies. He also hopes to secure an academic position teaching creative writing and literature.

Pradhumna Shrestha, of Kathmandu, Nepal, a Ph.D. student in engineering at UNL. One of Shrestha’s major projects is the design of a wireless sensor system that will allow real-time monitoring and control of railroad operations – an innovation that could revolutionize the freight industry by increasing safety and security and reducing operating costs. Another of Shrestha’s projects focuses on improving the security of computer networks. He’s also interested in studying the threat that natural disasters pose to wireless communications infrastructure. His academic achievements and publishing record demonstrate strong success so far, but to Shrestha, the most important measure of success is the impact his research will have on society, particularly in developing areas.

Aaryn Mustoe, of Milwaukee, Wis., a Ph.D. student in psychology at UNO. Mustoe’s research interests include the biological underpinnings of social and parental behavior; hormonal, social and cognitive contexts for cooperative behavior and altruism; hormonal, social and cognitive regulation of stress, reproduction and development; and early-life experiences’ influence on later-life outcomes. He is a published author and has several other manuscripts in preparation, and has given talks and presented posters at a number of conferences. He currently works at UNO’s Callitrichid Research Center and the Endocrine Bioservices Laboratory and teaches a Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences course. He serves on the Scientific Program Committee for the American Society of Primatologists.

Zachary Jacobs, of Bennington, Neb., a master’s student in English at UNO. Jacobs earned his bachelor’s degree in English and history from UNO and in addition to his master’s degree is pursuing an advanced writing certificate from UNO. He has published several poems and essays and last year was the runner-up for UNO’s inaugural John J. McKenna Graduate Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction. Jacobs is a graduate teaching assistant in UNO’s Department of English and a teaching assistant for the Fine Lines Creative Writing Summer Camp in Omaha. His teaching interests include creative nonfiction; disability, mental illness and addiction narratives; graphic literature; and media studies.

Tao Li, of Tianjin, China, a Ph.D. student in health services research and administration at UNMC. Li’s dissertation focuses on hospital cost shifting because of payment shortfalls by public programs. With previous grants, he has researched hospital cost shifting in Nebraska; racial/ethnic disparities in the return on investment in breast and cervical cancer screening services among low-income women; and implications of health care reform in the U.S. based on Taiwan’s internationally recognized national health insurance system. He has been published in scholarly journals and presented at national conferences. Li has volunteered at a clinic in Weeping Water, and is a student representative on the Graduate Committee of UNMC’s Department of Health Services Research and Administration.

Richard Nelson, of Sturgis, S.D., a Ph.D. student in genetics and immunology at UNMC. Last year Nelson won the Excellent Graduate Student Award from the UNMC Department of Genetics, Cell Biology & Anatomy. He is a student lecturer for a Biology of Human Disease course offered jointly through UNMC and UNO and has served as a teacher’s aide and personal tutor in other courses at UNMC and Nebraska Wesleyan University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. Nelson also has presented widely at conferences around the country. His research objective is to clarify the role that estrogen receptor-alpha signaling pathways in CD-4+ T-cells play in promoting the onset and maintenance of systemic lupus erythematosus.

Media Contact:
Melissa Lee
Director of Communications,
University of Nebraska