Congratulations to the graduate students and faculty honored with Graduate School Awards and participants of the Graduate Showcase of Scholarship and Creative Activities!

The awards and events highlight the important contributions that graduate students make to the JMU community.

Thank you to the faculty and students who support the Graduate Showcase and Awards as program planners, reviewers and members of the juries.

We are proud of the accomplishments of all our graduate students.


Graduate School Achievement Awards

Outstanding Dissertation Awards

Dr. Caroline Prendergast
Assessment and Measurement, Ph.D.
Learning Improvement at Scale: Improving Rhetorical Awareness in a First-Year Writing Program

Dr. Cassandra Sweet
Nursing Practice, D.N.P.
Sunsetting Excessive Chest X-rays in an Intensive Care Unit: A Quality Improvement Project

Outstanding Thesis Awards

Nuriyah Bender
Equity and Cultural Diversity, M.Ed.
Identifying Systems of Support in High Schools for Gender and Sexually Diverse Youth Living in Conservative Communities: A Phenomenological Qualitative Study

Morgan Ferretti
Psychological Sciences, M.A.
The Effects of Cannabidiol Isolate on Menstrual-Related Symptoms

Civic Engagement Award

Rae Perryman
Communication and Advocacy, M.A. 

Community Engagement Award

Daniela Rondon Canturias
Communication and Advocacy, M.A. 


Showcase of Graduate Student Scholarship
& Creative Activity Awards

Graduate student presenters were awarded top honors from a jury of faculty.

Top Oral Presentation Award

Megan Moore
Communication and Advocacy, M.A.
Conversations with the "Queens of Lez," "ChapStick Lesbians," and Fellow Femmes; A Qualitative Exploration of Queer Femmeness, Femme Sex, and Femme Relationships

Top Poster Presentation Award

Brandy Hollins
Communication Sciences and Disorders, Ph.D. 
Symptom Cluster Analysis in DizzyGuide, an Automated Decision-Support Triage System

Bela Starinchak
Biology, M.S.
Pastures as natural climate solutions: a socioecological study of tree carbon and beef production trade-offs 


Three-Minute Thesis Competition Awards

First Place

Raghav Jha
Communication Sciences and Disorders, Ph.D.
Effects of age on Amplitude-modulated cVEMP temporal modulation transfer function

Second Place

Clemence Mbabazi
Equity and Cultural Diversity, M.Ed.
Linguistically Responsive Practices of Science Secondary School Teachers in Rwanda:
A Qualitative Study

Third Place (Tie)

Xixellonje Nebihu
Equity and Cultural Diversity, M.Ed.
Living between Two Worlds: Learning about High School Immigrant Students’ Experiences in the United States: A Qualitative Study

Third Place (Tie)

Rysa Thomas
Biology, M.S.
Sex-and life-history-dependent variation in stress hormone receptor expression
in garter snakes

People's Choice

Rysa Thomas
Biology, M.S.
Sex-and life-history-dependent variation in stress hormone receptor expression in garter snakes


Graduate School AIM Grant Winners

The Graduate School offers AIM Developmental Grants to assist graduate students with gaining practical experiences or conducting scholarship in the student’s field of study. The AIM grant is designed to support graduate students from underrepresented backgrounds. 


Doruntina Maliqi
Communication and Advocacy, M.S.
Her work focuses on youth activism in her home country, Kosovo. The goals for Doruntina’s research project are multifold. She hopes to: 1) gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies of youth activism within Kosovo's digital landscape, with a focus on the challenges, risks, and strategies of online engagement; 2) investigate the potential of digital technologies to foster social justice and progressive social change, specifically within the context of youth activism in Kosovo.; 3) augment the existing body of literature on youth activism in the digital age; and 4) examine the influence of digital media on civic engagement and social movements.

Honorable Mention

Faith Frost
Communication Sciences and Disorders, Ph.D.
She studies the social communication skills of autistic individuals through a strengths-based and neurodiversity-affirming lens. She is currently studying how autistic adults interpret indirect requests, and hopes to expand her research to be used by teachers, employers, and others who are consistently in contact with adults who are autistic.

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