Graduate Studies at Texas A&M University Awards Spring 2012 Dissertation Fellowships

Texas A&M University’s Office of Graduate Studies recently awarded 6 dissertation fellowships as part of their Dissertation Fellowship Program.  Developed in fall 2011 by Associate Provost for Graduate Studies Dr. Karen Butler-Purry, the Dissertation Fellowship Program supports doctoral students in the late stages of degree program completion; namely final research topic analysis and dissertation writing.   Eligible applicants included U.S. citizens, permanent residents and international doctoral students.  Twenty one students currently utilize the dissertation fellowship.

The following students (listed with their associated departments) received Spring 2012 dissertation fellowships:

  • Casie Cobos, English
  • Brittany Jones, Veterinary Pathobiology
  • Jieli Yu, Educational Administration and Human Resource Development
  • Mehmet Ayar, Teaching, Learning and Culture
  • Timothy Mann, Computer Science and Engineering
  • Jennifer Mueller, Sociology

Below find several examples of the awarded students’ work.

Casie Cobos focuses her research on cultural rhetoric, writing and literacy.  She impacts our community through participating in the National Book Foundation’s BookUpTexas program.  BookUpTexas partners with the Boys and Girls Club of Brazos Valley to motivate middle school kids to pursue books and become lifelong readers.  Casie parlayed her understanding of literature, creative writing and embodied rhetoric into meaningful connections with fifth graders.   She helped expand the children’s literacy and knowledge base through personally relatable books.  Poised for breakthroughs in the fields of Rhetoric/Composition and Indigenous and Latina/o Studies, Casie positions Chicana/o rhetoric as originating from the Americas instead of only a Greco-Roman ancestry.  Her specific contribution to these fields is the methodology of “embodied storying.”  While this methodology started in Chicana/o rhetoric, it also speaks back to the field(s) of Rhetoric and Composition at large.  Embodied storying produces a pedagogical framework for drawing student knowledge bases into the composition classroom while also promoting interaction and cultural practices that inform writing and critical thinking.

Timothy Mann’s research strives to understand how a computer program can efficiently learn to solve new tasks, instead of relying on explicitly programmed solutions for each task that we desire it solves.   Here a task embodies a series of decisions, such as a robot vacuum deciding which room to clean next or an intelligent car deciding to stop at a traffic light.  Timothy connects with the community through multiple presentations of his research results at local poster sessions. There he forges mentoring relationships with other graduate and undergraduate students.  In the past four years, he served as a graduate mentor to three undergraduate students participating in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program here at Texas A&M University.  He also shared at poster sessions for the Department of Computer Science & Engineering and the Texas Brain and Spine Institute.

Brittany Jones’ research focuses on river buffalo (Bubalus bubalis).  Approximately 160 million river buffalo (BBU) exist globally.  River buffalo possess several key characteristics which make the species superior to cattle and thus greatly important to a large global population:  a higher percentage of total milk solids (protein, fat, minerals), meat of lower saturated fat than beef/pork, more efficient use of less digestible feeds (rice straw, maize stovers, sugar cane wastes etc) and greater tolerance for wet environments. Brittany’s dissertation aims to characterize and elucidate the genetic and evolutionary profile of toll-like receptor 5 in river buffalo.   This will enable breeders and producers to create healthier populations of river buffalo.  After graduation, she will continue studying genes important to the immune system.  Brittany hopes to pursue an international career emphasizing post-conflict and poor world areas.  Genetics of immunology is key to creating a healthier and more robust population.  Brittany’s studies can potentially impact the poorest and most vulnerable global populations.

Dr. Karen Butler-Purry will continue supporting graduate students from the time they enter Texas A&M University and throughout their entire graduate experience.

To learn more about this fellowship program or other university graduate studies fellowships, please contact us at

Spring 2012 New Graduate Student Orientation Powerpoint Presentations

Students who could not attend the Spring 2012 New Graduate Student Orientation are welcome to visit this link  /incoming-students/new-student-orientation/online-orientation-materials/ to view information presented at orientation on January 13, 2012.  The Office of Graduate Studies is happy to answer your questions. 

The Office of Graduate Studies welcomes you to the Aggie Graduate Student Family. 

Please contact Megan Palsa  or call 979-845-8240 if you have questions or comments about orientation or if you have a request for more information.