2010 Graduate Student External Fellowship Awards

Author: Mary Hendriksen

Notre Dame Doctoral Students Win Over $1.5 Million in External Awards During the 2010 Awards Season

Gregory E. Sterling, Dean of the Graduate School, announced today that Notre Dame doctoral students were awarded external fellowships during the course of the 2010 awards season totaling over $1.5 million. Many other students received recognition as finalists for various prestigious national awards. Still others received internal fellowships to support their research, travel, or conference attendance.

In making his announcement, Dean Sterling said: “I congratulate our award winners and finalists. Their achievement should be celebrated by all of us at Notre Dame, for these students exemplify the standard of excellence in research by graduate students at our University. It is noteworthy that the recipients represent so many disciplines in each of our four divisions—engineering, humanities, science, and the social sciences. The research interests that received recognition from major funding entities are diverse, encompassing examinations of the mechanics of the human heart, municipal government in colonial Peru, public debate of the Iraq War, and theoretical high-energy particle physics.”

In noting the high number of external awards this year, Dean Sterling continued: “I am gratified that our expanded efforts to promote external fellowships and to assist students in applying for them has proved so successful. Our efforts in this area are critical to the Graduate School’s commitment to a holistic education—one in which the importance of the professional development of our students is recognized. Whether our students enter academia, the private sector, government, or non-governmental organizations, they will need to know how to write a successful fellowship or grant application. We want to promote this skill in the Graduate School and assist students and their advisers in every way possible.”

Major External Fellowships Awarded to Notre Dame Doctoral Students

Winners of major external fellowships (fellowships that provide at least one year of support in the form of stipends, tuition or research/travel) include:


Enrique Pais Blair (Electrical Engineering) received two prestigious awards—the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship. His research interest is in the field of quasi-quantum computing, an area that uses molecular quantum-dot cellular automata (QCA), a technology conceived at the University of Notre Dame. This is a novel paradigm for computing which does not rely on electric current and thus eliminates resistive heating in QCA chips. It also allows for molecular-scale computing, thus facilitating ultra-high-speed device switching and very high device densities.

Clara Seaman (Mechanical Engineering) received a three-year National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to study the effect of the aortic valve’s hemodynamic environment on valve calcification. By using a custom-designed flow loop to simulate the left heart environment, Seaman hopes to understand the mechanisms that cause the aortic valve to calcify. Her research could lead to the development of a drug therapy that would be less invasive than the current treatment for calcification—valve replacement surgery.

Pavithra Tiruppathi (Chemical Engineering) won a Space Scholar summer internship for Summer 2010 to work at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Mass. She is pursuing research on the effect of electrospray thruster plumes on satellite operations. The project involves using a computational approach in understanding thermal stabilities of ionic liquid clusters and developing force fields for chemical components in novel propellants.


Adam Asher Duker (History) received a three-year Harvey Fellowship from the Mustard Seed Foundation to pursue his dissertation research on the importance of the Old Testament for the identity of French Protestants and Catholics during the sixteenth-century Wars of Religion. Duker’s award will help fund the purchase of research materials as well as support travel to academic conferences and archives in France and Switzerland.

Hilary E. Fox (English) was awarded a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship , for work on her dissertation: Mind, Body, Soul, and Self in the Alfredian Translations. Fox’s dissertation examines the interplay of language and cognition, and the construction of identity, in the Old English translations of important Latin philosophical and theological texts.

Mary Hirschfeld (Theology) has been named a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellow for the 2010-2011 academic year. Administered by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the award will fund Hirschfeld for one year as she continues work on her dissertation, titled Virtuous Consumption in a Dynamic Economy: A Thomistic Engagement with Neoclassical Economics.

Kathleen Kole (History) received a four-year Jacob K. Javits Fellowship to continue her study of colonial Latin American history—specifically, how the town council of Lima, Peru, constructed its municipal law from 1535-1585 in response to the challenges of the capital city’s physical and social environment. With a thesis that incorporates research in Spanish, Quechua, and Latin, Kole will use the award to continue developing the language skills necessary for her project, as well as to delve further into her specific area of research.

Christopher Lane (History) has received a Bourse Marandon fellowship from the Société des Professeurs Français et Francophones d’Amérique, for research in France during the academic year 2010-2011. His dissertation focuses on the formation of youth in early modern France, especially regarding vocation and the choice of a state of life. During his stay in France, Lane will conduct research in a number of Parisian libraries and archives, including the Archives Nationales, the Bibliothèque Nationale, the Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne, and the Bibliothèque de la Société de l’Histoire du Protestantisme Français.

Sean Mannion (English) received a fellowship from the Josephine De Kármán Fellowship Trust. Mannion’s dissertation, titled Technologies of Modernism: A Comparative Approach, examines the effects of new urban technologies on English and Irish modernism.

Nathan Ristuccia (Medieval Studies) received a three-year Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship. Ristuccia’s dissertation focuses on religious education during the Early Middle Ages. He will visit a number of libraries with large medieval manuscript microfilm collections, such as the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library in Collegeville, Minn., and the Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library at Saint Louis University. Much of Ristuccia’s research will proceed at Notre Dame, one of the premier centers for manuscript research outside Europe.

Michael Westrate (History) was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship. Westrate’s primary specialization is modern Russian and Eurasian history, with secondary specializations in modern German history and world history. He will spend his Fulbright year completing research for his dissertation, which will focus on the lives and identities of the people of eastern Ukraine from 1964 to 2004.


James Clancy (Biology, GLOBES Fellow) has been awarded an Indiana Clinical and Translational Research Institute predoctoral fellowship for the 2010-2011 year to support his studies in translational cancer research—that is, how discoveries in the laboratory “translate” into patient treatment.

Alejandro de la Puente (Physics) studies theoretical high-energy particle physics. His one-year fellowship will take him to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, a national laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy, to pursue his work with the laboratory’s sophisticated detectors and professional staff.

Sean Hoban (Biological Sciences) received a Presidential Management Fellowship for his work in forest ecology and conservation; however, he declined that prestigious award in favor of a postdoctoral research position with the Laboratory of Alpine Ecology (LECA) at the Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France. After a year working in Grenoble, he will move on to a similar position at the University of Ferrara in Italy. In both posts abroad, Hoban will work with endangered species management—specifically, how to maintain small populations in landscapes that have been fragmented by humans.

Stephanie Lyons (Physics) was one of five students nationwide selected for the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship. Lyons, who studies nuclear astrophysics, will continue her research at Notre Dame but will also participate in research at one of the top governmental laboratories for a 12-week practicum, thus having the opportunity to collaborate with some of our nation’s top researchers.

Social Science

Douglas Ansel (Peace Studies and Political Science) received a three-year National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to fund his research into the impact of political power-sharing and electoral institutions on the stability of countries emerging from civil war.

Chris Morrissey (Sociology) received a three-year National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant to pursue his research interest in religion’s relation to war, peace, and politics. Morrissey’s award will fund travel for interviews of religious elites involved in the public debate before the Iraq War began in 2003.

Shannon Drysdale Walsh (Political Science) was awarded a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, for research on her thesis: Engendering State Institutions: State Response to Violence Against Women in Latin America. Walsh’s dissertation explains variation in the development and practices of the policy agencies, police units, and courts that address violence against women in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

Notre Dame Doctoral Students Who Attained “Finalist” Status for Prestigious National Awards:


Michael Kennedy, Mechanical Engineering, National Science Foundation
Patrick Murren, Civil Engineering, National Science Foundation
Andrew Paluch, Chemical Engineering, National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Award
Natalia Baeza, Philosophy, Fulbright
Melissa Dinsman, Ph.D. in Literature, Fulbright
Christopher Lane, History, Fulbright
John McCormack, History, Fulbright


Erin Hurley, Chemistry,Presidential Management Fellowship
Shawn O’Brien, Physics, Presidential Management Fellowship

Social Sciences

Jessica Brandwein, Peace Studies and Political Science, National Science Foundation
Laura Coursen, Psychology, National Science Foundation

Students Who Won Smaller* External Awards to Support their Research Include:

Robert L’Arrivee, Political Science
Jeffrey Bain-Conkin, History
Edward Bennett, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Lauren Beaupre, History
Myles Beaupre, History
Peter Bui, Computer Science and Engineering
Thidipat Chantem, Computer Science and Engineering
James Creech, English
Elise Crull, History and Philosophy of Science
Joshua Enszer, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Victoria Froude, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Yvonne Gaspar, History and Philosophy of Science
Nathan Gerth, History
David Komline, History
Michelle Kundmueller, Political Science
Graham Leach-Krouse, Philosophy
Marjorie Massel, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Anne McGinnes, History
Cynthia Nikolai, Computer Science and Engineering
Richard Oosterhoff, History and Philosophy of Science
Javier Osorio, Political Science
Charles Pence, History and Philosophy of Science
Eli Plopper, History
Laura Rominger Porter, History
Patrick Schoettmer, Political Science
Andrea Turpin, History
Hangyao Wang, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Jessica Weaver, History and Philosophy of Science
*Smaller external awards are those that provide less than one year of support in the form of stipends, tuition or research/travel