Graduate School Announces the 2014 Shaheen Award Winners

Author: Mary Hendriksen

The Graduate School at the University of Notre Dame is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Graduate School Awards.

The highest honor bestowed on Notre Dame graduate students, the Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Awards were established in 1990 and are named for two long-time benefactors of the University. They recognize excellence as a graduate student in any one or a number of areas: grades, research and publications, fellowships or other awards, teaching, mentoring, and postgraduate positions offered or accepted. One Shaheen award winner is selected in each of the four divisions of the Graduate School — Engineering, the Humanities, Science, and the Social Sciences.

The 2014 Shaheen Award recipients are:

  • Engineering: Anne Elizabeth Martin, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
  • Humanities: Albertus Horsting, Theology
  • Science: Akaa Daniel Ayangeakka, Physics
  • Social Sciences: Justin Farrell, Sociology


Anne Martin, 2014 Shaheen Award Winner in Engineering
Anne Martin, 2014 Shaheen Award Winner in Engineering

Anne Elizabeth Martin, Ph.D. awarded May 2014
Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Dissertation: Predictive Modeling of Healthy and Amputee Walking Using a Simple Planar Model

Director: Dr. James Schmiedeler

Anne’s research bridges robotics and biomechanics as she works to develop better models of amputee walking that could lead to improved prosthetic devices. Her modeling and optimization framework accurately predicts step length, joint angle trajectories, and the mechanical energy required for normal human walking across a wide range of speeds — taking into account the subjects’ height, weight, and desired speed. This individualized, predictive approach lays the foundation for systematic design and alignment of prosthetic components.

Anne has had three articles published or accepted for publication in two top-tier journals: The Journal of Biomechanics and The International Journal of Robotics Research.

Next year, she will be a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Texas at Dallas, continuing her work on improving leg prostheses under the direction of Dr. Robert Gregg.


Albertus Horsting, 2014 Shaheen Award Winner in the Humanities
Albertus Horsting, 2014 Shaheen Award Winner in the Humanities

Albertus Horsting, Ph.D. Awarded August 2013

Dissertation: Prosper of Aquitane’s Poetical Synthesis of Augustinian Theology: A New Edition of the Liber Epigrammatum

Directors: Dr. John Cavadini and Dr. Hildegund Müller

Combining the talents and skills of a classicist and a theologian, Albertus made original discoveries about an important fifth-century work by Prosper of Aquitane, a contemporary of St. Augustine who became one of his greatest promoters and defenders.

Albertus won several prestigious grants to support his research and the completion of his dissertation — most notably, the famed “Rome Prize” from the American Academy in Rome. The Academy also awarded him a second fellowship in Pisa. In a mark of international recognition of his scholarship, the critical edition Albertus prepared has been accepted into the preeminent series for the publication of patristic texts: Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum.

Currently, Albertus is a college fellow in late and medieval Latin in the Department of Classics at Harvard University.


Akaa Daniel Ayangeakaa, 2014 Shaheen Award Winner in Science
Akaa Daniel Ayangeakaa, 2014 Shaheen Award Winner in Science

Akaa Daniel Ayangeakaa, Ph.D. awarded August 2013

Dissertation: Exotic Modes of Collective Excitations: Nuclear Tidal Waves and Chirality

Director: Dr. Umesh Garg

Daniel has performed research that is fundamental to our understanding of the structure and nature of atomic nuclei. He undertook a series of experiments to study what physicists call the “exotic properties” of weakly deformed and triaxially deformed nuclei — producing two very important results, with far-reaching implications.

Daniel’s research has resulted in two first-author publications in one year in the journal Physical Review Letters, the most sought-after and selective journal in physics. He was invited to present at the prestigious Gordon Research Conference, held biennially at Colby-Sawyer College, New Hampshire. Additionally, he won an outstanding graduate student teaching award in 2010 for his teaching of undergraduate physics courses.

Now a postdoctoral fellow at Argonne National Laboratory, Daniel continues his work on high spin phenomena in normal and super-deformed nuclei.


Justin Farrell, 2014 Shaheen Award Winner in the Social Sciences
Justin Farrell, 2014 Shaheen Award Winner in the Social Sciences

Justin Farrell, Ph.D. awarded August 2013

Dissertation: The Battle for Yellowstone: Morality and the Sacred Roots of Modern Environmental Conflict

Directors: Dr. Omar Lizardo and Dr. Christian Smith

Justin explores how human values, morality, and religion impact our responses to environmental problems, including the BP oil spill of 2010 and the environmental policy conflict in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He blends traditional qualitative field-work with new methods in computational social science and “big data” to demonstrate how morality and spirituality exert a significant influence on conflicts that may appear to be about rational, economic, secular, and scientific questions.

Justin has published in top sociology journals, including Social Problems and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. His dissertation will be published as a forthcoming book with Princeton University Press. In 2012, he won an Environmental Protection Agency three-year STAR fellowship.

Next year, Justin will join the faculty of Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as a tenure-track professor.