Graduate School Awards 2015: Distinguished Alumnus, Faculty, and Staff Awards

Author: Mary Hendriksen

During Commencement season 2015, the Graduate School bestowed four prestigious awards.

This year’s winners:

christopher_roberts Christopher Roberts receiving the award from Dr. Laura Carlson, Dean of the Graduate School.

Distinguished Alumnus: Christopher Roberts, Chemical Engineering, 1994

A noted researcher whose focus is nanotechnology and synthetic fuels, Dr. Roberts was advised by Professor Joan Brennecke while at Notre Dame. He was the Shaheen winner in Engineering the year of his graduation.

Dr. Roberts has made extraordinary contributions to Auburn University and its students as professor, then department chair, and now dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. In particular, as dean, he has led the college to record graduate and undergraduate enrollments and has spearheaded expansion of the college’s research programs—many of which address the vital issue of economic development in the state, region, and nation.

michael_detlefsen Michael Detlefsen (third from left) joined by family members.

James A. Burns, CSC Award: Michael Detlefsen, Philosophy

Among the international elite of scholars of the philosophy and history of mathematics and logic, Prof. Michael Detlefsen was honored as a teacher with a remarkable pedagogical legacy. Scores of graduate students have been influenced by his passion and dedication as an instructor, advisor, advocate, and director of graduate studies.

Prof. Detlefsen was honored in particular for his leadership role in establishing the University’s unique Ph.D. program joining the study of math and philosophy. Internationally, as Distinguished Guest Professor at the University of Paris-Diderot, he teaches and influences students from around the world.

steven_corcelli Steven Corcelli and his wife Christine Corcelli.

Director of Graduate Studies Award: Steven Corcelli, Chemistry and Biochemistry

In addition to his superb management of the day-to-day activities of his graduate program, Dr. Corcelli has also been instrumental in two important departmental initiatives:

  • Fostering a grant-writing climate within the graduate students in the department, as evidenced by an increasing number of external, full-stipend fellowships applied for and awarded;
  • Increasing diversity among doctoral students and promoting careers in the academy for these students through a Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need grant.

Dr. Corcelli has also served as a leader in graduate education at the national level — assuming positions of ever-increasing responsibility in the American Chemical Society’s Graduate Education Advisory Board. Now chair of the advisory board, he is working to develop policies and best-practice guidelines for distribution to programs across the nation.

img_2133 Cheron Price (center), David Clairmont (left), and Joseph Wawyrkow (right) of the Department of Theology, and Dr. Laura Carlson.

Graduate Administrative Staff Member Award: Cheron Price, Master of Theological Studies and Ph.D. in Theology Programs

As the administrative assistant for both the Master of Theological Studies and doctoral programs within the Department of Theology, Ms. Price was honored for her “indispensable role in the annual cycle of applications, budgeting, examination scheduling, assessment, and dissertation reviews and defenses”—a role, her nominators said, she performs “with a remarkable level of efficiency and dedication.” She is also instrumental in broader department efforts that intersect with the graduate programs, and played a crucial role in navigating the accreditation process last year for the Association of Theological Schools.

Ms. Price’s directors of graduate studies also praised her “human touch”—for example, always finding time to listen to graduate students, to inquire about how their studies are progressing, and to encourage them as they navigate the challenges of balancing commitments to work and family.