Notre Dame Graduate Students and Training Innovations Garner Recognition

Author: Trish Bredar

Monica Arul Jayachandran Mags 2019 259k jpgMonica Arul Jayachandran


Notre Dame Graduate School’s innovations in graduate training garnered strong recognition at this year’s 75th Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS), March 20-22 in St. Louis, Missouri. The meeting fostered discussions and workshops on the theme of “Changing Times: Challenges and Innovation in Graduate Education” with faculty and staff dedicated to graduate training from universities throughout the Midwest. Notre Dame’s Shaheen 3-Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition winner, Monica Arul Jayachandran, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, earned second place in the overall regional 3MT competition. In addition, Steven Lemke, MFA candidate in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, received an Honorable Mention for the MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award. Rob Coloney, Notre Dame’s director of Graduate Career Services, also described initiatives around career discernment and career pathways for our graduate students as part of a panel dedicated to the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) Ph.D. Career Pathways project.


The annual 3MT competition challenges graduate students to effectively communicate their research to an audience of specialists and non-specialists alike — all in three minutes or less. At the MAGS regional competition, 44 candidates from across the Midwest competed in a qualification round, after which the top two candidates from each round advanced to the final competition on the last day of the conference. Jayachandran represented Notre Dame as the winner of the local Notre Dame 3MT contest in early March, and earned the second-place regional prize of $500 at MAGS for her presentation, Occupant Comfort in High Rise Buildings. Through her research, Jayachandran hopes to establish international guidelines for acceptable amounts of building movement in high rises, with the end goal of preventing motion sickness in residential and commercial occupants of tall buildings.

Steven Lemke Mags 2019 Award 183k jpgSteven Lemke with Dr. Cheryl Hunter, Chair of the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) Excellence in Teaching Award Selection Committee.

At Thursday’s Awards Luncheon, Lemke, an MFA student in Notre Dame’s Department of Art, Art History, and Design, received a certificate of Honorable Mention for the MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award. This was the first time the University of Notre Dame has been recognized with this award, which recognizes graduate students who exemplify excellence in the teaching and learning mission of their university, and who seek to promote attention to teaching and mentoring as a component of graduate education and professionalization. Lemke was nominated by Dr. Laura Carlson, dean of the Graduate School, vice president and associate provost of the University, and professor of psychology. Dr. Kristi Rudenga, associate director for the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning, and Dr. Samantha Lee, program director for the Office of Grants and Fellowships in the Graduate School, where Steven is a fellowship consultant, supported the nomination.


Rob Coloney offered a Graduate Career Services perspective on Notre Dame’s data-driven approach to graduate career education, outcomes, and development in a presentation entitled "Making the Ph.D. Career Diversity Seen and Celebrated: Campus-based Efforts & Impact of the CGS Ph.D. Career Pathways Project.”  Coloney was joined by panelist from Michigan State University and Indiana University, as well as the Council of Graduate Schools.  At a plenary session later in the meeting, Dr. Leonard Cassuto, professor of English at Fordham University and author of both the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “The Graduate Adviser” column and the book The Grad School Mess, recognized Rob Coloney and the University of Notre Dame specifically for their efforts and innovations in graduate education.