We are excited to start the fall 2021 semester with a schedule of in-person classes and activities. We are hopeful we can maintain everyone’s health and minimize risk, and there is more good news.
This past May, our first class of bachelor’s degree graduates walked the stage and received their diplomas. We had 32 students graduate on time. Although graduations were modified to provide social distancing and safety — we celebrated with a “Grab and Go” celebration in the department. In 2021 we also broke the 200-student barrier in our graduate program. We have 205 graduate students enrolled, 167 doctoral and 38 master’s students. An 8% increase as compared to the fall of 2020.
Even as we struggled through the last year of unknowns, our students and faculty have been focused and have excelled in many areas. Three students from the department were recognized by the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowships Program. Suzanne Peterson and Jordan Brito were both awarded fellowships and Gregory Wong received an honorable mention.
Kartik Kumar Rajagopalan and Xiuzhu Zhu, graduate students in the department, were named winners of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering’s best poster award for spring 2021. Also, the Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees chose Nathaniel Lies ‘21, a recent graduate from the first cohort of undergrad students, as recipient of its Trustees’ Outstanding Student Award for 2021, and former Texas A&M University graduate student Courtney Kunselman ‘20 was named a Conference of Southern Graduate Schools’ 2021 outstanding master’s thesis award winner in the mathematics, physical sciences and engineering category.
We have a 100% success rate for NSF CAREER awards among our assistant professors before they are promoted. Dr. George M. Pharr was recognized by the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society with the 2021 William D. Nix Award. Dr. Svetlana Sukhishvili was chosen as the Former Student’s Distinguished Achievement in Research Awardee for 2021. Also, Dr. Emily Pentzer received a 2021 Rising Star Award from the American Chemical Society’s Women Chemists Committee. She received the honor for contributions to the field of polymer and materials science, for educating students and for service to the scientific community.
Though we are not back to a typical year yet, we approach this academic year with appreciation and compassion. It is a complicated time for everyone and we are working together for the health and well-being of our entire Aggie community.
Dr. Ibrahim Karaman
Chevron Professor I