Alireza Salmanzadeh and Katelin Shugart-Schmidt have been named the 2012 Graduate Man and Woman of the Year at Virginia Tech.

Each received a $500 award for their significant contributions to the Virginia Tech graduate community.

Graduate Man of the Year

Salmanzadeh from Tehran, Iran, is a doctoral student in engineering science and mechanics with an optional degree in biomedical engineering. Salmanzadeh’s research encompasses a range of topics from vortex dynamics to respiratory flows inside insects, to the development of a device that may one day help isolate cancer cells for early detection. He has more than 30 journal articles, conference papers, and presentations to his name.

In addition to his work as a graduate teaching assistant, Salmanzadeh has been active in the graduate student community. Highlights of his contributions include co-chairing the first Virginia Tech cancer research symposium, co-organizing the first interdisciplinary research day, co-chairing the university’s first interdisciplinary research symposium, and chairing the Graduate Student Association research symposium.

Salmanzadeh’s academic awards and honors include the Manual Stein Scholarship, a National Science Foundation Fellowship, best poster awards, and best essay award. He has been a Graduate Student Association board member, vice president of NanoVT, and served as the president and graduate advisor of the Iranian Society at Virginia Tech. In addition, he co-founded and was vice president of Iota Delta Rho, the first Interdisciplinary Research Honor Society in the United States.

After graduation, Salmanzadeh says he plans to continue his cancer research.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Iran University of Science and Technology and a master’s degree from Sharif University of Technology.

Graduate Woman of the Year

Shugart-Schmidt of Logan, Utah, is a master’s student in fish and wildlife conservation. Shugart-Schmidt’s research focuses on estimating the management uncertainty associated with United States fish stocks as part of an effort to better understand and manage our marine resources.  She has spoken at marine conservation conferences and co-authored published papers in the field. She received the Best Student Oral Presentation Award at the Hawaii Conservation Conference, where she was selected from a field of mostly doctoral students.

In addition to her scholarly pursuits, Shugart-Schmidt has been actively involved in a number of organizations and projects at Virginia Tech.  She has held several positions in the Graduate Honor System, now serving as its chief justice. She serves as president of Queer Grads and Allies, a graduate student organization that provides resources, support, events, and activities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students and allies, and additionally has been a Graduate Student Assembly delegate.

Her service activities also include cabinet membership in the Fisheries and Wildlife Graduate Student Association and contributions as a reviewer in the graduate research development program. Shugart-Schmidt previously served as communications and outreach co-chair of the university’s chapter of the American Fisheries Society. She is also a member of Alpha Epsilon Lambda, a graduate honor society that recognizes excellence in academics and leadership.

After graduation, Shugart-Schmidt says she hopes to work alongside legislators to help turn scientific discoveries into meaningful environmental policies.

She earned her bachelor’s degree with honors from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.



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