The Graduate College Announces the 2023-24 Outstanding Awards Recipients

December 6, 2023 | The Graduate College

The Graduate College has selected the recipients of the 2023–2024 Graduate College Outstanding Mentor Award and the Outstanding Master’s Thesis Awards


Dr. Randall Osborne, Professor in the Department of Psychology, is the recipient of The Graduate College Outstanding Mentor Award. This award recognizes a faculty member who has had extraordinary success in mentoring graduate students. Dr. Osborne’s colleagues and former students submitted very thoughtfully written letters that described in detail the tremendous positive impact of Dr. Osborne’s mentorship on his students’ careers.  


Sierra Bligh, who earned a Master of Arts with a Major in International Studies, is the recipient of the Graduate College’s Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award in the Social Sciences, Education, and Business. Her thesis, “Feminist Foreign Policy: Analyzing the Core Values and Identities of Feminist States”, was directed by Dr. Franziska Boehme Newell, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science.


Courtney C. Dillard, who earned a Master of Science with a Major in Exercise Science, is the recipient of the Graduate College’s Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award in the Life and Biological Sciences. Her thesis, “Slow Breathing Reduces Markers of Stress in Response to a Virtual-Reality Active Shooter Drill”, was directed by Dr. Matthew J. McAllister, Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance. 


Jess Hawthorne Fiene, who earned an MFA with a Major in Theatre and a Concentration in Directing, is the recipient of the 2023-2024 Graduate College’s Outstanding Non-traditional Thesis / Project Award. Her production of Bertholt Brecht’s adaptation of Antigone was supervised by Mr. Yong-Suk Yoo, Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance.

As the winners of these competitions, Dr. Osborne will receive $2,500 to be paid into his research account, while Sierra, Courtney, and Jess will each receive $500. All four will be recognized at The Graduate College’s award ceremony next April. The Graduate College has also entered them into the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools’ respective competitions.

Dean Andrea Golato acknowledged the following members of the graduate community: Dr. Boehme Newell, Dr. McAllister, and Mr. Yong-Suk Yoo for their exemplary mentorship and commitment to their students; and the faculty members, graduate students, and Graduate College deans who served on the award committees. 

“It was indeed inspiring to read about the excellent research and mentoring that is happening on our campus…and to the entire graduate faculty, I thank you all for your steadfast commitment to graduate education on our campus.”

The Graduate College is happy to present and promote graduate students' scholarly accomplishments, both past and present; faculty awards and honors, and national program rankings. The Graduate College accomplishments and awards page showcases all past and current recipients of The Graduate College’s various awards.