Skip Navigation

Graduate Student National Awards

Skip Side Navigation

OU Biology Graduate student publishes essay in Science Magazine 

The premier outlet for scientific research in the US, Science Magazine, is publishing an essay by Graduate student Montrai Spikes of the University of Oklahoma Biology Department. The essay is entitled “The pressure to assimilate” and will appear in the “Working Life” column of Science Magazine. (Vol 368 issue 6497).

Montrai is African American and his essay details his experiences as an underrepresented teaching assistant educating predominantly white students. Specifically, he discusses how society’s perception of professionalism is unjustly intertwined with the dominant culture. Given our current political climate, the essay is not only highly topical but merits consideration by all our community and beyond. Publishing in Science Magazine is an incredible accomplishment.

Montrai is a Ph. D. candidate in the Biology Department. He studies the evolution of mate choice in livebearing fishes. His research efforts recently sent him to Potsdam, Germany on a Fulbright fellowship. In addition to his research, he serves as co-chair of the Biology Department’s Diversity Inclusion and Equity committee, vice president to the Biology Graduate Student Association, and on the executive committee on the STEM Inclusion Council. 

You can review the article here


Picture of Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnston Receives National Academy of Education Fellowship

Jennifer Johnson was awarded the Dissertation Fellowship Program which seeks to encourage a new generation of scholars from a wide range of disciplines and professional fields to undertake research relevant to the improvement of education. These fellowships support individuals whose dissertations show potential for bringing fresh and constructive perspectives to the history, theory, analysis, or practice of formal or informal education anywhere in the world.

Jennifer Johnson is an enrolled citizen of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and is also of Sac & Fox descent. She is a Ph.D. student in the Educational Studies Program in the Educational Leadership & Policy Studies department at the University of Oklahoma. Her entire career has been in service to Tribal Nations and communities. Jennifer earned a B.A. in Elementary Education and a Masters of Education in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in Language and Literacy from Arizona State University. She was an elementary school teacher on reservations in Arizona and Florida. Jennifer later worked for her Tribal Nation as a part of a team that developed and implemented Maskoke language revitalization and documentation efforts. Her dissertation focus is on the History of Education within the Seminole Nation.

image of colton ross

Colton Ross Receives National Science Foundation Fellowship

Colton Ross is a graduate student in the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering working in the Biomechanics and Biomaterials Design Laboratory, and he just received a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship to pursue his Ph.D.

Colton’s undergraduate and thesis research work were focused on mechanically characterizing heart valve tissues. Moving into his Ph.D., Colton wants to take his previous work and translate it to the field of computational modeling, considering either multi-scale or design-based approaches. Through his dissertation work, Colton hopes to take steps towards an impact on the clinic, providing the tools for refining heart valve therapies.

“This fellowship was a surprise, and I am extremely thankful for the opportunity. I can’t wait to see what the next few years holds, and I really hope to make a push to establish the foundation for a bridge between the academic research and the clinical sectors,” Colton said. He added, “I’m also delighted to be able to grow more as a person and a researcher through a Ph.D., really preparing me for my dream career performing cutting-edge research in a national laboratory.” 



Image of Morgan Schneider

Morgan Schneider Receives National Science Foundation Fellowship

Morgan Schneider, a graduate student with the Advanced Radar Research Center and the School of Meteorology, received a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship to pursue her Ph.D. 

"I've always wanted to study supercell dynamics and tornadogenesis, so having this fellowship gives me the opportunity to study those things alongside my current research, which I also enjoy, without affecting my advisor's grant," Schneider said.  "I am so excited to start my dream career of studying tornadoes - this is something I've wanted to do since I was a small kid!"

Schneider's current research involves studying how debris affects tornado wind measurements. Her goal is to develop and test methods to develop more accurate measurements of tornado intensity.

"Combined with the future research I want to do, which is using radar to study how and why tornadoes form, I hope that my research can someday be used to improve tornado warning accuracy and ultimately save lives," Schneider said.