UAMS Graduate School Recognizes Students, Faculty, Staff at Spring Awards Reception

By Linda Haymes

“Today kicks off my favorite season of the year, the commencement season,” Robert McGehee, Ph.D., dean of the UAMS Graduate School, told the crowd gathered in the Biomedical II atrium. “And a lot of things will happen between now and commencement on May 21,” he added. “Let the season begin, and let’s finish the semester strong,”

Graduate students Joel Vazquez, Katerine Bronson and Jewel Banick

Graduate students Joel Vazquez, Katherine Bronson and Jewel Banick

Twenty-three students received achievement awards. They include Lauren Clai Morehead, who was recognized as a recipient of a 2022 Medical Student award by the Melanoma Research Foundation, and Lance Benson, who was presented the People’s Choice award for his 3 Minute Thesis Final at the UAMS Student Research Day.

Five students — Namarta Kapil, Emine Bircan, Alexa Escapita, Rabab Hamzah and Juchan Lim — were given COVID-19 appreciation awards for their efforts in assisting the state of Arkansas and UAMS during the pandemic.

Escapita, Lim and 10 other students — Dylan Gilbreath, Marcelle Dina-Zita, Mike Taylor, Sophia Tomlinson, Jessica Kelliher, Jewel Banik, Arina Eyimina, Katherine Bronson, Kelly Robbins and Taiwo Adesoba — all received achievement awards for serving as science fair judges for the 2022 Little Rock Central High School competition.

Antino Allen with Pilar G. Simmons

Antiño Allen with Pilar G. Simmons








Escapita and Kapil also were recognized their selections to attend the inaugural Career Con event sponsored by the Society of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science.

Kelliher, Benson and Matthew Thomas were honored for being semifinalists in the Graduate School 3MT Student Research Day.

Lim was recognized for receiving a travel award at the Endocrine Society’s Early Career Forum program at the Endocrine Society’s ENDO 2022 annual conference, and Eyimina was honored for receiving the UAMS College of Public Health Edward F. and Carol C. Stewart Scholarship for Academic Excellence in Public Health.

Heba Sedaka was recognized for receiving the Gamma XI Chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing Fall Service award, while Lashondra Newton was honored for receiving the Outstanding Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Research award from the Arkansas Nursing Research Conference.

Brian Koss with Robert McGehee, Ph.D.

Robert McGehee, Ph.D. with Brian Koss

Brian Koss, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the College of Medicine Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, received the Graduate Faculty Outstanding Achievement award for being the first Arkansan to receive the National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence award.

UAMS employee Sheena Joyner was presented the 2019-2021 UAMS Graduate School Administrative Appreciation award for her work with clinical nutrition, and Bradley C. Martin, Ph.D., a professor with the College of Pharmacy, received the Graduate Faculty of the Year award for 2021-2022 for his work with the Pharmaceutical Evaluation and Policy Program.

Sheena Joyner with Dr. Robert McGehee

Sheena Joyner with Robert McGehee, Ph.D.

The ceremony concluded with recognizing those who’d mentored graduate students with the Spring 2022 Mentor Awards

“No one does this for recognition,” McGehee said. “Instead, they do it because someone once mentored them and they want to pay it forward.”

Those honored with Spring 2022 Mentor Awards for mentoring graduates were:

  • Claudia Barone, DNP, Ed.D., for mentoring Mary J. Willard, Ph.D.
  • Wendy Nembhard, Ph.D., MPH, for mentoring Ruiqi Cen, Ph.D.
  • Joseph Su, Ph.D., for mentoring Shelbie Stahr, Ph.D.
  • Antiño Allen, Ph.D., for mentoring Pilar G. Simmons, Ph.D.
  • Karl Boehme, Ph.D., for mentoring Marcelle Dina-Zita, Ph.D.
  • Paul Prather, Ph.D., for mentoring Christian Von Emil Cabanlong, Ph.D.
  • Jacob Painter, Ph.D., for mentoring Mrinmayee Lakkad, Ph.D.
  • Bradley C. Martin, Ph.D., for mentoring Mahip Achrya, Ph.D.
  • Intawat Nookaew, Ph.D., for mentoring Taylor Wadley, Ph.D.
  • Mick Tilford, Ph.D., for mentoring Robert Schuldt, Ph.D.
  • Paul Drew, Ph.D., for mentoring Victoria Massey, Ph.D.
  • Angela Odle, Ph.D., for mentoring Ana Rita Silva Moreira, Ph.D.
  • David Ussery, Ph.D., for mentoring Kaleb Zion Abram, Ph.D.
  • Mitchell McGill, Ph.D., for mentoring Joel Vazquez, Ph.D.
  • Nukhet Aykin-Burns, Ph.D., for mentoring Francesca LoBianco, Ph.D.