Three doctoral students earn NU system fellowships

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Three doctoral students earn NU system fellowships

Dwi Riyanti (left), Kaitlin Phillips and Burdette Barker.
Courtesy Photos
Dwi Riyanti (left), Kaitlin Phillips and Burdette Barker.

Three University of Nebraska-Lincoln students were among seven students within the University of Nebraska system to be awarded 2016-17 presidential graduate fellowships.

NU system President Hank Bounds announced the recipients Aug. 16. The prestigious fellowships honor a select group of NU graduate students for high scholastic performance and personal accomplishment. Fellows receive a stipend provided through the University of Nebraska Foundation that allows them to pursue their studies full-time.

This year’s presidential graduate fellows are:

  • Dwi Riyanti, of Pontianak, Indonesia, a doctoral student in teaching, learning and teacher education. Growing up in West Borneo, Indonesia, Riyanti often put her family’s best interests first. At times this meant putting her education on hold in order to work, which gradually fostered the deep appreciation for education Riyanti has today. In 2013 her dream of improving her credentials as a university lecturer came true when she received a Fulbright scholarship for her doctoral studies. Before coming to the United States, Riyanti received a scholarship to pursue her master’s degree at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, previously having earned a bachelor of arts in English education from Tanjungpura University in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. At UNL, Riyanti explores the development of English as a foreign language teacher’s identity. She hopes to someday return to her home country and improve teacher education in Indonesia.

  • Burdette Barker, of Fruit Heights, Utah, a doctoral student in biological systems engineering. In his third-year pursuit of a doctorate, Barker’s current research is focused on improving spatial irrigation management with the intent of more optimal use of water. Barker is a collaborator on a multidisciplinary university research project, in which he’s investigating the impact of alternative conservation practices on soil moisture available for crop production. Barker was employed as a research assistant at Utah State University, where he received his undergraduate and master’s degrees, and focused on measuring crop water use. Today, Barker continues his classroom instruction as a teaching assistant and guest lecturer, where he presents on research including crop water requirements. Barker hopes to one day become a faculty member at a land grant university, where he will continue to identify critical challenges in irrigation management.

  • Kaitlin Phillips, of Keller, Texas, a doctoral student in communication studies. As a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Studies, Phillips deepens her understanding of family relationships through extensive familial studies research. Phillips attended Texas Christian University, where she received a bachelor's degree in communication in human relations and an master's degree in communication studies. Phillips has worked as a graduate teaching assistant since 2013, where her dissertation captures the nuances of family identity, and is designed to benefit scholars focusing on familial studies, as well as practitioners working with families. Her work focuses primarily on communication that both helps and hinders family relationships, with publications in top journals such as Communication Monographs, Journal of Family Communication, Western Journal of Communication and Southern Journal of Communication. This year, Phillips and her colleague were awarded the Federation Prize from the Central States Communication Association to fund research on racial and ethnic differences in family communication. Phillips’ goal is to help families through applicable and accessible familial research.

“Students who receive presidential graduate fellowships are among our very best and brightest. While still in school, they are already making important contributions to their fields that are benefiting the university and people in the state and beyond,” Bounds said. “We are fortunate to enjoy a level of private support that allows these talented students to fully devote themselves to their studies and research. I am certain we will see great things to come from this year’s fellows. I congratulate each of them and thank them for being outstanding ambassadors of the University of Nebraska.”

Recipients from other NU system institutions included Aastha Chandak and Carter Barger, doctoral students at the University of Nebraska Medical Center; and Jack Taylor and Sarah Carp, a doctoral student and graduate student, respectively, at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.