Graduate Awards


Graduate Student Funding Support for Personal Computer/Laptop

The Department of Biology is pleased to implement a new funding initiative that provides a one-time only gift of $1,000 to Biology PhD students toward purchasing a computer/laptop. To be eligible to receive this funding, you must be a PhD student who is UTM affiliated and is supervised by a Biology faculty member.

Request for funding will be accepted after 6 months into your PhD program and up to 1 year prior to graduation. Requests will be accepted retroactive to the start of your PhD program.

Please submit your requests to Mihai Baetu ( with the following information:

Supervisor Name:
PhD start date:
PhD expected graduation:

Once approved, please submit an expense reimbursement claim with original receipt to Bob Liang, Financial Assistant.

Hottest Student Paper Award

The Hottest Student Paper Award is presented annually in the spring to a UTM Biology Graduate Student who published the “hottest” paper in the preceding calendar year. For example, this June we will announce the winner of the best graduate student paper published in 2014. The criteria for the award are as follows:

  1. The paper must be a peer-reviewed published article presenting original work (e.g., new data and results, equations/theories, resources or methods).
  2. The student must have taken a leading role in the published work either as first author or co-first author.
  3. The majority of the research in the paper must have been conducted while the student was in UTM Biology. Present and former students are both eligible to win the award so long as their paper was published in the preceding year.

The winner, plus two runner-ups, will be selected by a committee that represents the breadth of research interests in the department. The prize will be a cash-prize plus a name on a plaque that will be displayed beside the Hot Student Paper board.

Winner of the 2019 Hottest Student Paper Award

Runner Up: Jeneni Thiagavel (Auditory opportunity and visual constraint enabled the evolution of echolocation in bats)

Previous Winners



First Paper Award

The Department of Biology has created the “First Paper Award” to recognize a major accomplishment in a graduate student’s research career, the publication of a first-authored paper.  This award will be given to each student at the time they publish their first lead authored paper based on research completed as a graduate student at UTM in the Department of Biology. Students who previously published a first-authored paper prior to beginning their graduate work at UTM will still be eligible for the award. Students will receive a certificate in recognition of this achievement plus a $50 gift certificate from the department. These awards will also be publicized through the department’s news feed, social media and the Hot Student Paper series.
Students or the faculty with whom they’ve worked should provide Mihai Baetu with the information for their first paper upon successful acceptance of that paper for publication. The goal of the award is to recognize the achievements of our graduate students in accomplishing this important milestone in their scientific careers.


Date Name Supervisor Title
August 17, 2020 Sydney Wilkinson Bailey McMeans Highly branched isoprenoids: a novel tracer of diatom-based energy pathways in freshwater food webs
Aug 10, 2020 Lauren Jarvis Bailey McMeans Species-specific preferences drive the differential effects of lake factors on fish production
May 25, 2020 Yuen Yan Wong Adriano Senatore Early metazoan origin and multiple losses of a novel clade of RIM pre-synaptic calcium channel scaffolding protein homologues
Mar 23, 2020 Nawar Alwash Joel Levine Network analyses reveal structure in insect social groups
Feb 10, 2020 Kayla Bazzana Robert Reisz

Neurocranial anatomy of Seymouria from Richards Spur, Oklahoma

Feb 7, 2020 Alex Paquette

Steven Short &

George Espie

Dynamic changes in community composition of Scenedesmus-seeded artificial, engineered microalgal biofilms

Dec 6, 2019 Felipe Torres Vanegas Helene Wagner

The Landscape Genetic Signature of Pollination by Trapliners: Evidence From the Tropical Herb, Heliconia tortuosa

Nov 11, 2019 Christine Palermo Steven Short Metagenomic analysis of virus diversity and relative abundance in a eutrophic freshwater harbour
Nov 4, 2019 Christopher Wong Ingo Ensminger Carotenoid based vegetation indices for accurate monitoring of the phenology of photosynthesis at the leaf-scale in deciduous and evergreen trees
Oct 30, 2019 Matthew Bergman Michael Phillips

Distinct metabolic pathways drive monoterpenoid biosynthesis in a natural population of Pelargonium graveolens (rose scented geranium)

Oct 28, 2019 Jerry Gu Derek Ng

Rethinking enzyme kinetics: Designing and developing a biomolecular interactive tutorial (BIOMINT) learning tool for undergraduate students

Oct 15, 2019 Vishal Sangha Angela Lange & Ian Orchard

Physiological effects of biostable kinin and CAPA analogs in the Chagas disease vector, Rhodnius prolixus

Oct 7, 2019 Wassim Elkhatib Adriano Senatore

A Na+ leak channel cloned from Trichoplax adhaerens extends extracellular pH and Ca2+ sensing for the DEG/ENaC family close to the base of Metazoa

Sep 17, 2019 Gordana Scepanovic Bryan Stewart

Analysis of Drosophila nervous system development following an early, brief exposure to ethanol

Sep 16, 2019 Tim Fernandes Bailey McMeans

Coping with the cold: energy storage strategies for surviving winter in freshwater fish

August 15, 2019 Ahmed Hassan Rob Ness Consequences of recombination for the evolution of the mating type locus in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
June 4, 2019 Arjan Banerjee Sasa Stefanovic

Caught in action: fine-scale plastome evolution in the parasitic plants of Cuscuta sect. Ceratophorae (Convolvulaceae)

May 17, 2019 Sara Hegazi Joel Levine & Mary Cheng A Symphony of Signals: Intercellular and Intracellular Signaling Mechanisms Underlying Circadian Timekeeping in Mice and Flies
March 25, 2019 Arthur H. Cheng Mary Cheng SOX2-Dependent Transcription in Clock Neurons Promotes the Robustness of the Central Circadian Pacemaker
Feb 25, 2019 Sophie Breitbart H. Wagner & M. Johnson Visualizing a Disease Outbreak Using ESRI Story Maps
July 30, 2018 James Santangelo M. Johnson & R. Ness Modern spandrels: the roles of genetic drift, gene flow and natural selection in the evolution of parallel clines
July 17, 2018 Ruth Rivkin M. Johnson The effects of plant sexual system and latitude on resistance to herbivores
April 10, 2018 Sarah French S. McCauley Canopy cover affects habitat selection by adult dragonflies
July 18, 2017 Jigar Trivedi L.M. Kohn Fungus causing white-nose syndrome in bats accumulates genetic variability in North America with no sign of recombination
Apr 19, 2017 Lucia Mendoz-Viveros M. Cheng miR-132/212 modulates seasonal adaptation and dendritic morphology of the central circadian clock
Apr 3, 2017 Sam Hana A. Lange Octopamine and tyramine regulate the activity of reproductive visceral muscles in the adult female blood-feeding bug, Rhodnius prolixus
Mar 9, 2017 Hussain Al-Alkawi A. Lange & I. Orchard Cloning, localization, and physiological effects of sulfakinin in the kissing bug, Rhodnius prolixus
Mar 2, 2017 Yara Haridy R. Reisz Ontogenetic change in the temporal region of the early permian parareptile Delorhynchus cifellii and the implications for closure of the temporal fenestra in amniotes
Feb 23, 2017 Hussain Al-Alkawi A. Lange Cloning, localization, and physiological effects of sulfakinin in the kissing bug, Rhodnius prolixus
Feb 9, 2017 Dachin Frances S. McCauley Effects of environmental warming during early life-history on libellulid odonates
Jan 30, 2017 Jacob Jezovit J. Levine Phylogeny, environment and sexual communication across the Drosophila genus
Jan 20, 2017 Maryam Moazami-Goudarzi G. Espie The structure, kinetics and interactions of the β-carboxysomal β-carbonic anhydrase, CcaA
Oct 31, 2016 Laura Junker I. Ensminger Relationship between leaf optical properties, chlorophyll fluorescence and pigment changes in senescing Acer saccharum leaves
Aug 15, 2016 Zina Hamoudi I. Orchard and A.B. Lange Identification and Characterization of the Corazonin Receptor and Possible Physiological Roles of the Corazonin-Signaling Pathway in Rhodnius prolixus
Aug 3, 2016 Christine Nguyen B. Stewart Influence of postsynaptic structure on missing quanta at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction
Jun 20, 2016 Mireille Golemiec J. Levine Layered social nework analysis reveals complex relationships in kindergarteners
Apr 8, 2016 Krystal Nunes P. Kotanen Variation in herbivory along a latitudinal gradient for native and exotic Asteraceae
Apr 5, 2016 Ken Thompson M. Johnson Antiherbivore defenses alter natural selection on plant reproductive traits
Apr 5, 2016 Colin Cassin P. Kotanen Invasive earthworms as seed predators of temperate forest species
Apr 3, 2016 Andrew Long S. Short Seasonal determinations of algal virus decay rates reveal overwintering in a temperate freshwater pond




Arabinda Guha Graduate Research Scholarship


To be awarded upon the recommendation of the Biology Department to the outstanding M.Sc. candidate entering the graduate program in either Botany, Zoology, Microbiology or Biochemistry, whose research activities are located on the UTM Campus.

  • 2019-2020 -  Tea Maho (Reisz Lab) & Anhadvir Singh (Senatore Lab)
  • 2018-2019 - Sigi Maho (Reisz Lab)
  • 2017-2018 – Priscilla Valentino (Erclik Lab)
  • 2016-2017 – Wassim Elkhaitb (Senatore Lab)