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Boise State University Distinguished Master’s Thesis Awards

Since 2008, the Graduate College has recognized the achievements of Boise State University graduate students with the Distinguished Thesis Award. The award is given based upon four criteria: originality, significance, quality, and outcomes from the thesis.

Award Recipients

Heather Wilber, Mathematics-MS, 2016. “Numerical Computing with Functions on the Sphere and Disk.” Committee: Grady Wright, Alex Townsend, and Jodi L. Mead.
Thesis Overview: Wilber’s thesis focuses on the development of methods, analyses and software tools needed to numerically  solve mathematical models that occur on spherical or polar geometries, such as disks or the surfaces of spheres. The complexities associated with spherical geometries make Wilber’s research topic relevant (and essential) to a broad academic audience – including cartographers, astrophysicists, and atmospheric scientists to name but a few.
Update: Wilber is currently enrolled in a PhD program in Applied Mathematics at Cornell University.

Adam Behrman, History-MA, 2016. “Selling Narratives of a Mexico in Crisis: Environmental Reporting in Excélsior and Uno más Uno, 1983-84.” Committee: Emily Wakild, Lisa Marie Brady, and Jennifer A. Stevens.
Thesis Overview: Behrman’s thesis provides a rich qualitative analysis of the environmental crisis in Mexico in the early 1980s, focusing specifically on journalists’ framing and coverage of the environmental crisis, assignment of blame, and the subsequent public dialogue regarding the environmental dilemma that Mexico was facing.
Update: Behrman is currently enrolled in the PhD program in Environmental History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Previous Award Recipients


Alicia Anderson, Health Science, Health Promotion-MS, 2016. “Short-term Outcome Evaluation of Healthy Habits, Healthy U: A School-based Cancer Prevention Program.” Committee: Tedd McDonald, Caile Spear and Mary Pritchard. Non-STEM Award.

Janna Rozar, Geology-MS, 2015. “Defining Antecedent Topography at Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Kane County, Utah: The Influence of Structural Controls on Dune Field Boundary Conditions and Holocene Landscape Evolution.” Committee: David Wilkins, Richard Ford, Nancy Glenn, and John Bradford. STEM Award.


Audrey Coon,  Kinesiology-MS, 2015. “Predicting College Women Rowers’ Motivation and Persistence: A Self-Determination Theory Approach.” Committee: Dr. Nicole D. Bolter, Dr. Shelly Lucas, Tyler G. Johnson, and Yong Gao. Non-STEM Award.

Nikole J. Kucza, Materials Science and Engineering-MS, 2015. “Magnetic-Induced Deformation in Off-Stoichiometric Ni2MnGa: The Competition Between Constraints and Magnetic Energies.” Committee: Dr. Peter Mullner, David C. Dunand, and William B. Knowlton. STEM Award.

2014 – 2015

Lyn Uratani, MA-English, Literature, 2014. “‘Not Everyone Was Asleep’: Anti-Colonial Personifications of Antiquity and Progress in José Rizal’s Touch Me Not and El Filibusterismo.” Committee:  Jacqueline O’Connor, Co-Chair, Gautam Basu Thakur, Co-Chair, and Shelton Woods. Non-STEM Award.

Alexanra (Allie) Anderson, MS-Raptor Biology, 2014. “Population Response to Climate Change: Wintering Strategy Has Carryover Effects on the Timing of Nest Initiation and Mate Choice in a Partial Migrant, the American Kestrel (Falco sparverius).” Committee:  Julie Heath, Chair;  James F. Smith, Stephen Novak, Karen Steenhof. STEM Award.

2013 – 2014

Annie Knowles, MA-English, Literature, 2013. “Encounters of the Arabian Kind: Cultural Exchange and Identity in the Tristans of Medieval France, England and Spain.” Committee: Linda Marie Zaerr, Chair, Edward Mac Test, Dalia Eltayeb.  Non-STEM Award.

Graham Frye, MS-Biology, 2012. Phytochemical Ecology of an Avian Herbivore, the Greater Sage-Grouse: Implications for Behavior, Physiology, and Conservation.” Committee: Jennifer S. Forbey, Chair, John W. Connelly, James R. Belthoff.  STEM Award.

2012 – 2013

Amy Colleen Ulappa, MS-Biology, 2011. “Nutritional and Chemical Factors Shaping Diet Selection for Two Sagebrush Specialists: Pygmy Rabbits and Sage-grouse.”  Committee: Jennifer Forbey, Chair,  Ian C. Robertson, Julie A. Heath, Owen M. McDougal.

2011 – 2012

Justin Welty, MS-Raptor Biology, 2010. “Costs and Benefits of Variable Nest Density in Burrowing Owls: Effects on Predation, Ectoparasites, Egg Yolk Hormones, and Productivity”  Committee:  James R. Belthoff, Chair; Alfred M. Dufty, Jr., Ian Robertson.

2010 – 2011

Polina Kokoulina, MS-Biology, 2010. “Caspase Activation in Neurodegenerative Diseases Classified as Taupathies and Alpha-Synucleinopathies: Caspase-Cleaved TAR DNA-Binding Protein-43 in Pick’s Disease, Parksinson’s Disease, and Dementia with Lewy Bodies.”  Committee: Troy Rohn, Chair, Julia Oxford, Juliette Tinker.

2009 – 2010

Joshua P. White, MS-Biology, 2009. “Seed Predation on Slickspot Peppergrass by the Owyhee Harvester Ant.” Committee: Ian C. Robertson, Chair, Peter Koestsier; Stephen Novak.

2008 – 2009

Melissa Keith, MA-English, Rhetoric & Composition, 2008. “The Effect of Writing Center Visits on the Writing Apprehension of Students in First-year Writing Courses.” Committee: Michael Mattison, Chair, Heidi Estrem, Devan Cook.

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