Doctoral Scholars Earn Distinguished Dissertation Awards

For their outstanding research and scholarship, Eleonora Dávalos of Public Policy and Britney Phippen of Biological Sciences are recipients of the 2018 Dean’s Distinguished Dissertation Award, presented by the UNC Charlotte Graduate School.

Dávalos’ dissertation focused on the effects of the strategies used to control illicit new coca crops in Colombia. Dávalos’ says her interest in social policy research is rooted in her fieldwork experience with vulnerable communities and local government officials in developing countries. She has been involved in the design and implementation of social development projects aiming to reduce poverty and promote social equity in several municipalities in Colombia.

“Our judges thought that your findings were surprising,” said Tom Reynolds, associate provost and dean of the Graduate School. The judges, he noted, “pointed out that your topic has been rarely studied and adds a great deal to the discipline.”

Phippen researches the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus. Often found in shellfish, it is described as the most fatal seafood borne pathogen in the world. The award judges called Phippen’s work “an impressive bit of multidisciplinary work,” and “a solid and important contribution,” Reynolds said.

Phippen’s research on the opportunistic human pathogen Vibrio vulnificus is focused on a bacterium that carries a 50% mortality rate and causes 95% of all seafood related deaths in the United States each year, primarily after consumption of raw or undercooked seafood. Her research is considering how the bacterium strains differ and also how they respond to conditions around them, including climate change.

Each scholar will be entered in a national dissertation competition at the Council of Graduate Schools. That competition includes a $2,000 honorarium.