The Brown University Graduate School Commencement Ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 24, 2009, on Lincoln Field, with Dean Sheila Bonde presiding. Dhiraj Catoor, a doctoral candidate in engineering, will deliver the student address, titled “Scholarship Within and Beyond the Ivory Tower.” Several prestigious awards will also be presented.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Brown University Graduate School will hold its Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 24, 2009. Sheila Bonde, dean of the Graduate School, will preside over the ceremony, which begins at 10:30 a.m. on Lincoln Field. The Graduate School will confer approximately 550 advanced degrees — 300 doctorates and 250 master’s degrees.

Dhiraj Catoor, a doctoral candidate in engineering, will deliver an address titled “Scholarship Within and Beyond the Ivory Tower.” Catoor, born in Cochin in the state of Kerala, India, did his undergraduate work at the Indian Institute of Technology and graduated in 2002 with a bachelor of technology in metallurgical engineering. He earned his Master of Science degree at Brown and completed his doctoral studies in engineering, concentrating on materials science. His dissertation is titled Fracture in Single and Bicrystals of Zinc: Experiments and Computational Modeling.

Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Awards

During the ceremony, four doctoral candidates will be honored with the Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Award, an annual prize awarded by the Graduate School for superior achievement in research by students who are receiving their doctorates. The awards are given to students in each of the four main academic areas: the humanities, life sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences. The award carries a $2,500 honorarium. This year’s recipients are:

  • John Pannill Camp III, theatre, speech and dance: "Le Premier Cadre": Theatre Architecture and Objects of Knowledge in Eighteenth-Century France;
  • Lijie Zhang, biomedical engineering: Biologically Inspired Rosette Nanotube Nanocomposites for Bone Tissue Engineering, Orthopedic and Vascular Applications;
  • Chenjie Xu, chemistry: Modification of Superparamagnetic Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications;
  • Sarah Wald, American civilization: The Nature of Citizenship: Race, Citizenship, and Nature in Representations of Californian Agricultural Labor.

Horace Mann Medal

Joanne Leedom-Ackerman: 2009 Horace Mann Medalist
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman 2009 Horace Mann Medalist
The Horace Mann Medal, established in 2003 at the 100th anniversary of the Graduate School, is given annually to a Brown Graduate School alumnus or alumna who has made significant contributions in his or her field, inside or outside academia. This year the Horace Mann Medal will be awarded to Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, who received her master’s degree in creative writing at Brown in 1974.

Leedom-Ackerman is a novelist, short story writer, and journalist. Her works of fiction include The Dark Path to the River and No Marble Angels. She has also published fiction and essays in books and anthologies, including Short Stories of the Civil Rights Movement; Remembering Arthur Miller; Electric Grace; Snakes: An Anthology of Serpent Tales; Beyond Literacy; Women For All Seasons; Fiction and Poetry by Texas Women; The Bicentennial Collection of Texas Short Stories; and What You Can Do.

As a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor early in her career, Leedom-Ackerman won awards for her nonfiction and has published hundreds of articles in newspapers and magazines. She has taught writing at New York University, City University of New York, Occidental College, and the University of California–Los Angeles extension. She graduated cum laude from Principia College and received a second master’s from Johns Hopkins University.

Leedom-Ackerman is a vice president and former international secretary of International PEN as well as former chair of International PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee. She served as president of PEN Center in Los Angeles, and she currently serves on the boards of PEN American Center, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, Poets and Writers, the International Center for Journalists, Human Rights Watch, and the International Crisis Group. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Johns Hopkins University and a trustee emerita of Brown.

Wilson-De Blois Award

Pamela McNulty, administrative assistant/dossier service coordinator, will be presented with the Wilson-DeBlois Award, given annually by the Graduate Student Council to honor outstanding contributions to the Graduate School and its students. The award is named for the recipients of Brown’s first two doctorates in 1889. McNulty will be recognized for her helpful, efficient, and thoughtful assistance as graduate students prepare for a highly competitive job market.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching

Earlier this month, graduate student Jason Zysk, a doctoral candidate in English, was honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching. The annual prize, awarded by the Graduate School to recognize outstanding pedagogical achievement by a Brown University graduate student, carries a $2,500 honorarium.