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Student Awards

We believe in our students and want to see them succeed.

We offer a number of award opportunities, for teaching and research alike, which encourage our students to Think and Do in even bigger and better ways.

Undergraduate Awards

  • Purpose: Recognize undergraduate plant biology student(s) for their outstanding scholarship
  • Award: $1500 Scholarship
  • Selection: The undergraduate committee reviews all current, continuing plant biology students each year that exhibit outstanding cumulative and major GPAs, as well as their participation in research and/or teaching. The committee then votes on the students.


2023 – Thomas Morgan
2021 – Helen Nocito2022 – Grace Herring
2019 – Logan Kallam2020 – Isaiah McBryde
2017 – Meredith E. Hemphill2018 – Benjamen O’Hallaron
2015 – Danielle Y. Young2016 – Blake A. Oakley
2013 – Meredith Wojcik2014 – Jake E. Haynes
2011 – David M. Higgins2012 – Leah M. Elsea
2009 – Emma C. Lookabaugh2010 – Rochelle D. Slrednak
2007 – Joslyn T. Curtis2008 – Laura L. Sims
2005 – N/A2006 – N/A
2003 – Emily E. Pulley2004 – Elizabeth M. Meyer
2001 – Sandra Marie Straw2002 – Jennifer M. Bradford
1999 – Rachel Earl Geary and Jennifer Noel Phelps2000 – Stephanie Lynn Gupton and Jennifer Rains Jones
1997 – Laura J. Flint1998 – N/A
1995 – Laura Jeanne Grignon1996 – Gregory Alan Hunter
1993 – Elizabeth Ann Chesnut1994 – Karyn Lois Dumas
1991 – Milo Pyne1992 – Jeffery Daniel Compton
  • Purpose: Provide support to undergraduate students who are interested in becoming involved in research with a PMB faculty member.
  • Deadline: Varies (often in April)
  • Application: For more information on the application process please visit here.
  • Requirements: Students must be a rising sophomore, junior or senior interested in conducting research with a PMB faculty member. Students must secure the consent of a department faculty member to sponsor them. Students can be in any department, in any of the colleges at NC State. Recipients are expected to present the outcomes of their work at the PMB symposium or similar venue before they graduate.
  • Award: The Chilton Undergraduate Research Foundation will furnish funds up to $1500. Funds are available to the awardee as a stipend. The award may not be used to purchase research supplies or equipment. The award may be made for any two consecutive semesters, including summer semester. Under special circumstances the award may be renewed for a second year; however, students must reapply each year. The award may be divided among more than one recipient.
  • Selection: The Undergraduate Committee reviews all of the applications and selects students to be interviewed in person to discuss their applications. The committee then votes on a recipient of the award, which is announced at the annual Departmental Spring Ice Cream Social and Award Ceremony.

Recent Recipients

Student RecipientPMB Faculty Sponsor
2023 – Namita DeshmukhDr. Manuel Kleiner
2022 – Abigail KorenekDr. Manuel Kleiner
2020 – Elizabeth IrvinDr. Mike Hyman
2019 – Aniko VerbruggeDr. Candace Haigler
2018 – Jessie MaierDr. Manuel Kleiner

Graduate Awards

The purpose of the Sebastian Award is to recognize outstanding plant biology graduate teaching assistants. Nominations are open to students who have taught multiple semesters (preferably multiple courses) and have excellent teaching evaluations. Awardees receive up to $500.

Recent Awardees

2023 – Kira Lindelof 2022 – Tallis Donnelly
2021 – David Felipe Rodriguez Mora2020 – Brian Sullivan
2019 – Katherine E. Culatta2018 – Nicole L. Lindor
2017 – Alexandria D. Szakacs2016 – Michael Just
2015 – Andrew L. Pais2014 – Stephanie N. Hollingsworth
2013 – Jared R. Locklear2012 – Alice A. Broadhead
2011 – Kelly M. Hines2010 – Rachel K. Clark
2009 – Elizabeth E. Rueschhoff2008 – Steven M. Bernacki
2007 – Caitlin E. Elam2005 – Kristen M. Rosenfeld
2004 – Larissa Knebel2003 – Chad V. Jordan
2002 – Jeffrey S. Coker2001 – Isaac S. Bruck
2000 – Susan K. Langley and Karen L. Staman1998 – Catherine M. Clark
1997 – Heymayet Ullah1996 – Mark Fletcher Austin
1994 – Mary E. Lehman1992 – Larry W. Diener
1991 – Lisa Ann Kelly1990 – Ademola L. Ejire
1989 – Deborah T. Everitt1988 – Teresa C. Mularoni and John N. Sacco
1987 – Tracie L. Bradshaw and D. Wilson Freshwater1986 – Leon Stacy Jernigan, Jr.
1985 – Stephen V. Byrne and George P. Johnson1984 – Deogratias E. Artis
1983 – Candace L. Black1982 – Mary E. Menetrez
1981 – Debby J. Lodge1980 – Donna S. Fabric and Francis D. Watson
1979 – Jane S. Mullen1978 – Mathew Brian Hargrove
1977 – E. Laverne Smith and W. Thomas Calhoun1976 – Thomas H. Jones
1975 – William M. Knott, III1974 – Henry V. Amerson
1973 – Michael J. Baranski1972 – Kyle E. Brown
1971 – Beth C. Mullen1970 – Martha Sue Sebastian
1969 – Stuart W. Akers1968 – Gay M. Jividen

The purpose of the Susan R. Vitello Award is to recognize plant biology graduate students who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in terms of service.

Recent Recipients

2023 – Melina Keighron
2022 – Aurora Toennisson
2021 – Imani Madison
2020 – Anna Dye
2019 – Nathan Wilson
2018 – Catherine Doyle
2017 – Nicole Lindor
  • Purpose: To award teaching excellence by M.S. or Ph.D. students in any CALS department
  • Deadline: Late February
  • Nominations: Chair, plant biology awards committee
  • Criteria: Teaching effectiveness, academic scholarship, dedication, professional development
  • Application: Letters from faculty, teaching portfolio
  • Awards: Up to three (3) awards of $1,000 each
  • Selection: CALS graduate studies committee

Former Plant Biology Recipients

2015 – Stephanie Hollingsworth2003 – Chad Jordan
2005 – Kristen Rosenfeld2002 – Jeffrey Coker

The Kenneth R. Keller Award rewards outstanding research by a Ph.D. student from any CALS department.

Plant Biology Recipients

  • 2022 – Imani Madison
  • 2020 – Charlie Wagner
  • 2019 – DurreShahwar Muhammad
  • 2004 – Matt Parrow
  • 2002 – Jill Stevenson
  • 2000 – Steve Nagar

Visit the CALS website to learn more about the Kenneth R. Keller Thesis Research Award.

The CALS Professional Development Workshop is a three-day, off-site workshop to enhance the professional development of Ph.D. students

  • Deadline: End of May
  • Nominations: Ad hoc committee composed of the Department Head, Director of Graduate Programs and Chair of the Plant Biology Awards Committee
  • Criteria: Nominees must be Ph.D. students who have been on campus for at least one (1) year (preferably two (2) years), with at least one (1) year remaining before completion of their degrees.

Plant Biology Recipients

2006 – Megan Rothenberger, Sang Yoon Lee2002 – Chad Jordan, Chuanzhu Fan
2005 – Robert Holmes, Elizabeth Rueschhoff2001 – Larissa Knebel, Matt Parrow
2004 – Alexander Krings, Amanda Davis2000 – Isaac Bruck, Ravisha Weerasinghe
2003 – Jeffrey Coker, Kristen Rosenfeld1999 – Kirsten Nielsen, Alexa McKerrow

The NC State Graduate Student Association works with graduate faculty and administrators to recognize outstanding graduate student teachers.

Visit the Graduate Student Association website for more information.

Plant Biology Nominees and Recipients

2006 – Emily Habinck, Wenheng Zhang2003 – Kristen Rosenfeld, Chuanzhu Fan
2005 – Chad Jordan, Kristen Rosenfeld, Kris Callis2002 – Chad Jordan, Larissa Knebe
2004 – Jeffrey Coker, Chad Jordan2001 – Issac Bruck, Jeffrey Coker
  • Purpose: Recognition for outstanding graduate student research benefiting North Carolina
  • Deadline: Varies (often in May)
  • Nominations: Through plant biology awards committee to college
  • Criteria: Research must have an impact on both the North Carolina economy and quality of life. Nominees must have received the degrees in the summer or fall of the previous year, or spring of the current year.
  • Awards: $1,000 for outstanding Ph.D. thesis, $500 for outstanding M.S. dissertation
  • Selection: NC State Graduate School selects from college nominees

Plant Biology Winners

  • 2008 – Dr. Megan Rothenberger (Ph.D.)
  • 2007 – Alexander Krings (Ph.D.), Wade Wall (M.S.)
  • 2005 – Jeffrey Coker (Ph.D.), Kristen Rosenfeld (M.S.)
  • Purpose: Enhance NC environment
  • Criteria:
    • Graduate student with high academic standing
    • Demonstrates leadership capability, intellectual aptitude, independent thinking, civic-mindedness. strong communications skills, personal integrity, motivation and high moral character
    • Be involved in research related to solving problems challenging North Carolina’s environmental health
    • Full-time student
    • Have at least one full year of study/research remaining at NC State University
    • Be willing to participate in screening and interview process
    • Have not previously been interviewed by the selection committee
    • Be a U.S. citizen (preferably) and could remain in North Carolina to teach or work
    • Be willing to be an environmental ambassador for North Carolina.
  • Award: $5,000 from NCCBF with $5,000 departmental matching

Plant Biology Recipients

  • 2005 – Caitlin Elam
  • 2001 – Larissa Knebel

Visit the NC Beautiful website for more information. 

  • Purpose: To recognize graduate students who excel as teachers in the agricultural disciplines in classroom instruction.
  • Deadline: Early March
  • Nominations: By individual NACTA fellows or via Plant Biology Awards Committee
  • Criteria: Teaching philosophy; support from a faculty member; evaluations by students, faculty, administrators, and peers; be a graduate student in good standing; minimum of 1-year teaching experience; member of NACTA
  • Award: Invitation to the national meeting and a recognition plaque

Plant Biology Recipients

  • 2003 – Jeffrey Coker
  • 1997 – Mary Lehman

Visit the North American Colleges and Teachers website for more information. 

  • Purpose: To recognize outstanding thesis and dissertation utilizing IT.
  • Deadline: End of September (for the previous academic year)
  • Nominations: Plant Biology Awards Committee submit a nominee to the Graduate School
  • Awards: $500 and a plaque
  • Selection by: The Graduate School sends NC State University nominee to CSGS who adjudicate

Plant Biology Recipients

  • 2005 – Kristen Rosenfeld

Visit the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools website for more information.

This area recognizes students awarded with other awards from outside our Department.

  • NCSU Kenan Institute for Technology, Engineering & Science Climate Leadership Program Fellowship: Kaleb Goff
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program: Katie Vollen

This area recognizes students awarded with other awards from outside our Department.


  • Kaleb Goff was recognized with an Honorable Mention for the 2022 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
  • Anna Dye received third place recognition at the North Carolina Graduate Research and Policy Expo for her work with the UK consulate under the auspices of a National Science Policy Network SciDEAL Internship.

This area recognizes students awarded with other awards from outside our Department.


  • Anna Yaschenko was recognized with an Honorable Mention Award in the 2021 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship competition
  • Melodi Charles won an award for her poster presentation at the NCSU MBTP (Biotech) Symposium

This area recognizes students awarded with other awards from outside our Department.

  • AgBioFEWS FellowshipSalvador Cruz MatusEli HornsteinDelecia UtleyJabeen Ahmad
  • Provost’s Doctoral FellowshipXavious AllenJon Kizer
  • American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) Minority Affairs Committee 2020 Recognition Travel Award: Imani Madison
  • PB GSA Travel Award: Catherine AimoneAnna DyeRika JuddDavid Rodriguez Mora
  • Plant Biology Graduate Programs Travel Award: Megan FranklinRika Judd, Nicole LindorEthan PierceDavid Rodriguez MoraVictoria Yell
  • Charles Stuber Travel Award: Yue Zhu


  • Traditional Talks: Catherine Aimone (1st), Melodi Charles (2nd) and Brian Sullivan (3rd)
  • Lightning Talks: Sam Flake (1st), Delecia Utley (2nd) and Megan Franklin (3rd)
  • NC State Graduate Research Symposium Spring 2020 Nominees: Sam FlakeImani MadisonAleah QuernsDavid Rodriguez Mora
  • Brian Sullivan was the Departmental nominee for the CALS Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award.
  • Catherine Aimone won the Best Oral Presentation Award in 2019 at the 9th International Geminivirus Symposium in Davis, CA.
  • Salvador Cruz Matus was selected as a finalist for the National Hispanic Scholarship Fund.
  • Emma Vtipil won 2nd place for best graduate student poster at the Southeastern Population Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics Conference. She also was awarded the Genetics & Genomics Scholars Fellowship.
  • Nathan Wilson and Eli Hornstein participated with Drs. Sederoff and Rojas-Pierce in hosting a Spanish-language bioinformatics and biotechnology workshop in Arequipa, Peru.
  • Victoria Yell and Megan Franklin used the Plant Biology Graduate Programs Travel Award to attend both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting and the AAAS CASE (Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering) workshop.
  • Yue Zhu used the Charles Stuber Travel Award to attend the 58th Annual Meeting of Phytochemical Society of North America (PSNA).

This area recognizes students awarded with other awards from outside our Department.

  • Greg Wilson received the Shinn Grant from the North Carolina Native Plant Society. The $1000 grant supported a component of Greg’s dissertation work, specifically studies on the pollination ecology and local adaptation of Echina-cea laevigata (Asteraceae) in woodland and open microhabitats at Picture Creek Diabase Barrens.
  • Eric Land received 1st place in the Life Sciences category at the 14th Annual NC State Graduate Student Research Symposium.
  • Bean Zhou was awarded the 2019 Shiu-Ying Hu Student/Post-Doctoral Exchange Award from The Arnold Arboreteum of Harvard University.