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Recipients of the Dawn & Lawrence Taylor Dissertation Fellowships Announced

Four doctoral students from the College of Arts and Sciences have been awarded Dawn & Lawrence Taylor Dissertation Fellowships. The Dawn and Lawrence Taylor Dissertation Awards Endowment was established to support outstanding PhD students during the dissertation writing phase. Dawn Taylor established this endowment to serve as a reminder of the many contributions by her late husband, Lawrence A. Taylor, professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and founder of the UT Planetary Geosciences Institute. His scientific discoveries helped develop a greater understanding of the universe and our planet. His love for teaching and sharing knowledge impacted generations of scholars.

The awardees for 2021 are:

  • Qing Huang—Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • Tyler Grambling—Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Shannon Bayliss—Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Kevin Smith—Department of Chemistry

In announcing these awards, Dixie Thompson, Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, stated, “These four incredible students exemplify the scholarly achievements that are possible when PhD candidates are provided opportunities and paired with strong mentors. The university is grateful to Dr. Dawn Taylor for establishing this endowment in order to reward and support outstanding doctoral students.”

2021 Awardees

Qing Huang
Qing Huang is a PhD student in physics. His dissertation research project focuses on the exotic quantum magnetism on geometrically frustrated magnets. Due to his hard work through the last several years, Huang has successfully finished studies on several targeted systems and published papers in peer-reviewed journals. He is an expert on materials synthesis including single crystal growth and is familiar with neutron scattering techniques including elastic and inelastic scattering measurements and related data analysis, and low temperature and high field measurements.
Tyler Grambling
Tyler Grambling is a PhD student in geology. The original idea for Grambling’s dissertation project was to integrate lab analysis with microstructures to characterize the geochemical record of fluid flux in faults. Since starting his project, he has found several significant new approaches to build on the original scope of the project and develop new ideas for his dissertation. After earning his degree, Grambling hopes to pursue an academic career where he can continue to pursue research, teaching, and mentoring.
Shannon Bayliss
Shannon Bayliss is a PhD student in ecology and evolutionary biology. Her dissertation is focused on understanding how genetic variation in plants mediates the atmosphere-plant-soil microbiome-soil nutrient linkage and feedback that will determine the future of ecosystems across the landscape. One of the large implications of this work is that major river drainage basins across the western US may become dysfunctional with climate change and put populations of people and agriculture that depend on water from those systems at greater risk. Bayliss’s work has the potential to make significant contributions in global change research.
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith is a PhD student in chemistry. Smith’s research involves measuring the infrared response of domain walls in ferroic materials. The challenge is that domain walls are quite narrow – irrespective of whether they are ferroelectric, ferromagnetic, or ferroelastic in natures. Near field infrared spectroscopy provides a way forward. One of the unifying factors of Smith’s work is the use of synchrotron radiation for unusual types of vibrational spectroscopies. Smith’s research studies have been published in a variety of scientific journals including Nature Communications and Physical Review B.