Congratulations to Xun Li, one of the winners of the CLAS Dissertation Writing Fellowship

Thursday, February 27, 2020
xun li

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) has awarded 12 doctoral candidates with CLAS Dissertation Writing Fellowships.  One of these was for our graduate student, Xun Li.  Congratulations Xun!

CLAS Dissertation Writing Fellowships provide recipients with a fellowship of $13,750 to support work on the final stages of their dissertations.

The disciplines represented by the recipients for the 2020 award period span the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences, reflecting the diversity of graduate education in CLAS. The fellows' applications were evaluated by the CLAS Graduate Education Policy Committee, an elected faculty governance body chaired by Associate Dean for Graduate Education Christine Getz.

The Dissertation Writing Fellows, and the topics of their dissertations, are:

Jennifer Bjorklund, Chemistry—First-Principles Insights on Aluminum and Actinide Nanocluster Reactivity and Crystallization for Environmental Remediation

Laura Brown, Philosophy—Mediated Ideal Theory

Lin Sun, Communication Studies—Practicing “patriotism”: Cyber-nationalism in China

Lisa Covington, African American Studies—Digital Epistemologies: An Exploration of Suburban Girls of Color Understanding Education

Kenneth Heitritter, Physics & Astronomy—Cosmological and Quantum Gravitational Implications of the Diffeomorphism Field

Minsuk Oh, Health & Human Physiology—Associations of physical activity, fitness, sedentary behavior, and sleep with cardiac fat in middle-aged adults

Runqing Qi, Second Language Acquisition—A Model for Using Authentic Texts in Chinese Reading Instruction

Laurel Sanders, History—“Knowledge of Every Home”: Public Health Nursing in Native American Communities, 1924-1941

Caitlin Sapp, Communication Sciences and Disorders—Meaningful audibility counseling for parents of children with hearing loss

David Cooper, Biology—Functional and adaptive role of polyglutamine in S. cerevisiae GAL11

Jennifer Thines, Geoscience—Geochemical evolution of large-volume silicic magmas from the Afro-Arabian Large Igneous Province

Xun Li, Statistics and Actuarial Science—Bayesian modeling of environmental phenomena

Bjorklund expressed her gratitude for the award, and noted that it reflects the supportive graduate student experience at Iowa.

“Receiving the Dissertation Writing Fellowship from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a true privilege and honor as well as an amazing opportunity,” she said. “With this funding, I’m able to focus my time solely on my dissertation and completing my degree with much less stress and financial pressure. By recognizing the importance of my and the other Fellows’ research, CLAS, the Graduate College, and the University of Iowa are demonstrating their respect not just for my work, but for all UI graduate students. I'm very grateful to receive this fellowship—it motivates me, and even excites me, to write the longest and most important paper of my life!”

Christine Getz, CLAS Associate Dean for Graduate Education, said that the CLAS Dissertation Writing Fellowships not only benefit the fellows, but also play an important role in advancing the college’s graduate programs as a whole.

“The purpose of the program is to invest in promising doctoral candidates by providing them time to focus exclusively on writing their dissertations during their final year in the program,” Getz said. “In turn, that investment improves our degree completion rates and reduces the time it takes PhD students to earn their degrees, which are important metrics for evaluating the success of graduate programs and are central to our strategic goals. The range of scholarly expertise represented by the projects of this year’s awardees is very exciting, and I congratulate each of them.”

Graduate students in CLAS programs are enrolled in the Graduate College, which offers numerous opportunities for support and professional development.


The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 73 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.