15 Doctoral Students Awarded Prestigious Fellowship
Cameron McIntirePh.D., Natural Resources & Earth Systems Science
My dissertation research addresses an emerging forest disease complex impacting eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L) in the northeastern US and Canada. Since ca. 2010 a suite of fungal pathogens, collectively termed White Pine Needle Damage (WPND), has caused severe defoliations of mature needles within infected stands. These defoliations have direct and indirect cascading effects on tree growth rates, hydraulic functioning, and foliar nutrient dynamics.
The purpose of my dissertation work is to quantify the impacts of this contemporary disease outbreak on tree health and to test silvicultural practices for mitigating WPND in the region, with the goal of developing management recommendations for foresters and private land owners in the region.
The DYF has allowed me to focus my time toward preparing my dissertation chapters for publication. During the fall 2017 semester I submitted three manuscripts to the academic journal Forest Ecology and Management, which will appear in a special issue on eastern white pine health issues in early 2018. Throughout the rest of my time at UNH I plan to submit all four chapters of my dissertation to peer-reviewed journals prior to graduation in spring 2018. I am currently considering post-doc opportunities in the fields of plant physiology and forest health.
Carla EvansPh.D., Department of Education
My dissertation focuses on the effects of an innovative K-12 assessment and accountability system pilot taking place currently in New Hampshire on student achievement outcomes. New Hampshire is uniquely positioned in the federal K-12 policy landscape because the New Hampshire Department of Education received a first-in-the-nation waiver from the federal statutory requirements that require state annual achievement testing in grades 3-8 and once in high school in English language arts and mathematics.
Instead, selected New Hampshire school districts base determinations of student proficiency on local and common assessment data and teacher judgment surveys. This approach is not only innovative but positions New Hampshire as a national leader in the redesign of state assessment and accountability systems.
Due to my DYF, I've been able to focus my time on analyzing the data from the state of New Hampshire on student achievement outcomes since the pilot began in the 2014-15 school year and writing up my findings. The DYF has taken the pressure off from having to teach courses or do research for professors in my department and instead provide space to analyze, think, and write.
Erika BarilPh.D., Department of Education
I am a Ph.D. Candidate in Education with nearly 20 years of experience as a speech-language pathologist in NH’s Part C early intervention (EI). Part C of The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), first passed in 1986, created a federal mandate for states to provide EI as an entitled service for children from birth to age three who are eligible based on delay, disability, or risk factors. Coaching the caregiver (e.g., parent) versus child-focused therapy is a recommended approach for serving children through age two with delays or disabilities per IDEA, Part C (IDEA, 2004).
My dissertation study is Perceptions of Caregiver Coaching and Factors That Influence Implementation: A Mixed Methods Case Study of New Hampshire’s Part C Early Intervention. The first phase of my study consists of web-based surveys completed by practitioners and families in NH’s Part C EI. The second phase involves focus groups with state and program administrators and practitioners, and interviews with parents in Part C EI. My research explores administrator, practitioner, and family perspectives about what is happening during EI home visits and why. The purpose of this research is to gain knowledge and an understanding of how practitioners involve parents during home visits and what factors influence this involvement. My goal is to expand the knowledge base and use this information to better serve children and families in Part C EI, in NH, and beyond.
Since I was awarded the Dissertation Year Fellowship back in February 2017, I have passed my Qualifying Exam, gained approval from my Dissertation Committee for my Dissertation Proposal, received IRB approval to conduct my research, have completed data collection for the first survey phase of my study, and have begun collecting data collection for the second focus group/interview phase of my study. All data from phase 2 is expected to be collected by the second week of January 2018. During this time, I have also written drafts of the introduction chapter, two literature review chapters, and methodology chapters for my dissertation. Additionally, I’ve begun analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from surveys.
Having the Dissertation Year Fellowship has allowed me to spend my days working on my dissertation. Without the DYF, I would never have been able to dedicate as much time/intensity to my dissertation as I’ve been doing this academic year. I feel so fortunate and honored to be a DYF recipient. It also has been very nice to get a stipend.—Compiled by Kristen Melamed