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Graduate School Names 2009 Shaheen Award Winners

Author: Arts and Letters

Four doctoral candidates at the University of Notre Dame who are receiving the 2009 Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Graduate School Awards will be recognized at the school’s commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. May 16 (Saturday) in the Joyce Center.

Named in honor of a Notre Dame alumnus and his wife, the award recognizes the top graduating doctoral degree recipients in the humanities, social sciences, science and engineering. Nominated by their departments, the Shaheen Award winners are chosen for their superior ability as exhibited by grades, research, and publication records, fellowships and other awards received during the course of study at Notre Dame, as well as teaching ability.

The Shaheen Award recipients are:

Rachel B. Getman

Getman, in chemical and biomolecular engineering, has developed quantitative, atomistic-based models that relate the chemical composition of a material to its ability to catalyze, or accelerate, a chemical reaction. The work is a major step forward in the goal of designing chemical catalysts computationally.

She has received both local and national recognition for her work, winning three awards in just one year, including the Computational Molecular Science and Engineering Forum Graduate Student Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. She has published five peer-reviewed papers in top tier journals, including an invited Centennial Feature Article in the Journal of Physical Chemistry. In addition, she has served as a popular co-instructor in an engineering first-year course, as well as a developer of a new departmental course on applications in computational chemistry.

Getman has accepted a postdoctoral position at Northwestern University beginning this fall.

David Andrew Teeter

Teeter, in theology, explores the relationship among textual production, interpretation and religious identity in antiquity. More specifically, he has shown how the production of texts has a direct bearing on their interpretation. He also has demonstrated the importance of a systematic investigation of secondary uses of texts to determine their earlier forms and meaning.

Teeter is the author of an article in the current issue of Textus and a forthcoming article in the Dictionary of Early Judaism. He was a highly respected teacher in two sections of a Notre Dame Foundations of Theology course in the spring of 2008, with student evaluations placing him in the top 10 percent of all instructors at the University, including faculty, for one course and the top 20 percent in the other.

Completing his doctoral program in five years, Teeter received multiple offers, including a tenure-track position at McMaster University and a tenure-track position at the Divinity School of Harvard University. He accepted the professorship at Harvard, thus becoming the first Notre Dame theology doctoral student to assume a position there.

Stacy L. Hoehn

Hoehn’s (mathematics) research and dissertation focus on geometric topology, which involves investigating mathematical objects, called high-dimensional manifolds, that do not have boundaries. In her dissertation, she solved a problem related to a theory of higher order algebraic K-theory that had puzzled mathematicians for many years.

In her first year of graduate studies, Hoehn received a prestigious three-year Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF). She also won the Department of Mathematics’ Richard Sady Prize for best performance in the first-year courses. Her work has attracted the attention of researchers both at Notre Dame and elsewhere. She has been invited to deliver talks on her area of expertise at five other institutions and has given eight talks at seminars at the University.

Hoehn has been awarded an NSF postdoctoral fellowship to study at Vanderbilt University. She is the first Notre Dame mathematics student to win this highly prestigious award.

Naomi V. Ekas

Ekas, in psychology, has broken new ground in the mental health field by exploring why some mothers of children with autism cope better than others with the daily stress of raising special needs children. Her findings are that mothers who are generally optimistic in their outlook on life and who feel that they exercise control over their lives report lower levels of negativity in their day-to-day lives that their less optimistic counterparts.

Ekas is the first or co-author of six peer-reviewed publications and has completed 18 presentations at national conferences. In addition, she has won two teaching awards, served as an active and popular mentor for undergraduates and almost single-handedly transformed the weekly graduate student developmental psychology studies group into a vibrant setting for smart conversation, constructive feedback and professional development.

Completing her doctoral work in only four years, Ekas has accepted a two-year postdoctoral research position at the University of Miami.

After earning his bachelor’s and law degrees from Notre Dame in 1934 and 1936, Eli Shaheen taught at the University for five years, then served as an officer in the Army during World War II. A community leader in Sturgis, Mich., he was owner and president of the Sutton Tool Company from 1945 to 1986, at which time he sold the company and formed Sturgis Enterprises.

Shaheen was an honorary member of the Notre Dame Monogram Club and served as secretary/treasurer, trustee and adviser to the Notre Dame Council of the Knights of Columbus for more than 50 years. In recognition of his service, the Knights of Columbus building on campus was dedicated in his honor in 1969.

Shaheen, who died in 1993, and his wife, Helen, supported the University in many ways, including four fellowships in the Law School, the Shaheen-Mestrovic Memorial on campus, and the Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Endowment for Architecture.

The Shaheen Graduate School Awards were established by an endowment from their daughters, Christine Broussard and Paula Eide.

Originally published by William G. Gilroy at on May 08, 2009.