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Graduate students and recent graduate alumni within numerous UNC-Chapel Hill programs earn honors for their research.

A view of the Old Well from across the street looking through the lens of bright red leaves in the foreground. PHoto by Donn Young.
(photo by Donn Young)

Sixteen UNC-Chapel Hill graduate students and recent graduate alumni, within a variety of academic programs, have been selected to receive the Graduate School’s 2021 Impact Awards and Horizon Awards. Impact Awards, made possible through the generous support of the Graduate Education Advancement Board, recognize discoveries of direct benefit to North Carolina. Horizon Awards recognize research likely to make a significant longer-term contribution to the state.

Students from 27 different academic programs were nominated this year, said Jennifer Gerz-Escandón, associate dean for interdisciplinary education and fellowship programs within The Graduate School.

Winners from College of Arts & Sciences text graphic, with names: Sarah Donahar, marine sciences; Shiwei Fang, computer science; Matthew Glasscott, chemistry; Diamond Holloman, ecology, Alexandra Odom, history and Rachel Woodul, geography.
The winners from the College of Arts & Sciences.

“Within this group of nominees, reviewers identified a particularly large number whose research is on the cusp of statewide impact,” she said. “This demonstrates the commitment graduate students and recent graduate alumni have to advancing research that helps the people and communities of our state. More than 300 individuals have received these awards over time, and we are pleased to recognize graduate students and alumni for their important work.”

The awardees and their academic programs are:

  • Brittney Chesworth, doctoral student, social work, Impact Award
  • Sarah Donaher, recent master’s graduate, marine sciences, Impact Award
  • Connor Drake, doctoral student, health policy and management, Impact Award
  • Lauren Eaves, doctoral student, environmental sciences and engineering, Impact Award
  • Caroline Efird, doctoral student, health behavior, Impact Award
  • Shiwei Fang, doctoral student, computer science, Horizon Award
  • Matthew Glasscott, doctoral student, chemistry, Impact Award
  • Alina Hamilton, doctoral student, pathology, Horizon Award
  • Diamond Ebanks Holloman, doctoral student, ecology, Impact Award
  • Elizabeth Kamai, doctoral student, epidemiology, Impact Award
  • Gretchen Mason, master’s student, public health, Horizon Award
  • Alison Mercer-Smith, doctoral student, pharmaceutical sciences, Horizon Award
  • Alexandra Odom, doctoral student, history, Impact Award
  • Emily Ozpinar, doctoral student, biomedical engineering, Horizon Award
  • Gabriela Torres, doctoral student, biomedical engineering, Impact Award
  • Rachel Woodul, doctoral student, geography, Impact Award

Graduate students and recent graduate alumni apply for the annual awards and are nominated by their academic departments. A cross-disciplinary team of faculty members reviews the nominations and selects award recipients based on the significance of their work to North Carolina and on their ability to effectively communicate their research.


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