Three graduate students in the Texas A&M University College of Science are among 15 from across the campus who have been named Texas A&M Distinguished Graduate Students for 2019 in recognition of exemplary achievement in research, teaching and mentoring.
Rajat Maji, a Ph.D. graduate in chemistry mentored by former Texas A&M chemist Dr. Steven Wheeler, earned a Distinguished Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Doctoral Research, while Shubhadeep Chakraborty, a Ph.D. candidate in statistics mentored by Texas A&M statistician Dr. Xianyang Zhang, and Agustin Millet, a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry mentored by Texas A&M chemist Dr. Kim Dunbar, were honored with Distinguished Graduate Student Awards for Excellence in Teaching.
Each year graduate students are recognized for excellence in one of three categories: doctoral research, master’s research and teaching. Students are nominated by their faculty advisors or their departments — an accomplishment in and of itself, officials say, due to the strenuous eligibility requirements. The award recipients are chosen by a panel of reviewers that includes faculty and administrators.
“Graduate students contribute to our research and teaching missions while advancing scholarship in their fields of study,” said Dr. Karen Butler-Purry, associate provost for graduate and professional studies. “Thanks to The Association of Former Students’ support for these awards, we are able to recognize 15 of our most exemplary graduate students this year.”
Maji, Chakraborty and Millet were celebrated along with their fellow recipients in an April 29 ceremony in Rudder Forum, sponsored by The Association of Former Students and the Texas A&M Office of Graduate and Professional Studies as part of 2019 Distinguished Day programming. Each was presented with a framed certificate and custom watch from The Association.
“The admirable work of the graduate students being honored with this year’s Distinguished Graduate Student Awards bring honor, prestige and recognition to Texas A&M,” said Porter S. Garner III ’79, president and CEO. “Since the inception of this award in 1965, The Association of Former Students is proud to recognize graduate students’ excellence in research and teaching, as well as their embodiment of Texas A&M’s core values of Excellence, Integrity, Leadership, Loyalty, Respect and Selfless Service.”
Maji, who currently is pursuing postdoctoral training at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, earned his Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from Texas A&M in August 2018 under Wheeler’s supervision. His graduate research focused on understanding electrostatically driven non-covalent interactions in asymmetric catalysis, which has identified the relatively underappreciated role of non-covalent interactions in asymmetric catalysis governing reactivity and selectivity. Thus far, Maji is the first author on a series of high-impact papers, seven of which already have been published with many pending review and formal acceptance. His research efforts have widely been recognized with several awards and distinctions, including the 2018 American Chemical Society’s Graduate Student Award for Chemical Computing, the 2018 DOW Texas A&M Graduate Student Research Award and the 2018 Sharon Dabney Award for Excellent Research, in addition to numerous travel awards and external fellowships and grants. During his time at Texas A&M, Maji has shown boundless enthusiasm for teaching and mentoring, which has translated into a stellar record as a teaching assistant. His teaching efforts have been recognized with several awards and high-profile nominations, such as the 2015 Eastman Teaching Award for Organic Chemistry, a 2016 University Distinguished Teaching Award nomination and being named in 2013 as one of the 12 most influential teaching assistants across the university for excellence in peer education. Besides research and teaching, Maji has served as a student leader in university organizations — including the Graduate and Professional Student Council, the Organization for Cultural Diversity in Chemistry and the Graduate Student Association of Chemistry — while also actively participating in several outreach activities and workshops.
Chakraborty joined the Texas A&M Department of Statistics in fall 2015 after completing his masters in statistics at the Indian Statistical Institute. His research interest under Zhang’s mentorship at Texas A&M broadly include nonparametric statistics, causal interference and high dimensional statistics. He co-authored his first paper with Zhang, “Distance Metrics for Measuring Joint Dependence with Application to Causal Inference,” that was accepted for publication in the Journal of the American Statistical Association. His second paper, “A New Framework for Distance and Kernel-based Metrics in High Dimensions,” recently was submitted to the Journal of the American Statistical Association. During the past two years, Chakraborty has been recognized with the 2017 Southeast Texas Chapter of the American Statistical Association Poster Competition Gold Prize, the 2017 Anant M. Kshirsagar Endowed Fellowship, the 2018 Southern Regional Council on Statistics Conference’s R.L. Anderson Student Poster Award and the 2018 Dr. H. Joseph Newton Graduate Student Service Award. He has taught undergraduate courses in statistical methods and principles of statistics, in addition to advanced level metric spaces, linear algebra and regression as part of a bootcamp held last fall for incoming Ph.D. students. In addition, he has served the Texas A&M Statistics Graduate Student Association in several capacities, including as a GPSC delegate (2016-17), social chair and secretary (2017-18), vice president (2018-19) and incoming president (2019-20).
Millet joined Texas A&M Chemistry in 2015 after earning his bachelor of science in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires. His research as a member of the Dunbar Laboratory explores the role of dirhodium complexes as anticancer drugs for photodynamic therapeutic applications and sensitizers for dye-sensitized solar cell applications. His primary focus is on the development of more efficient light absorbers using a dirhodium core as a scaffold. In addition to research, Millet has continued to pursue his passion for teaching at Texas A&M, where he has excelled in teaching organic chemistry for both chemistry and non-chemistry majors. As a teaching assistant, he says he enjoys not only helping his students perform the experiments, but also making certain they understand the science being performed. He currently is in charge of teaching CHEM 697, the graduate-level course the department uses to train all of its teaching assistants for organic chemistry for non-chemistry majors. Additionally, Millet has successfully mentored undergraduate students, with one of whom he co-authored a publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. He also enjoys participating in the annual Chemistry Open House, where he is able to share his love of chemistry with the general public. After earning his Ph.D., Millet hopes to become a full-time professor, given that he is very passionate about teaching science to undergraduate and graduate students alike.
To learn more about the Distinguished Graduate Student Awards and related programs and events to celebrate graduate student accomplishment at Texas A&M, visit http://ogaps.tamu.edu/.
Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Shannon Walton, (979) 845-3631 or email@example.com