dean's address

2023 Dean’s Address & Awards Reception Celebrates LGS Achievements

Laney Graduate School (LGS) honored LGS excellence at the 2nd annual Dean’s Address & Awards Reception on May 2, 2023.

Dean Arriola Speaking

James T. Laney Graduate School Dean Kimberly Jacob Arriola addresses attendees of the 2nd annual Dean's Address & Awards Reception.

Theo Gayle

There is no other unit within Emory University that is as well-poised as Laney to help fulfill Emory's mission, which is to create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity,” said Dean Kimberly Jacob Arriola in the State of the School address (PDF).

Dean Arriola shared LGS' strategic goals, presented priorities for moving graduate education at Emory forward, and described notable advancements at Laney over the course of the year.

The state of the Laney Graduate School is healthy, resilient, and strong. But this is only because of the people, processes, and priorities that define us,” said Dean Arriola.

Read the full Dean's Address here (PDF)

Following Dean Arriola's remarks, the evening transitioned to an awards ceremony that celebrated exemplary students, faculty, staff, and alumni who embody the School's mission. LGS staff presented the annual awards that celebrate the accomplishments of Laney students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Recipients of these awards were nominated by Directors of Graduate Studies or Program Directors who detailed their inspiring work. Then, an interdisciplinary committee made up of faculty members, staff, and students selected the following award winners:


From left to right: Dr. Kimberly Jacob Arriola; Katie Leinenbach, Economics; Sandra Mendiola, Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution; Agnes Sastre-Rivera, Comparative Literature; and Dr. Jeff Staton. Leinenbach, Mendiola, and Sastre-Rivera were the recipients of the Student Award for Inclusive Excellence.

Theo Gayle

  • Student Award for Inclusive Excellence: 

    • From the Humanities, Agnes Sastre-Rivera, Comparative Literature 

    • From the Natural Sciences, Sandra Mendiola, Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution 

    • From the Social Sciences, Katie Leinenbach, Economics 

  • Faculty Award for Inclusive Excellence: 

    • From the Natural Sciences, Nic Vega, Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution 

    • From the Humanities, Dianne M. Stewart, African American Studies and Religion 

  • Outstanding Master's Student Award:

    • Rebecca Yeboah, Master's in Development Practice 

  • Outstanding Scholarly Research Award:

    • From the Social Sciences, Xin Hu, Health Services Research and Health Policy 

    • From the Natural Sciences, Selma Piranej, Chemistry 

    • From the Humanities, Marcelitte Failla, the Graduate Division of Religion 

  • Outstanding Graduate Teaching Associate Award:

    • From the Social Sciences, Caroline Barry, Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences 

    • From the Natural Sciences, Abigail Julian, Computer Science and Informatics 

    • From the Humanities, Ariel Lawrence, English 

  • Outstanding Program Administrator Award:

    • From Social Sciences, Chan Williams, Master's in Development Practice 

    • From Natural Sciences, Barbara Conner, Physics 

    • From Humanities, Andy Boyles, Graduate Division of Religion 

  • Outstanding Director of Graduate Studies or Program Director Award:

    • From the Social Sciences, David Jacho-Chavez, Economics 

    • From the Natural Sciences, Daniel Reines, Genetics and Molecular Biology 

    • From the Humanities, Jason Morgan Ward, History 

  • Early Career Alumni:

    • Antonio Alonso, PhD, Graduate Division of Religion (2017)

  • Distinguished Alumni Award:

    • Tressie McMillan Cottom, PhD, Sociology (2015)

Winners of Awards

Faculty, students, and staff from the Graduate Division of Religion, including (from left to right) Dr. Ellen Ott Marshall, Co-Director of Graduate Studies; Dr. Antonio Alonso, Early Career Alumni Awardee; Dr. Diane M. Stewart, Faculty Award for Inclusive Excellence Awardee; Marcelitte Failla, Outstanding Scholarly Research Awardee; Andy Boyles, Outstanding Program Administrator Awardee; and Dr. Jim Hoesterey, Co-Director of Graduate Studies.

Theo Gayle

Congratulations to all of the winners!