Four students recognized as Outstanding Master's Graduates


Four graduate students have been selected as finalists for the Outstanding Master’s Graduate Award, which started with the Spring 2015 Commencement.

Each graduate program can nominate one student for the award, based on leadership, scholarship, service, and research. A committee, led by the dean of the University’s Graduate School, selects the top candidates.

A UL Lafayette Alumni Association committee interviews each candidate and chooses one as the overall Outstanding Master’s Graduate. That person will be recognized during the Commencement General Assembly on Friday, May 13, at the Cajundome

Here’s a look at the honorees.

Cathryn Core is the Outstanding Master’s Graduate for the School of Architecture and Design.

She has a 4.0 GPA.

The design-build phase of her master’s thesis is an exhibition space that explores the rice farming industry in Crowley, La. It won the School of Architecture and Design’s highest honor, the David Williams Award.

In 2014, she was part of a team that used design as a framework to create a land-use proposal for water and resource management and habitat conservation.

Core contributed to a project funded by the National Science Foundation that focused on the Chicot Aquifer. Guided by faculty and researchers, she summarized project findings for an exhibit to be displayed at the Lafayette Science Museum.

Core is an intern for the proposed I-49 Connector Project, an elevated, six-lane stretch of interstate in Lafayette.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Louisiana State University and a bachelor’s degree in architectural studies from UL Lafayette.

Core is the daughter of Keith and Brenda Core of Crowley, La.

Bing Chao is the Outstanding Master’s Graduate for the Department of Civil Engineering.

She has a 4.0 GPA.

Her research focused on the removal of pollutants from wastewater by using novel absorbents. She has co-authored scientific papers published in “Water Environment Research,” the “Journal of Applied Polymer Science” and the “Journal of Green Science and Technology.” Chao also co-authored two papers accepted by conferences.

As a lab teaching assistant, she has mentored undergraduate students in environmental engineering courses.

She also has worked on environmental impact assessment reports for Xi’an Chun Yuan Environmental Assessment Company in Xian, Shaanxi, China.

Chao holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Northwest University in Xian, Shaanxi, China, and a master’s degree in environmental science and engineering from Chang’an University in the same city.

She is the daughter of Jingshan Chao and Aihua Han of Shaanxi, China.

Tim Shane is the Outstanding Master’s Graduate for the School of Geosciences.

He has a 3.9 GPA.

His thesis centered on fieldwork conducted at the Eagle Ford Formation, sedimentary rock from the Cretaceous Period in portions of Texas.

Shane was instrumental in obtaining permission to access choice outcrops on privately owned land.

He performed geochemical analysis of rock samples in Lozier Canyon, near Del Rio, Texas. Samples were analyzed for variations in trace metals, organic content and oxygen levels. Identifying subtle changes in such sedimentary rock depositions could lead to a better understanding for locating “sweet spots” for horizontal drilling for oil and gas.

Shane was a member of a team that placed second in the Gulf Coast Region of the International Barrel Award contest. As part of the global competition, university students spend weeks analyzing data to determine the best place to drill for oil.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Texas A&M University.

Shane is the son of Eric and Jena Shane of Beeville, Texas.

Sharae Vicknair is the Outstanding Master’s Graduate for the Department of Psychology.

She has a 4.0 GPA.

Vicknair mentored undergraduate students in the University’s Cognition and Psycholinguistics Research Lab.

Her recent research centers on topics such as how word choices can influence discrimination and stigmatization. It was a dynamic she explored in her master’s thesis, “Words Used to Describe Same-Sex Sexuality: An Exploration of Meaning.”

A past research project involved identifying the effects of nicotine withdrawal on pain tolerance. For another project, Vicknair analyzed more than 3,000 pregnancy and infertility blogs.

Her work has been detailed in two academic publications, “The Rehabilitation Professional” and “Beyond Spinoza and Nietzsche: Applied Ethics for Mental Health Professionals.” For both, Vicknair contributed research about mental health professionals’ work within the LGBT community.

Vicknair worked as a group therapy facilitator at the Family Tree, a nonprofit agency that provides education and counseling for families.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southeastern Louisiana University.

Vicknair is the daughter of Sharon Blackmon and Anthony Vicknair of Denham Springs, La.

Photo info: Four students who will receive master’s degrees during Spring 2016 Commencement ceremonies are finalists for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s overall Outstanding Master’s Graduate Award. Shown, from left, are: Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president; Tim Shane, School of Geosciences; Cathryn Core, School of Architecture and Design; Bing Chao, Department of Civil Engineering; Sharae Vicknair, Department of Psychology; and Angela Morrison, president-elect for the UL Lafayette Alumni Association.