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In partnership with the Council for Graduate Schools, ProQuest is again honored to present the 2015 Distinguished Dissertations Awards recognizing doctoral dissertations making significant and original contributions to their academic fields.
Jeongmin Chin is the winner of this year’s award in Biological and Life Sciences for her dissertation Identification of an extracellular adenosine 5’-triphosphate receptor in Arabidopsis thaliana, discovering the first extracellular ATP receptor protein in plants. Chosen from a field of 63 nominations, Dr. Choi's work included five years of intensive research at the University of Missouri identifying a key protein involved in the perception of the signaling molecule, extracellular ATP by taking a mutant screening approach. Inside the cell, ATP serves as an essential energy currency in all organisms, however it is released into outside cells to act as a signaling molecule. It is believed to play a critical role in how plants respond to stresses such as wounds created by chewing insects or hail damages. Continuing her research as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Cambridge, Dr. Choi hopes her research will lead to new ways to protect plants such as crops from the significant yield loss caused by detrimental environmental changes.
Timo Schaefer, who earned his doctorate from Indiana University, was chosen from a field of 71 nominations for this year’s award in Humanities and Fine Arts. His dissertation, The Social Origins of Justice: Mexico in the Age of Utopian Failure, 1821-1870, involved more than a year of on-site research looking at primary sources in Mexico’s national and regional archives. His examination of the complex relationship between land owners, peasants, and municipal legal structures in the decades following Mexico’s independence from Spain was recognized for its originality, clarity and impact on the field. Dr. Schaefer, currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, is continuing his research examining Mexico’s municipal structures through the final decades of the 19th century.