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LSU's Distinguished Research Masters & Distinguished Dissertation Award Recipients

To celebrate success and acknowledge exceptional achievements in research and scholarship, LSU's Office of Research & Economic Development, or ORED, presents two faculty members with the Distinguished Research Master Award each year. At the same time, the LSU Alumni Association and the LSU Graduate School recognize two graduate students for excellence in their academic efforts with the Distinguished Dissertation Award.

LSU Distinguished Research Master Bradley E. Schaefer has published more than 200 peer reviewed articles in prestigious journals – eight in Nature alone.


Recipient Carl Freedman, the James F. Cassidy Professor in the department of English, received his bachelor's degree in English from Oxford University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his Ph.D. from Yale University.


Adam Jeffrey Pratt received the Josephine A. Roberts Alumni Association Distinguished Dissertation Award in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences for his thesis, "The Cavalier in the Mind of the South, 1876-1916."


Sarah Caudill received the Alumni Association Distinguished Dissertation Award in Science, Engineering, and Technology for her dissertation developing several approaches for detecting gravity waves.
Jim Zietz/LSU University Relations

LSU's Distinguished Research Masters

Bradley E. Schaefer

Schaefer, a professor in LSU's Department of Physics & Astronomy, received his bachelor's degree and Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"I am very happy to have received the LSU Distinguished Research Master award, as it puts me into strong company," said Schaefer. "LSU has always been very supportive of my research, and it is a wonderful place. I have fun with trying to learn the secrets of the Universe, and recently I had a good research idea for which two undergraduate students can tackle a new front-line astrophysics question, presumably leading to their own publication of research papers."

He has published more than 200 peer reviewed articles in prestigious journals – eight in Nature alone. Schaefer also publishes in popular media, including Sky & Telescope and Scientific American, helping to spread the public understanding of astronomy and physics.

Schaefer's research has received international acclaim, most notably for his role in the Supernova Cosmology Project paper reporting the discovery of the accelerated expansion of the universe due to a previously unknown form of energy now known as dark energy, which is embedded in the fabric of space. The discovery received the 2011 Nobel Prize. Schaefer, a coauthor, was invited to the Nobel Prize Award ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden.

"Professor Schaefer is a first-rate scientist with a worldwide reputation," said Michael Cherry, chair of LSU's Department of Physics & Astronomy. "He brings credit to LSU and at the same time brings a sense of energy, enthusiasm and just plain fun to his students and his faculty colleagues. He heartily deserves this award."

Carl Freedman

Freedman, the James F. Cassidy Professor in the LSU Department of English holds a faculty position in comparative literature and the program in film and media arts. He received his bachelor's degree in English from Oxford University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his Ph.D. from Yale University. 

"I am very grateful for all the support that LSU has offered me during the past three decades, support that has been essential to completing the work honored by the Distinguished Research Master award, said Freedman."  I'm thinking, for instance, of the material support, the climate of academic freedom, and--certainly not least--all the excellent colleagues and students from whom I've learned so much. I only hope that LSU will be able to continue offering the same kind of support to young scholars that I received as a young scholar and afterwards."
Freedman has a prolific record of scholarship including books, articles and reviews — encompassing a broad range of topics from science fiction to crime movies to Nixon — all united through a lens of Marxist critical theory. 

Freedman has been at LSU for 28 years. He currently serves on the Graduate Council — and he recently completed a three-year term as director of graduate studies in English. He has received numerous awards, including the 2008 LSU Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award and the Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award. Since becoming a tenured associate professor in 1989, he has directed almost 20 doctoral dissertations. 

"He is intellectually gifted and absolutely committed to this work," said J. Gerald Kennedy, LSU Boyd Professor in English and Freedman's nominator. "He is moreover a wonderful colleague and a caring teacher. This seems just the right moment for LSU to acknowledge and celebrate the prodigious achievements of an extraordinary mind."

Distinguished Dissertation Award Recipients

The LSU Alumni Association and the Graduate School sponsor the Distinguished Dissertation Awards, presented annually since 1983. The awards, handed down in two categories, are given to doctoral students whose research and writing demonstrate superior scholarship.

Josephine A. Roberts Alumni Association Distinguished Dissertation Award in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Adam Jeffrey Pratt was born in Des Moines, Iowa, but grew up in Duluth, Ga. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts from Clemson University in 2004, he wrote a thesis "The Cavalier in the Mind of the South, 1876-1916" and received a Master of Arts from  LSU in 2007. His thesis examined the self-image of southern men of the period – one of aristocratic chivalry, honor, bravery, and fighting skills – and its post-Civil War evolution towards an egalitarian volunteerism.

Pratt's dissertation explores the frontier violence between white settlers and Cherokees during the period 1820-1840. He draws from a remarkably diverse set of primary sources, addresses important issues related to the clash of differing societies, and weaves a well-told story in the process. Pratt received the T. Harry Williams Dissertation Fellowship in his final year of study.

Alumni Association Distinguished Dissertation Award in Science, Engineering, and Technology

Sarah Caudill was born in Daytona Beach, Fla. She received a bachelor's degree in physics from Stetson University in 2006, including her introduction to gravity waves during a Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Cal Tech. She would move to LSU and become a member of the international collaboration Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO. 

Caudill's dissertation developed several approaches for detecting gravity waves. Such waves are predicted to occur as a consequence of highly energetic cosmic events, but are so weak at great distances that the waves have not yet been recognized. This project is one of the premier scientific programs funded by the National Science Foundation.  Caudill's work has resulted in more than 27 publications with coauthors on the LIGO team.