Distinguished Research Masters and Doctoral Dissertations Recognized

BATON ROUGE – LSU Office of Research & Economic Development, or ORED, presented the 47th annual Distinguished Research Master Awards this month. The awards honor the exceptional research and scholarship of two LSU faculty each year. LSU’s San Diego II Alumni Professor of English Rhetoric and Classical Studies Professor Bill Demastes was presented with the award for the arts, humanities, social and behavioral sciences. The George William Barineau III Professor Kam-biu Liu in the LSU College of the Coast & Environment’s Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences was presented the award for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In addition, the LSU Alumni Association and the Graduate School sponsor the Distinguished Dissertation Awards presented to two doctoral students whose research and writing demonstrate superior scholarship. Benjamin Bergholtz, who received his Ph.D. in English, earned the award in arts, humanities and social sciences for his doctoral dissertation on the effects and representation of globalization in literature. Aref Samadi-Dooki, who received his Ph.D. in civil engineering with a minor in mechanical engineering, earned the award in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for his doctoral dissertation that expands knowledge on the mechanical behavior of the brain.

The Distinguished Research Master Awards and Distinguished Dissertation Awards were presented on April 3.

William Demastes
, Distinguished Research Master — Arts, Humanities, Social & Behavioral Sciences
English, College of Humanities & Social Sciences

headshot photo of English Professor William DemastesBill Demastes is LSU’s San Diego II Alumni Professor of English, specializing in English and American drama. He has written several books including “Beyond Naturalism,” “Theatre of Chaos,” “Staging Consciousness” and “Comedy Matters,” as well as monographs on playwrights Clifford Odets, Spalding Gray, Tom Stoppard and John Guare. He has edited numerous essay collections as well as the Best American Short Plays and Modern Dramatists Research and Production Sourcebooks series.

He has served as both president and vice president of the American Theatre and Drama Society. At LSU, he has served as an associate dean of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, director of the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts Program and most recently, LSU’s Faculty Athletics Representative. He has won LSU’s Distinguished Faculty Award and the Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award, and has twice won the Tiger Athletics Foundation Undergraduate Teaching Award.





Kam-biu Liu, Distinguished Research Master — Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics

Oceanography & Coastal Sciences, College of the Coast & Environment

Headshot photo of Oceanography Professor Kam-biu LiuKam-biu Liu is the George William Barineau III Professor in the LSU College of the Coast & Environment’s Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences. As a paleoecologist and paleoclimatologist, Liu’s research uses lake sediments and fossil pollen, including from ice cores, to reconstruct the patterns and processes of climatic and environmental changes on timescales of centuries to millennia. He has conducted research around the world, including the Amazon basin, the Andes, the Tibetan plateau, western China, the Yangtze River delta, subarctic Canada, Central America and the Caribbean region. He is recognized as a pioneer and leader in paleotempestology, a young field that studies past hurricane activity by means of geological proxy techniques. During the past three decades, he has been using coastal sedimentary records to reconstruct past hurricane activities along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, the Caribbean region and the Pacific coast of Mexico over the last 5,000 years.

He has published more than 140 research papers and is an editor and author of the book “Hurricanes and Typhoons: Past, Present and Future” published by Columbia University Press. His work has been funded almost continuously by the National Science Foundation over the last 30 years, as well as by other funding agencies, including the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research, the Risk Prediction Initiative of the Bermuda Biological Station for Research, NOAA and the National Geographic Society.

Liu received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Paleoenvironmental Change from the American Association of Geographers in 2018, and was honored as a SLLW Visiting Fellow by the Chung Chi College of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2015. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and had served as a member of the U.S. National Committee for the International Union for Quaternary Research. At LSU, he was the recipient of the LSU Rainmaker Senior Scholar Award in 2013 and the LSU Distinguished Faculty Award in 2006. He won the Tiger Athletic Foundation Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2001 and the College of the Coast & Environment Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award in 2010. He has been serving as the Chair of the LSU Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences since January 2013.


Benjamin Bergholtz — the Josephine A. Roberts Alumni Association Distinguished Dissertation Award in Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Photo of LSU English Ph.D. alumnus Benjamin BergholtzBenjamin Bergholtz’s dissertation, “Swallowing a World: Globalization and the Maximalist Novel,” argues that the maximalist novel is an aesthetic response to globalization and a global phenomenon in its own right. To support this claim, “Swallowing a World” analyzes massive and meandering novels by William Gaddis, David Foster Wallace, Zadie Smith and Zia Haider Rahman that represent, formally reproduce and ultimately invite reflection upon the effects of globalization. He is currently revising “Swallowing a World” for publication as a book. Bergholtz’s work also appears in Contemporary Literature, Film International and Mississippi Quarterly.

He is currently a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Literature, Media and Communication, where he teaches multimodal composition courses in 20th and 21st century global Anglophone literature, British literature and postcolonial literature. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Central Florida and his master’s and Ph.D. in English at LSU.


Aref Samadi-Dooki — LSU Alumni Association Distinguished Dissertation Award in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics

Photo of LSU Engineering Ph.D. alumnus Aref Samadi-DookiAref Samadi-Dooki’s results from his dissertation, “Experimental, Analytical and Numerical Evaluation of the Mechanical Properties of the Brain Tissue,” are useful as input variables for computer simulations of brain tissue in studying traumatic brain injury, malformation of the brain folds and other pathobiological conditions associated with the mechanical behavior of the brain.

While recent studies have unraveled the importance of the biomechanics of the brain on its pathological conditions, the ultra-soft nature of this tissue makes its mechanical evaluation extremely challenging. In this study, the accurate analysis of the mechanical heterogeneity of the brain tissue is performed using dynamic and pseudo-static indentation techniques. In addition, this research provides a detailed reference for modeling the nonlinear mechanical behavior of soft tissues in general, and the brain tissue in particular, while addressing important considerations for mechanical modeling. Moreover, a new model is developed for the behavior of the brain tissue that addresses the tension-compression asymmetry, taking into account the compressibility of the tissue in different loading conditions, implemented with a combined analytical and numerical scheme.

Samadi-Dooki received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran. He received his Ph.D. majoring in civil engineering with a minor in mechanical engineering as well as a graduate certificate in materials science and engineering from LSU. He is currently employed as a mechanical engineering consultant at Dupont Electronics and Imaging in Wilmington, Delaware.


Additional Links:

Q&A with Distinguished Research Master William Demastes: https://www.lsu.edu/research/news/2019/0403-drm-demastes.php

Q&A with Distinguished Research Master Kam-biu Liu: https://www.lsu.edu/research/news/2019/0402-drm-liu.php



Contact Alison Satake
LSU Media Relations