Graduate Student Awards 

Each December, the LSU Department of Chemistry recognizes the achievements of graduate students who have excelled in research or teaching, or both. All of the divisional awards are determined by the faculty comprising that division. For the James Traynham and Kiran Allam awards, nominations are accepted starting September 1 until September 21.  

Nominations for an award should include:  

  1. A nomination letter from the student's research advisor(s).
  2. A supporting letter from another faculty member 
  3. A short CV - similar to what is required for the annual reports that graduate students submit to their committees.
  4. A one page summary of the student’s research to-date  

Typically, five Outstanding TA Awards are made by the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies, in consultation with the faculty who teach laboratory classes.  These are supported by the donations of alumni and friends to the Chemistry Development Fund.



Graduate Awards


2023 Award Recipients

Mary Jo Pribble Inorganic Chemistry Award: Jasmine Sanford

Timothy S. Evenson Macromolecular Chemistry Award: Erin Tsai 

H. Dupont Durst Organic Chemistry Award: Eric Alvarez 

Neil Kestner Physical Chemistry Award: Ernest Nachaki 

Dow Chemical Macromolecular Award: Brecklyn Groce 

Kiran Allam International Award: Ishara Senadheera 

James G. Traynham Teaching and Research Award: Simran Dhingra 


Teaching Assistant Awards

CHEM 4553 and CHEM 2002 TA Award: Rajapaksha (Nimesha) Rajapaksha   

CHEM 2364 TA Award: Edward W. Mureka

Chem 2364 TA Award: Brandon J. Conrad

CHEM 1212 TA Award: Quynh Do

CHEM 3493 TA Award: Stena C. Peterson


Award Information

Robinson Graduate Analytical Chemistry Award

Professor Robinson joined the Department of Chemistry as an Associate Professor in 1964, retiring to become Professor Emeritus in 1993.  To read more about Professor Robinson, visit the Induction into the College of Science Hall of Distinction (2011).

The original award documentation states, simply, that “the recipient of this award must be a full-time graduate student in Analytical Chemistry enrolled in the College of Science.”  In 2015, the faculty of the Analytical Division decided that the award should be for a student who will receive their doctoral degree that year.  Students completing their PhD in the Fall of the award year are also eligible. The winner may be informed so that he/she can use the information in their vita when seeking subsequent employment. However, the name of the winner will not be broadly announced until graduation or after graduation in the case of a student graduating in the Fall.

The endowment for this eponymous award was contributed by Professor Jim Robinson.

Mary Jo Pribble Graduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry

Mary Jo Pribble earned a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry from Maryville College, TN, and a Masters Degree in Chemistry from Duke University, NC. She entered the PhD program at LSU and became a student in the research group of the late Professor Joel Selbin. She completed a dissertation titled, “New Coordination Compounds of Uranium V.” She received her PhD in 1970.

After a brief stint as a document chemist at Ethyl Corp, she moved on to a long career as a teacher, first at Limestone College in South Carolina. In 1977, she became a faculty member at Glenville State College where she was well-respected and described by a former student as “a one woman chemistry department.” Dr Pribble was an elder in the Glenville Presbyterian Church and had a passion for weaving. She retired in 1994.

Professor Pribble passed away on August 11th, 2015. She left a substantial sum of money to LSU Chemistry for graduate student support. The funds have been endowed for the purposes of this award.

Kiran Allam International Award

The award honors Dr. Kiran Kumar Allam who hailed from Andhra Pradesh, a state in southeastern India, and received his Undergraduate Degree from Kakatiya University, Warangal, India in 1996. He earned two Master’s Degrees - from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India in 2000 and from the University of Arizona in Tuscon, AZ, in 2005. Kiran joined the PhD program in Chemistry in 2005. He served as a TA for the Department of Chemistry and he conducted research in the laboratory of Professor Graça Vicente, passing his General Exam in April 2007. He was passionate about his research and had a strong desire to use his chemistry to help develop treatments for currently untreatable diseases, such as malignant brain tumors. His peers remember him as a caring person who always had a smile and a kind word. The evening of Thursday, December 13th, 2007, Kiran and his friend Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma were shot dead at the Edward Gay Apartments, just north of campus. Kiran was awarded his PhD posthumously in 2008.

This award is for an international student who has excelled in teaching and research. The award is funded by the donations of alumni and friends to the Chemistry Development Fund.

DOW Chemical Award for Excellence in Macromolecular Studies

The recipient of this award must be a full time graduate student majoring in any area of macromolecular science or engineering at Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. Each year, a recipient will be selected by the co-Directors of the LSU Macromolecular Studies Group and approved by the dean of the Graduate School. The recipient must have an overall grade point average of at least 3.5 in graduate level coursework at LSU, and must be a candidate for the Ph.D. degree. Additional criteria for selection may include:

  • The imagination, resourcefulness and independence displayed by the student during the conduct of his or her research, especially as evidenced by publications in referred journals of high quality and by successful presentations at national or international scientific meetings;
  • commitment to teaching responsibilities, if any have been assigned; and,
  • the promise of the student for enhancing the capabilities and reputation of the LSU Macromolecular Studies Group.

This award is for one year but a recipient may be selected to receive this award more than once.

Timothy S. Evenson Macromolecular Award in Chemistry

This award honors Dr. Timothy Sean Evenson. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Tim received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Missouri University of Science & Technology-Rolla in 1994. To continue his interest in macromolecular chemistry, Tim joined the research group of Professor William H. Daly in August 1994.  As an exceptional student, he developed new polymerization procedures including the unique use of Barton esters as initiators for polymer modification. Tim completed all the requirements for a  PhD in January,1999.   Tragically, he was killed in a car accident, just inside the South Gate of campus on March 28, 1999.  He was awarded his PhD posthumously in May 1999.

One of his classmates wrote of Tim, “I only knew Tim for about a year.  But what I learned from him in that one year will affect me always.  He was one of the first in the graduate school of the Chemistry Department to introduce himself to me.  He was always so cheerful and happy and that mood just had to carry over to others that crossed his path. Tim, was an extraordinary person, friend, mentor, student and acquaintance.  His presence will never be forgotten.”  These comments summarize the sentiments of his professors and colleagues in the Department.  His contributions set the standards for future award recipients. 

The recipient of this award must be a full time graduate student at Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College enrolled in the Graduate School, majoring in chemistry.  Financial need may be a consideration.

The original donors for the award were Professors William H. Daly and Paul R. Russo, along with Tim’s parents, Richard and Joan Evenson.

The award continues thanks to the generosity of Professor Daly.

H. Dupont Durst Graduate Student Award in Organic Chemistry

Dr. H. Dupont Durst received his BS from LSU in 1965. He completed a MS thesis in Biochemistry under the direction of Gerald Risinger titled, “On the Mechanism of the Thiamine Catalyzed Reductive Dimerization of Farnesyl Pyrophosphate to Squalene.” As a graduate student in the laboratory of Edward Leete at the University of Minnesota, he investigated the biosynthesis of terpenoids and alkaloids, including the synthesis of isotopically labeled intermediates. In collaboration with Richard Borch, he introduced the cyanoborohyride anion as a reducing agent and demonstrated the dependence of functional group selectivity on pH. In 1970, Durst began his independent career as a faculty member at SUNY Buffalo, where he remained throughout the 1970s. He developed new methods for a number of “difficult” synthetic transformations, cleverly utilizing phase transfer catalysis to enable bimolecular transformations in organic solvents. One of his passions has always been Chemical Education, especially the teaching of laboratory skills. With George Gokel he co-authored the textbook “Experimental Organic Chemistry.” From 1979-84, he was a faculty member at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras, where research interests expanded to include the isolation and structure determination of marine natural products, including toxins associated with seafood poisoning. In 1984, Durst joined the Chemical Methodology Team, at the US Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) where he because involved with the trace analysis and detoxification of chemical warfare agents. He contributed to the development of a new ionization source for mass spectrometric Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART). Durst formally retired in 2015.

The recipient of this award must be full-time graduate student at LSU enrolled in the College of Science, Department of Chemistry, with a focus on Organic Chemistry. Preference will be given to students within two (2) years of completing their PhD.

Funding for this eponymous award is generously provided by Dr. H. Dupont Durst.

Neil Kestner Physical Chemistry Graduate Student Award

Professor Neil Kestner came to LSU in 1966 as an Associate Professor.  He retired as the Charles H. Barré Professor of Chemistry in 2004.  He served two terms as Chair of Chemistry, was involved in teaching at all levels and was an early proponent of computers in research (quantum mechanical calculations and quantum statistical mechanics) and teaching.  To find out more about Neil Kestner, see: Induction into the College of Science Hall of Distinction (2017). 

Recipients of this award must be full-time graduate students at LSU enrolled in the College of Science, Department of Chemistry, with a focus on Physical Chemistry.  Preference will be given to students within two (2) years of completing their PhD.

The endowment for this eponymous award was contributed by Professor Neil Kestner.

James G. Traynham Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research in Chemistry

James G. Traynham is a former Department Chair and VC for Research and Dean of the Graduate School.  To learn more about Professor Traynham, visit the Induction into the College of Science Hall of Distinction (2007).

The recipient of this award must be a full time graduate student at Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in the PhD degree program of the Department of Chemistry.  The recipient must have completed the general exam and have a distinguished record in teaching and research.  The recipient must possess the following attributes:

  • A record for excellence in teaching and research
  • A record that is indicative of a genuine interest in students
  • A cooperative relationship with other teaching assistants, faculty and staff
  • Demonstrated leadership with other teaching assistants, faculty and staff
  • Dedication to the pursuit of scholarly knowledge in course work and personal research
  • The original endowment for this award was organized by Professor Klaus Fischer, with contributions from former students and colleagues, in honor of Professor Jim Traynham.