Student Awards and Achievements

Submitted by Henry J Laufenberg on


Graduate student E.J. Koh was interviewed by J.R. Ramakrishnan about her memoir, The Magical Language of Others, which is the winner of the 2021 Pacific Northwest Book Award and has been featured on Oprah's "Best Books by Writers of the Asian Diaspora."  It’s an excellent book, and Ramakrishnan’s article airs a powerful conversation. Koh has also been selected as the 2021 Jack Straw Writers Program Curator, who, as such, selects the 2021 Jack Straw Writers.  This program was “created in 1997 to introduce local writers to the medium of recorded audio; to develop their presentation skills for both live and recorded readings; to encourage the creation of new literary work; to present the writers and their work in live readings, an anthology, on the web, and on the radio; and to build community among writers.”

E.J.Koh's "Seattle City Literary Guide" essay, featuring UW's Libraries, Shawn Wong, UW Press and others was also just published at Poets & Writers.

frankenstein sarah faulkner
Recent PhD graduate Sarah Faulkner, of “Frankenreads” fame, wrote the introduction to a new collector's edition of Frankenstein.  Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, and Other Tales has been published by Flame Tree Publishers in London.  Says Sarah, “It's pretty surreal to see my name next to Mary Shelley's and to have an author page at Simon & Schuster!”


Recent PhD graduate student Tait Bergstrom's dissertation "Uptake of Educational Texts in Multilingual Composition Classrooms" has been selected as a co-winner for the Heilman Dissertation Prize for 2018-2019.  Bergstrom has registered early career success too, having taken a post as Assistant Professor and Writing Center Direct at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, a collaboration of Yale and the National University of Singapore.


Our other co-winner of the Heilman Dissertation Prize for 2018-2019 is recent graduate student Denise Grollmus, dissertation titled "The Sacred Disease: Narratives of Addiction and the Making of the Post-Secular Self." Dr. Grollmus worked as a full-time journalist for Village Voice Media and attended Penn State University, receiving her MFA in Creative Writing in 2012.  She came to the department for a PhD, earned a long list of awards and accolades, and, after working with the Simpson Center as their Communications Manager, recently accepted a full-time, tenure track faculty position in Communication Studies at South Seattle College.


English department graduate students Nanya Jhingran and BrittNEY Frantece were awarded a Mellon Collaborative Summer Fellowship for Public Projects in the Humanities for their collaborative project, “Manifesting the Ecstatic: Spiritual Activism & Storytelling in Seattle Communities of Color.” Nanya and BrittNEY worked with their faculty advisors, Habiba Ibrahim and Gillian Harkins.  The fellowship is part of the Simpson Center’s Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics: Catalyzing Collaboration program, which advances new directions in public scholarship.

Jhingran has also received funding the Simpson Center to organize a Graduate Research Cluster focused on “Collective for the Study of Racial Capitalism.”


Congratulations to Rasheena Fountain (MFA, 2021) for her essay "A Difficult Trek with My Daughter," featured in Hobart Pulp. While Rasheena has published pieces in other publications, this is her first piece published in a literary journal.


In essays for the Simpson Center Reimagining the PhD blog, English Department graduate students Caitlin Postal and Kaelie Giffel write on accessibility in higher ed. Postal argues for the need to legitimize public scholarship as an academic practice; Giffel writes about how storytelling builds community.  Both represent the English department as our 2019-20 Mellon Collaborative Fellows. Great work!

Caitlin Postal has also been awarded summer support for “Stitching Time: A Making Project" as part of the new Barclay Simpson Scholars in Public Fellowship.


Graduate student Phillip Russell was a recipient of 2020 Bonderman Fellowship. In a typical year, recipients are given two weeks to decide if they want to accept or decline the opportunity. They then have one calendar year to plan and execute their travel plans to visit at least two regions of the world and six different countries over an eight-month span.  But Bonderman Fellows have been affected by the Coronavirus in 2020. All UW travel scholarships have been put on hiatus.  Russell has a two-year window in which they can travel once it is permitted again by the UW.  More time to plan the perfect itinerary?  Congratulations Phillip!


English department graduate students Alec Fisher and Alexandra Meany have been awarded a Mellon Collaborative Summer Fellowship for Public Projects in the Humanities for their collaborative project, “Creative Commons in the Crisis of the 'Prison Fix': Thinking New Publics Across Incarcerated and Homeless Communities.” Alec and Alexandra will be working with faculty advisor, Gillian Harkins.  The fellowship is part of the Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics: Catalyzing Collaboration program, which advances new directions in public scholarship.


Graduate students Joe Wilson and Rebecca Taylor were awarded a Mellon Collaborative Fellowship for Reaching New Publics in Community Colleges as part of the Simpson Center for the Humanities’ Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics: Catalyzing Collaboration. Candice Rai and Anis Bawarshi participated as faculty mentors.


PhD student Jessica Holmes has been published in two recent interdisciplinary collections. Her chapter, "The Trouble with Resilience," was published in Intimate Relations: Communicating (in) the Anthropocene (Lexington Press), and her chapter, "Vegan Studies and Food Studies," was published in the Routledge Handbook of Vegan Studies.


Current graduate student Alycia Gilbert's Master's essay "'Her Speech Betrayeth Her': The New Woman and Gendered Slang" was selected for the Hallien Johnson Memorial Prize in Women and Literary Study for 2018-2019.


PhD student John Morgan Baker's master's essay “The Limits of ‘Those Two Lenses’: Gender, Nationality, and ‘Trans Optics’ in The Sheik” was selected for the Hallien Johnson Memorial Prize in Women and Literary Study.


amanda mccourt
PhD student Amanda McCourt has been awarded the 2020-21 Joseph and Yetta Blau Award for Excellence in Research from the Simpson Center for the Humanities, for research related to her dissertation, titled "Futurist Folklore and Materialist Magic: New Wave Science Fiction in American Counterculture." 


Graduate student Lydia Heberling has received the Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at UCLA for 2021-2022. As a Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow she will expand on work she's begun on Indigenous surfing, seafaring, and storytelling. She will be working under the mentorship of Mishuana Goeman, through the American Indian Studies Center at UCLA.


Gust Burns and Joe Concannon have been awarded the Allan and Mary Kollar Endowed Fellowship for the 2020-21 academic year.  This scholarship is designed to provide financial assistance to highly deserving full-time graduate students studying either American Art History or American literature.

Concannon has also been awarded summer support for “The Now Criticism: Vernacular Poetry Scholarship, 1990-2005” as part of the summer cohort of the Simpson Center’s Society of Scholars. And Burns received funding from the Simpson Center to organize a Graduate Research Cluster focused on “HAPTICS.”


Speaking of the Simpson Center’s Society of Scholars, Mathew Poland has been awarded a Society of Scholars fellowship to support work for “Collecting Works: Eliot, Dickens, and the Institutions of Literature."  Poland initiates what we are sure will be string of noteworthy publications with the article “Commemorative Print: Serialized Monuments during the Shakespeare Tercentenary Debates.”  Poland’s article has been selected as a co-winner of the Hermione and Louis Brown Publication Prize.


PhD students Holly Shelton, Zhenzhen He-Weatherford, Shane Peterson, and Ahmad Alharthi's article “Framing Crisis in Seattle During COVID-19 & BLM: Faith in Generative Dialogue” has been selected as a co-winner for the Hermione and Louis Brown Publication Prize.

Kathleen Reeves has been awarded an Elizabeth Kerr Macfarlane Endowed Scholarship for the 2020-21 academic year. The scholarship is designed to provide financial assistance to highly deserving students in the Humanities. Reeves was also awarded the Donna Gerstenberger Fellowship. And Reeves' article "Bernadette Mayer's Utopia as a Model for Care During Crisis," has been published online in Feminist Theory.


Barkley Ramsey was awarded the Míċeál F. Vaughan Scholarship for 2020-21.  This scholarship provides support for travel to primary research libraries and archives for projects involving European texts before 1600.


Laura Griffith received funding the Simpson Center to organize a Graduate Research Cluster on “Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Studies.”


Francesca Colonnese and Rasheena Fountain were awarded the Richard Dunn First-year Teaching Award, with Joseph Wilson named as honorable mention.


Sumyat Thu
Sumyat Thu was awarded the Joan Webber Award for Outstanding Teaching in the Writing Programs, with Sarah Ghasedi and Jessica Holmes named as honorable mention.


Jessica Holmes was awarded the Joan Webber 200-level Teaching Award.


Shane Peterson, Jennifer Cuffman, and Amanda McCourt were awarded the Phyllis F. and Donald E. Dorset Dissertation Fellowship.


Joseph Concannon and T.J. Walker were awarded the Robert R. and Mary Waltz Dissertation Fellowship.


Sara Lovett and Yan Wang were awarded the Mildred Hainer Fellowship.


Daniel Roberts was awarded Padelford Recruitment Fellowships.


Thaomi Michelle Dinh was awarded a GO-MAP Dissertation Fellowship.


JohnMorgan Baker, Jianfeng He, Belle Kim, Brianna Martinez, Amanda McCourt, Daniel Roberts, and Rachel Yim were awarded Hilen Summer 2020 Research Awards.


Jeriko Lenk
MFA students Haines Whitacre and Amy Zimmerman were the 2020 recipients of the Nelson Bentley Prize.


Ally Ang was the 2020 recipient of the Grace Milliman Pollock Scholarship in Creative Writing.


McKenzie Murray was awarded the Eugene Van Buren Prize for Fiction.


And rounding out our graduate awards and achievement (with a little free reading - see below), MFA student Jerico Lenk, young adult, spec fiction and poetry enthusiast, had a short story “How We See” published with Columbia Journal.  Good stuff! -- read it here.




Kaley Aldrich

Undergraduate Kaley Aldrich, a Senior studying English and Political Science, is a Rhodes Scholarship Finalist. A strong advocate for women’s rights and feminist jurisprudence, Kaley dedicates her research and career ambitions to their advancement. Kaley founded the Undergraduate Law Review and has worked as a research fellow at the Center for American Politics and Public Policy. Currently, Kaley is working on her two honors theses and an independent project on the comparative concept of privacy in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and Roe v. Wade.

Aldrich has also been awarded the George and Barbara Akers Scholarship for the 2020-21 academic year.


Samuel Colgan, a student in the departments of English and Economics, has been named the 2019-20 UW President’s Junior Medalist for High Scholarship, conferred by the Office of the UW President. President Cauce herself shared this good news.


Sophia Carey—a double major in English and Comparative History of Ideas, with a minor in Theater Studies—has been awarded a prestigious Beinecke scholarship. Each year, the UW nominates one student in their junior year for the national Beinecke Scholarship, which awards 20 scholarships to undergraduates from across the country who intend to pursue a master’s or doctoral program in the arts, humanities, or social sciences.  You can read more about Sophia’s research and plans here.


English Creative Writing student Jonathan Hong received a 2020 Libraries Student Employee Scholarship of $1,000.  And English major Andrew Ronstadt has been awarded a 2021 Libraries Student Employee Scholarship of $1,000. Nice work Jonathan and Andrew!


Julia Kudler was the 2020 winner of the Edith K. Draham Scholarship as well as the John Kimball Woolley and Afton Woolley Crooks Scholarship.  Julia was also designated as an alternate for The “Group” of Humanities Scholarships” which include the Fritz, Hunter, Lederman, and Macfarlane awards.


Sophia Carey, Micah Lusignan, Christina Pan, Anna Payne, and Courtney Renaud were awarded a John Kimball Woolley and Afton Woolley Crooks Scholarship.


Micah Lusignan was the recipient of the 2020 Argentina Daley Endowed Fund. Micah has also been elected gonfalonier for the spring 2021 UW graduation commencement.


Olivia Perrone was the 2020 winner of the Peter L. Thorpe Scholarship.


Max Wood was the 2020 winner of the Tia Vall-Spinosa Sullivan Endowed Scholarship.


Daniel O’Connell was the 2020 (and second time) winner of the Arthur Oberg Poetry Prize.


Scott Calahan was this year’s recipient of the Robert Heilman Award as well as the Edward Cox Scholarship.


Zoe Mertz was the recipient of Eilert Anderson scholarship and the Charlotte Paul Reese Prize.


Nikki Talebi was the recipient of the Luckie Budd Waller scholarship.


gearbreakers mikuta
Alice Miller was the recipient of the Ashton Crooks scholarship.


Mickee Cheung and Tyler Wagner were awarded the Grayston Prize.


And finally English major Zoe Hana Mikuta has signed a two book deal with MacMillan. Mikuta’s first book, Gearbreakers, premiers this summer. What’s more, Mikuta has already sold the film rights to “Gearbreakers.”  She’s currently working on a sequel, due out in 2022.  So yes, before even completing the B.A., Mikuta is a published author under contract for a next book and has a movie somewhere on the near horizon. Zoe Mikuta was also the recipient of the Roger Sale scholarship. Wow falls well short. Congratulations Zoe!


Congratulations to all the fabulous English department students winning funding for their educations!  As people who value education and the humanities, English alumni are crucial supporters of our current students.  Given these times of lockdowns, upheaval and transformation, many of our students are experiencing financial hardship.  Your help is needed now more than ever.  We urge alumni to consider making a one time or, better, recurring contribution to support our young scholars.  Follow this link to browse our many options for making a difference.  From the bottoms of our hearts, thank you so much for your support!