UT Ph.D. candidate awarded $10,000

AUSTIN, Texas — Winners for the Michael H. Granof Award for Excellence in Graduate Education were announced Wednesday evening at an awards banquet hosted by the University Co-op at the Four Seasons.

William “Bill” Liechty, a doctoral candidate and NSF graduate research fellow in the chemical engineering department at UT, was awarded the $10,000 grand prize for his research on the use of biopolymers and nanotechnology for drug delivery systems. Most notably, Liechty recently published his research on the development of advanced molecular designs of biopolymers to noninvasively deliver chemotherapeutic agents to cancer patients.

Liechty was nominated as the Michael H. Granof Outstanding Graduate Student by professors Robert J. Adams, Ph.D. in the department of management; Isaac C. Sanchez, Ph.D. in the department of chemical engineering; and Nicholas A. Peppas, Ph.D., the department chair for biomedical engineering and co-author to many of Liechty’s articles.

During the awards presentation, vice provost and dean of graduate studies, ad interim Judith Langlois, Ph.D., quoted Peppas saying, “Bill is an exceptional student and phenomenal scientist. He is by far one of the best I’ve seen in my 36 years in academics.”

In addition to five articles published in highly cited journals, Liechty was elected to participate in the 61st annual meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau, Germany and co-founded a summer program at UT, exposing high-risk high school students to graduate research. One of these students plans to attend M.I.T. this fall. Liechty has also served as the principal of Texas Venture Labs — a campus-wide initiative developed in pairing UT entrepreneurial graduate students with local start-up companies to help improve their business models.

Liechty expects to graduate with his doctorate in chemical engineering next May.

Other award winners included Guillermo Blanc, Chiyuma Elliott and Julio Mac Dowall for their outstanding dissertations; Eric Campbell, Gabrielle Russo and Brandon Slaughter for excellence in graduate research; Hayriye Aydar, Tamer Kaoud and Angie Zapata as outstanding graduate academic employees; Sarah Murray for her outstanding thesis on gender and branding of niche cable identity; and Arumugam Manthiram, Marilyn Lehman and Desiderio Kovar for their outstanding roles as graduate teacher, coordinator and adviser.

H.W. Brands, an alumnus and distinguished professor in the department of history at UT, was also honored last night with the Outstanding Alumnus Award for his literary work and dedication to the students.

The University Co-operative Society presents these awards every spring to graduate students and faculty who have made extraordinary contributions to their fields of study as well as to the University. Named after Michael H. Granof, chairperson of the University Co-op Board of Directors and Ernst & Young professor in accounting, these awards are a true testament to the brilliance of graduate students at UT and the truth of the mantra, “what starts here changes the world.”