Averitt Awards

College of Graduate Studies Presents Averitt Awards

The Averitt Award is the highest honor bestowed upon graduate students within the Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies. This year’s winners, Nick Keiser and Johnathan Martin, were selected for the categories of Excellence in Research and Excellence in Instruction. As a surprise, University administrators presented a $1,000 cash prize and a Crystal Eagle trophy to each recipient in the classroom among their peers, faculty and staff.

Nick Keiser – Averitt Award for Excellence in Research

Keiser, a graduate student from the M.S. Biology program in the College of Science and KeiserAveritMathematics, is a dedicated and academically gifted student with one publication from his undergraduate work and five publications since graduation. He has won five awards for research and scholarship since his arrival at Georgia Southern – three from the Georgia Entomological Society and two scholarships from the biology department.

His graduate research investigated behavioral plasticity and predator-prey relationships in aphids. “I specifically decided to come to Georgia Southern to work with Ed Mondor, because I knew about his work in the ecology and evolution of aphids,” said Keiser, about the professor of insect ecology.

Keiser’s work focused on aphids and their behavior when predators are present. He specifically studied aphids’ formation of colonies and their structure when they are at risk from predators. “With his ability to think about ecological/evolutionary topics from new perspectives, inquisitive nature and excellent people skills, there is no doubt that Nick will excel as a researcher and teacher,” said Mondor.

Although he was awarded for his research work, Keiser is an accomplished teacher and active in professional service. He has assisted faculty with manuscript review, taught three biology courses and volunteered to teach an additional section just for the learning experience. “Science is all about volunteering for research, working on a committee and answering questions about the natural world,” said Keiser. His further plans include pursuing a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution at the University of Pittsburgh.

Johnathan Martin – Averitt Award for Excellence in Instruction

MartinAverittEven though Johnathan Martin began his college career in computer science, he found his major would change after one class. “When I took a psychology class, something clicked and I said, ‘You can really help people.’ I’ve been on this track ever since,” said the second year doctoral student in the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) program in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Early in Martin’s career, he worked as an admissions counselor and taught psychology courses at Catawba Community College in Hickory, N.C., while also spending time working in local prisons with the Spanish speaking population.

In addition to Martin’s full course load of academic work and his graduate teaching assistantship at Georgia Southern, he devotes 15 hours per week to a practicum at the University’s Psychology Clinic by providing therapy to clients ranging from children to the elderly. “We have a lot of clientele from the community and some that drive from over an hour away,” he said about the affordable $10 sessions the clinic provides. “We offer testing for learning disorders and therapy, individual and group,” he added. Martin also meets with parents, grandparents and employees at elementary schools to explain how stress and anxiety can affect their lives.

Additionally, Martin works as a psychometrist for Horizon Behavioral Health in Hinesville, Ga. to provide psychological testing and evaluations for children and adolescents, which includes screening for Attention Deficit Disorder, learning disabilities and various emotional problems.

Martin’s latest accomplishment is a chapter on loneliness that he co-wrote with Dr. Jackson Rainer for the book Rural Mental Health, which is expected to debut this month. Martin said this volume applies to any practitioners — including psychologists, counselors, social worker’s or physician’s offices – working with rural clientele.

“This is a tremendous blessing,” Martin said about the award. “I never expected in my wildest dreams to be recognized.”

—Mary Beth Spence

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