Skip To Main Content Skip To Profile Details
Table displaying Distinguished Graduate Student Awards plaques
Image: Rob Dixon, Graduate & Professional School Marketing & Communications

Six graduate students in the Texas A&M University College of Arts and Sciences are among 15 from across the campus who have been named Texas A&M Distinguished Graduate Students for 2023 in recognition of exemplary achievement in teaching or research.

Michelle Jonika, a Ph.D. candidate in genetics and genomics mentored by Dr. Heath Blackmon, and Kunyu Wang, a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry mentored by Dr. Hongcai Joe Zhou, have earned two of the seven Distinguished Graduate Student Awards for Research.

In addition, Shelby Blair, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology mentored by Dr. Naomi Nagaya; Janet Cho, a Ph.D. candidate in English mentored by Dr. Shawna Ross; Jeffrey Cragin, a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry mentored by Dr. Daniel Singleton; and Nathan Lanning, a Ph.D. candidate in oceanography mentored by Dr. Jessica Fitzsimmons, are being honored with four of this year's eight Distinguished Graduate Student Awards for Teaching.

The six students and their fellow 2023 recipients will be presented with a framed certificate and custom-engraved watch from The Association of Former Students at an upcoming ceremony. They also will  be honored April 24 at a university awards ceremony luncheon in the Memorial Student Center Bethancourt Ballroom.

“The Distinguished Graduate Student Awards recognize the top tier of Texas A&M’s graduate students for exemplifying our core values in classrooms and laboratories," said Porter S. Garner III ’79, President and CEO of The Association of Former Students. "These awards have been presented annually since 1965, thanks to generous gifts to The Association of Former Students’ Annual Fund. We are pleased to be able to honor these exceptional Aggies for their important contributions to Texas A&M’s world-class teaching and cutting-edge research.”

Each year, only a handful of graduate students are recognized with the coveted award that represents one of Texas A&M’s highest honors for outstanding research or teaching achievement. Students are nominated by their faculty advisors or their departments — an accomplishment in and of itself, officials say, due to the strenuous eligibility requirements. The award recipients are chosen by a panel of reviewers that includes faculty and administrators.

Dr. Fuhui Tong, interim associate provost and dean of the Texas A&M Graduate and Professional School, thanked the Association of Former Students for its longtime support of the Distinguished Graduate Student Awards.

“Graduate students support Texas A&M’s research and teaching missions in ways that make a positive impact on our university and the world," Tong added. "I am grateful to The Association of Former Students for their support in helping us recognize 15 of our most exemplary graduate and professional students this year."

To learn more about the Distinguished Graduate Student Awards and related programs and events to celebrate graduate student accomplishment at Texas A&M, visit