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Six WVU graduate students receive prestigious scholarships allowing them to pursue their passions

Students smile with headshots

Six West Virginia University graduate students — Hannah Clipp, Makenzie Dolly, Kayla Steinberger, Mehedi Hasan Tarek, Kristen H. Pierce and Lillian Skiba-Thayer — will be able to focus on their research first as they work to finish their degrees with support from WVU Foundation scholarships (WVU Graphic)

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Six West Virginia University graduate students from around the world and the United States will be able to focus on their research first as they work to finish their degrees with support from WVU Foundation scholarships.

The Office of Graduate Education and Life announced four doctoral students selected to receive the WVU Foundation Distinguished Doctoral Scholarship and two master’s degree students chosen to receive the Carl del Signore Foundation Scholarship. The awards help students defray costs and support the completion of their theses or dissertations. 

WVU Distinguished Doctoral Scholarship Awardees

A native of Bel Air, Maryland, Hannah Clipp is working toward a doctorate in natural resources science at the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.

“I am very grateful and honored to have been selected as a recipient of the WVU Foundation Distinguished Doctoral Scholarship,” Clipp said. “With this support, I will be completing my dissertation research studying long-term effects of climate change and forest management on bird abundance and communities throughout the Appalachian Mountains.”

Makenzie Dolly, of Frederick, Maryland, is pursuing a PhD in industrial engineering from the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

“Being awarded the WVU Foundation Distinguished Doctoral Scholarship is truly humbling, and I am incredibly grateful for this support towards my education, research and personal life,” Dolly said. “Knowing that the University sees value in my research on improving the working lives of manufacturing shop floor workers is a great honor. This scholarship has directly afforded me the ability to recruit participants for my research, which in turn assists me in obtaining the data necessary for my dissertation. Additionally, by covering a portion of my educational costs, this scholarship has provided me with some financial freedom to maintain a better work-life balance during my first year of marriage."

Kayla Steinberger, of Belle Center, Ohio, is enrolled in the dual MD/PhD program at the School of Medicine.

“I am honored to receive this scholarship,” Steinberger said. “Thank you to the WVU Foundation and the Office of Graduate Education and Life for this prestigious award. This scholarship will be instrumental in facilitating the completion of my dissertation work, which focuses on how low oxygen in tumors confers resistance to cancer treatments through immune cell function. My intentions are to use this scholarship to distribute my work through publication and conference travel. As I finish my dual degree, I am motivated to translate my graduate training to helping patients in the clinic. For this support, I am incredibly grateful.”

Mehedi Hasan Tarek is an international student from Rajshahi, Bangladesh. He is pursuing a doctorate in civil engineering from the Statler College.

“I am honored to receive the WVU Foundation Distinguished Doctoral Scholarship,” Tarek said. “This scholarship will support me in completing my dissertation on monitoring antibiotic-resistant pathogens in water bodies. The outcome of my dissertation will help develop sustainable and effective watershed management plans to protect drinking and recreational water sources. However, this scholarship will help offset my educational and daily expenses as I am working on the final portion of my PhD and preparing for the next career stage.”

Carl del Signore Foundation Scholarship Awardees

Kristen H. Pierce, of Winston Salem, North Carolina, is working toward a master’s degree in plant pathology at the Davis College.

“I am so thankful to have received this scholarship,” Pierce said. “This award is taking the financial burden of paying university fees off of my shoulders for this semester, allowing me to focus more on finishing my research and beginning to write my thesis. My thesis work will be a contribution to the field of forest health, as I study the use of pathogenic fungi to combat invasive plants that are outcompeting native vegetation in forests across the United States. I appreciate the support the WVU Foundation and the Office of Graduate Life and Education are providing me and graduate students in disciplines across the University.”

A native of Tecumseh, Michigan, Lillian Skiba-Thayer is completing her master’s degree and PhD in psychology, with an emphasis in behavior analysis, at the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

“I am truly grateful to receive the Carl del Signore Foundation Scholarship,” Skiba-Thayer said. “This scholarship grants me the opportunity to focus on my master’s thesis advancing the understanding of conditioned reinforcement. Along with completing my thesis, I will be able to conduct additional research and gain important clinical experience. I am appreciative of this scholarship as it will aid in the costs associated with graduate education affording me the opportunity to better contribute to the field of behavior analysis.”

For more information about the scholarships, contact Jessica Queener, assistant provost for graduate education policy, at

Gifts to support the two scholarships are made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.



Senior Communications Specialist
WVU Foundation

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