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May 18, 2007
Contact: Deborah Baum
(401) 863-2476

The 239th Commencement
Brown Graduate School to Confer Degrees and Awards on May 27

Brown University’s Graduate School Commencement Ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 27, 2007, on Lincoln Field. Timothy Messitt, a doctoral candidate in molecular biology, cell biology, and biochemistry, will deliver the student address, titled “Forging Frontiers.”

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University’s Graduate School will hold its Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 27, 2007. Dean of the Graduate School Sheila Bonde will preside over the ceremony, which begins at 10:30 a.m. on Lincoln Field. The Graduate School will confer approximately 540 advanced degrees – 170 doctorates and 372 master’s degrees. This year, 14 students will receive Master of Public Policy degrees, the first ever to be awarded by the University.

Timothy Messitt, a doctoral candidate in molecular biology, cell biology, and biochemistry will deliver the student address, titled “Forging Frontiers.” Messitt earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from the State University of New York–Geneseo. His doctoral research at Brown focused on mechanisms of RNA transport and translational control in the Xenopus laevis oocyte – premature frog eggs. He is now a research coordinator at the Maine Medical Center for groups working in pediatric pulmonary, nephrology and gastroenterology.

During the ceremony, four doctoral candidates will be honored with the Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Award, an annual prize awarded by the Graduate School for superior achievements in research by students who are completing their Ph.D.s. Supported through the Joukowsky Family Foundation, the awards are given to students from each of the four main academic areas: the humanities, life sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences. The award carries a $2,500 honorarium. This year’s recipients are:

  • Prasanna Satpute-Krishnan, Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry: Mechanistic Insights Into Prion Propagation by Monitoring Protein Dynamics In Vivo;
  • Matthias vom Hau. Department of Sociology:
    Contested Inclusion: A Comparative Study of Nationalism is Mexico, Argentina, and Peru;
  • Stefan Roth, Department of Computer Science:
    High-Order Markov Random Fields for Low-Level Vision; and
  • Laetitia Iturralde, Department of Comparative Literature:
    Out of the Void: Writing ‘Lo Argentino’ in France.

Douglas Brown, director of the Brown University Writing Center, will also be presented with the Wilson-DeBlois Award, which is given annually by the Graduate Student Council to honor outstanding contributions to the Graduate School and its students. The award is named for the recipients of Brown’s first two doctorates in 1889. As director of the Writing Center since 2000, Brown guides a staff of some 40 graduate students from a range of academic disciplines.

Earlier this month, graduate students Kerin Holt of the Department of English and Maria del Mar Patron Vazquez of the Department of Hispanic Studies were honored with The Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching. The annual prize, awarded by the Graduate School to recognize outstanding pedagogical achievement by a Brown University graduate student, carries at $2,500 honorarium.

For more Commencement information, visit

Editors: To request Commencement Weekend credentials or other information, e-mail or the Office of Media Relations or telephone (401) 863-2476.

Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476.