Five named 2020 Graduate Award winners

Five named 2020 Graduate Award winners

Five named 2020 Graduate Award winners


The Office of Graduate Studies announces the nominees and five awardees of the 2020 Graduate Awards, an annual competition to recognize excellence, innovation, and impact within the graduate degree programs.

The award competition began in 2009 with the Presidential Thesis Award and has expanded since then to include multiple categories. The winners in each category receive a $100 prize as well as lunch with the UOG executives. 
The awards are sponsored by the UOG Endowment Foundation, the Research Corporation of the University of Guam, and the Offices of the President and Senior Vice President & Provost. Half of the sponsored funds went to the prizes, and the other half went to COVID-19 relief efforts.

The 2020 Graduate Awards go to:

The RCUOG Innovative Research Award recognizes new or novel methods of conducting research, studying behaviors, or producing results.


  • Lyuqin Liu (Environmental Science): “Effects of Seawater on Nitrification in a Biofilm Treatment Process”
  • Arielle Lowe (English): “Pakaka I Pachot-Mu! Chamoru Yu’!: A Mestisa Rhetoric Analysis of Guam’s Chamaole Narratives”


Winner: Arielle Lowe (English)

Chair: Dr. Andrea Sant

Arielle Lowe

This research deconstructs the various identity formations described in the published poetry of three Chamaole authors from Guam: Jessica Perez-Jackson's "Half Caste," excerpts from Lehua Taitano's “A Bell Made of Stones,” and Corey Santos' "Chamaoli." In addition to conducting a literary analysis of their poems, multiple interviews conducted with the poets over several weeks provide additional data. This study draws evidence from layered accounts of poetry, oral narratives, and autobiographical commentary. This study of Chamaole identity formations contributes to both Chamorro Studies and Critical Mixed Race Studies scholarship. This project not only demonstrates rigorous traditional scholarship in critical race, feminist, and literary theories and methodologies, it also engages in methods outside of the traditional box of literary studies by creating community engagement and qualitative interview collection and analysis.

The UOG Endowment Foundation’s Community Impact Award recognizes those whose research contributes to the island community.


  • Marcel Higgs (Micronesian Studies): “Language Barriers and Healthcare Disparities on Guam”
  • Hanna Jugo (Sustainable Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources): “Adaptive Strategies to Food Insecurity within the Chuukese Community of Guam”
  • Leah Llegado (Secondary Education)
  • Dan Superales (Environmental Science): “Defining and Evaluating Production Capacity for the Northern Guam Lens Aquifer”
  • Kayle Tydingco (English): “Tiningo’ Famålao’an: Oral Histories and Non-Fiction Stories of Chamorro Women’s Agency”
  • Cohort XV (PMBA): “Startup Weekend Micronesia”

Winner: Hanna Jugo (SAFNR)

Chair: Dr. Bob Barber

Hanna Jugo

This study explored the adaptive strategies utilized within members of the Chuukese community of Guam, as well as the adaptive strategies traditionally utilized in Chuuk. Recommendations on how identified adaptive strategies can be of use to education and support programs were also identified. This thesis offers many culturally appropriate insights and recommendations to address the issue of food insecurity on our island. While the focus is on the Chuukese community the issues and strategies may well apply to many other ethnic groups on the island. The current levels of food insecurity on Guam are not known, but pre-COVID-19 indicators hinted at alarming levels. Her thesis establishes a referenceable publication to justify funding for studies to document the actual levels of food insecurity on our island and then the need for USDA sanctioned food cost studies to adjust federal funding levels government support awards (SNAP, WIC and school lunches).

The Graduate Council’s Outstanding Student Award recognizes academic excellence.


  • Justin Berg (Biology)
  • John Formoso (Clinical Psychology)
  • Edward Leon Guerrero (Micronesian Studies)
  • Lyuqin Liu (Environmental Science)


Winner: Justin Berg (Biology)

Justin Berg

Justin Thomas Berg shows academic excellence in his course work while serving the program as student representative. Over the last two years, he attended every student recruitment event organized by the university and he aided new students in their transition into graduate school. Examples of this service to the program include helping new students navigate the curriculum and develop a course-schedule tailored to their needs. Justin’s service goes far beyond his duties as student representative. He is actively involved in mentoring undergraduate and high-school students in a near-peer mentoring framework. He helped these students design and run experiments, collect and analyze data, and assisted students in compiling poster and oral presentations. In addition to these responsibilities, he developed a thesis research project that investigates environmental impacts on coral microbiomes and health.

 The Senior Vice President’s Graduate Faculty Award recognizes excellence in faculty research, mentorship,and leadership at the graduate level. 


  • Todd Ames (Micronesian Studies)
  • Paul Fleming (Clinical Psychology)
  • Geraldine James (Education)
  • John Jenson (Environmental Science)
  • John Rivera (Public Administration)


Winner: Paul Fleming (Clinical Psychology)

Paul Fleming

Since joining MSCP in 2015, Dr. Fleming has taken on the chairship of eight master’s thesis committees. Unlike most thesis mentors, Dr. Fleming makes a point of scheduling a required weekly team meeting for all of his thesis students so as to provide active and ongoing mentorship and to create a research team environment. Dr. Fleming has immersed himself in Isa Psychological Services Center’s mission, providing training, clinical supervision, and consultation to MSCP graduate student trainees, as well as direct clinical services with clients. Despite his substantial credentials, Dr. Fleming is always humble, hardworking, and down to earth. He provides many dedicated hours of service at Isa each week, meeting with students for individual supervision, co-leading the Isa case conference, conducting clinical evaluations with clients, and carrying his own caseload of psychotherapy clients. Dr. Fleming is extraordinarily dedicated to providing high quality clinical training and mental health services at Isa Psychological Services Center


Special Recognition for Sustained Career Excellence:
John Jenson (Environmental Science)

The Presidential Thesis Award recognizes outstanding scholarship in a thesis manuscript. The criteria for evaluation includes organization of the project, rigor of the analysis, and contribution to knowledge about the region.


  • Paul Bourke (Environmental Science): “A Hydrogeologic Survey of Santa Rita Spring Guam, engineering and design recommendations for rehabilitation”
  • Vince Bukikosa (Administration & Supervision): “Transformational Principal Leadership Style and the Correlation to Teacher Motivation”
  • Jordan Gault (Biology): “The Evolution of Photosymbiosis in Scleractinian Coral”
  • Dennis Ward Kranz (TESOL): “English as a Second Language and Foreign Language Teachers’ Grammar Teaching Cognition: A Comparison of Guam Practices”
  • Edward Leon Guerrero (Micronesian Studies): “Umespipiha i Fino’ CHamoru Among non-fluent Young CHamorus on Guåhan: Exploring language revitalization, ethnolinguistic identity, indigeneity and CHamoru activism amongst non-fluent CHamoru Millennials and Generation Z”
  • Vanalyn Quichocho (Clinical Psychology): “Håyi Ham På’go: Understanding How CHamoru Identity and Acculturation Styles Affect the Psychological Well-Being of Third Generation World War Ii CHamoru People in Guam”
  • Fu’una Sanz (English): “I Tinilaikan Numiru Gi Fino’ CHamoru: Changes in Chamorro Plurality”


Winner: Edward Leon Guerrero (Micronesian Studies)

Chair: Dr. Don Rubinstein

Edward Leon Guerrero

The thesis explores how young CHamorus on Guam articulate a sense of personal cultural identity despite a lack of fluency in the CHamoru language. The thesis situates its discussion and analysis within a long historical arc, as it examines changing articulations of CHamoru ethnic identity and indigenous language use over time in Guam. Using data from 14 extended interviews with young CHamorus, the author has developed a formal model of CHamoru identity and language acquisition, and has formulated a set of attributes that young CHamorus deploy in making judgments about CHamoru cultural “authenticity.” This thesis makes a significant contribution to CHamoru Studies and Micronesian Studies, as well as to the theoretical literature on cultural identity. The thesis also offers a set of well-reasoned policy recommendations for CHamoru language and culture advocates.