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English graduate wins outstanding master's thesis award

January 12, 2004

SPRINGFIELD - Kristine Muschal, who graduated from the University of Illinois at Springfield last spring with a master's degree in English, has won the Outstanding Master's Thesis award for the 2002-03 academic year. Her thesis is titled "Critical Analysis of the Influence of the Classical Greek Prometheus Myth and Shakespeare's Macbeth on H.G. Wells' The Time Machine."

The quality of the analysis and the innovative nature of Muschal's research were the basis for the English Department's selection of her thesis, said Karen Moranski, associate professor of English. Muschal's thesis presents an innovative interpretation of Wells' novel and argues that by fashioning the Time Traveller as an ironic Prometheus figure, modeled on images of the Titan created by Hesiod, Aeschylus, and Mary Shelly, Wells makes a central point about the human condition: If scientists do not work in concert with nature and anticipate the consequences of their actions, the results could be cataclysmic.

A Special Merit award was given to Matthew Burnburg for his report. He received a master's degree in Management Information Systems last spring. His thesis is titled "A Proposed Framework for Business Information Security Based on the Concept of Defense-in Depth." According to Rassule Hadidi, professor of Management Information Systems, Burnburg's thesis was selected because of the importance of his research in our society today and in the future as well as its relevancy, currency, and the level of difficulty of the research topic.

Burnburg's project proposes a comprehensive framework for information and systems security based on seven recognized security domains. He successfully validated his model through testing in an operating financial industry network.

Also receiving a Special Merit award was Mary Zumwalt, who graduated with a master's degree in Individual Option. Her report, titled "Early Intervention and Child Abuse," examines the impact of trauma on the development of the brain, as well as current policies related to such conditions and existing assessment techniques. Using the information gathered, she then developed an original screening instrument for neurological dysfunction in traumatized children. According to Karen Kirkendall, associate professor of Psychology, Zumwalt's work was well grounded in empirical research and led to an original, innovative, and exciting idea.

Harry Berman, associate vice chancellor for graduate education and research, said the UIS Research Board was impressed by the high quality of all the reports and faced a challenging task in selecting the top one among the eight nominated by graduate departments. "Each of the submitted theses was a credit to our students and our faculty," he said.

Other graduates whose theses were nominated were Phyllis Daugherty, Educational Leadership; Kevin Hughes, History; Richard Bell, Computer Science; Janine Maxwell, Environmental Studies; and Steven Battles, Human Services.

The eight students will be honored at a reception on January 20 at UIS.

Research board members are James Hall, Keenan Dungey, Daniel Matthews, Hilary Frost-Kumpf, Mary Elizabeth Smith, and Harry Berman, who serves as chair. Deb Koua serves as staff to the board. For purposes of selection of the Outstanding Master's Thesis, the board was joined by emeritus professors Don Stanhope and Frank Kopecky.

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