Doctoral students recognized with dissertation award

This year’s Graduate Dean’s Distinguished Dissertation Award recipients are Monica Rasmussen ’24 Ph.D. and Providence Adu ’24 Ph.D.

Rasmussen’s dissertation, “The Influence of Time, Rock Properties and Climate on Mechanical Weathering,” provides a comprehensive field, laboratory and modeling analysis of rock cracking under natural environmental conditions over hundreds of thousands of years. Her research determined that rock cracking decelerates over time, irrespective of rock type and environment, due to rocks reaching a state of “squishiness” that allows them to endure daily stresses.

After completing a Ph.D. in infrastructure and environmental systems, Rasmussen accepted a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Geology and Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Tulane University in 2009.

Adu, who earned a Ph.D. in geography, was honored for the dissertation “Analyzing Housing Market Dynamics and Neighborhood Change: A Case Study of Charlotte, North Carolina.”

Utilizing the rapidly growing city of Charlotte as a case study, Adu established a framework incorporating spatial statistics tools, natural language processing techniques and novel and traditional data to analyze the relationship between urban policy, private actors, housing markets and neighborhood change.

Key findings of Adu’s research include the significant role of corporate landlords in employing exclusionary criteria in the rental market, the clustering of housing renovation activities driven by income and homeownership rates, and the impact of housing code enforcement on home sales prices. These findings underscore the need for policies addressing housing discrimination and spatial inequalities, he concluded.

Adu is a research associate at UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute; he joined the University after earning a Master of Science in City and Regional Planning from Clemson University in 2018.

The UNC Charlotte Graduate School presents the Distinguished Dissertation Award to recognize exceptional research and scholarship by a doctoral student at UNC Charlotte.