Academic excellence and exceptional research are attributes of Christine Marie Rainbolt of Idaho Falls, Idaho, who was named the Centennial Class of 2011 University Graduate Medal winner at California State University, Fresno.

Her selection was revealed during the Graduate Degree Hooding Ceremony for master’s and doctoral candidates on Friday, May 20, at the Save Mart Center.

Rainbolt, representing the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, was presented the silver University Graduate Medal by Fresno State President John D. Welty. She also received a plaque presented by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs William Covino.

The University Graduate Medal is the top honor awarded to a graduate student.

Rainbolt was selected from among graduate Dean’s Medalists from each of the university’s eight schools and colleges of academic discipline and the Division of Student Affairs. The dean of each selects a graduate medalist based on academic accomplishment, service to the school, community involvement and other notable achievements.

Rainbolt was among 956 students eligible to receive master’s or doctoral degree hoods on Friday night before their post-baccalaureate degrees were formally conferred Saturday morning, during the 100th Commencement.

She completed a Master of Science in Plant Science with a 4.0 GPA.

Rainbolt discovered her passion for research after working as a nursery sales representative, then as a biological science technician for the USDA Agricultural Research Service, and as an extension agent in Palm Beach County, Fla.

Rainbolt has been a volunteer for the Sequoia Chapter of the California Native Plant Society.

Her thesis research examines using steam as a soil fumigant replacement for methyl bromide to grow cut flowers. The process could be applied to other high value-crops where fumigation chemicals are at issue.

Rainbolt received first- and third-place awards from the California Weed Science Society for her student papers. She is preparing her work for publication in a horticulture research journal.

In her nomination letter, Dr. Sharon E. Benes, a professor and graduate coordinator in the Department of Plant Science, wrote that Rainbolt was selected for “her combination of very strong academics, teaching support for two professors and excellent research and presentation skills.”

“It is also notable because this was achieved while having her first baby and caring for her child at home,” Benes wrote.

Rainbolt plans a career in outreach or education in weed management.

Two other top students were honored at the Graduate Degree Hooding Ceremony:

  • Hatice Durgun of Istanbul, Turkey, received the Outstanding Thesis Award. She received her M.S. in Viticulture and Enology in August 2010.
  • Viktoriia Teliga received the Phyllis Watts Eudy Memorial Award for the outstanding international graduate student. Teliga, who is from Ukraine, earned her M.A. in Linguistics.

Related links:

Nine students named Graduate Medalists at Fresno State