Annual Celebration of Excellence by Students (ACES)

About ACES

The Annual Celebration of Excellence by Students (ACES) symposium is a university-wide, daylong event that occurs in late March. ACES showcases the best of our students' research and creativity. Undergraduate and graduate students work with faculty mentors in their disciplines to write and submit abstracts for the competition. The approved abstracts are then turned into oral presentations or posters to be presented at the symposium.

Past winners have presented research on gene therapy, business relations, army recruiting, pain control, better tools for builders, history, philosophy, biochemistry, engineering. They have presented works of art, literature, music, and stage performances. ACES is truly an interdisciplinary event in which any student from any program can participate.


In addition to the standard ACES awards, presentations and posters that students submit as being relevant to sustainability also will be eligible to win additional sustainability awards. Presenters who want to be eligible for this additional category should make certain that the appropriate box is checked when submitting an abstract.

Keynote Speaker
Ashanti Johnson

Image of Ashanti Johnson.

Dr. Ashanti Johnson is the Executive Director of the Institute for Broadening Participation. Dr. Johnson received her B.S. (1993) in Marine Science from Texas A&M University-Galveston (TAMUG) and her Ph.D. (1999) in Oceanography from Texas A&M University (TAMU). She was the first African American student body president at TAMUG. She is also one of the first female African-American chemical oceanographers in the country, and the first African-American to earn a doctoral degree in oceanography from TAMU. She has served as a faculty member for the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, the Savannah State University Marine Science Program, the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, and most recently the University of Texas at Arlington Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Her areas of research specialization include: 1) aquatic radiogeochemistry, 2) professional development of students, and 3) science and engineering diversity-focused initiatives.

She currently serves as the director of one of four NASA One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI) Broker-Facilitator Corps, as well as the director for the NASA and NSF-funded Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success in Earth System Science Initiative. She is also the PI of the NSF-funded Pathways to Ocean Science Project and Co-PI of the NSF-funded Pathways to Engineering Project. Dr. Johnson has received numerous honors and awards and has been published in many scientific and education journals. In January 2010 she received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring at the White House in recognition of her professional development and diversity-related activities. On February 1, 2010 she was recognized by, an NBC product, as one of 100 History Makers in The Making and more recently she was profiled in the Black Enterprise Magazine March 2011 Issue's "Women In STEM" Feature Story. Dr. Johnson's activities have been highlighted in numerous newspapers, on several websites, and by Fox and ABC television affiliates. Dr. Johnson also enjoys her role as wife and mother, and is active in her church, sorority (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.) and local community.

Events with Ms. Johnson

Faculty Roundtable Discussion
Friday, March 23, 2012
3:00 - 4:00 p.m., Carlisle Suite,
E.H. Hereford University Center
To register for this event, visit

Keynote Address
Friday, March 23, 2012
8:00 p.m., College Park Center
Free and open to the public (ticket required)

The ACES keynote speaker is included in the Maverick Speakers series and is generously funded by the Office of the President, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Education and Health Professions, the School of Urban and Public Affairs and the Office of Graduate Studies.

If you need a special accommodation to fully participate in this event, please contact Ashley Horn in the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School at 817-272-5386 (voice). Please allow sufficient time to arrange the accommodation.