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Verily, Students Earn Top Medieval Research AwardsTwo of Seven Prestigious Awards in National Competition Go To UH

August 25, 2009 - Houston -

Two graduate students from the University of Houston history department are recipients of dissertation fellowships from the prestigious Medieval Academy of America.  Only seven grant awards were handed out in the national competition.   

Ben Pugno and Courtney de Mayo each received awards of $2,000 for their research.   

"The academy is the foremost organization for Medieval studies in the United States, making this a marvelous achievement by these young researchers," said Sally Vaughn, professor in the UH department of history.  "Their work is innovative and, in some cases, groundbreaking.  They are fine representatives of the University of Houston."  

Pugno received the Helen Maud Cam Dissertation Grant for his research titled "Physicians of the Soul:  Healing and Conversion in Anglo-Saxon England."  His work examines how the transmission of medical knowledge from the papal court in post-Roman Italy to England was used as a tool for conversion and as part of the papal missionary program.   

De Mayo won the Etienne Gilson Dissertation Grant for her work "The School at Reims and the Early Capetian State: ca. 979-1031."  The work focuses on political theory of Gerbert of Aurillac/Pope Sylvester II as expressed in his Latin works.  

"Her conclusions are original, groundbreaking and quite persuasive," Vaughn said.  "Namely, that Gerbert taught students who were destined to shape the new French Capetian monarchy and the reconstruction of the political apparatus after the fall of the Carolingian dynasty."   

The award allows Pugno and De Mayo to continue their research in Europe. 

Other winners were from Yale, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, State University of New York-Stony Brook and The City University of New York. 

According to its Web site, the Medieval Academy of America is the largest professional organization in the world devoted to medieval studies.  Founded in 1925,  its goal is to support the research, publication and teaching of  medieval art, archaeology, history, law, literature, music, philosophy, religion, science, social and economic institutions, and all other aspects of the Middle Ages.   

For more information on the UH department of History, visit

For more information on the Medieval Academy of America, visit