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Meet the 32 Dean's Honored Graduates for 2019

Meet the 32 Dean's Honored Graduates for 2019

Dean's Honored Graduate is the highest honor awarded to graduating seniors in the College of Natural Sciences. Honorees exhibit excellence in the classroom as well as substantial achievement in scientific research, an independent intellectual pursuit, or exceptional service and leadership to the college and university. These outstanding students are among the graduating seniors also receiving College of Natural Sciences Distinctions this year.


Anne Elizabeth Dattilo
Distinction in Research, graduating with Honors B.S. degrees in Astronomy and Physics

For her thesis research, Anne worked with Dr. Andrew Vanderburg, using machine-learning methods to detect exoplanets in second-mission Kepler data. This work led to the successful discovery of two planets outside our solar system. Anne was first author on a paper, "Identifying Exoplanets with Deep Learning II: Two New Super-Earths Uncovered by a Neural Network in K2 Data," which was published in The Astronomical Journal in April. Anne has served as a peer mentor for the Freshman Research Initiative's White Dwarf Stars stream, teaching first-year students introductory techniques in astronomy research, as a mentor in Women in Natural Sciences, and as a leader in introductory Python workshops for students. She is a Terry Scholar and the recipient of the Astronomy Department's Outstanding Senior Award, and she received summer research funding from the John W. Cox Foundation. After graduation, she will pursue her Ph.D. in Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz this fall.

Logan Pearce
Distinctions in Research & in Service and Leadership, graduating with a B.S. in Astronomy and a B.S. in Physics

Logan is a returning student following careers as an officer in the US Navy and as a middle-school science teacher. She conducted research in observational astronomy with a focus on giant planet formation at large distances from host stars with Dr. Adam Kraus. Logan was first author on a published paper about the orbit of the wide planet companion to the star GSC 6214-210 and a co-author on a second paper that will be submitted. She has conducted short-term research projects at Northern Arizona University and the University of California, Berkeley, on the composition of the methane lakes on Titan and searching for extraterrestrial technosignatures. Active in the Student Veteran Association and Astronomy Students Association, Logan has received several highly competitive national scholarships and fellowships, including the Barry Goldwater Foundation Scholarship, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's Astronaut Scholarship, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Logan will attend the University of Arizona and the Steward Observatory's Ph.D. program in the fall.

Aimee Lee Schechter
Distinctions in Research & in Service and Leadership, graduating with Honors B.S. degrees in Astronomy Special Programs and in Physics

Aimee's thesis analyzes how dust in front of Cepheid variable stars in M101 may be impacting cosmological distance measurements. This research relates to work she did with Dr. Caitlin Casey investigating the speed of gas outflows from a dusty, star-forming galaxy and can help astronomers learn more about galactic feedback, the circumgalactic medium, and ways to improve cosmological simulations. She published a Research Note with Dr. Casey and was recognized with an Honorable Mention at the American Astronomical Society's 233rd meeting. Throughout her time at UT, Aimee served as president and outreach coordinator for Undergraduate Women in Physics and as a program ambassador for Women in Natural Sciences. Aimee is the recipient of multiple UT scholarships, including the Karl G. Henize Endowed Scholarship and the John W. Cox Endowment for the Advanced Studies in Astronomy. Outside of school, Aimee enjoys supporting UT sports teams and worked for the Boston Red Sox as a Fenway Park tour guide. Aimee will pursue her Ph.D. in Astrophysics at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Zili Shen
Distinction in Research, graduating with Honors B.S.A degrees in Astronomy and Physics in the Polymathic Scholars Honors program

Her honors thesis, titled "Falsifiability of the Multiverse Theory," was written under the mentorship of Dr. Volker Bromm. Zili's broad range of experiences in astrophysics include studying the star formation history of dwarf galaxies with her research advisor Dr. Kristen McQuinn and identifying a galaxy with an extremely recent starburst. The latter led to a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, one of the highest-impact journals in astronomy, with Zili as co-author. She also completed a research internship in Germany and published a first-author paper on solar physics. Zili received a first-place award in the Physics Department Open House Poster Competition, and she is the recipient of the Kevin E. Underhill Memorial Endowed Presidential Scholarship and a semifinalist for the University Co-op / George H. Mitchell Awards. After graduation, she will pursue an Astronomy Ph.D. with a Gruber Fellowship at Yale University.


Jenna McGuffey
Distinction in Research, graduating with an Honors B.S.A in Biochemistry in the Health Science Scholars program

For her honors thesis, Jenna focused on increasing the evolutionary stability of yeast to provide a more optimized host for synthetic biology research. In her freshman year, she joined Dr. Jeffrey Barrick's lab and the UT Austin iGEM team, which led to a first-author publication about a less expensive solid media protocol to increase the accessibility of microbiology for science educators and DIY biologists. Jenna also participated in a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at UT Southwestern, conducting research on the evolution of antibiotic resistance. Additionally, Jenna has presented at multiple conferences and worked as a consultant in the University Writing Center. She received a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship and multiple UT undergraduate fellowships. In the fall, Jenna will pursue her Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis in the Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis Program.

Sebastian Rivera
Distinction in Research, graduating with an Honors B.S.A. in Biochemistry in the Polymathic Scholars Honors program

Under the guidance of Dr. Diana Zamora, Sebastian was involved with the Supramolecular Sensors stream of the Freshman Research Initiative, serving as a peer mentor for two years. He received a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and co-authored a manuscript currently in preparation for publication. He also conducted research in Dr. Eric Anslyn's laboratory on single-molecule peptide sequencing. Sebastian earned two NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates fellowships, one at UT and one at Scripps Research Florida, and he co-authored a published paper on synthesizing a lysine derivative. In the fall, Sebastian will be attending the University of Michigan for the doctoral program in Chemical Biology.


Manasa Atyam
Distinction in Research, graduating with an Honors B.S. in Biology in the Dean's Scholars Honors program

Working in Dr. Alison Preston's lab to study human learning and memory and with Dr. Kate Sherrill, Manasa conducted research for her thesis, "Spatial Constructs Inform Decision-Making in Novel Experiences." This research uses virtual navigation to study how we deploy spatial knowledge when making judgments about new information. Manasa has dedicated a large part of her time at UT to mentoring others, serving as a teaching assistant for Originality in Arts and Sciences, as a tutor at the Sanger Learning Center and Garza Independence High School, and as the chair of the Health Careers Mentorship Program, where she organized a Health Summit for underserved high schoolers interested in healthcare. She volunteered with several organizations including the Muscular Dystrophy Association, People's Community Clinic, St. David's Medical Center, and Humans of the Forty Acres, a campus photojournalism project. Manasa received the Eva Stevenson Woods Endowed Presidential Scholarship, an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and the Thomas J. Watson Memorial Scholarship. After graduation, she will attend Baylor College of Medicine.

Janelle Chavez
Distinction in Service and Leadership, graduating with an Honors B.S.A. in Biology through the Health Science Scholars program

Janelle's honors thesis, "M.D. Anderson Project ECHO: Addressing Cancer Care Inequities Through Telementorship and Hands-On Training," was written under the supervision of Dr. Valerie Danesh and Melissa Lopez. She also is publishing two papers in collaboration with her mentor, Dr. Shine Chang. Her experience as a research trainee at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center led to multiple conferences presentations. The recipient of an Aspire Award for Leadership and Service, Janelle served as a Freshman Research Initiative peer mentor, the Student Government Health Representative, a Texas State Capitol health policy intern, and a United Nations Novus Summit Delegate. She also co-founded the UT Global Surgery Student Alliance and the Latinx Honors Student Association, and she was a College of Natural Sciences Ambassador. She is a National Cancer Institute R25E Fellow, a Forty Acres Scholar, a Stamps Scholar, and a Coca-Cola Scholar. After graduation, she will attend Stanford Medical School as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar.

Sophie Curie
Distinction in Research, graduating with an Honors B.S.A. in Biology in the Health Science Scholars program

For her thesis, Sophie spearheaded a project to engineer the human cholesterol pathway in yeast to produce a remarkable reagent for medical research and better understand human lipid metabolic disease. She received an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, interned in the Health Careers Opportunity Program at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and interned in the Harvard Catalyst Summer Clinical and Translational Research Program. She has presented at numerous conferences and is the recipient of multiple scholarships, including the Anson L. Clark and Eva Stevenson Woods Endowed Presidential Scholarships. Her service activities include helping to develop curriculum for the Freshman Research Initiative Gene Detectives stream and co-leading writing for the crowd-sourced document "Being Not-Rich at UT" to help low-income and financially struggling students. Following graduation, Sophie will pursue an M.B.A. at Texas A&M's Mays Business School and will attend medical school at Texas A&M College of Medicine.

Laura Michie
Distinction in Research, graduating with a B.S in Cell and Molecular Biology

Laura worked in the lab of Dr. Steven Vokes for her thesis, "Understanding the Influence of Fuz Ciliopathy on Hedgehog Target Transcriptional Regulation," which contributes to the lab's understanding of genomic changes in hedgehog signaling that occur in ciliopathies, a class of diseases that cause birth defects. Mentored by graduate student Rachel Lex, Laura worked on projects in mice and cell culture for two years and presented her research at several conferences, winning the Outstanding Presenter Award at the Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium and receiving an Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Outside of the lab, Laura played in the UT University Orchestra as a violist, studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, and was involved in Texas Spirits, a women's spirit and service organization, where she served as the "traditions haunt" (alumnae coordinator). She was awarded the John Rewald Prize for Academic Excellence in Art History. After graduation, Laura will attend Baylor College of Medicine.

Obiageliaku Okafor
Distinction in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, graduating with a B.S.A. in Biology and a Bridging Disciplines Certificate in Social Inequality, Health, and Policy with a concentration in Public Health

Obie served in leadership and mentoring roles in Women in Natural Sciences, the Natural Sciences Council, and the Council for Diversity Engagement. Her service experiences included teaching science lessons to elementary students with Young Scientists and leading volunteers every week to prepare a meal for the homeless with The Johnson Center. For her dedication giving back to the Austin community and as a leader in the college, Obie received the CNS Aspire Leadership and Service Award. After graduation, Obie will attend medical school at The University of Texas Medical Branch.


Hadiqa Zafar
Distinction in Research, graduating with an Honors B.S. in Chemistry in the Dean's Scholars Honors program

She has conducted research in Dr. Jonathan Sessler's lab on the synthesis and characterization of hybrid and expanded porphyrin f-element complexes and their building blocks and in the Nanochemistry stream of the Freshman Research Initiative, where she served as a researcher and peer mentor. Hadiqa is graduating with five co-authored publications and multiple awards related to her research including a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the FSTI Award for Excellence in Chemistry, the Kuhn Intellectual Entrepreneurship Fellowship, and the Jon Dahm Award for Excellence in Chemistry. She has served as a teaching assistant for Originality in the Arts and Sciences, and she bicycled 4,500 miles from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska, to raise funds for cancer research as part of Texas 4000. She received a Presidential Scholarship at UT, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and a Robert T. Haslam Presidential Fellowship for her upcoming graduate studies. She will be attending MIT in the fall to pursue her Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Jesse Yuting Zhang
Distinction in Research, graduating with a B.S.A. in Chemistry and a Forensic Science Certificate

Jesse has conducted research at multiple institutions including UT Southwestern, UT Austin, and the University of Nottingham in England. Researching in the lab of Dr. Edward Mills, he explored new pharmacological methods of improving organ storage for transplantation, work that earned him the FSTI Award for Excellence in Biochemistry. In conjunction with the Austin International Framework program, Jesse also worked with Dr. Simon Humphrey to develop new arsine metal organic frameworks. He received multiple scholarships, including the British American Foundation of Texas Scholarship, the Natural Sciences 21st Century Endowed Presidential Scholarship, and the Eva Stevenson Woods Unrestricted Endowed Presidential Scholarship. After graduation, Jesse intends to pursue an M.D. and continue to work closely with researchers to further develop new medical techniques in conjunction with his medical practice.

Computer Science

Kamil Ali
Distinction in Service and Leadership and Distinction in Entrepreneurship, graduating with an Honors B.S. in Computer Science and an Applied Statistical Modeling Certificate

For his honors thesis, Kamil worked in the UT Deep Learning Group with advisor Dr. Philipp Krähenbühl, using transfer learning and domain adaptation techniques to generalize action recognition within videos, a development that could lead to improvements in autonomous robotics tasks. Kamil also worked as an undergraduate researcher at the UT Biomedical Informatics Lab and served as a Community Involvement Committee Member for the Natural Sciences Council. He was a leader for Kids Who Code, served as Vice President of Technology for the Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency, and co-founded The Ismaili Student Association. Kamil was a Texas Parents Outstanding Student Award Finalist, and he won the Aga Khan Knowledge Society Panelist Award. After graduation, Kamil will pursue his Master's in Computer Science at Stanford University.

Jacqueline Gibson
Distinctions in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion & in Service and Leadership, graduating with a B.S.A. in Computer Science, a B.A. in African and African Diaspora Studies, and a certificate in Information Studies with a focus in Human Computer Interaction

Jacqueline's thesis, at the intersection of her two majors, examines ways in which technology has maintained social inequities and what can be done to eliminate these biases. She previously participated in the Freshman Research Initiative's Autonomous Intelligent Robotics stream and conducted research focused on personal robotics and accessibility design. Jacqueline is co-founder of the Association of Black Computer Scientists, co-councilor of the Friar Society, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the Onyx Honor Society, and a volunteer coordinator for SAG3. She has served in multiple leadership positions, including in Orange Jackets, the Senate of College Councils, and President Fenves' Student Advisory Committee. Jacqueline is a Forty Acres Scholar and recipient of the Texas Exes President's Leadership Award, the Texas Parents Outstanding Student Award, the Theodore Henry Strauss Student Award for Exemplary University Service, and the CNS Aspire Leadership and Service and Dean's Choice Awards. After graduation, Jacqueline will move to Seattle to work as a software engineer at Microsoft.

Andrew Li
Distinction in Research, graduating with an Honors B.S. in Computer Science in the Turing Scholars Honors program

With a research focus on machine learning, Andrew's honors thesis, titled "A3P: Audio as a Preview for Efficient Activity Recognition in Video," was written under the supervision of Dr. Kristen Grauman. Andrew also conducted research with Dr. Scott Aaronson and Dr. Marijn Heule, using a novel approach to gain insight on certain unsolved mathematical problems. Andrew participated in the Freshman Research Initiative's Computational Intelligence in Design stream as a first-year student and served in later years as a peer mentor. Under the supervision of Dr. Cem Tutum, he conducted award-winning research on training deep neural networks with evolution, which received the Schlumberger Award for Excellence in Computer Science and Computer Engineering Research at the Undergraduate Research Forum. After graduation, Andrew will work at Google as a software engineer.

Evonne Ng

Distinction in Research, graduating with Honors B.S. degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering in the Turing Scholars program

Evonne's research in computer vision and artificial intelligence has drawn her to unconventional problems, including improving the estimation of a camera wearer's body pose given a single egocentric video stream. Working with collaborators at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Facebook AI Research (FAIR), she collected an extensive novel dataset to further her research, which has promising applications in a multitude of areas including robotics, AR/VR gaming, and remote therapy. Evonne has completed several software engineering internships, including at Facebook and with the UT Applied Research Laboratories. A member of Women in Computer Science and Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Evonne has received many awards, including a Watson IBM Scholarship and an Award for Aspirations in Computing. Upon graduation, Evonne will be attending the University of California, Berkeley, to pursue her Ph.D.

Human Development and Family Sciences

Maheen Shakil
Distinction in Research, graduating with an Honors B.S. in Advanced Human Development and Family Sciences, a Bridging Disciplines Certificate in Social Inequality, Health and Policy in Public Health, and a Pre-Health Professions Certificate

Maheen is a research assistant in Dr. Fatima Varner's African American Resilience in Context (AARC) lab. For her honors thesis, "Socioeconomic Status, Racial Discrimination, and Psychological Functioning among African American Adolescents," Maheen researched how socioeconomic status and gender may moderate the relationship between racial discrimination and psychological functioning. Maheen also conducted a research internship at New York University's School of Global Public Health. An active volunteer, Maheen spent over 300 hours volunteering at clinics. She served as a Healthyhorns peer educator through University Health Services, was an undergraduate teaching assistant, and volunteered as a tutor with Learn to Be. She also was president of the Texas Pakistani Students Association. Maheen is a Presidential Scholar and received scholarships through the Health Professions Office and School of Human Ecology. Maheen will spend her summer after graduation as a Gilman Scholar, studying Early Childhood Education in Italy, before beginning work as a health and benefits specialist with Aon in The Woodlands, Texas.


Isabel Alyssa Cachola
Distinction in Research, graduating with a B.S. in Mathematics

Her research under the guidance of Dr. Greg Durrett and Dr. Jessy Li has focused on natural language processing (NLP), in particular the effect of demographics on the usage of vulgarity in social media and how vulgarity can be applied to engineering tasks such as detecting hate speech. Her research led to two published papers, invitations to present at an international conference, and multiple awards, including the CNS Aspire Award for Research Excellence, an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and an Area Chair Favorite paper award. She was a member of the Longhorn Powerlifting team and Women of Excellence. Isabel has accepted a position working for the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, conducting research in natural language processing. In 2020, she will begin a Ph.D. program in Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University.

Sarah Spitler
Distinction in Service and Leadership, graduating with an Honors B.S.A. in Mathematics in the Polymathic Scholars Honors program

Having participated in the Freshman Research Initiative's Biology of Biofuels stream, Sarah went on, as a Polymathic Scholar, to write her thesis on "The Effect of U.S. Consumer Food Waste on Greenhouse Gas Emissions." She is a leader in many organizations in which she is involved, serving as a UTeach peer mentor; as treasurer in Collegium Musicum, an extracurricular choir; and as president of her book club, In Between the Lines. Last semester, she volunteered as a reading buddy at Barbara Jordan Elementary. Sarah has accepted a position teaching geometry next year at Vandegrift High School.


Lydia Fennell
Distinction in Research, graduating with a B.S. in Neuroscience in the Neuroscience Scholars program

Lydia's involvement in the BioActive Molecules stream of the Freshman Research Initiative program (FRI) spanned from participating as a first-year student through serving as a peer mentor and FRI ambassador. The summer after her sophomore year, she also began working in Dr. Michela Marinelli's lab developing a method to objectively quantify neural manipulations. Additionally, Lydia assists in the investigation into the lateral preoptic area's potential role in reward-related behaviors. Lydia will continue her research work with Dr. Marinelli following graduation, before pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuroscience.

Calli McMurray
Distinction in Service and Leadership, graduating with a B.S. in Neuroscience with a minor in English

Calli spent two years conducting research in the Johnston lab, specifically on a project involving the structural changes that occur in neurons due to epilepsy. She co-authored a paper related to this research, and she spent a semester abroad at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, assisting in a project on the cellular changes that occur during Alzheimer's disease. Calli served as a First-year Interest Group (FIG) mentor for three years, worked as a college readiness mentor at UT orientation, served as a peer advisor in the CNS Dean's Office, and volunteered as a counselor and co-chair with Ignite Texas. On her science blog, she writes about neuroscience and the environment for a non-expert audience. Calli received the Eva Stevenson Woods Endowed Presidential Scholarship and the Thomas and Elizabeth Merner Scholarship in Natural Sciences. Over the summer, Calli will work as the communications intern for the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C. She plans to pursue a career as a science writer.

Alia Pederson

Distinction in Service and Leadership, graduating with a B.S. in Neuroscience, with concentrations in computer science and chemistry, and in the Neuroscience Scholars program, and a B.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Studying sound processing in the laboratory of Dr. Nace Golding, Alia developed her honors thesis, "Kv1 Channels Regulate Firing Properties in Functionally Distinct Regions of the Auditory Thalamus." The project was presented at a Society for Neuroscience conference and will be submitted for publication with Alia as first author. She studied abroad in Russia and took advanced science courses in Russian as part of the Critical Language Scholarship program and the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship. She was named an ACTFL Russian Scholar-Laureate and received an honorable mention as a Dean's Distinguished Graduate in the College of Liberal Arts. She also received numerous scholarships including a National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship and Endowed Presidential Scholarships. The winner of two CNS book awards for academic excellence and an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Alia participated in the Freshman Research Initiative, Women in Natural Sciences, and the Longhorn Outdoors Club. She also served as president of Synapse, UT's undergraduate neuroscience organization, and volunteered as a medical translator for area women's shelters. After graduation, Alia will join the Section on Neuronal Circuitry at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Benjamin Solder
Distinction in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, graduating with an Honors B.S. in Neuroscience in the Polymathic Scholars Honors program

Benjamin's chosen field in Polymathic Scholars, "Teaching Emotional Intelligence," overlaps with his research interests in mindfulness, compassion, educational psychology, and LGBTQ+ health disparities. He spent a summer as a research fellow at The University at Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Benjamin has served as a translator on medical brigades to Nicaragua, Panama, and Guatemala and served as a resident assistant and swim lessons instructor on the UT campus. The past two years, Benjamin was involved in Student Government, where he was a staunch advocate for gender-inclusive policies across the Forty Acres. After graduation, Benjamin will return to Kerrville to work as a camp counselor briefly before starting classes to pursue his M.D. at Baylor College of Medicine.

Scott Spivey
Distinction in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, graduating with an Honors B.S.A. in Neuroscience in the Health Science Scholars program and a B.A. in Plan II Honors, with a Spanish minor

Scott completed an honors thesis, titled "Foreign Bodies: An Anthropological Study of Latinx Immigrant Experiences with Chronic Illness in the US Healthcare System." With interests in health equity and social justice, especially for immigrants and minorities, he volunteered as a Spanish translator at an Austin free healthcare clinic, served as a leader in a Catholic social justice ministry, and interned at M.D. Anderson. At UT, he is a member of the Latino Economic Business Association (LEBA), was a peer study group coordinator and neuroscience teaching assistant, and was president of the Plan II Pre-Med Society. After graduation, he will pursue a Master's in medical social sciences at the University of Cambridge in England, before matriculating into UT Austin's Dell Medical School.


Lavender Hackman
Distinctions in Research & in Service and Leadership, graduating with an Honors B.S. in Advanced Nutritional Sciences in the Coordinated Program in Dietetics and as a Health Science Scholar

Lavender's thesis, titled "Identification of Synergistic Combinatorial Treatment with Cyst(e)inase and Cancer Library in Acute Myeloid Leukemia," explores the metabolic basis of selective cancer suppression through the manipulation of enzymatic reactions. Working in the lab of Dr. Stefano Tiziani, Lavender researches novel treatments for acute myeloid leukemia. Throughout her years at UT, Lavender has been a personal trainer for older adults and a private tennis coach for high school students. She also is completing her dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian. Lavender is a recipient of the Livestrong Cancer Institute's Summer Research Fellowship and two FRI/TIDES Advanced Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships. After graduation, she will be staying at UT to pursue her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences.

Laura Winikka
Distinction in Research, graduating with an Honors B.S. in Advanced Nutritional Sciences

With a focus on exploring how dietary and lifestyle factors impact health, Laura wrote her thesis about research on the cellular mechanisms by which omega-3 fatty acids impact inflammatory signaling in breast cancer tumors. She presented her data at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and served as a research assistant in a molecular breast and prostate cancer research lab. Laura has worked as a student assistant at the Longhorn Wellness Center to implement and improve wellness programs for student groups, and she has served in leadership for Texas THON and Alpha Xi Delta. In the fall, Laura plans to attend McGovern Medical School in Houston.


Griffin Dale Glenn
Distinction in Research, graduating with an Honors B.S. in Physics in the Dean's Scholars Honors program and a B.A. in Plan II Honors

For his honors thesis, titled "Characterization of a Clustering Gas Jet for High Energy Density Plasma Production," Griffin worked with Dr. Todd Ditmire. He also helped to design, build, and deploy an instrument known as a magnetic electron spectrometer that led to a first-author publication. The recipient of an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, a prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship, and a 2019 University Co-op George H. Mitchell Award for research, Griffin is also the co-author of a second publication with fellow researchers at the Texas Petawatt Laser facilities. Griffin served as the Council Chair in the Dean's Scholars Honors program, as a student leader in the Junior Fellows program, and as a participant in the UT University Orchestra, playing the double bass. He also worked on an independent Plan II research project with Dr. Luisa Nardini studying the Credo in early modern chant manuscripts. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, he has received the Dean's Scholars Alan Kaylor Cline Scholarship, an Endowed Presidential Scholarship, a J. David Gavenda Scholarship, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Next year, Griffin will begin a Ph.D. in Applied Physics at Stanford University.

Shiv Akshar Yadavalli
Distinction in Research, graduating with a B.S. in Physics and B.S.A. Honors in Mathematics in the Polymathic Scholars Honors program

Shiv Akshar's thesis, "Quantum Contextuality Drives Quantum Communication," examines the intersection between quantum foundations, quantum information, and information theory. Under the guidance of Dr. Scott Aaronson and collaborating with Dr. Ravi Kunjwal of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada, he is preparing the results for publication. He also is working to prepare a second paper for publication in conjunction with analysis he did working with members of the lab of Dr. Richard Hazeltine. Shiv Akshar also conducted research in the Big Data in Biology stream of the Freshman Research Initiative and in the lab of Dr. Karol Lang, where he studied neutrino physics, co-authored a paper, and received an Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Shiv Akshar served as a learning assistant for physics and mathematics courses and was nominated for a President's Student Employee of the Year award. He received numerous scholarships, including the Hou-Li Scholarship, Abel Family Scholarship, Robert E. Boyer Endowed Presidential Scholarship, Melvin J. Rieger Scholarship, and the Natural Sciences Council Endowed Service Scholarship. After graduation, Shiv Akshar will pursue his Ph.D. in Physics at Duke University.

Public Health

Kayla Eboreime
Distinction in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, graduating with a B.S. in Public Health, with a concentration in Social and Behavioral science and a minor in African and African Diaspora Studies

Throughout her time on campus, she served in the Freshman Research Initiative's Supramolecular Sensors stream, on the College's Council for Diversity Engagement, and in Women in Natural Sciences, where she was a mentor. As a member of the Black Student Alliance and as the BIG XII Committee on Black Student Government's delegate from UT and chapter political action chair, Kayla cultivated commitment to civic engagement and community leadership. She also led a First-Year Interest Group (FIG) on Social Justice and presented about diversity in leadership at the ACT Conference on Social Emotional Learning. Kayla has spent her summers as an advisor for the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine and as a student fellow at Centro Hospitalar da Póvoa de Varzim in Portugal. She is a St. David's Neal Kocurek Scholar, Intellectual Entrepreneurship Sankofa Scholar, and Dean's Choice Aspire Award winner. She will be attending The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston School of Medicine in the fall.

Carlos Lopez Bray
Distinction in Research, graduating with a B.S. in Public Health

Carlos has been involved in multiple research projects dedicated to improving the health of vulnerable populations, including projects studying intestinal parasites affecting infants in Central Texas and liver disease in the population residing near the Mexico-Texas border. In partnership with a community-based health organization, he is working on a project to improve access to healthcare services and reduce the burden of disease in the region. He also is involved with Humanity First, a student organization devoted to helping the indigent population in Austin. An aspiring epidemiologist, Carlos researched under the supervision of Dr. Richard Taylor. He will continue his education after graduation to work to improve the public health of his community.

Textiles and Apparel

Alexander Dio Greer

Distinction in Research, graduating with a B.S. in Textiles and Apparel Design with a focus in Apparel, Functional, and Technical Design

Alexander conducted independent research in historical garments and their preservation, under the guidance of faculty mentor Gail Chovan. He spent two semesters working in the Historic Archive housed in Gearing Hall, helping to turn the basement into a workable space, and he spent three years working in costume crafts, employing skills such as millinery, leatherwork, and distressing. He served as assistant costume shop manager at Summer Stock Austin, a theatre company that provides a tuition-free experience to high-school students, working alongside their college-aged peers and with theatre professionals. Alexander is the recipient of several merit-based scholarships, including the Gordon Clark Bennett Endowed Scholarship, and he previously attended Austin Community College, where he was a member of both the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and the Delta Phi Alpha German language honor society. After graduation, Alexander is looking to work in costume technology, potentially as an ager/dyer for films. He will spend the summer as an intern with the Austin School of Fashion Design.

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