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Meet the Dean's Honored Graduates of 2022

Meet the Dean's Honored Graduates of 2022

Each year, the College of Natural Sciences bestows its highest honors for graduating seniors on a select group of students during graduation week. Students across the college are singled out for College of Natural Sciences Distinctions and celebrated at a special Graduates of Distinction event. Among the distinction winners is an even smaller group of students, known as Dean's Honored Graduates. 

These students demonstrate excellence across multiple domains, achieving outstanding results academically, as well as setting themselves apart in scientific research, independent intellectual pursuits, leadership, service, entrepreneurship and community building. Here are biographies of the 30 outstanding students selected as College of Natural Sciences Dean's Honored Graduates for 2022.

Argha Bandyopadhyay 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with an Honors B.S.A in Neuroscience, a B.S. in Biology in Computational Biology and an Evidence and Inquiry Certificate as a Polymathic Scholar. 

For the past four years, Argha has worked with Marcel Goldschen-Ohm to develop software tools for fast and robust analysis of single-molecule time series. His work will lead to two first author publications: "Unsupervised selection of optimal single-molecule time series idealization criterion" (published in the Biophysical Journal) and "smBEVO: A computer vision approach to rapid baseline correction of single-molecule time series" (in preparation). Additionally, he worked with Michael Geruso to write his honors thesis, "Contemplating Care: A Quantitative Analysis of Patient Decision-Making Under Uncertainty," in which he uses computational models to simulate and analyze how patients decide to seek care given uncertainty regarding their insurance costs and/or underlying health status. Argha received the Patrice L. Johnston Biological Sciences Student Research Scholarship and the James F. and Bernice M. Hinton Endowed Presidential Scholarship. Outside of research, he was part of the Health Leadership Apprentice Program at Dell Medical School and worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant in the Department of Neuroscience. After graduation, Argha will be pursuing an M.D./Ph.D. at NYU's Grossman School of Medicine.

Sanjna Anil Bhatia 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with an Honors B.S. in Human Development and Family Sciences and a B.A. in Spanish with a focus in Iberian/Latin American Language and Culture. 

Sanjna started her research in the Bioprospecting stream of the Freshman Research Initiative, optimizing the process of mealworm-mediated Styrofoam degradation. Interested in how communities living on the frontlines of climate change view their relationship with the environment, Sanjna and her team won a President's Award for Global Learning. They explored human environment interactions in South Padre Island, Texas. Sanjna's passion for child development led her to volunteer at the UT Lab School for four years and join the lab of Elizabeth Gershoff, under whose mentorship Sanjna completed her honor's thesis, "Examining Associations Among a History of Ear Infections in Early Childhood and Language, Literacy and Social Interaction Skills in Kindergarten." Beyond research, Sanjna has been heavily involved in the Hindu Students Association and Zobha Indian Classical Dance team. She has also been a Sanger Learning Center tutor, Freshman Research Initiative mentor, organic chemistry teaching assistant and Spanish interpreter at a local free clinic. She will be attending UT Southwestern Medical School in the fall and hopes to dedicate her life to advocating for medically under-served Texas communities.

Kavyaa D. Choudhary

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S. in Biology in Cellular and Molecular Biology and a B.A. in Plan II Honors. 

Kavyaa's varied research background began in Hans Hofmann's lab, where she examined molecular mechanisms underlying behaviors in cichlid fish. She also investigated excised linear intron RNAs with links to gene regulation under Alan Lambowitz and Elizabeth Kiddie and researched how to improve patient education on kidney disease with the Dell Medical School. Alongside working as a legislative aide at the Texas Capitol, she conducted research at Baylor College of Medicine under Amanda Gutierrez, Amy McGuire and Robert Cook-Deegan, culminating in multiple published papers, including first authorship on "A Landscape Analysis of State-Level Policies Around Genetic Testing for Hereditary Risk." She has also completed an honors thesis under Ruth Buskirk entitled "The Effect of Climate Change and Anthropization on Animal-Human Interactions and the Correlation to the Rise of Zoonotic Disease in Texas." Kavyaa has acted as a Plan II mentor, an intern at Caritas of Austin, a senate representative and legislative committee chair for the Natural Sciences Council and a contributor to college and university-based advocacy efforts. Her awards include the Patricia L. Johnston Biological Sciences Student Research Scholarship. After graduation, Kavyaa will pursue an M.D at Baylor College of Medicine.

Nisha Desai 

Distinction in Service and Leadership and Distinction in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Graduating with an Honors B.S. in Nutrition in Advanced Nutritional Sciences. 

Nisha is interested in the intersection between nutrition and psychology. Her thesis, titled "The Association Between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Ultra-Processed Food Consumption in the LGBTQ+ Population," was completed under the guidance of Marissa Burgermaster and explores how childhood trauma can impact the eating behaviors within a population. She worked as a Freshman Research Initiative peer mentor, biochemistry Peer-Led Undergraduate Studying Facilitator, chemistry peer learning assistant, teaching assistant and supplemental instruction supervisor. She received the Janet Spence Fellowship in psychology, and she mentored psychology students and served as a teaching assistant for the synchronous massive online introductory psychology course PSY 301. Throughout her time at UT, she has been involved in various student organizations, serving as president of the School of Human Ecology Ambassadors, as co-founder of Leaders in Nutrition and as a member of Chi Kappa Phi Service Society. A Distinguished College Scholar, Nisha received the University Endowed Presidential Scholarship and College of Natural Sciences (CNS) Excellence Award. Nisha will pursue a J.D. at the University of Virginia Law School on a merit scholarship.

Ronak Desai 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S. in Biochemistry and an Honors B.S.A. in Chemistry with a minor in Government, a Certificate in Business of Healthcare and a Certificate in Social Inequality, Health and Policy. 

Hailing from Lindale, Texas, Ronak worked as an undergraduate researcher in Adrian Keatinge-Clay's group. Ronak's research centers on studying and engineering polyketide synthases in hopes of developing new medicines. In addition to his thesis, "Production of Novel Polyketides by Combinatorial Engineering of Modular Polyketide Synthases," he has co-authored one publication, titled "Insights into modular polyketide synthase loops aided by repetitive sequences," and two manuscripts in preparation for publication: "How ketosynthases associate with upstream acyl carrier proteins at key checkpoints within polyketide assembly lines" and "Production of novel polyketides by combinatorial engineering of modular polyketide synthases." Outside of the lab, Ronak was a general chemistry teaching assistant, a member of the Health Science Scholars Honors Program, on the Senate of College Councils' leadership team and a participant in the Bill Archer Fellowship Program, which allowed him to study health policy while working at the United States House of Representatives. He hopes to continue pursuing interests in medicine, research and public policy as a student in the Harvard/MIT M.D.-Ph.D. program beginning this summer.

Tess Arden Finnerty 

Distinction in Service and Leadership. Graduating with a B.S. in Textiles and Apparel. 

As a merchandising student, Tess pursued her intersecting interests in science, business and creativity. During her courses, she 3D printed a textile prototype and collaborated on a visual merchandising project with Neiman Marcus. She also worked as a teaching assistant for five classes and two labs in the Textiles and Apparel program. Tess served as president of the University Fashion Group, supporting its execution of the annual student-run fashion show, which showcases student designers' final collections, and the organization's involvement with New York Fashion Week (NYFW) for Rachel Comey and Kim Shui. Tess also represented UT at the University of New York Fashion Week program by IMG, where she attended NYFW's "The Talk Panels" and Son Jung Wan's fashion show. This opportunity allowed her to make personal connections with students and industry leaders from all over the country. Tess received the College of Natural Sciences Second-Year Excellence Award. She also gained experience as a product development and merchandising intern at Four Hands Furniture, where she will start a full-time position as a merchant assistant in Austin, Texas, after graduation.

Anna Elizabeth Fletcher 

Distinction in Research and Distinction in Service and Leadership. Graduating with an Honors B.S. in Nutrition in Advanced Nutritional Sciences. 

During her first year at The University of Texas, Anna began volunteering as a classroom educator for TX Sprouts, a school-based gardening, cooking and nutrition intervention program. She then joined the EdEN (Education, Evaluation, Nutrition) Lab under Jaimie Davis and became passionate about studying nutritional inequality in low-income schools and the health outcomes of ultra-processed diets in children. With supervision by Davis, Anna completed her honors thesis, "The Effects of Changes in Dietary Intake on Changes in Metabolic Syndrome Prevalence in Youth." While Anna spent much of her time researching in the lab or volunteering at Dell Children's Medical Center, she also dedicated a large portion of her undergraduate career to an on-campus ministry called Student Mobilization. Anna was also a dedicated and active member of Alpha Chi Omega, where she served as vice president of intellectual development and recruitment database chair. Following graduation, Anna will be working full-time for Student Mobilization to help UT students take steps in growing in their relationship with God.

Dawson Alexander Grimes 

Distinction in Research and Distinction in Service and Leadership. Graduating with an Honors B.S. in Chemistry. 

Dawson has conducted research in Emily Que's lab for the past two years. His research has focused around modulating the extraction and leaching of metal ions into perfluorocarbon solvents and synthesizing metal-loaded perfluorocarbon nanoemulsions that were applied as enhanced 19F MRI and nuclear imaging agents. In Que's lab, he co-authored a paper and a manuscript in preparation related to his work on perfluorocarbon extraction systems. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the University-Wide Endowed Presidential Scholarship, Norman Hackerman Prize for Undergraduate Research and an Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Outside of research, Dawson has worked for Lauren DePue as a peer mentor in the Luminators Freshman Research Initiative stream and as a tutor at Garza High School. After graduation, Dawson will pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry at Northwestern University.

Dora Cecilia Gurfinkel Prosperi 

Distinction in Service and Leadership and Distinction in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Graduating with a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.S. in Computer Science. 

A member of both the Dean's Scholars and Turing Scholars communities, Dora is the recipient of multiple merit awards, including the W.D. Blunk Endowed Presidential Scholarship and the Eva Stevenson Woods Presidential Scholarship. In her time at UT, Dora served on the Natural Sciences Council as its first diversity and inclusion director, as well as on multiple college committees working to improve student experiences on campus. She also served as the Texas Bluebonnets Philanthropy co-chair, worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant in three different departments and as a mentor in a computer science POD and first-year interest group. In her free time, she has enjoyed taking social dance, playing intramural sports and hiking around Austin. After graduation, Dora plans to start her career as a software engineer at Jane Street Capital in New York City.

Sarah Elizabeth Howes 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S. in Astronomy and a B.S. in Physics. 

Sarah first started research in the Freshman Research Initiative, where she concentrated on classifying white dwarf stars using Python scripts. Under the guidance of Michael Montgomery, she developed visuals of white dwarf outbursting events and 3D visualizations of the differential temperature regions found on pulsating white dwarfs and created a pipeline to classify white dwarfs based on their effective temperature. Through three separate undergraduate summer research fellowships, Sarah was able to pursue her specific interests in detecting and characterizing exoplanets. Her first independent project, supervised by Brendan Bowler, involved detecting exocomet transit events around active Delta Scuti variable stars. To expand her theoretical skill set, Sarah concentrated on a project involving atmospheric modeling under the guidance of Caroline Morley. Her research goal, tied to her final senior research project, focused on applying the laws of radiative transfer to create model transmission spectra for exoplanets with escaping atmospheres. Sarah earned the 2021-22 Outstanding Senior Award in the Department of Astronomy. After graduation, Sarah will be attending Leiden University in the Netherlands to pursue a master's degree in astronomy.

Kevin Yuhao Huang 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S.A. in Biochemistry and a minor in History. 

As an undergraduate researcher, Kevin moved between the lab of Andrew Ellington and the U.S. Army Research Lab (ARL-South), bolstering both fundamental synthetic biology research and the development of biomaterials with a defense application. In the lab, Kevin uses a robotic workstation to genetically engineer hybrid materials and probe their production in yeast. He presented his work, "A Modular Platform for Yeast Secretion of Biopolymers,'' at the Synthetic Biology: Engineering, Evolution, and Design (SEED) conference in Arlington, Virginia. He is also preparing a co-authored manuscript from a summer project with researchers at Baylor College of Medicine. While at UT, Kevin worked as a part-time lab assistant at St. David's Medical Center and interned at Clinical Pathology Laboratories. In addition, he served as a biochemistry teaching assistant and mentor in the Freshman Research Initiative. He also volunteered at University Health Services and Partnerships for Children, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting children in the foster care system. Kevin received the 3M Company Scholarship and an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and he is a two-time recipient of the Edward S. Lewis, M.D. Scholarship. After graduation, Kevin plans to continue his research and apply to medical school.

Tanvi Ingle 

Distinction in Research and Distinction in Service and Leadership. Graduating with an Honors B.S. in Biochemistry. 

Throughout her time at UT, Tanvi has explored questions at the intersection of infectious disease dynamics, computational biology and health equity. Working with Lauren Ancel Meyers and the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, Tanvi leveraged her interest in data science to support public health decision-making. Her multiple publications include a first-authored paper in PLOS ONE, "Projecting COVID-19 Isolation Beds for People Experiencing Homelessness." Researching with Claus Wilke, she completed her honors thesis, "Modeling Viral Transcription and Translation Dynamics for Bacteriophage ΦX174." She has received recognition for her work including the President's Student Employee of the Year Award, the Faith Foundation Junior Fellows Scholarship and the Thomas J. Watson Memorial Scholarship. Outside of research, Tanvi has volunteered with the C.D. Doyle Clinic, serving as the clinic's education/research coordinator for three years and as undergraduate director; served as council chair for the Dean's Scholars Student Association; and worked as a neuroscience teaching assistant. She is a recipient of the Alan Kaylor Cline Dean's Scholars Student Scholarship, Edward Sibley Lewis M.D. Endowed Presidential Pre-Medical Scholarship, Robert E. Boyer Presidential Endowed Scholarship and the Natural Sciences Council Endowed Service Scholarship. After graduation, Tanvi will pursue an M.D. at UT Southwestern Medical School.

Samantha C. Jackson 

Distinction in Research and Distinction in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Graduating with a B.S. in Neuroscience in the Neuroscience Scholars Honors program. 

Born and raised in Spring, Texas, Samantha has been researching Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy, under mentors MacKenzie Howard and Audrey Brumback for the past two years, using DeepLabCut to analyze movement patterns in two Dravet mouse models. Both mentors have been supportive of her journey and have encouraged her to continue her pursuits in neuroscience research. Samantha has been awarded the TIDES Advanced Summer Research Fellowship and the Women in Neuroscience Internship, been designated as a College Scholar and named as a Ford Foundation Fellowship Honorable Mention. Outside of academia, Samantha is the vice president/co-founder of Because Inquiry Propels Our Curiosity (BIPOC), an organization dedicated to the equitable advancement of students of color in science. She is also the music director of Healing with Harmonies, a volunteer organization that seeks to bring happiness to children and senior citizens through music. After graduating, Samantha will pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, which has awarded her the Marian Diamond Fellowship.

Eduardo Levi 

Distinction in Research and Distinction in Service and Leadership. Graduating with an Honors B.S.A. in Biology. 

Eduardo started his research in the laboratory of Nico Osier at Dell Medical School, investigating the relationship between pro-inflammatory cytokines released after a pediatric brain injury and patients' symptoms and recovery. Eduardo has also conducted cancer prevention research at the MD Anderson Cancer Center through a National Cancer Institute-funded fellowship and presented his findings at a research symposium. He co-founded an organization to empower Latinx students to pursue careers in STEM through a binational collaboration between the UT College of Education and a Mexico-based education nonprofit. Eduardo was selected as a Fall 2021 Archer Fellow and spent a semester in Washington, D.C., interning for U.S. Senator Patty Murray. For his thesis, he researched presidential rhetoric during pandemics, analyzing the responses to HIV/AIDS under President Reagan and COVID-19 under President Trump. On the Forty Acres, Eduardo served in the CNS Honors Diversity Group and the Student Health Advisory Committee. Among the scholarships, awards and honors he has received are a CNS Second-Year Excellence Award, the Blocker-Cramer Endowed Scholarship, the NCI R25E Research Experience Competitive Award and Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation, he will attend law school to advance his career in public service while continuing to advocate for a more equitable society.

Rory James Malek 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S. in Public Health and a B.S. in Biology in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

In the DIY Diagnostics stream of the Freshman Research Initiative, Rory focused on developing a biomarker-based diagnostic panel for melanoma under the guidance of Timothy Riedel and contributed to work developing a diagnostic assay for COVID-19 and monitoring SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces around campus. As a summer fellow for the UT Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program at the University of Texas at El Paso, Rory published a review on COVID-19 treatments, titled "Clinical drug therapies and biologicals currently used or in clinical trial to treat COVID-19," in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy with his summer research mentors. He has done several research presentations, winning an award at the 2020 Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium. Rory was a Natural Sciences Council legislative committee member and the director of public relations for Texas Public Health. Following graduation, he will join the National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Training program as a post-bac fellow doing research on vaccine generated humoral immunity. He later plans to apply to medical school.

Brianna Middleton 

Distinction in Service and Leadership and Distinction in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Graduating with a B.S.A. in Biochemistry, a minor in Educational Psychology, a minor in Sociology, a Certificate in Pre-Health Professions, a DEI Concentration and a Certificate in Social Inequality, Health and Policy.

Brianna's leadership positions have included serving as a member of the DEI Committee of the Natural Sciences Council, president of the Black and Latinx Advocacy Council, vice president of student affairs for the Dell Medical School's Pre-Health and Diversity Scholars and undergraduate representative on the college Dean Search Consultative Committee. She also earned several awards, including the CNS Dean's Choice Award, Texas Parents Outstanding Student Award Finalist and Dell Medical School Health Hero Award. She served as a psychiatric hospital volunteer, Dell Medical School tour guide, Vaccine Administration Mobile Operations volunteer, in Women in Natural Sciences and as student assistant for Student Life and Diversity and Student Programs. Some of her most cherished achievements at UT were her creations of the Educational Workshop on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community and the Educational Forum on the Racial and Ethnic Disparities among People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. As a hard of hearing individual, she created and hosted the forum and workshop every semester to foster curiosity and advocacy among hearing individuals.

Rebeca Moreno Villarreal 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S. in Biology in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. 

Rebeca is a research assistant in the lab of Hans Hofmann where she studies parent offspring conflict with her mentor Shana Caro. She is co-author on a publication in preparation, titled "Decision-making speed and confidence in wild great tit (Parus major) parents: Urgency and constraint matter for real-world decisions." She has also presented her work in the Inclusive Student Training in Collections and field-based Topics (InSTInCT) summer research program and at the Synapse + Society for Advancing Gender Equity in STEM research symposium. Rebeca also worked as a Freshman Research Initiative peer mentor and researched under Antonio Gonzalez in the Plant Pathways stream, where she studied mechanisms that lead to developmental cell fate decision events giving rise to terminally differential organisms in plants. Her awards include the TEJAS Award, a National Science Foundation Fellowship for a Research Experience for Undergraduates, the San Antonio Livestock Exposition Scholarship and an Undergraduate Research Fellowship. After graduation, Rebeca will be moving to Dillon, Montana, where she will work as a bird field technician at the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in ornithology.

Caroline Grace Mott 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S. in Mathematics in Actuarial Science.

Caroline joined the actuarial program as a sophomore and immediately seized opportunities UT offers each semester, when companies sponsor case competitions that mimic real-life actuarial problems. Caroline and her team earned second place in Cigna's competition and first place one semester later in Aon's competition. She served in the Actuarial Science Club and Gamma Iota Sigma, a business fraternity promoting careers in risk, insurance and actuarial science. In GIS, she volunteered as a mentor for two semesters, helping others explore careers in actuarial science. Caroline worked with Milica Cudina in two conference courses, which allowed her to research advanced actuarial topics in more detail and to develop her coding skills. Caroline is the recipient of the University-Wide Endowed Presidential Scholarship, several actuarial scholarships and a College of Natural Sciences Second-Year Excellence Award. Outside of school, Caroline studied to pass the Society of Actuaries exams. Within a year and a half, she passed Exams P, FM, IFM and STAM; currently, she is studying for Exam SRM. After graduation, Caroline will begin working full time as an actuarial consultant at Aon on the health and benefits team.

Anna Pham 

Distinction in Service and Leadership. Graduating with a B.S. in Biology in Cell and Molecular Biology, a minor in Sociology and a Certificate in Pre-Health Professions. 

Anna worked as a peer mentor in the Bugs in Bugs Freshman Research Initiative stream, studying the gut bacterial symbionts associated with Texan carpenter bees. Under the guidance of Jo Anne Holley, she is a co-author of "Carpenter bees (Xylocopa) harbor a distinctive gut microbiome related to that of honey bees and bumble bees," currently under consideration for publication. Anna's awards include an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, a San Antonio Livestock Exposition Scholarship and a College of Natural Sciences Second-Year Excellence Award. She has presented at the Undergraduate Research Forum, is a three-time Distinguished College Scholar and the recipient of the Ralph A. Steiner, M.D. Scholarship and Carl and Agnes Stockard Memorial Endowment Fund Scholarship. While at UT, Anna also served as a community outreach intern at the Children's Research Center and as a camp counselor for Dell Medical School's Health Sciences Summer Camp. She also volunteered with UT Health Austin contact tracing and St. David's Medical Center. After graduation, Anna will be working as a patient care technician for her gap year before attending medical school.

Rohit Prasad 

Distinction in Service and Leadership. Graduating with a B.S. in Biology in Computational Biology and a Certificate in Ethics and Leadership in Health Care. 

Rohit spent three years conducting bioinformatics research under Jeanne Kowalski-Muegge and Dhivya Arasappan at the Livestrong Cancer Institutes, focused on the use of single-cell RNA-sequencing analysis in part to inform the development of precision therapeutics. Rohit also served as peer mentor for the Big Data in Biology Freshman Research Initiative stream, where students worked on a comprehensive database characterizing mutations in multiple myeloma cell lines. As president of the Natural Sciences Council, Rohit advocated for student well-being initiatives and for a more inclusive and equitable learning environment, and his championing of free and low-cost course materials helped lead to UT Libraries' new annual Affordable Education Champions recognition program. Rohit served as a policy intern with the Texas e-Health Alliance, supporting Texas H.B. 4, which passed unanimously and expanded statewide access to telemedicine. Interning with the Livestrong Foundation, he worked to expand a fertility program for cancer survivors and studied culturally rooted interventions to improve cancer screening participation among South Asian Americans. After graduation, Rohit will be pursuing an M.D. at Dell Medical School.

Aman Nadimpalli Raju 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S. in Astronomy and a B.S. in Physics. 

Aman started his astronomy research with the White Dwarfs Freshman Research Initiative stream, led by Mike Montgomery. He worked on two projects: developing automated K2 data reductions and observing white dwarf binaries in ZTF alerts. He also worked with David Guszejnov and Stella Offner to investigate the origins of multiplicity by utilizing starforming simulations. Aman is the first author of "Stellar Multiplicity in an RMHD Simulation with Stellar Feedback," published in Research Notes of the AAS, as well as a contributing author to two additional papers. Beyond research, Aman has worked as a learning assistant for PHY 303L and won a prize for designing an accessible website for the Atlanta Jews of Color Council. He received the Melvin J. Reiger Scholarship and the James F. and Bernice Hinton Endowed Presidential Scholarship. After graduation, Aman intends to work and attend a graduate program in astronomy.

Minerva Ramírez 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S.A. in Human Development and Family Sciences and a Certificate in Spanish for Medical Professions. 

During her time in the UT Child Learning and Development Studies (ChiLDS) lab, Minerva investigated the role bilingualism plays on brain development. Under the guidance Maria Arredondo, Minerva completed her second year as a research assistant and focused on bilingual learning infants through her honors thesis, titled "Resting State Functional Connectivity Brain Networks of Bilingual and Monolingual Infants." She also worked as a first-year interest group peer mentor, volunteered as a PLUS facilitator for her biochemistry class and worked part-time as a lab manager in the ChiLDS lab. She also received various awards including the College of Natural Sciences Second-Year Excellence award, a University-Wide Endowed Presidential Scholarship and an Award for Excellence for her research poster at the Undergraduate Research Forum. Following graduation, Minerva will pursue a D.O. degree at the Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Davis R. Roe 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S. in Public Health and a minor in Business. 

Interested in strengthening primary and preventative health care, Davis, with support from his mentor Marilyn Felkner, worked with David Zane, an epidemiologist from Austin Public Health, to conduct a review of the scientific literature related to COVID-19's impact on injuries. The completed review was published in the Texas Public Health Journal and has been shared among public health faculty and students at UT, as well as internationally among those in the injury prevention field. Outside of school, Davis worked as a pediatric medical assistant and volunteered at Dell Children's Hospital. Davis has been the recipient of several merit-based awards including the C.J. Davidson Scholarship and the Mark and Patricia Moore Endowed Presidential Scholarship. He is a two-time national champion quidditch player after playing on Texas's club quidditch team for four years, where he also served as captain and director of recruitment and fundraising. After graduation, Davis will travel to Panama this summer as a member of Texas Global Medical Training to provide medical care to underserved communities. He intends to continue working as a medical assistant before attending P.A. school.

Delon L. Shen 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S. in Physics. 

Delon's research centers around applications of modern machine learning to particle physics. Most recently, under the guidance of Peter Onyisi and Jesse Thaler, he explored utilizing novel representations of collider events and mechanisms, such as Deep Sets and Dynamic Graph Convolutional Neural Networks, to classify collision events occurring at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe and measured by the ATLAS experiment in order to improve our ability to probe fundamental physics. Delon is a recipient of the Dr. Arnold Romberg Endowed Scholarship Fund in Physics. After graduation, he will pursue a Ph.D. in Physics at Stanford University with the support of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Valentina Tardugno Poleo 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S. in Physics.

As a member of Steven Finkelstein's Galaxy Evolution Vertically Integrated Program, Valentina introduced a new machine learning approach to the study of active galactic nuclei and reionization. She presented her work, titled "Identifying z~3 Active Galactic Nuclei from the HETDEX Survey Using Machine Learning," at the Undergraduate Research Forum and won an Award for Excellence in Astronomy and Astrophysics, She will be sharing her methodology to measure AGN fractions in a first-author paper over the summer. Valentina also contributed to the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment, vetting sources from the HETDEX survey by determining whether they corresponded to Lyman-alpha emitters, low-redshift galaxies, stars, meteors or instrumental defects. She also helped in selecting Lyman-alpha emitters in the EGS field as targets for the James Webb Space Telescope CEERS program. She received the David and Edwina Thomas Undergraduate Physics Scholarship and the Lone Star College-Kingwood STEM Scholarship. After graduation, Valentina will pursue a Ph.D. in astrophysics at New York University, where she was awarded a fellowship and will work at the Flatiron Institute's Center for Computational Astrophysics.

Yanessa Vea 

Distinction in Service and Leadership. Graduating with a B.S. in Medical Laboratory Science. 

During her time at UT Austin, Yanessa was an active member of UT Students in Medical Lab Science and volunteered at the Texas Department of State Health Services and in the research laboratory of Eric Cambronne. She credits these experiences and the laboratory classes offered at UT in helping her develop the skills and knowledge applicable to the medical laboratory setting. Yanessa is pursuing professional clinical laboratory education at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple. She is completing a validation study for the measurement of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D on the DiaSorin LIAISON XL analyzer. After graduation, Yanessa plans on taking the American Society for Clinical Pathology Medical Laboratory Scientist certification examination and working in medical laboratory science.

Allen Wen 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S. in Physics and a B.S. in Mathematics. 

Allen's research on magnetic field sensors under John Markert started in Markert's Freshman Research Initiative stream and ended with a senior thesis, titled "Development of Compart Fiber Optic Oscillating Force Sensors." Allen has served as an undergraduate teaching assistant in electricity and magnetism courses for premed and engineering students. Outside of physics, he was a member of UT's Longhorn Racing Electric team for three years, helping the team code vehicle simulations and manufacture suspension components. He is grateful for the aid provided by an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the Louis M. Pearce, Jr. Endowed Presidential Scholarship and the DeWitt T. Ray, Sr. Endowed Scholarship. After graduation, Allen will study numerical relativity and pursue a Ph.D. in astrophysical sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Delaney White 

Distinction in Research and Distinction in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Graduating with an Honors B.S. in Astronomy, a B.S. in Physics and a Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution Certificate through the Bridging Disciplines Program. 

A member of the Dean's Scholars program, Delaney researched high redshift galaxies for three years and analyzed data from the Hobby-Eberly Telescope under Steven Finkelstein. Her thesis is titled "Identifying Protoclusters in the COSMOS and SHELA Fields." She also researched Jupiter's moon Ganymede through internships at Southwest Research Institute and is working to publish a paper about Ganymede's atmospheric composition. Delaney has worked as a learning assistant for the Department of Physics and has served as a member and officer of the Gender Minorities in Physics student organization (GMiP), which motivated her to boost representation in STEM fields and gave her experience with outreach events. For her certificate, Delaney researched the possibility of initiating star parties at public libraries in East Austin to extend astronomy outreach and mentorship opportunities to local elementary schools. Before attending graduate school, Delaney will be joining Teach for America in rural Eastern North Carolina to fight educational inequity, while sharing her love of science with high schoolers.

Xinyu Xie 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with an M.S. and B.S. in Computer Science and a B.S. in Mathematics. 

Xinyu likes to scratch his head over problems in probability, combinatorics and linear algebra. For his thesis, titled "Matrix Rigidity: A Survey," he worked with Anna Gal to survey many combinatorial techniques to prove rigidity bounds for various families of matrices. He published his work, "On 2 by 2 Tropical Commuting Matrices," in the journal Linear Algebra and its Applications under the supervision of Ngoc Tran. Xinyu also worked closely with Tran on a variety of applied statistics projects, co-authoring with a group "Predicting Covid-19 emergency medical service incidents from daily hospitalization trends," published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice in 2021. The group won second place at the Science4cast Competition, one of the 2021 IEEE BigData Cup Challenges hosted by the Institute of Advanced Research in Artificial Intelligence. Passionate about fostering community and mentorship, Xinyu served as an officer for both Mathematicians of Color Alliance of Texas and the Directed Reading Program in the Department of Computer Science. He is a member of the Academy of Undergraduate Researchers Across Texas and a student fellow at the College of Undergraduate Studies. Xinyu will join the statistics Ph.D. program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tianwei Yin 

Distinction in Research. Graduating with a B.S. in Computer Science in the Turing Honors Scholars program and a B.S. in Mathematics. 

As a member of the deep learning research group led by Philipp Kraehenbuehl, Tianwei has conducted research related to using machine learning with respect to visual information, especially for 3D vehicle detection and tracking. In one project, published at the 2021 Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, he developed a novel 3D-detection pipeline that is faster and more accurate than other state-of-the-art models. In follow-up work at the Conference and Workshop on Neural Information Processing Systems, Tianwei created a new approach for detecting small objects when there is a limited number of 3D measurements available. His detector work has been adopted by top self-driving companies into their software systems. Tianwei also attended a summer research program at Caltech, during which he developed algorithms for accelerating magnetic resonance imaging, one of the most prominent techniques for medical diagnosis. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a runner-up for the Computing Research Association Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award, UT Computer Science 2021 Best Honors Thesis Award and a Best Paper Award at the Machine Learning for Health Conference 2021. After graduation, Tianwei plans to continue research as a Ph.D. student in computer science at MIT.

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Wednesday, 06 July 2022

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