U.Va. Graduates Are Awash in Research Awards, Scholarships

May 16, 2012 — Members of the University of Virginia's Class of 2012 are well-decorated. Combined they have earned 19 Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards, 10 Undergraduate Awards for Arts Projects, seven Double-'Hoo Research Awards and three Critical Language Scholarships. The soon-to-be graduates include recipients of Carnegie, Truman and Goldwater scholarships; the Stull and Finger Family research awards; and an Integrity Prize.

Graduate Hannah Meredith received three major awards – a Harrison Undergraduate Research Award, an Undergraduate Award for Arts Projects and the University's first Astronaut Scholarship.

Several graduates received two major awards. Reedy Swanson received a Carnegie Scholarship and a Critical Language Scholarship; Sarah Kim received a Goldwater Scholarship and a Harrison Undergraduate Research Award; and Aradhya Nigam received a Harrison Undergraduate Research Award and a Double 'Hoo Research Award.

The Harrison Undergraduate Research Award winners in the Class of 2012 are:

• Zachary Jonathan Collier of Monmouth Beach, N.J., a neuroscience major in the College of Arts & Sciences, researched the effects of anti-depressants in the treatment and prevention of post-traumatic stress disorder.

• Peta Katherine Douglas of Richmond, a Spanish and Latin American studies major in the College, analyzed a water filtration system previously installed by U.Va. students in the Kaqchikel community of Tzununa, Guatemala, evaluating its effectiveness using several different methods.

• Mark Duerksen of Richmond, a political and social thought major with a minor in studio art in the College, traveled to Kampala, Uganda, to research contemporary Ugandan artists and ideas behind their work.

• Jacqueline Hodges of Gainesville, a biochemistry major in the College, researched a selective interaction between a membrane protein and a host receptor to quantify the binding affinity.

• Leen Jamal of Anaheim and Huntington Beach, Calif., a biomedical engineering major in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, researched the behavioral patterns of signaling pathways in basal-like breast cancer.

• Sarah Kim of Annandale, a biology major in the College, researched the effects of aging in field populations of ribwort plantain, English plantain and narrowleaf plantain.

• Daniel Lindberg of Trumbull, Conn., a neuroscience and biology double major in the College, researched possible causes of food-related neurological disorders such as compulsive overeating, food addiction and anorexia nervosa.

• Hannah Meredith of Richmond, a biomedical engineering major in the Engineering School, researched the virulence of a deadly protozoan parasite prevalent in developing nations with poor sanitation.

• Yixiao Min of Beijing, a politics honors major in the College, researched the political behavior around the U.S.-China exchange rate.

• Catherine Moore of Richmond, a psychology and cognitive science double major in the College, researched the molecular basis of using exercise to treat nicotine addiction.

• Diana Walid Naim of Choueifat, Lebanon, and Fredericksburg, a cognitive science and biology major with a concentration in neuroscience in the College, researched psychiatry and neurobehavioral science.

• Aradhya Nigam of Danville, a neuroscience major in the College, researched reducing hyperexcitability in epilepsy patients.

• Vladislav Sviderskiy of Henrico, a chemistry major specializing in biochemistry in the College, researched metal catalysts for water oxidation to allow more efficient storage of solar energy in chemical fuels.

• Daniel Edward Watling of Glen Allen, an English and comparative literature double-major in the College, researched the messianic visions of Irish writer James Joyce and the lesser-known German-Jewish philosopher Gershom Scholem and their relationship to the Modernists' conception of history.

• George Zaras of Arlington, an archaeology and religious studies major in the College, researched ancient Greek religion in the Hellenistic colony of Morgantina, located in Sicily.

• Mary Olivia Hutton of Madbury, N.H., an environmental sciences major in the College, researched food supply and nitrogen dynamics in a Tanzanian village.

• Mitchell Ross of Edmond, Okla., a biology major in the College, researched regulation of cytoplastic dynein-mediated transport of mitochondria in neurons.

• Albert Tao of Charlottesville, a biology major in the College, researched characterizing the circadian rhythm of ovarian sensitivity to luteinizing hormone and if the ovarian clock controls the time of ovulation.

• Sarah Triolo of Rockville, Md., a chemical engineering major in the Engineering School, researched bio-remediation to remove chemical pollutants in drinking water.

The Stull Family Research Award winner in the class is:

• Alexandra Asaro of St. Louis, a biology major in the College, who researched the role of microRNA in the genetic reprogramming of adult cells into induced pluripotent stem cells.

The Finger Family Research Award winner is:

• Mary Catherine Kinniburgh of McLean, an English and medieval studies double major in the College, who researched literature situated in its geographical and historical context in order to expand the way texts are studied, focusing on pagan Scandinavian ritual and legal culture as it exists in the medieval Icelandic sagas and the relationship between characters and landscape.

Ten 2012 graduates won Undergraduate Awards for Arts.

• Hannah M. Barefoot of Winston-Salem, N.C., a studio art printmaking and English double major in the College, created a body of artwork exploring the creation of gardens and their ability to foster environmental change.

• Matthew Denton-Edmundson of Batesville, an English and history double major in the College, worked on a novel of revolution in contemporary America.

• Aashish Edakadampil of Mumbai, India, a media studies major in the College studying transnationalism through film, theater and literature, produced a "mockumentary" and a soundtrack to explore the role of media in identity formation, expose the biases of historiography and challenge the interpretations of religions, from the East to the West.

• Julia King of Vienna, Va., and Milan, Italy, a neuroscience and biochemistry major in the College, wrote a children's book on the brain with the intent of engaging children in neuroscience and science in general. King also performed research in clinical biochemistry, synthetic organic chemistry and neuroimmunology.

• Tianhao Lu of Shanghai, who majored in economics and film studies, an interdisciplinary major program combining media study courses on film theories and studio art classes on cinematography, in the College. His project was a 20-minute film on "Shanghai Stories."

• Sarah Matalone of Great Falls, who majored in modern studies and English in the College, worked on a collection of short stories focusing on "the modern experience, with its disparity between people, our loss of the ability to communicate with others, and the individual's descent into a robotic embrace of the mechanical over the human."

• Lindsey Arturo, an English major with a minor in film studies in the College, made a short film.

• Aishwarya Sriram, a student in the McIntire School of Commerce concentrating in management and marketing with a minor in dance, studied the evolution and relevance of Bharata Natyam, a classical Indian dance, in the Western and modern world.

• Maura Tousignant, a double major in comparative literature and Middle Eastern studies, with a dance minor, studied dance in Yalova, Turkey – particularly whirling, as a form of Sufi mysticism still practiced by dervishes today.

• Hannah Meredith, a biomedical engineering major in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, explored the science behind the cooking style known as "molecular gastronomy" that emphasizes the artistic and scientific elements of food.

Meredith also received the University's first Astronaut Scholarship, given by The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation for scientific merit. She was presented the scholarship by Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to step foot on the moon.

Among this week's graduates are seven Double 'Hoo Research Award winners:

• Olivia Sullivan, 21, of McLean, a physics and chemistry major in the College, researched methods of breast cancer imaging.

• Elisabeth Sparkman of Dallas, a cognitive science and East Asian languages, literatures and cultures major, with a Chinese concentration, in the College, researched the differences in how Chinese and Americans reason through problems and perceived outcomes.

• Brennan Torstrick of Jackson, Tenn., a biomedical engineering major in the Engineering School, researched vascular remodeling.

• Chelsea Hicks of Suffolk, an English major in the College, researched writing and fiction techniques in song-like lyrical fashions to complement sounds found in Alaska with stories and poems.

• Jacqueline Hodges of Gainesville, a chemistry-biochemistry major in the College, studied proteins found in the outer membrane of bacterial pathogens to understand how these proteins infect and colonize human cells.

• Aradhya Nigam of Danville, a neuroscience major in the College, studied the cellular and molecular changes that occur in temporal lobe epilepsy that produce the hyperexcitability found with seizures.

• Alexandra Worth of Charlottesville, a double major in languages and cultures of Africa (an Echols Scholar interdisciplinary major) and English, in the College, researched the assimilation, acculturation and educational experiences of Burundian refugees in Charlottesville.

Three 2012 graduates received Critical Language Scholarships from the U.S. Department of State, part of an effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages.

• Alyssa Paredes, of Herndon, an anthropology and East Asian Studies major in the College, studied Japanese in Japan for the second straight summer.

• Dorothy Lineer, a double major in French in the College and commerce, concentrating in finance and international business, in the McIntire School of Commerce, studied Korean at Chonbuk National University in Jeonju City, South Korea.

• Reedy Swanson of Knoxville, Tenn., a politics honors major in the College, studied Arabic in Jordan.

Swanson was also one of 12 students selected nationwide for a research fellowship at the prestigious Carnegie Endowment for International Peace next year.

Other awards:

Sarah Kim of Annandale, a biology major in the College, received a research scholarship from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation for 2011.

Ben Wallace, who double-majored in politics and economics in the College, was a 2011 Truman Scholarship winner. Wallace, who plans to pursue a career as a prosecutor, is U.Va.'s 28th Truman recipient.

Noaa Spiekermann, a double-major in studio art and environmental science in the College, was among five students nationwide chosen to receive a 2010 Integrity Scholarship from the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, intended to honor and recognize students of integrity.

– by Matt Kelly