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On Tuesday, Dec. 13, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University will recognize their highest achieving students from the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities at the 2016 convocation ceremony.
Each department and school within the college has selected an outstanding student who has demonstrated an unyielding commitment to academic excellence during their time at ASU. These students will be awarded a prestigious Dean’s Medal to be worn with their graduation regalia as they lead their fellow graduates during the processional in honor of their scholastic achievements.
The Dean’s Medalists have made significant strides in their academic careers. From advanced coursework and honors theses to innovative research and consistently high grades, it’s no doubt each of these students will make impressive contributions to society and the world after graduation.
Meet this year’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medalists:
Dean’s Medal: School of Transborder Studies
Major: Transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies (Transborder Community Development and Health)
Accomplishments: Bojórquez is a successful transfer student who has been recognized as a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Student Leader. He has been a student delegate on a study abroad trip to Cuba where he worked with museums, artists, local political organizations and community members to reinforce solidarity and understanding during the embargo era. He has also conducted research, interned for Conexiones and provided resources for the homeless at the Lodestar Day Resource Center.
“There is no doubt that José is an exceptional student, who will continue to be successful in his future endeavors,” said Alejandro Lugo, professor and director of the School of Transborder Studies.
Dean’s Medal: School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning
Majors: Geography (Meteorology-Climatology), Aerospace Engineering
Accomplishments: Brown is an elite student who performed at an exemplary level at ASU. He developed a project where his results are currently being published in Solar Energy. Aside from his interest in climate-meteorology, Brown also focuses on aerospace engineering. He was an associate engineer for Nation Security Technologies, where he generated a new engineering management system. Brown has also lead multiple laboratory sections on geographic systems and physical geography.
Volunteer Work: Brown has tutored introductory students in physical geography and has made a habit of volunteering at various campus outreach events.
“Kenny is a great student. He is the top-performing graduating senior in the very difficult meteorology-climatology concentration in our school,” said Ronald I. Dorn, professor and chairman of the undergraduate committee in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.
Dean’s Medal: School of Earth and Space Exploration
Major: Earth and Space Exploration (Geological Sciences)
Accomplishments: Prior to attending ASU, Burke served in the U.S. Navy for six years where he was recognized with various honorable medals. While gaining experience in field geology, he spent a summer using geological mapping techniques and geological analysis to survey a portion of the Tonto National Forest. Burke has also worked as a mechanical technician for Orbital ATK, assembling commercial telecommunication spacecraft. In addition, he made the Dean’s List for two semesters.
Volunteer Work: Burke has volunteered as a Sundial Project Mentor within his school.
“Ryan’s piercing questions in class, attentive attitude, and diligence with assignments and exams all help explain his excellent GPA. His “can do” attitude is well known by all who have taught him and is a delightful testament to how well life experience can serve our students,” said Arjun M. Heimsath, professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration.
Dean’s Medal: Department of Psychology
Accomplishments: Forbes has exhibited great perseverance during her academic career while battling a serious illness. Instead of letting her health situation bring her down, she used it to fuel her academic pursuits and pursue a medical path. She has maintained an outstandingly high GPA during her time at the university while fulfilling all necessary pre-med requirements. She was also nominated for Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in psychology, and the Golden Key International Honor Society.
Future Plans: Forbes plans to attend medical school at Southwestern College of Naturopathic Medicine.
“My strong background in both psychology and the biological/physical sciences will lend itself well to my career as a physician. Moving forward I will continue to persevere, transforming my struggles into a channel for helping others,” Forbes said.
Dean’s Medal: T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics
Major: Family and Human Development
Accomplishments: According to Green’s academic advisor, she is a highly motivated transfer student who has learned the art of time management. She maintained an incredibly competitive GPA, while working to support her family. Her sincere motivation to work hard and achieve academic success at the university will help her excel in both her personal and professional life. Erin has great communication skills and is an excellent representative of the students at the school, said her advisor.
“Erin is an outstanding example of a student with multiple responsibilities. She has been able to achieve top grades in all of her classes, while also raising a child and working outside of school. She is reliable, organized and motivated,” said Lois Laynor Goldblatt, an academic success coordinator.
Dean’s Medal: School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Major: Global Health
Accomplishments: Hawkins has worked in the Culture, Health and Environment Lab for three years and has shown exceptional interest in pursuing her academic interests within and outside of the school. Additionally, she conducted surveys for five weeks in rural Guatemala with the Community Health and Medical Anthropology Field School to further understand women’s health and access to care.
Thesis: Emma is completing her honor's thesis with data she helped collect in Guatemala regarding hygiene stigma. She was also integral in collecting data in the Phoenix area.
“Emma has been a resource for other students in our lab when they have questions about the global health major, class selection and study abroad options. She has shown great leadership in our lab, and has consistently shown dedication to her work and research,” said Amber Wutich, associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.
Dean’s Medal: Department of Physics
Accomplishments: Heilman is a computational biophysics research assistant at the Beckstein Lab. He has worked hard to learn some of the complicated statistical mechanics to calculate solvation-free energies. He is currently working on a project to improve the design of new prescription drugs. In addition, he is an accomplished Jiu-Jitsu athlete, who competes internationally and teaches the sport to children and adults. His athletic training also translates into a well-organized and goal-oriented approach to research.
“Ryan is a talented and hard-working student, who has both the determination and the intellectual capabilities to be a successful physicist,” said Oliver Beckstein, assistant professor of physics.
Dean’s Medal: Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
Majors: Communication, English (Literature)
Accomplishments: Linder is an international transfer student who has delved into her academic and extracurricular pursuits. She has been involved with ASU Global Launch as a language specialist fluent in German and English. She also initiated a marketing project to establish a market for the Global Launch English-as-a-second-language program. Linder was recently named Features Editor for the Center of Intercultural New Media Research and is currently working as a classroom apprenticeship.
Future Plans: Kerstin wants to attend graduate school and obtain a master’s degree and possibly a doctoral degree.
“Kerstin has flourished in many opportunities that have helped her utilize her skills and interests in intercultural communication and research. She has only been a part of the ASU community since 2014, and in that short amount of time has made a big impact in her local and global ASU community,” said Brianna Burm, academic success specialist.
Dean’s Medal: School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
Accomplishments: Lubold has worked on numerous undergraduate research projects at ASU and San Diego State University. Based on his extensive research on statistical analysis, probability theory and computational statistics, he is hopeful up to four manuscripts co-authored by him will be submitted for publication. In addition, he has received a Summer Enrichment Award, the Bidstrup Fellowship and an Undergraduate Award for Excellence in French — all while being on the Dean’s List every semester.
Thesis: “A Statistical Framework for Detecting Edges from Noisy Fourier Data Using Multiple Concentration Factors”
Future Plans: Shane wants to continue doctoral studies in statistics or applied math. He has applied to the Fulbright program to study in Europe, and to numerous top doctorate programs. After earning his doctorate, he would like to pursue an academic career — researching, teaching and mentoring students.
“Shane has one of the highest cumulative grade point averages among the graduating majors in any of the school's undergraduate degree programs. He earned this by succeeding in a number of the most challenging highest level classes in our program,” said Matthias Kawski, President’s Professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.
Dean’s Medal: School of Social Transformation
Major: Women and Gender Studies
Accomplishments: Magdaleno is an outstanding student who has contributed significantly to the community. In summer 2016, she was a youth advocate for women’s reproductive rights at Planned Parenthood and interviewed Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. She was awarded the Raymond Castner Memorial Scholarship, the McKee Family Scholarship and the Sun Angel Funk Award. In addition, she has interned with the Trans Buddy Program at Vanderbilt University to increase access to care and improve health-care outcomes for people who identify as transgender.
Volunteer Work: Magdaleno has been a youth representative at Planned Parenthood and a volunteer at Living United for Change in Arizona. In addition, she has been a lead intern at Planned Parenthood Arizona and a sexual wellness peer educator at Devils in the Bedroom at ASU.
“Grecia has thrived academically, maintaining an excellent GPA which shows her passion for her major. Her dedication and perseverance has shown during number of visits to her academic advisors to make sure all her courses were on track,” said Erika Martinez, student success specialist in the School of Social Transformation.
Dean’s Medal: School of Molecular Sciences
Majors: Biochemistry, Mathematics
Accomplishments: Markus has conducted extensive research as a Helios Scholar in the Center for Noninvasive Diagnostics at the Translational Genomics Research Center and multiple labs at ASU. His research and thesis work have been presented in four conferences and have resulted in a first author publication in the Journal of Young Investigators.
Volunteer Work: Markus has been involved in several service programs. He has worked with the STEM in the Middle program, ASU’s Math Tutoring Center and the Chicanos Por La Causa program.
Future Plans: Markus wants to obtain doctoral degrees and become a research physician to discover cures for genetic diseases such as cancer.
“Mr. Markus has been very successful in all of his courses, always receiving high grades and ranking in the top of the class,” said Anne Jones, associate professor and associate director of academic affairs in the School of Molecular Sciences.
Dean’s Medal: School of International Letters and Cultures
Majors: French, Classics (Latin)
Certificate: Classics (Ancient Greek)
Accomplishments: Maur studied Arabic, French, German, Greek and Latin during his time at ASU. His work exhibits exceptional attention to detail and commitment to research, said his thesis director. Outside the classroom, Maur has served as the president and treasurer of Eta Sigma Phi, the national honorary society for classical studies. He has also been a guest speaker for the 11th Annual North-West Undergraduate Conference on the Ancient World and the 22nd Annual Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference. His short story, “Departures,” was published in the Marooned Undergraduate Creative Review.
Thesis: A study of the “Romance of Alexander the Great” tradition, examining primary texts in Greek, Latin, Old English, Old French, Arabic and Syriac.
"Glenn’s great success is his fearless pursuit of knowledge across boundaries that others find insurmountable. I have never seen an undergraduate so phlegmatically able to explore multiple different, difficult languages and draw on scholarship in many fields to support his investigations,” said Jim O’Donnell, university librarian and professor of classics.
Dean’s Medal: Department of English
Major: English (Literature)
Accomplishments: McDonough is the recipient of the prestigious 2016 Mouer Award. He also participated in the Pen Project, a university-prison community internship sponsored by the Department of English. He mentored inmates in writing at the Arizona Department of Corrections. In addition, he served as the English department’s newsletter editor. He has been a blogger for the Superstition Review the past two semesters and an active part of the ASU community, attending events such as ASU’s fifth Biennial Chaucer Celebration; the open house for the RED INK International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts and Humanities; the Prison Education Awareness Conference; and poetry readings hosted by the university and professors.
“Stephen McDonough has demonstrated himself to be an outstanding undergraduate student through his academic accomplishments and community engagement,” said Bob Sturges, professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of English.
Dean’s Medal: Department of Economics
Majors: Economics, Political Science
Accomplishments: McFadden is a double major with a competitive GPA. She’s taken numerous rigorous courses in economics and political science alongside a number of demanding mathematics courses. McFadden is also a JP Morgan Chase Scholar and a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. In addition, she has worked with Kx Labs as a data scientist who extended visual analytics to incorporate machine learning and statistical modeling.
Future Plans: McFadden hopes to pursue a doctorate in economics with a focus on applied microeconomics.
“Caitlyn’s academic record is outstanding. Her passion for economics comes from the fact that she feels that its data-driven approach is ideal for gaining a better understanding of the world around her and for helping to find ways to improve economic and political outcomes,” said Jose Mendez, professor of economics and chair of the awards committee in the department.
Dean’s Medal: School of Politics and Global Studies
Major: Political Science
Accomplishments: During her academic year, Mughal took advantage of many experiential learning opportunities. She worked as a research assistant to professor Jennifer Garcia and interned with the American Civil Liberties Union in Phoenix, Arizona and at United Muslim Relief in Alexandria, Virginia. She’s also a Presidential Scholar, a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Award recipient and a Diversity and Inclusion Award nominee. In addition, she’s been on the Dean’s List since 2014.
Volunteer Work: Mughal was an active member in the nonpartisan student organization Common Sense Action and was a policy researcher and writer for the organization. She was also a co-facilitator of the Diversity Dialogue program for the Tempe Diversity Office.
Future Plans: Mughal has aspirations for law school. She hopes to become a civil rights lawyer.
“Our undergraduate committee chose Ms. Mughal because of her outstanding record of academic accomplishments. She embodies the core tenets of the school insofar as her academic work and her personal life engages political phenomena within social contexts at all levels of analysis: local, national and global,” said Richard Herrera, associate director and professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies.
Dean’s Medal: School of Life Sciences
Major: Biological Sciences
Accomplishments: O’Neill is the president of “Ask. Listen. Save.,” a suicide prevention organization and “Us UNITED (Undertake Natural Integration to Endorse Diversity),” a refugee advocacy organization. He presented his work at the 2015 and 2016 Arizona Physiological Society conferences as well as the 2016 JumpStarting STEM Careers Conference. O’Neill was awarded a 2015 Graduate and Professional Student Association Athletics Grant to complete his study — an amazing accomplishment for an undergraduate student. He has also served as the founder of the United Nations Association at ASU where he raised funds to support the renovation of medical clinics in Africa and ship much needed supplies.
Volunteer Work: O’Neill volunteered at hospitals in Tanzania and Ghana over the past two summers.
Thesis: A project designed to examine whether exercise preconditioning could mitigate vascular complications that may otherwise result from chemotherapy.
“There is no doubt of Liam's academic excellence as evidenced by his receipt of the 2016 Moeur Award and consistent placement on the Dean's List and receipt of the ASU Provost's Scholarship since 2013,” said Laura Zafirakis, program coordinator senior in the School of Life Sciences.
Dean’s Medal: School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
Major: History (World History, U.S. History)
Minor: Religious Studies
Accomplishments: Probol shows an impressive dedication to her education, said her nominator. She participated in an exchange program with Babeș-Bolyai University as part of the Central European Collaborative at ASU to study in Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia. Probol has also worked as a security assistant for the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, Australia. She is authorized to manage U.S. Government sensitive and national security information classified up to the “Secret” level.
Volunteer Work: Probol has volunteered with the Canberra Greening Diplomacy Initiative as a committee member, Mission Australia as an educator, Art in Embassies as a curator and United Nations Women as a member and thought contributor.
Future Plans: Probol intends to continue her education, whether that be earning a Master of Public Policy/Administration or attending law school.
“I had Devon Probol in two of my courses and she was, without qualification, one of the best students I have taught. Her academic achievements were at the top of both courses, but it was her deep commitment to learning and improving as a student of history that was truly impressive,” said history instructor Peter Van Cleave.