Graduating seniors receive awards for theses, research and arts projects

The winners of the 2012 Firestone Medals for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, the Robert M. Golden Medals for Excellence in Humanities and Creative Arts and the David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prizes represent the full spectrum of disciplines and interests.

Thirty-seven graduating seniors recently received awards for their undergraduate thesis or honors projects. They are the 2012 recipients of the Firestone Medals for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, the Robert M. Golden Medals for Excellence in Humanities and Creative Arts and the David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prizes.

The Firestone Medal recognizes graduating seniors nominated by their academic programs or departments for undertaking honors projects in engineering and the social, physical and natural sciences. Twenty-eight recipients were chosen for the Firestone Medal this year. 

The Golden Medal similarly distinguishes students completing honors projects in the humanities or creative projects in the fine arts. Nine seniors received a 2012 Golden Medal.

In addition to winning a Firestone or Golden award, four students also received Kennedy Prizes. This award is given annually for outstanding honors theses in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering. Recipients of this award have accomplished significantly advanced research in the field and have demonstrated strong potential for publication in peer-reviewed scholarly works.

The prize was established in recognition of David M. Kennedy, professor emeritus of history, and faculty co-director of Stanford's Bill Lane Center for the American West, and his longstanding commitment to mentoring undergraduate writers.

Russell A. Berman, the Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities, hosted an awards ceremony honoring the winners of the Firestone and Golden Medals and the Kennedy Prize during Commencement weekend. Each winner received an engraved bronze medal, citation and check. Julie Lythcott-Haims, outgoing associate vice provost for undergraduate education and dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising, presented the Kennedy Prizes.

The awardees, their majors, honors projects and faculty sponsors are as follows:

Robert M. Golden Medal

Brittany Bennett, feminist studies, "Elegy: An Exploration of Grief Through Fiction," Valerie Miner, feminist studies.

Isaac Bleaman, Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, "Vernacularity and Authenticity in Sholem Aleichem's Monologues: A Variationist Approach," Gabriella Safran, Slavic languages and literatures, and John Rickford, linguistics.

Alexandra Clark, drama, "Compassion at Play: Cultivating Compassion Through Theater," Jisha Menon and Branislav Jakovljevic, drama.

Brandon Jackson, drama, performance in drama, Harry Elam, drama.

Molly Keran, English, "'We would make that beauty immortal': Elegy as an Aesthetic Response to Death in Katherine Mansfield's New Zealand Stories," Terry Castle and Elizabeth Tallent, English.

Kacey Marton, music, performance in music, Greg Wait and Stephen Sano, music.

Samara Nichols, linguistics, "Does Infant-Directed Speech Facilitate Familiar Word Recognition by 14- to 15-Month-Olds?" Meghan Sumner, linguistics, and Anne Fernald, psychology.

Eric Tuan, music, "Beyond the Cadence: Post-Cadential Extensions and Josquin's Compositional Style," Jesse Rodin, music.

Miles Unterreiner, history, "Race, Memory and Law in the Tacoma Chinese Expulsion of 1885," James Campbell and Matthew Sommer, history.


Firestone Medal

Sanna Ali, science, technology, and society, “Unlocking the Power of Your Genome: Financial and Regulatory Challenges," Russ Altman, bioengineering.

Stephanie Chan, urban studies, "The Waizhou Special: Exploring the Effects of Immigrant Diffusion on Chinese Restaurant Workers in McMinnville, Tennessee," Tomás Jiménez, sociology.

Monica Coughlan, biology, "Identification of Possible Substrate Interaction Regions on Calcineurin," Martha Cyert, biology.

Stephen Craig, Center for International Security and Cooperation, "Tamed Tiger or Restless Beast? German Foreign Policy in the Post-Unification Period," Martha Crenshaw, Center for International Security and Cooperation, and Christophe Crombez, The Europe Center.

Vanessa Dang, human biology, "Investigating the Mechanisms of Regression in Renal Carcinoma upon MYC Inactivation," Dean Felsher, oncology, and Paul Fisher, neurology.

Ross Feehan, Earth systems, "Helping Those Who Harm: Harmonizing the Practice and Ethics of Aquaculture in China," Rosamund Naylor, environmental Earth system science, and Robert McGinn, management science and engineering.

Daniel Fuentes, biology, "Defining a Functional Role for MYT1L in Direct Reprogramming of Fibroblasts to Functional Neurons," Marius Wernig, pathology, Stem Cell Institute.

Colin Gray, economics, "Responding to the Monetary Superpower: Investigating the Behavioral Spillovers of U.S. Monetary Policy," John Taylor, economics.

Alexander Holtzman, political science, "The Unanticipated Inequalities of Electoral Reform: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Voting Behavior Under Oakland’s Ranked Choice Voting Program," Clayton Nall, political science.

Daniel Ibarra, geological and environmental sciences, "An Assessment of Late Pleistocene to Middle Holocene Lake Level Fluctuations in Surprise Valley, California," Kate Maher and Anne Egger, geological and environmental sciences.

Byungwoo Kang, physics, "Heating and Acceleration of Intracluster Medium Protons by Turbulence," Vahe Petrosian, physics.

Alex Kasner, ethics in society, "Considered Dissent: An Ethical Standard for Disobedience When National Security is on the Line," Alison McQueen, political science, and Sam Arnold, Bowen H. McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society.

Pang Wei Koh, computer science, "Identifying Genetic Drivers of Cancer Morphology," Daphne Koller, computer science, and Andrew Beck, Harvard Medical School Department of Pathology.

Jonathan Kotzin, biology, "The Role of CD4+ T cells in the Development of Protective Immunity to 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Influenza," Mark Davis, microbiology and immunology.

Colleen Lee, engineering, "DeduceIt: A Tool for Representing and Evaluating Student Derivations," Alex Aiken, computer science.

Chen Lossos, biology, "Immunoglobulin Sequences as Predictors of Immunogenicity and Clinical Benefit from Idiotypic Vaccination," Ron Levy and Ash Alizadeh, medicine – medical oncology.

Eric Miller, chemical engineering, "Selective Solution Shearing Deposition of Organic Semiconductor Thin Films," Zhenan Bao, chemical engineering.

Mai Nguyen, psychology, "Eccentricity Bias in Category-Selective Regions of the Ventral Temporo-Occipital Cortex," Kalanit Grill-Spector and Nathan Witthoft, psychology.

Susannah Poland, anthropology, "The Secret Lives of Beads: Tracing the Histories of Beaded Body Adornment among the Chagga People of Northern Tanzania," Liisa Malkki, anthropology, and Barbara Thompson, Cantor Arts Center.

Otis Reid, Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, "Monitoring, Expropriating and Interfering: Concentrated Ownership, Government Holdings and Firm Value on the Ghana Stock Exchange," Avner Greif, economics.

Zahra Sayyid, biology, "Wnt-responsive Cells in the Postnatal Mouse Cochlea," Alan Cheng, otolaryngology/head and neck surgery (ENT).

Emma Sedivy, biology, "Characterizing Phototaxis by Thermophilic Cyanobacteria," Devaki Bhaya, Carnegie Institute of Science Department of Plant Biology.

Naomi Shachter, comparative studies in race and ethnicity, "Exploring the Civic Identity Development of Diverse Youth in Service-Learning," Anthony Antonio, education, and Tania Mitchell, comparative studies in race and ethnicity.

Amy Showen, human biology, "Ripe for Change: Exploring South African Farmwomen's Healthcare Access and Utilization Experiences to Optimize National Health Insurance Implementation," Timothy Stanton, Bing Overseas Studies Program, and Paul Wise, pediatrics.

Jacqueline To, human biology, "Kiss2 Development in a Socially-Regulated Vertebrate Reproductive System," Russ Fernald and Caroline Hu, biology.

Sadie Weber, archaeology, "Assessing the Role of Wild Plant Taxa in Predomestication Cultivation During the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A," Li Liu, East Asian Languages Center, and John Rick, anthropology.

Rafi Witten, mathematics, "Tightening Performance Bounds in Randomized Linear Algebra," Emmanuel Candes, mathematics.

Tina Zheng, biology, "Arp5 of the INO80 Chromatin Remodeling Complex in S. Cerevisiae is Composed of Distinct Functional Protein Regions," Ashby Morrison, biology.


David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prize

Vanessa Dang, human biology; Pang Wei Koh, computer science; Otis Reid, Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law; Miles Unterreiner, history.