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Undergraduates honored for academic achievement

STANFORD -- Six Stanford University undergraduates have been named recipients of the 1992 Deans' Awards for Academic Achievement.

This award, in its fifth year, is given annually to extraordinary undergraduates nominated by faculty members and selected by a committee established by the deans of the three schools that offer undergraduate degrees.

The winners are:

  • Stark C. Draper, of Newton, Mass., a sophomore majoring in history.

Draper was cited for his breadth. He is considered one of the best students in both a fast-track electrical engineering course and a history colloquium that includes graduate students, according to the faculty members who nominated him, Wayne Vucinich and Norman Naimark of history and Fabian Pease of electrical engineering.

With a grant from Undergraduate Research Opportunities, Draper researched Kosovo Albanians. His paper was submitted to national policymakers and already has received correspondence back from one senator.

  • Marshell D. Jones, of Baltimore, Md., a senior majoring in anthropology.

"Following the model of Katherine Dunham," Jones has combined African-derived movements with anthropology, blending theater, her own text and dance, according to nominators Sylvia Wynter, professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and Halifu Osumare, a lecturer in the dance program

Jones has worked with the KanKouran West African Dance Company and Dunham. Her thesis, "The Invention of the Black Body: A Meta-Anthropological Approach to the Interpretation of African Dance Traditions," examines representations of Josephine Baker in French society during the 1920s and 1930s.

  • Balazs Kralik, of Budapest,Hungary, a senior pursuing a co-terminal master's degree in mathematics.

Kralik was lauded by physics Profs. Mason Yearian and Steven Chu and by mathematics Prof. Brad Osgood for being one of the most outstanding students of physics at Stanford in a decade.

"His academic record in his physics and math course work is nearly impeccable. His brilliance and quickness of mind in understanding very difficult material is well known to both his teachers and his fellow students.

"He is one of the strongest students we have seen and are likely to see - period," Osgood wrote.

  • Daniel J. Levitin, from Stanford, Calif., a senior in psychology.

Levitin was nominated by psychology Prof. Roger Shepard. Levitin served as course administrator and head teaching assistant for Psychology 1, "an extremely demanding and time-consuming job in which his conscientiousness, general savvy, interpersonal skill and humor were widely appreciated," said Shepard who, with psychology Profs. Anne Fernald and Gordon Bower and Associate Research Prof. Chris Chafe of music, nominated Levitin.

He was also commended for his "energetic leadership" and contributions through the Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Association. "He designed and carried out an experiment, conceived entirely on his own, that has yielded surprising and clearly publishable evidence for the prevalence of a previously unrecognized kind of absolute pitch ability."

  • Christopher K. Patil, of Omaha, Neb., a junior majoring in biological sciences.

Patil made major improvements to a challenging chemistry course, "Frontiers of Chemical Sciences," especially by rewriting the entire course laboratory text, devising and testing new experiments, and assembling a synthetic text for the lectures, according to chemistry Profs. Richard Zare and James Collman, who nominated him.

Patil also served as science editor of the Stanford Daily.

"Few times will a student's performance be such that it will be remembered long after the course grades have been turned in; Chris is such a student," Zare and Collman wrote.

  • Lea Wolf, of Cambridge, Mass., a senior majoring in modern thought and literature.

Wolf's thesis, "The Evolution of the Female Persona in Dance: Three Cases," traces the development of the female dancer from the classical, idealized, weightless creature to an ungendering in the 1940s and 1950s to reconception of gender more recently.

"This extraordinary work reflects great intellectual sophistication," said Diane Frank, who with Janice Ross nominated Wolf. Frank and Ross are faculty in the dance program.

Frank said Wolf also had emerged as "the dominant student, a leader in the development and presentation of original student dance work."

The award was originally created by Thomas Wasow, former dean of undergraduate studies, "to celebrate some of the exceptional scholarly achievements of our undergraduate students and to bring them campus-wide recognition." Because the responsibility for undergraduate education is shared among the schools of Humanities and Sciences, Earth Sciences, and Engineering, the award was renamed this year to the plural "Deans' Award."



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