On March 12, 1999, the Chapter was presented with an endowment of $10,000, as well as the transfer of oil leases, from Harald V. Johnson, of Bensenville, Illinois, to establish the Louise A. Lee Johnson Memorial Scholarship. Mrs. Johnson was the valedictorian of Cheyenne High School in 1935. She graduated with honors from the University of Colorado and was elected to Φβκ in 1939. She arrived in France on a scholarship in 1939, but soon after her arrival there World War II threatened, and she returned to Wyoming. Mrs. Johnson participated in the University of Wyoming chartering in 1940.
The Chapter decided to award scholarships from this fund to juniors with a perfect 4.0 GPA who are inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and return for studies the following fall.
Louise A. Lee Johnson, 1934
The Phi Beta Kappa Awards for Excellence in the Liberal Arts are made possible by an endowment presented to the University of Wyoming Phi Beta Kappa chapter by Harald V. Johnson of Bensenville, Illinois. This endowment, in honor of Louise A. Lee Johnson is now used to support undergraduate students whose scholarship and research display excellence in the liberal arts. Mrs. Johnson participated in the University of Wyoming Phi Beta Kappa Chartering in its inaugural year of 1940. Today, the University of Wyoming is one of only 286 colleges and universities in America to meet the rigorous qualifications for hosting a chapter. This year, the members of the University of Wyoming Chapter are honored to be able to recognize undergraduate researchers who expertly weave together physical, intellectual, ethical and social issues in their research.
With Department of Molecular Biology Academic Professional Lecturer Rachel Watson’s leadership, for the first time PBK offered prizes for the best presentations demonstrating the integration of the liberal arts and sciences at the annual Undergraduate Research Day (April 30th).
Watson explained that “These Phi Beta Kappa Awards for Excellence in the Liberal Arts are required to illuminate the interfaces between science and the human condition addressed in a nuanced way that shows understanding and not simply consideration.” Watson’s energy and direction winnowed 270 undergraduate research abstracts to just over thirty and with the assistance of two other judges identified 9 semi-finalists. From there three judges were present for all the presentations during Saturday’s research day and then selected two winners—actually three, as the second award was divided equally between two outstanding students. The PBK Awards for Excellence each include an honorarium of $500.
The inaugural Award winners exemplified the goals of PBK. In a presentation that integrated the music of classical composers with the songs, value judgments, and neurology of birds, Catherine Cloetta explored whether birdsong can be classified as music. Catherine is a graduating senior with a double major in Physiology and Chemistry. She will be attending dental school next year. An indicator of the high quality of undergraduate research evaluated this year, the second PBK Award, was divided between Anne Reed and Roslyn Fleming. Anne Reed, of the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, reported on the human-elephant conflict in India. As Anne enters her career as a wildlife biologist, she hopes to integrate the Indian perspectives into her work in negotiating Wyoming’s human-wolf conflict. Roslyn Fleming of the English Honors Program looked into the pages of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations where she detailed Pip’s spacial education in a way that melded the physical, intellectual and social aspects of Pip’s identity development. The abstracts are available here.