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PBK Undergraduate Research Day

2018 Awards

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.

On April 28th, 2018, a team of Phi Beta Kappa Scholars judged a series of undergraduate research presentations in order to select winners who showcased excellence in the liberal arts. Award winners are selected in two categories. The first category honors a project that showcases excellence in non-vocational, non-professional or non-technical studies. The second award is given to projects that articulate the interfaces between science and the human condition in a nuanced way that shows understanding and not simply consideration. Winners expertly knit together the physical, intellectual, ethical and social interfaces of the project.

Over four hundred students presented their research. From these students, the Phi Beta Kappa committee selected two winners:

Grace Hartman & Marten Baur:

CWC’s Interdisciplinary Climate Change Expedition (ICCE): Measuring Black Carbon, Water Quantity, and Water Quality in the Dinwoody Cirque

Benjamin Platt:

“I’d Strike the Son if He Insulted Me”: Milton and Melville’s Radical Individuals


Benjamin Platt’s project presented a literary deep dive that convinced the audience that despite their contextual and temporal separation, both Milton’s Paradise Lost and Melville’s Moby Dick advocated increasing democratization within their societies.

Grace Hartman and Marten Baur’s research provided the epitome of integration. In order to monitor climate related changes, this pair backpacks to a key Wyoming high-alpine glacier where they monitor black carbon levels, fecal bacterial contamination and water flow. The project not only integrates microbiology, chemistry, geography and climatology but it also forces the researchers to engage at a very human level with the Wyoming environment. Their sampling takes place on precipitous ledges, in knee-deep snow and windswept high-alpine terrain. It also asks them deeply to consider the human effects of climate change

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