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UW Students Receive Phi Beta Kappa Excellence in Liberal Arts Awards

May 8, 2018

University of Wyoming students were recognized for excellence in research related to the liberal arts during UW’s recent Undergraduate Research Day.

Benjamin Platt, an English major from Thornton, Colo., took first place for excellence in non-vocational, non-professional and non-technical studies for his research presentation. He demonstrated 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, an environmental systems science major from Newtown, Pa., and Marten Baur, from Lander, who is a dual major in kinesiology/health promotion and physiology, took first place in the category for projects that articulate the interfaces between science and the human condition in a nuanced way that shows understanding and not simply consideration. In order to monitor climate-related changes, this pair backpacks to a high-alpine glacier in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains, 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.

A team of Phi Beta Kappa scholars judged undergraduate research presentations to select the winners. The awards are made possible by an endowment presented to UW’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter by Harald V. Johnson, in honor of Louise A. Lee Johnson.

Over 400 students presented their research April 28. Other finalists selected by the Phi Beta Kappa committee, and the titles of their presentations, are:

-- Monique Weaver, biology major from Evanston -- “Microbial Succession versus Plant Developmental Effects on Rhizosphere Community Structure in Arabidopsis thaliana.”

-- Brooke Marcus, biology and psychology major from Douglas -- “Racial Inequality of United States Health Care.”

-- Samantha Worden, history major from Rock Springs -- “Silence in a Ghost Town: The Complexity of Child Mortality in Gebo, Wyoming.”

-- Minh Tran, electrical engineering major from Hanoi, Vietnam -- “Cooperative Cooking: A Novel Virtual Environment for Upper Limb Rehabilitation.”

The team of judges included faculty members Rachel Watson, of the Department of Molecular Biology, Learning Actively Mentoring Program and queer studies; Eric Nye, of the Department of English, and Phi Beta Kappa secretary; Erin Stoesz, Wyoming State Science Fair coordinator; Tim G. Kearley, College of Law emeritus professor; and Cedric D. Reverand, Department of English emeritus professor and Phi Beta Kappa president.


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