Two UW Undergraduate Researchers Honored by Phi Beta Kappa

Karter Dunham and Rae GerkingThe Phi Beta Kappa chapter at the University of Wyoming selected two winners of 2024 Undergraduate Research and Inquiry Day Awards during last weekend’s event at the Wyoming Union.

The event celebrates exceptional student research that embodies the values of intellectual curiosity, interdisciplinary exploration and scholarly excellence.

This year’s Phi Beta Kappa awards recognize two students whose work exemplifies the highest standards of academic excellence and intellectual rigor.

Rae Gerking, from Renton, Wash., received the Award for Excellence in the Integration of Science and the Humanities for the oral presentation “Advancing Data Science in UW Soccer Through Software Development.” Gerking’s project demonstrates a groundbreaking integration of scientific research with intellectual, ethical and social issues, showcasing advancements in data science applied to athletic performance analysis. Gerking’s faculty mentor was Tim Robinson, a UW professor of mathematics and statistics.

In the category of Excellence in the Liberal Arts, Karter Dunham, from Worland, was honored for the work titled “A Memoir on Being Out and LGBTQ+ in the Rural Mountain West.” Through a deeply personal exploration, Dunham’s memoir sheds light on the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals in rural settings, offering reflections on identity, authenticity and societal acceptance. Mimi Fenton, a visiting professor, and Molly Brown, a UW assistant professor of English, served as faculty mentors for Dunham’s research.

The judges for this year’s awards were Jim Herrold, a safety specialist in the Research Compliance Office; Cedric Reverand, a professor emeritus of English; Carol Frost, a professor emerita of geology and geophysics; Grace Erholtz, a graduate research assistant in the UW Division of Kinesiology and Health; and Betsy Bress, college affairs coordinator for the College of Arts and Sciences.

“We are immensely proud of the exceptional research presented by Rae Gerking and Karter Dunham,” says Joy Landeira, president of the UW Phi Beta Kappa chapter. “Their work not only advances knowledge and understanding within their respective fields, but also inspires future student research in the liberal arts and sciences.”

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