Univ of Arizona Honors College to Open New Center in 2019

Editor’s Note: The following item is from the University of Arizona.

Tucson, AZ – April 11, 2017 –The University of Arizona Honors College will be moving into new facilities that will enhance the student experience for The University of Arizona’s top students.

Development of the facilities, to be located on Mabel Avenue between Park Avenue and Santa Rita Avenue, is expected to be completed by 2019. They will include a four-story building that will support contemporary residential, academic, and administrative needs with cutting-edge technology, a new recreation center, and a parking garage. It will also be the first Residence Life facility to have both dining and housing options.

Innovative classrooms, community creative spaces, and more personal living areas will create a centralized space for Honors students, faculty, and staff. The hope is that the facilities will not only allow students a more challenging, beneficial academic experience, but provide greater co-curricular and community-building opportunities that are so important to a holistic student experience.

“The current Honors College facilities are spread across four buildings at disparate locations on campus,” Honors College Interim Dean, Elliott Cheu, says. “A new building will bring together the students, staff and faculty under one roof.”

The need for new facilities became a focus for the college when it began looking at ways to improve the Honors student experience. New visions for academics, engagement programs, and recruitment processes made it apparent that new facilities would be needed.

“We will be able to significantly increase the interaction and collaboration between students, staff and faculty that will greatly enhance the Honors experience,” Cheu says.

A sense of community has always been one of the strengths of the Honors College, and even though the building will not be completed until 2019, current students are excited for what it will bring.

“Right now, upperclassmen are somewhat disconnected from underclassmen. A central space will bring all Honors students together,” Madison Richards (Honors Class of ’18) says.

Even though she will graduate before the new Honors facilities are completed, Richards believes future Honors students will benefit from the new building.

If you have interest in learning more about the new vision for the college, you can visit https://www.honors.arizona.edu/honors-path-future.

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Univ of Arizona Honors Students Win Churchill Scholarships, Show Value of Undergrad Research

Editor’s Note: This post is by Jill Goetz, Karna Walter, and Emily Kotay of the University Arizona College of Engineering and Honors College and was first published on January 17, 2016, on the UA News site.

Two University of Arizona seniors have won prestigious Churchill Scholarships to complete a one-year master’s degree program at the University of Cambridge in England.

UA College of Engineering majors Travis Sawyer and Jeannie Wilkening, both students in the Honors College, are two of only 15 Churchill Scholars selected in 2016-2017 for outstanding academic achievement and proven research talent in science, engineering or mathematics.

Both are the third and fourth UA students to receive the award since it was first granted by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States in 1963.

The UA is able to nominate only two students to apply for the Churchill Scholarship each year, and this year is the first time that both UA nominees have been awarded the scholarship.

Churchill Scholarships range from $50,000 to $60,000 and cover a year of tuition and fees at Cambridge University’s Churchill College. Scholars also receive travel and living allowances and may get additional funding for presentations at international conferences and visits to other universities.

Capturing Magic From Van Gogh’s Paintings

Sawyer is majoring in optical sciences and engineering, a program jointly administered by the College of Optical Sciences and College of Engineering. He is developing visual recognition software using different wavelengths, such as infrared and X-ray, to help scientists capture more detailed images for making discoveries in fields as different as art preservation, astronomy and medicine.

Travis Sawyer (photo credit Graeme Hunt)

Travis Sawyer (photo credit Graeme Hunt)

For his master of philosophy, or MPhil, degree in physics, he will conduct research on applying hyperspectral imaging for detecting early-stage cancer with Cambridge scientist Sarah Bohndiek, whose lab is affiliated with the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.

An Optics Ambassador with a 4.0 grade-point average throughout college, Sawyer came to optics in an unusual way. He was misdiagnosed with leukemia his freshman year and became fascinated with the optical instruments doctors used to examine him and, ultimately, ensure he was healthy.

Sawyer’s rising stardom was recognized in 2014 with a $10,000 Astronaut Scholarship, which he won again in 2015 — a first-ever feat at the UA. In 2015, he also won a Goldwater Scholarship, and his UA student team won the Robert S. Hilburn Memorial Optical Design Competition for its camera system to be sent to Saturn’s moon Titan.

“Hopefully, I can make a contribution or invent a technology that helps someone in the same way optics helped me,” Travis Sawyer says.

Sawyer credits his research mentors for their guidance. After Cambridge, Sawyer plans to pursue doctoral and postdoctoral work and establish his own research lab as a university professor.

Engineering for a Healthier Planet

Chemical engineering student Jeannie Wilkening studies how human activity affects biogeochemical cycles, the movement of water and other compounds through the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. She is particularly interested in how these processes relate to climate change and in developing models for more environmentally sustainable technologies.

“My experiences over the past four years have been instrumental in getting me to this point. I’ve been surrounded by incredible faculty, friends and classmates who have supported me, challenged me and taught me so much,”  Wilkening says.

Jeannie Wilkenning (photo courtesy Univ of Arizona College of Engineering)

Jeannie Wilkening (photo courtesy Univ of Arizona College of Engineering)

For her MPhil in earth sciences, she will conduct research with Cambridge scientist Alexandra Turchyn on carbon, sulfur and iron cycling in marshes and climate implications.

The Churchill Scholarship is the latest in a string of top honors and internships for Wilkening. She entered the UA as a National Merit Scholar and Flinn Scholar and, like Sawyer, won a Goldwater Scholarship in 2015.

She won a NASA Space Grant and interned at Princeton University and the University of Michigan through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program. She belongs to the Tau Beta Pi and Omega Chi Epsilon engineering honor societies, is an Ambassador for both the Honors College and the College of Engineering and is president of the UA chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.

“Since I was a child, I have been incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by great female role models who instilled a passion in me for science and engineering,” Wilkening said.
One of them was her mother, Betsy Wilkening. After earning her own bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the UA in 1982, she became a popular science teacher at Richard B. Wilson Jr. Middle School. Two of her students there were Wilkening and Sawyer.

After Cambridge, Jeannie Wilkening plans to return to the U.S. to pursue a Ph.D. in environmental engineering and then an academic career, teaching and conducting research.

Univ of Arizona Honors Grad Finds Deepest Commitment

Aspiring honors students typically can list an impressive array of accomplishments to go along with their high test scores and GPAs. These are often sufficient to merit their admission to honors programs throughout the nation.

From all the evidence we have seen in the process of reviewing 50 leading public university honors programs, the great majority of honors students do not rest on their high school laurels but continue to contribute and excel through their college careers, and beyond.

Probably the majority of honors students display their virtuosity through a mastery of the full range of subject areas–science, math, foreign languages, and writing–along with a background of community involvement and artistic accomplishment, say, in music.

Not so many come to their honors colleges and programs with a commitment that is strong enough to encompass subject mastery and community involvement and participation in varsity athletics. With full course loads and multiple majors (in many cases), the time and energy required to compete at the varsity level at a major I-A university is a challenge for even the most gifted honors student.

Meet Aubri Carman, who just graduated from the University of Arizona Honors College summa cum laude, after arriving at UA as a varsity soccer player. Following her graduation as salutatorian at Mountain Pointe High School in Tempe, Aubri won a prestigious Flinn Scholarship that gave her a “full ride” at the Arizona public university of her choice. Only 20 Flinn scholarships were awarded in 2008, out of more than 550 highly-qualified applicants.

Aubri chose the University of Arizona and competed on the varsity level in soccer. But a passion for biochemistry and biophysics took over around her second year at the university. “I came in as an NCAA Division 1 women’s soccer player, focused solely on athletics,” she says, “but then decided to go on another path and focus more on academic pursuits. I got involved, made key contacts through The Honors College and was able to pursue all the things I was passionate about.”

The following excerpt from a University of Arizona piece completes Aubri’s story–up to now–though it does not mention that she was named the outstanding senior in the UA Honors College in 2012. The piece was in recognition of her selection as one of two winners of the prestigious Merril P. Freeman award.

“Aubri Carman is a Flinn Scholar graduating Summa Cum Laude with honors with degrees in both biochemistry and molecular biophysics and molecular and cellular biology. She has minors in Spanish, political science and chemistry. She is the Outstanding Senior for the chemistry and biochemistry program and was honored with the Pillars of Excellence Award.

“She served as a student ambassador for the department of chemistry and biochemistry and as a member of the department’s peer mentoring program. She works at C.A.T.S Academics where she is a tutor for UA student-athletes and at the Honors College she plans activities for Flinn Scholars and recruits new students. She is also an active in the Mortar Board, a senior honor society.

“Carman has conducted research in three different laboratories on campus. She studies molecular and proteomic approaches to characterizing pediatric staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections. She is also a Galileo Circle Scholar and a Michael A. Wells Research Scholar and her work has been submitted for publication in the journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases.

“She has taken graduate level courses at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and helped with the planning of the inaugural New Frontiers in Global Health Leadership Forum.
Thanks to support from the Flinn Foundation, Carman has traveled extensively gaining valuable experiences in the health-care field. In South Africa, she worked with Child Family Health International as a clinical volunteer. In Costa Rica, she served as a global health ambassador for the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children performing routine tasks at a small primary care clinic and organized a six-week nutrition and exercise outreach initiative for women.

“An avid athlete, she organized a 3 vs. 3 soccer tournament fundraiser to benefit Grassroot Soccer, an organization that uses the power of soccer to educate youth in Sub-Saharan Africa about HIV. She also volunteers at The University of Arizona Medical Center in the pediatric ward.
She [has been awarded] a Fulbright Scholarship, where she would conduct public health research with Grassroot Soccer in Zambia. Having gained admission to several medical schools, she looks to become a doctor and gain a master’s degree in public health.”

Aubri will probably always be an athlete, but her commitment has grown and flourished as an honors student, and it is a commitment that will continue to serve humanity.