PSAAA Recipients for 2020-2021

oxford sky at dusk

Below are the 2020 honorees and some of their accomplishments: 

Lexie Adams, Chemical Engineering

Lexie has presented at National Conferences and published her original research in the journal Metabolic Engineering. She worked as an Undergraduate Summer Scholar in 2018 and spent time in the summer of 2019 working with a researcher at Clemson University. She has been active in outside organizations including Engineers without Borders, the Talawanda Elementary School Foreign Language program, and she has volunteered at a local hospital. Her advisor, Dr Andrew Jones wrote, “Lexie’s significant and numerous accomplishments in the classroom and lab highlight her intellectual merit, while her passion for STEM outreach and volunteerism demonstrate her potential to contribute to the broader community.”

Brandon Arnold, Psychology

Brandon has worked in Dr. Anna Radke’s Behavioral Neuroscience Lab for the past two years where he uses animal models to study behaviors associated with addiction. He has also been an Undergraduate Summer Scholar and has presented at the Undergraduate Research Forum. In her nominating letter, Dr. Anna Radke notes, “I think it is clear that Brandon is more than just an undergraduate research assistant. He is one of the university’s greatest proponents of the undergraduate research experience.”

Shianne Baldwin, Studio Art, Art Education

Shianne is a thoughtful individual who is engaged with and excited for arts education and therapy. She has taught in the Saturday Art program and has served as a teaching assistant for other Saturday Art teachers—offering them mentorship, advice, and service.  One of her nominators, Dr. Stephanie Danker, commented, “Shianne is a caring, respectful and open-minded young artist and art educator, and exhibits an excitement to learn and grow from her life experiences. She embraces diversity and building relationships with others and she embodies Miami University’s motto of love and honor.”

William Carson, Chemistry

Will has been an undergraduate researcher in two different labs—for both Dr. Liu and Dr. Hartley. He has given four presentations at professional conferences and has co-authored three peer-reviewed publications from 1.5 years of work—including one paper on which Will was the first co-author. As an honors student, Will has assisted with recruitment of first-year students, volunteering as a member of the Honors Research Panel team and writing postcards to prospective students.

Nicholas Kaplan, Chemical Engineering

Nick has published in an academic journal and presented a poster at the National Meeting for the American Institute for Chemical Engineers. In addition, he has worked as an RA at Miami and was selected as a Top 10 Miami Engineering Student 2018. Under the direction of his faculty, Nick went from feeling that medical school was the only viable path for a person interested in science, to realizing that bioengineering research can lead to a fulfilling and rewarding career.

Kristen McGinnis, Chemistry

As an undergraduate student in Dr Michael Kennedy’s lab, Kristen has been working on a project whose overall goal is to develop a next-generation synthetic particle-based vaccine to treat rotavirus infections. She is the recipient of the Joseph Culler Prize in Physics, awarded to non-majors for demonstrating excellence in physics and problem-solving skills in difficult integrative problems. She has also been an Undergraduate Summer Scholar and has co-authored a manuscript based on her work.

Jessica Patrick, Geology

Jesse is very enthusiastic about the geosciences and has a high desire to conduct field-based research and analytical work in the area of environmental geoscience as a professional career. Jesse has been an Undergraduate Summer Scholar and an undergraduate TA. She has also presented at several national conferences and co-authored several manuscripts for professional journals in her field. As Dr Claire McLeod has written, “She exemplifies every quality Miami strives its students to possess: active engagement in curricular and co-curricular life, success, application of knowledge and skills with integrity, and an unwavering commitment to excellence.”

Brianna Stoll, Psychological Science

Brianna has already carved out a name for herself in her research around autism—coauthoring a manuscript in a professional journal and focusing on how neurotypical individuals perceive and understand Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is an outstanding student who excels in the classroom—leading discussions with her peers and showing her great depth of knowledge and understanding.  

Gianna Valentic, Psychology

Gianna has been involved with Dr Kuvalanka’s Trans*Kids project—including presenting their work at the Miami Valley LGBTQ Horizons of Aging Summit, coauthoring an article entitled “Grandmothers Raising their Transgender Grandchildren,” and interning at the Cleveland Clinic. She is a strong advocate for those who are transgender and, as Dr Kate Kuvalanka points out, “We need more allies who are not afraid to push others to ensure that they are not further stigmatizing an already vulnerable population.”

Jordan Vest, Geology

Jordan has been awarded numerous academic scholarships totaling over $125,000, enabling her to a wide variety of topics such as study mine waste research, research on sand dunes in the Central Nevada Desert, and research on makeup in the context of violence against women. As Dr Krekeler has attested, “Jordan is very honest, personable and extremely helpful, easy to work with, and is highly interested in numerous aspects of geology. She has developed extremely well over the last year and has progressed to a position of being the predominant leader in her current research group.” 

Steven Yu, Computer Science

Steven has been applying his computer programming skills to solving multiple problems—from calculating the real incidence rate for diseases like diabetes, to diagnosing sepsis several hours before it can be diagnosed by the doctor, and improving traffic efficiency with dynamic taxi ride sharing. He has been an intern with our Center for Analytics and Data Science, where he worked on a project to design a chatbot for a pharmaceutical company.