PSAAA Recipients for 2023-2024

Provost's Student Academic Achievement Award Recipients - 2023

Below are the 2023 honorees and some of their accomplishments: 

Madeline Weaver

Maddie is a mechanical and manufacturing engineering major with minors in general business and emerging technology in business, and design. Maddie was nominated for the Provost’s Student Academic Achievement Award by Drs. Andrew Sommers and Jinjuan She from the department of mechanical and manufacturing engineering. Maddie’s research has spanned from designing a robot to enhance workplace safety by automating the turf maintenance process to studying factors that impact equal contributions in the engineering design process to designing an assistive stretching device which allows patients with neuromuscular conditions to improve their wellness. Her nominator Dr. Sommers, notes that Maddie constantly looks for opportunities to have a positive impact on society, adding, “I have a great deal of respect for this young woman, her talents, her attitude and her character.”

Rachel Olp

Rachel is a chemical engineering major with a co-major in energy engineering and a minor in paper engineering. She was nominated by Drs. Keith Hohn and Catherine Almquist, from the department of chemical, paper and biomedical engineering. In her research, Rachel has she has synthesized a novel silica catalyst, characterized it, and used it to catalyze the reaction. She has presented this work at Miami as well as national meetings, and is in the process of publishing it. Rachel’s nominator, Dr. Hohn, noted that she is “sharp, very mature, and a good communicator” and also wrote that she is “genuinely curious about research.”

Taylor LaValley

Taylor is majoring in biomedical engineering with a premedical studies co-major. She was nominated for the Provost’s Student Academic Achievement Award by Drs. Jason Boock and Andrew Paluch from the department of chemical, paper, and biomedical engineering. Taylor’s research explores a theory around quality experimental solubility data for pharmaceuticals in binary solvents. She has conducted a literature search, selected and assessed force fields to model the intra- and inter-molecular interactions in the system, and performed free energy calculations and structural analysis to support the theory. Taylor’s nominator, Dr. Paluch wrote, “She is the only student I have ever had hour-long conversations with about hydrogen bonding. Moreover, she is the only student who I could then suggest texts and manuscripts to read on the topic, who not only read them all, but was able to understand them all and apply them to our systems!”

Lake Ernst

Lake a biology major with a premedical studies co-major. He was nominated for the Provost’s Student Academic Achievement Award by Drs. Katia-Del Rio Tsonis from the biology department and Dr. Carol Fabby from the department of physics. Lake works in Dr. Del Rio Tsonis’s lens regeneration lab where Lake has measured the volume of regenerated lenses and processed the images of up to 30 salamander eyes. This work has led to conference presentations and his 3D images of these eyes are included in a recent publication. Dr. Del Rio Tsonis describes Lake as “inquisitive, excited and passionate” about his research.

Nicholas Stanich, 

Nick’s major is biology. He is also earning a co-major in neuroscience and premedical studies, and a minor in nutrition. He was nominated for the Provost’s Student Academic Achievement Award by Dean of University Libraries Jerome Conley and Dr. Justin Saul from the department of chemical, paper and biomedical engineering. Nick’s work ion Dr. Saul’s lab focuses on developing biomimetic ovarian constructs as a cell-based replacement for pharmacological hormone therapy. In his particular role, Nick has developed a multi-compartment mathematical model based on differential equations. His nominator, Dean Conley describes Nick as “one of the kindest, smartest, and emphatic students I have ever met in 30 years at Miami.”

Jules Jefferson

Jules is double majoring in biochemistry and nutrition with a co-majors in environmental science and premedical studies. She was nominated for the Provost’s Student Academic Achievement Award by Drs. Ann Hagerman and Heeyoung Tai from the department of chemistry and biochemistry. Described by Dr. Haferman as a “self-confident, energetic young scientist who combines technical talent with intellectual curiosity,” Jules’s work in Dr. Hagerman’s lab involves the standard purification of a plant natural product. She has expanded this work to preparing and analyzing nanoparticles with natural products incorporated into particles to stabilize them, and has started doing her own research in this area.

Tommy Fowler

Tommy earner his degree in data analytics along with a minor in statistics. He was nominated for the Provost’s Student Academic Achievement Award by Dr. Jerrad Wang from the department of sport leadership and management and Dr. Thomas Fisher from the department of statistics. As one of the founders, and later president, of the Student Manager Program at Miami Baseball Team, Tommy won the 2023 national championship of the National Collegiate Sports Analytics organization. Dr. Wang describes Tommy as representing the “highest standar of experiential learning in sport analytics.”

Juliana Curtis

Juliana is a geology major with a co-major in environmental science and a certificate in geographic information systems. Juliana was nominated for the Provost’s Student Academic Achievement Award by Drs. Mark Krekeler and Claire McLeod from the geology department. Juliana has conducted and functionally led a spectroscopy project on cosmetics to serve as a proof-of-concept study for hyperspectral remote sensing detection of blush on numerous substrates that would be common in crime scenes and has developed extraordinary skills in the area of instrumentation. Dr. Krekeler describes Juliana as “thoughtful, careful and considerate and very well organized,” noting that she is lead author on one publication.

Landon Stitle, 

Landon is working towards a geology major with a co-major in environmental science and a certificate in geographic information systems. Landon’s nomination came from Drs. Claire McLeod and Mark Krekeler from the geology department. Landon’s research examines the chemical makeup of different samples, using the department’s Powder X-Ray Diffractometer. She has submitted a publication based on this research and has served as a TA in several geology courses. Her nominator, Dr. McCleod, noted that Landon’s “professional maturity is rate among even some graduate students and I highly commend her for this.”

Hannah Wudke

Hannah’s major is geology and she has a co-major in environmental science as well as a minor in social justice and inequalities. She was nominated for the Provost’s Student Academic Achievement Award by Drs. Mark Krekeler and Claire McLeod from the geology department. Hannah’s research focuses on exposure of micrometer and nanoscale minerals with humans using electron microscopy to understand processes of transport, exposure, and mineralogical - tissue interactions. She has presented on this research several times, receiving high praise for her presentation. Hannah’s advisor, Dr. Krekeler noted that “it is extraordinary when an undergraduate develops such an integrated multidisciplinary approach” to their research.

Umar Arshad

Umar is a double-major in physics and data analytics. He also has a minor in computer science. Umar’s nomination for the Provost’s Student Academic Achievement Award was prepared by Drs. Imran Mirza and Paul Urayama from the department of physics. Based on his advanced knowledge of quantum physics, Umar’s research explores multipartite entanglement in many-body waveguide quantum electrodynamics. He has produced both publications and presentations related to this research. His nominator, Dr. Mirza, described Umar as “a rare type of undergraduate student who not only does a great job completing the assigned task but always tries to go beyond what has been assigned, which is truly commendable.”

Reilly Powers

Reilly has double majors in art education with k-12 licensure and fine arts in studio arts. Dr. Stephanie Danker from the department of art nominated Reilly for the Provost’s Student Academic Achievement Award. Reilly is a strong advocate for the visual arts and their role in advancing diversity and inclusion. Her work around using community arts for social impact has been presented at state and national conferences and she was a core organizer of the Electric Root Festival in Oxford in both 2022 and 2023. Her nominator, Dr. Danker describes Reilly as “highly motivated to make a positive difference in her communities and create equitable opportunities for experiential learning.”

Nina Liebes McClellan

Nina is double-majoring in social work and global and intercultural studies. Her nominators for the Provost’s Student Academic Achievement Award are Drs. Veronica Barrios and Kate Kuvalanka from the department of family science and social work. Nina’s research agenda explores interpersonal violence among women who enter the U.S. under various conditions such as refugees, migrants, asylum seekers and the interlocking systems of migration and interpersonal violence. She has presented her work and submitted it for publication, and also won a national fellowship to pursue her interests in the summer of 2023. Her nominator, Dr. Barrios, notes that Nina is “reliable, a critical thinker, and an empathic listener,” who has made significant contributions to her field, her department, and Miami University.

Ruby Schwan, 

Ruby’s three majors are integrated mathematics education, combined mathematics and statistics, and music. Her nominators are Dr. Kelli Rushek from the department of English education and Dr. Jeff Wanko from the department of teaching, curriculum, and educational inquiry. Ruby’s research with Dr. Rushek explored a philosophical reframing of literacy, that has the potential to inspire a less-acquisitional, standardized way of teaching and learning literacy across secondary content areas. This research is in the process of being published and has also been presented. Dr. Rushek describes Ruby as “the kind of intellectual that I dreamed about encountering when I was in graduate school, preparing to be an education professor.”

Thi Thu (Mary) Huong Le

Mary is double-majoring in quantitative economics and mathematics and statistics, and is also working on a master’s degree in economics. She was nominated for the Provost’s Student Academic Achievement Award by Dr. Mark Tremblay from the department of economics and Dr. Louis DeBiasio from the department of mathematics. In addition to doing research around AirBnB and the sharing economy, Mary has also conducted research that involved scraping video game usage data from, combining data from different sources and scrapes, and then using it to determine the types of video games fail at launch. Her nominator, Dr. Tremblay noted that Mary’s academic record is “impeccable.”