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Category: Info for Current Students

A University of Minnesota–Twin Cities undergraduate has been named a 2014 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, and two UMTC undergraduates have received honorable mentions in the competition. The prestigious Goldwater Scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research-oriented careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The scholarships provide up to $7,500 per year for up to two years of undergraduate study.

University Honors Program student Rachel Soble is a 2014 Goldwater Scholar. Rachel is in her third year of a five-year undergraduate career pursuing Bachelors of Science degrees in genetics, cell biology & development (College of Biological Sciences) and computer science (College of Science and Engineering). She plans to earn a Ph.D. in computational biology and to develop new computational frameworks for investigating microbial ecology and physiology. Rachel is a National Merit Scholar and a Robert C. Byrd Scholar, and holds a prestigious American Society for Microbiology Undergraduate Research Fellowship this year. As an Amgen Scholar in summer 2013 she conducted microbiology research at Columbia University. At the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, Rachel conducts research in Professor Jeffrey Gralnick's microbiology laboratory. Her project is the application of a new genetic technique called Tn-seq to study interdependence in a synthetic cooperative community of bacteria, with the goal of contributing to the scientific understanding of microbial cooperation. She has also worked on computational biology projects in Professor Chad Myers's research group. Rachel is co-author of a forthcoming article and has presented her research at national conferences. She is involved in many campus activities including Teaching SMART, a student group that teaches lessons in local schools to spark children's interest in science. Rachel grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and attended Brookfield High School in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Rachel Soble on her experience at the Gralnick Lab—Engineering Bacterial Cooperation.

Moriana Haj received an honorable mention from the Goldwater Scholarship Program this year. Moriana is a junior chemistry major in the University Honors Program and the College of Science and Engineering. Originally from Edina, Minnesota where she attended Edina High School, Moriana plans to pursue a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. She aspires to participate in interdisciplinary research efforts to solve major scientific problems, in areas ranging from drug discovery to sustainable materials development. As an undergraduate researcher in Professor Thomas Hoye's laboratory, Moriana has been studying various aspects of a newly uncovered chemical reaction, the hexadehydro-Diels-Alder (HDDA) reaction, a variation on a classic transformation that is fundamental to the field of organic chemistry. Moriana takes inspiration from the creativity and open-mindedness that led Hoye's research group to explore the HDDA reaction, which they first observed while attempting a routine reaction in an unrelated study. She is a National Merit Scholar and the recipient of several scholarships to support her research activities. As the recipient of the Robert C. Brasted Fellowship, she is completing a teaching apprenticeship with Professor Jane Wissinger, for which she is developing a new experiment for the organic chemistry laboratory course.

Robin Lee also received honorable mention. A native of Bel Air, Maryland and a graduate of Bel Air High School, Robin lived in South Korea for many years before coming to the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities to pursue his interest in cancer genetics. Now a junior in the University Honors Program, he is completing an undergraduate degree in genetics, cell biology & development in the College of Biological Sciences. Robin has conducted research with Professors Craig Eckfeldt and David Largaespada on the pathways of growth in NRAS, a gene frequently mutated that causes abnormal growth in acute myeloid leukemia. Over several summers in high school and college, he has engaged in neurobiology, genetics, and cancer research at the University of Ulsan College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea. His first-authored articles have been published in Gene and The Journal of Genetic Medicine, and he has received an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program grant and other awards to support his research and travel to present at conferences. Robin plans to pursue a Ph.D. in genetics and hopes one day to establish an international cancer genetics research consortium.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. This year, 283 scholars were selected nationwide from a field of more than 1,166 students who were nominated by their colleges and universities. Each institution many nominate up to four students.

A total of 55 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities undergraduates have been Goldwater Scholars since the program's inception in 1986. UMTC students who are interested in applying for the scholarship in the future may consult the Office for National and International Scholarships.

For more information on the Goldwater Scholarship, visit

Two University of Minnesota students, Melanie Paurus and Johnathon Walker, have been named Katherine E. Sullivan Scholars for 2014–15. The Sullivan Scholarship is the University's most prestigious scholarship for study abroad. It supports a fifth year of undergraduate study in another country for one or more outstanding seniors from any campus of the University of Minnesota. The annual scholarship competition is administered by the University Honors Program at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, and the fund is managed by the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance.

Melanie Paurus is majoring in Spanish and Global Studies at UMTC with academic interests in human rights, drug trafficking, migration, and incarceration. She will spend the 2014–15 academic year in Jerusalem studying intensive Arabic at the Hebrew University. Melanie has volunteered and completed internships in Mexico, Columbia, and Ecuador, including a women's prison in Quito. Her concern for people caught up in the destructive fall-out of the drug trade has led her to study the structures of international trafficking, and she plans to expand her knowledge to the trade in opium through Central Asia and the Middle East. Her expertise with Spanish has shown her that speaking a local language is essential, so she will study Arabic in order to gain access to the cultural, social, and political dynamics currently shaping the region. Melanie is from Cottage Grove, MN and is a graduate of Park High School.

Johnathon Zelenak Walker is a student in the University Honors Program at UMTC, with majors in Global Studies and Political Science and a minor in Spanish Studies. Inspired by growing up in rural Minnesota and his extensive travel throughout rural communities in Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, and Bolivia, Johnathon's interests are agricultural politics and networks of solidarity in resistance to the state and capitalism. His research examines the use of art and technology to build solidarity between dispersed autonomous communities across cultural and territorial boundaries. Next year, Johnathon will attend the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar in Quito, Ecuador and continue his fieldwork in South America. Johnathon is from Clear Lake, MN and is a graduate of St. Cloud Technical High School.

Contratulations, Melanie and Johnathon!

The University Honors Program is currently seeking applicants for the position of Peer Assistant. Applicants must be UHP students in their sophomore or junior year during the 2014–2015 academic year. This position will begin September 2014.

Peer Assistant Academic Year Responsibilities

Honors Peer Assistants perform a wide variety of tasks that support the UHP mission to guide and challenge students from across the University as they develop into broad, creative, independent, and informed thinkers. Peer Assistants provide office support to the University Honors Program director, associate directors, academic advisors, and support staff.

Peer Assistant Job Duties:

  • Greet visitors and assist students with questions about UHP
  • Answer phones; manage multiple lines
  • Schedule appointments in Google Calendar
  • Prepare student information files for advisors on a timely basis; print transcripts and various reports
  • Perform back-up duties for Student Services Specialist
  • Make posters/handouts
  • Research and compile data for one-time projects
  • Create and maintain Excel spreadsheets
  • Clean and organize work center and storage rooms
  • Copy, print, scan, shred
  • Run errands on campus

Work Hours

Peer Assistants are expected to make a commitment for the academic year, with an availability of 4-8 hours per week during fall and spring semesters. Some hours are available during winter and spring breaks. Peer Assistants are required to attend training at the start of the academic year.

Essential Qualifications

Currently enrolled and active in the University Honors Program at the U of M-Twin Cities; full-time enrollment for fall 2014 and spring 2015; strong academic record; evidence of involvement in campus or community activities; excellent communication skills; attention to detail; basic knowledge of Microsoft Office; interest in working with honors students from diverse backgrounds and areas of interest. Reception or front desk experience is desirable.


Official job classification title for the Peer Assistant position is Student Support Services, Intermediate LeveI. Pay rate is $9.14 per hour.


To apply, please provide the following documentation:

  • Application form
  • Current resume
  • Personal statement (approximately 250 words) telling us why you are interested.
Note: The PDF application may be viewable and printable from most browsers, but we recommend downloading the form and using Adobe Reader (Winows or Mac) to complete the form digitally.

Application, resume, and personal statement are due by 4:30 pm on April 7, 2014.

Submit by U of M Campus Mail, U.S. Mail, hand deliver, or email to:
, Executive Administrative Specialist
University Honors Program
390 Northrop
84 Church Street S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Honors Seminars in the News

February 10, 2014

Honors Seminars (HSem) are some of the most fascinating courses at the University, offering students the opportunity to explore a variety of topics in a discussion-based setting with expert faculty and instructors.

Our fall 2013 Honors Seminars were an extraordinary bunch, covering topics from modern Chinese culture to 21st century cognition. Two of these courses were featured in recent publications. Chang Wang's (adjunct professor, Law School) final lecture to students in HSem 3801H (Modern China: Law, History, and Culture) was published by China Insight, and Professor Lee Pen (Chemistry) was featured in the Minnesota Daily for her innovative use of cell phones to analyze solutions in HSem 2513H (NANO! Small Science, Big Deal.

UHP Students from all disciplines are invited to imagine the future of the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities and to create a work that responds to that imagined future. Comprehensive information about this opportunity will be available at two upcoming information sessions in 12 Nicholson Hall, on Thursday, October 10th from 10–11am and on Friday, October 11th from 2–3pm.

How will people gain access to the water? What wildlife will inhabit this corridor in the city? How will the region's long history be evident? These are just examples of the questions you might ask yourself about this place. Projects will take the form of a proposed research project, work of art (visual art, music, performance, etc.), audio/visual media, or other means of expression. A panel of judges (faculty, staff, and community partners) will review all proposals and select a number for further development by mid-December. Students whose proposals are selected will work in conjunction with faculty or community partners to complete their work by late March, and the work will be presented during the grand re-opening celebration at Northrop on April 16th. We will review each selected work to determine whether it can be used to fulfill an Honors Experience.

For more information on River Futures, download the program brief.

To learn more about the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities, and to get links to sources of information about trends and patterns affecting the river, visit the River Life website.

We're very pleased to share a selection of photos from the 2013 Honors Recognition Ceremony. The ceremony was a great success, with an audience of 700 students, families, friends, staff, and faculty gathering at the Ted Mann Concert Hall to celebrate the remarkable achievements of our 2013 graduates. Thanks for making this event a memorable one.

All photos courtesy of Patrick O'Leary, University Relations.

Plans for the 2014 Ceremony

The University Honors Program will be moving its offices to the third floor of the revitalized Northrop Memorial Auditorium in late December of 2013—so we're very excited to announce that the 2014 Honors Recognition Ceremony will be held in the beautifully renovated auditorium. Mark your calendars with the following details, and stay tuned for further information early next Spring:

  • Thursday, May 8th, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
  • Northrop Memorial Auditorium

Fridays at Noon

January 30, 2013

Fridays at Noon is a series of casual, noon-hour presentations and conversations for Honors students hosted by the University Honors Program. Attendees are welcome to bring lunch and eat during the discussion. The majority of these conversations will feature one or more current Honors students talking about a specific Honors-related activity in which they have been involved, such as study abroad, research, volunteering, internships, or student leadership. If you have an experience that you would like to share, please email UHP advisor You may also call Tim on 612-624-5522.

The full slate of upcoming Fridays at Noon events is available on the UHP calendar. Please join us for one or several!

The University Honors Program strongly encourages you to take advantage of the exciting learning opportunities available through an Honors Challenge Course this Fall. These remarkables courses are team-taught by researchers and lecturers from many fields both inside and outside the university. The courses take an interdisciplinary problem-solving approach to challenges that extend beyond borders, and each counts as an honors course and an honors experience. More information and registration details are available at Onestop. The Fall 2012 course offerings are:

HCOL 3801H: Honors Challenge Course, Changing America: The Face of Immigration

In this interdisciplinary seminar, we will study the immigrant and refugee experience in America in the past and the present through readings, discussion, and service-learning with local immigrant and refugee serving organizations. We will address national and international issues related to immigrants and refugees in the US, while also focusing on communities, organizations, and topics specific to Minnesota. We will also consider why immigration has been considered a subject of "perennial debate" in the United States. Throughout the course we will explore four key areas: immigration and xenophobia, immigrant/refugee integration, immigrant rights, and immigration law and policy.

This course is co-taught by Erika Lee and Katherine Fennelly.

Why do immigrants come to the United States? What kind of "America" do they find once they're here? And why have Americans continuously debated the merits and demerits of immigration since the colonial era to the present? These are the questions that Erika Lee, Professor of History and Asian American Studies, explores in her research, writing, and teaching. Winner of a 2011 Arthur "Red" Motley Award for Excellence in Teaching in the College of Liberal Arts, Professor Lee is the author of two award-winning books and several articles on Asian American history and the history of immigration law in the United States.

Katherine Fennelly is Professor of Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. Her research and outreach interests include the human rights of immigrants and refugees in the United States, and the preparedness of individuals, communities and public institutions to adapt to demographic changes. Fennelly is bilingual in Spanish and English and has worked and traveled extensively throughout Latin America.

Please note that HCOL3803H ("Can we feed the world without destroying it?") has been moved to spring 2013.

The University Honors Student Association (UHSA) is accepting applications for the following executive board positions for the upcoming 2012-2013 academic year:

  • President
  • Vice President
  • Academic Affairs Chair
  • Communications Chair
  • Community Engagement Chair
  • Mentorship Program Chair
  • Social Affairs Chair

UHSA Executive board members work to better the university's honors community through student-planned events and initiatives. They also serve as liaisons between honors students and the staff of the University Honors Program. The above positions are open to continuing students, and there will be opportunities for freshmen this Fall as well. Please review the attached position descriptions for more information on these excellent student leadership opportunities. Don't hesitate to contact if you have any questions.

Application and Position Descriptions

Completed applications must be submitted to by noon on Thursday, May 3.

Position descriptions

Please join us in congratulating Paul David Carlson, Chung-Yun (George) Chao, and Mark Strom, all UHP students who have been named 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars. The prestigious Goldwater Scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research-oriented careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The scholarships provide up to $7,500 per year for up to two years of undergraduate study.

More about the 2012 Goldwater Scholars:

Paul David Carlson, a junior majoring in chemical engineering in the College of Science and Engineering, plans to pursue a combined M.D. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering and specialize in cardiovascular tissue engineering. Carlson is a named contributor in a publication from the biomedical engineering laboratory of professor Robert Tranquillo, under whose guidance he has researched the creation of aligned, perfusable microvascular networks within fibrin-based tissue that can be used to repair damage to the human heart from cardiac infarction. Carlson has also given several poster presentations on his work. He spent summer 2011 as a Chemical Engineering Formulation intern at Eastman Kodak Co. in Rochester, New York, working on the reformulation of products in the Thermal Printing Platform. A National Merit Scholar, a Presidential Scholar, a Minnesota Gold Scholar, and recipient of the Monroe Professional Engineers Society and SIG Hagen scholarships, Carlson has been recognized by the American Chemical Society and awarded two Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program grants. In his spare time, he tutors chemistry students at the U of M and volunteers at Amplatz Children's Hospital.

Chung-Yun (George) Chao is a junior pursuing a double major in genetics, cell biology, and development in the College of Biological Sciences and computer science in the College of Science and Engineering. Following his undergraduate studies, he plans to pursue a doctorate in bioinformatics and possibly an M.D. with a future specialty in internal medicine. Chao aspires to a research career at the intersection of genetics and computer science that will lead to new medical treatments. Working under the guidance of professor Chad Myers, he has researched mapping gene interaction networks in yeast and has extended these studies into an interaction network of human genes to predict possible protein interactions in humans. Chao is also involved in research on protein pathways in Drosophila under the direction of professor Thomas Neufeld, and under professor Daniel Keefe, he has explored the creation of a data generation system for analyzing movements of the spine. He has presented his work on several occasions, including a recent TEDxUMN talk, and is involved in leading the U of M's team for the 2012 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition. Chao is a Presidential Scholar, a Monica Tsang and James Weatherbee Merit Scholar in Biology, a Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development Scholar, and the recipient of an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program grant. A competitive ballroom dancer, Chao has won dozens of awards and mentions in local, regional and national competitions.

Mark Strom, a junior chemistry major in the College of Science and Engineering, plans to pursue a combined M.D. and Ph.D. in cell biology with the purpose of conducting research on stem cells as a faculty member at a medical school. Under the direction of professor Atsushi Asakura, Strom has investigated molecular mechanisms behind muscle stem cell self-renewal with the hope of eventually applying these findings toward treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Strom spent summer 2011 conducting research at Syracuse University, working in the bioorganic chemistry laboratory of professor Yan-Yeung Luk on the organic synthesis and biological testing of novel bacterial biofilm inhibitors. Strom is a Presidential Scholar, a Minnesota Gold Scholar, a CSE Merit Scholar, a Robert C. Byrd Scholar, and a Thomas J. Watson Memorial Scholar, and he has been recognized with the Prentice Hall Organize Chemistry Book Prize, the Merck Index Award, a pair of Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program grants, and a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates grant. A teaching assistant in the University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program, Strom is also a longtime Habitat for Humanity volunteer.

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities students who are interested in applying for the scholarship in the future may consult the Office for National and International Scholarships, a service of the University Honors Program.

Read the full press release here.