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Category: News Release

Michael Veit, who graduated summa cum laude in 2014 with degrees in both Physics and Mathematics, has been named the winner of the 2014 Leroy Apker Award by the American Physical Society. Veit will receive a $5,000 prize in recognition of research that formed the basis of his Honors Thesis. The University of Minnesota's School of Physics will also receive $5,000 to further support undergraduate research here at the University.

"The Apker is the most distinguished award recognizing excellence in undergraduate research in physics in this country," said Serge Rudaz, director of the University Honors Program and Professor of Physics. "We are all incredibly proud of Michael's achievement, which reflects brightly on the University, its School of Physics, and its Honors Program."

Veit entered the University Honors Program as a sophomore, motivated by UHP's emphasis on research. "I think the research component of the Honors Program had the most profound impact on my undergraduate career," he says. He credits UHP as a a major influence on his success and current career path: "My experience with research has been the biggest factor in choosing to continue studying physics in graduate school. Without UHP, I'm not sure I would have started conducting research as early as I did, and I would have missed out on some incredible experiences that shaped my career plans."

Veit is now pursuing a PhD in Applied Physics at Stanford University. "Michael's interests spanned many disciplines in science and engineering," explains Andrea Beloy, Michael's Honors Advisor. "When he found his fit in Physics, he really took off. I enjoyed working with him and am excited to follow his research career."

Interested students can learn more about faculty-directed research here on the UHP website.

About Michael's Research

My Honors Thesis was a study of transport measurements in the cuprate superconductor HgBa2CuO4+d. The cuprates are a class of superconductors which have a high superconducting transition temperature. This means that the cuprates do not have to be cooled as much as more conventional superconductors to become superconducting.

A full understanding of the cuprates remains elusive due to the observation of a number of anomalous properties which have been taken to be strong indicators that the physics of the cuprates cannot be described by the conventional model for simple metals, known as Fermi-liquid theory. However, I measured the resistivity, Hall effect, magnetoresistance, and Seebeck coefficient of the cuprate HgBa2CuO4+d, and I remarkably found that it behaves as it should in the Fermi-liquid theory. Such transport measurements are often among the first experiments to be performed on a new material. However, they are typically the least understood. My work has shown that there some aspects of these complex materials are rather conventional, and that there is still much to be learned from such measurements in the cuprates.

More about the Apker Award

The Leroy Apker Award recognizes outstanding achievements in physics by undergraduate students, and thereby provides encouragement to young physicists who have demonstrated great potential for future scientific accomplishment. Two awards may be presented each year, one to a student from a PhD granting institution and one to a student from a non-PhD granting institution. More information is available on the American Physical Society website.

The winner of the Turner Award for the outstanding Honors thesis in the College of Liberal Arts for the 2013 calendar year is Sophie E. Wallerstedt, a major in history. Her thesis, "Politicians and Prostitutes Make Strange Bedfellows: A History of Commercialized Sex and Regulation in Early Minneapolis," was completed under the supervision of Professors Gail Dubrow and Kevin Murphy.

Honorable mention was awarded to Jillian Ryks, a journalism major whose thesis, "A Content Analysis of Women's Issues in Cable News: Election 2012," was completed under the supervision of Professor Daniel Wackman.

Congratulations, Sophie and Jillian!

The Turner award is named for political science professor Emeritus John E. Turner, a globally recognized leader in social sciences who received his master's degree (1949) and his PhD (1950) from the University of Minnesota. His distinguished career at the University of Minnesota spanned nearly four decades. His outstanding scholarship was underscored in 1974 when he was made a Regents' Professor. During his tenure he was also awarded the Morse-Alumni Award for Undergraduate Teaching. He authored, co-authored, and edited approximately thirty publications during the course of his career. He was instrumental in the creation of the International Studies Association, the premier scholarly association for the study of international relations. In his numerous leadership roles he served as an influential public figure who contributed to the world of social science in countless ways.

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 www.act.org/goldwater.

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!

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.

The 2012–2013 academic year saw an exciting number of University of Minnesota students—many of them in the University Honors Program—winning nationally and internationally competitive scholarships. Among the most prestigious scholarships awarded to UHP students this year were the Harry S. Truman Scholarship and Udall Scholarship—congratulations, everyone!

UHP students Bradley Conley (Truman finalist), Marissa Kramer (Gilman and Udall winner), and Katrina Klett (Truman and Udall winner) celebrate at a reception in honor of finalists and winners of nationally & internationally competitive scholarships, held at the Campus Club on April 24th. Photo by Patrick O'Leary for University Relations.

Astronaut Scholarships

  • Daniel Boman, Mechanical Engineering
  • Paige Voigt, Biomedical Engineering

Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange

  • Michael Demianiuk, History

Critical Language Scholarships

  • Alicia Nelson, Sociology (Korean)

DAAD Summer Research Internships in Science and Engineering

  • Alexander Hron, Biochemistry and Chemistry
  • Maxwell Shinn, Neuroscience and Mathematics

Fulbright UK Summer Institutes

  • Anna Courchaine, Graphic Design (Scotland)

Fulbright US Student Program Scholarships

  • Yoko Ishida, Neuroscience, Physiology (Research, Japan)
  • Whitney Koester, Biology, Society, & Environment (English Teaching Assistant, Brazil)
  • Karl LaFleur, Biomedical Engineering (Research, Netherlands)
  • Leslie Meyer, Global Studies, Spanish Studies (English Teaching Assistant, Brazil)
  • Whitley Pusch, English, German Studies (English Teaching Assistant, Germany)
  • Paul Stadem, Biochemistry (Research, Uganda)
  • Katelyn Trexel, French Studies, Linguistics (English Teaching Assistant, Korea)

Gilman Scholarships (for study abroad)

  • Myra Burnette, History (Turkey)
  • David Deal, Journalism (Denmark)
  • Aletha Duchene, Spanish/Portuguese (Venezuela)
  • Tasha Ezell, Art History (Turkey)
  • Gabe Franta, Genetics, Cell Biology, & Development (Ecuador)
  • Anna Haynes, Biochemistry (Chile)
  • Song Her, Family Social Science (India)
  • Audra Huffmeyer Fisheries & Wildlife (Nepal)
  • Brittney Johnson, Applied Plant Science (Senegal)
  • Marissa Kramer, Political Science (Hungary)
  • Ky Krawczeski, Asian Languages & Literatures (Japan)
  • Aleah Laughlin, Global Studies (Venezuela)
  • Nicholas Leach, Urban Studies (Spain)
  • Mark Magelssen, Finance (Italy)
  • Justin Moen, Mathematics (Hong Kong)
  • Mee Pha, Sociology (Japan)
  • Khaleel Qandeel, Global Studies (Venezuela)
  • Scott Smith, Global Studies and Philosophy (China)
  • Katie Strand, Global Studies (Senegal)
  • Nadine Teisberg, Global Studies (Jorsan)
  • Pashie Vang (Japan)
  • Samantha Walsh, Global Studies and Political Science (Jordan)

Goldwater Scholarships

  • Daniel Boman, Mechanizal Engineering
  • Karen Leopold, Biochemistry and Genetics
  • Maxwell Shinn, Neuroscience and Mathematics

NanoJapan International Research Experience for Undergraduates

  • Alec Nicol, Chemistry & Biochemistry

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

  • Lucas Caretta, Materials Science
  • Paul Carlson, Chemical Engineering
  • Ross Kerner, Materials Science
  • Sam Schreiner, Aerospace Engineering

Truman Scholarship

  • Katrina Klett, Asian Languages and Literature: Chinese

Udall Scholarships

  • Katrina Klett, Asian Languages & Literatures/Chinese
  • Marissa Kramer, Political Science

Two UHP students—Karl Lafleur (graduating senior, biomedical engineering) and Eitan Rogin (graduating senior, computer science)—were part of a research group led by Professor Bin He (biomedical engineering) that has developed a new noninvasive system that allows people to control a flying robot with nothing but their minds.

The study, which could potentially help people with paralysis and neurodegenerative diseases, was published in Journal of Neural Engineering.

For more information, see the press release or feature story from the University News Service.

The University Honors program is currently accepting applications for post-freshman admission to the program. Current U of M-Twin Cities and transfer students are accepted every fall semester on a space-available basis.

More information and a PDF application are available here on our website, or by accessing the "Future Students" tab in the above navigation bar and selecting "Admission After Freshman Year."

Many congratulations to Miss Minnesota 2012, Siri Freeh. Freeh, who will be a senior in the University Honors Program this fall, will now have the honor of representing her state in the Miss America Pageant. You can follow Siri's journey on her blog.

Click photograph to expand. Courtesy of Sarah Morreim Photography.


About Siri Freeh

Siri Freeh is a representative on the Nursing College Board, a Co-host for the Women's Only Cardiac Support Group at the Minneapolis Heart Institute, President of the Global Health and Transcultural Group, an advocate for the American Heart Association, and a volunteer for Camp Odayin. She's currently conducting research in cardiovascular disease and women's heart issues as part of her undergraduate experience in the University Honors Program, and plans to pursue a doctorate in a related area.

About the Miss Minnesota Pageant

The Miss Minnesota Scholarship Pageant is a non-profit organization that awards scholarships to outstanding young women to help advance them academically and professionally. Participants have gone on to achieve major success in diverse fields including medicine, law, business, broadcast journalism, theater, politics, literature and more.

Two University of Minnesota students, Sara Butterfass and Brian Eby, have been named Katherine E. Sullivan Scholars for 2012-13. The Sullivan Scholarship is the University's most prestigious scholarship for study abroad, supporting a fifth year of undergraduate study in another country for one or more outstanding seniors from any campus of the U of M.

Sara Butterfass is a senior at the University of Minnesota-Morris, with a major in English and a minor in History. As a Katherine E. Sullivan Scholar, she will study Icelandic language and literature at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik for the 2012-13 academic year. She looks forward to gaining insight into the history of the medieval Icelandic sagas by visiting historic sites and working with medieval manuscripts. Her long-term goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in medieval studies. Sara is from Howard Lake, MN and is a graduate of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School.

Brian Eby, a senior in the College of Biological Sciences and the University Honors Program at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, is majoring in genetics, cell biology & development and minoring in chemistry. He will spend the 2012-13 year on the IES Abroad Program in Freiburg, Germany. Brian will take courses in advanced German language, history, culture, and economics. An aspiring physician who intends to enter medical school in the future, Brian would also like to volunteer in a German hospital during his year abroad as a Katherine E. Sullivan Scholar, in order to learn about Germany's healthcare system. Brian is from Oregon, WI and graduated from Oregon High School.

Congratulations, Sara and Brian!