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Celebrating Excellence in Arts & Sciences in 2023

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07/01/2023 July 2023 Perspectives

With the end of the academic year comes University and College of Arts & Sciences recognition of the exceptional work and extraordinary service of our faculty, staff, and students. We celebrate their many accomplishments!

Graphic with the title "Awards of Excellence"

UW 2023 Awards of Excellence

Each year, the University of Washington presents Awards of Excellence to recognize exceptional contributions to the UW and the community. Recipients for 2023 include the following faculty, students, and alumni from the College of Arts & Sciences. All information is excerpted from presentations at the June 8 UW Awards of Excellence ceremony.


Distinguished Teaching Award
headshot of Regina Lee
Regina Yung Lee
Associate Teaching Professor
Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

Whether she is teaching a large lecture class or a small seminar, Regina Lee leaves an impression on her students. She gives them a comprehensive introduction to mainstream feminism while infusing that content with intersectional perspectives and voices. In the words of one student, Lee is an inspiring lecturer, patient instructor, and dedicated guide. Drawn to her feminist pedagogy of mutual learning, students fill her classes and flock to her for mentoring.


headshot of Elli Theobald
Elli Theobald
Assistant Teaching Professor
Department of Biology

Even in Elli Theobald’s largest classes, students are engaged in conversation — with each other, with their teaching assistants, and with her. They ask questions, reason answers, and challenge each other’s understanding. Theobald’s philosophy to maximize learning and disrupt educational inequities is that students need deliberate practice through evidence-based pedagogy in a student-centered, inclusive environment. She calls this the Heads and Hearts Hypothesis: Heads are activated by active learning, and hearts are supported with inclusive teaching.


Excellence in Teaching Award

Excellence in Teaching Awards recognize the work of teaching assistants.

Headshot of Ryan Goehrung
Ryan Goehrung
Doctoral Candidate
Department of Political Science

A gifted teacher, Ryan Goehrung makes learning quantitative modes of reasoning and programming languages accessible and fun. He embraces experimentation in his course design and iterative teaching style. His nomination states that he is a “compassionate humanist who is dedicated to making sure each of his students is met in their unique space that ensures closing the gap between teaching and learning and ensures student success.”

Headshot of Theresa Gozzo
Theresa Gozzo
Doctoral Candidate
Department of Chemistry

Theresa Gozzo’s primary goal is to create more productive and positive learning experiences by establishing a classroom where students spend less time struggling alone. In this positive environment, Gozzo fosters each student’s growth as a chemist by sharing her own knowledge of the material, offering encouragement and emphasizing that mistakes are a valuable part of growth.


Marsha L. Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award
Headshot of Priti Ramamurthy
Priti Ramamurthy
Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

Priti Ramamurthy is the reason her students choose the UW for their graduate studies. She is a force behind their intellectual and personal growth, pushing them to discover their distinct contributions. She advocates for secure funding, so they can thrive in their academic careers. She understands the barriers first-generation students face — barriers that she works tirelessly to remove. “I cannot thank her enough,” one student writes, “On top of being a scholarly muse and incredible teacher, she is also a fantastic human being.”


Outstanding Public Service Award
headshot of Connie So
Connie C. So
Teaching Professor
Department of American Ethnic Studies

As a passionate and effective advocate and community organizer, Connie So is advancing the work of racial equity and social justice in Seattle. She works tirelessly, spearheading cultural events, fundraising, and working in partnership to fight anti-Asian hate, support Black Lives Matter, and ensure safety for BIPOC women. She combines her work in the classroom and her commitment to community service in ways that inspire her colleagues and her students.


Alumna Summa Laude Dignatus

Awarded by the University of Washington and the UW Alumni Association to a former UW student whose work has achieved great significance.

Headshot of Marilynne Robinson
Marilynne Robinson
MA, PhD, English, 1968, 1977

Marilynne Robinson is not only a gifted and revered novelist and essayist, she is a true public intellectual, an educator, and a humanist. Her work and voice have influenced countless people both within and outside the academy, including world leaders. She uses her extraordinary gifts for language and storytelling to pose challenging questions about faith, family, and the meaning of human existence.

Robinson is also deeply committed to the ethical and moral values that we cherish as an institution of liberal arts and intellectual inquiry. Both she and her work are recognized for their intellectual rigor and unstinting commitment to excellence. This includes her debut novel "Housekeeping," which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and her second novel, "Gilead," which won the Pulitzer Prize.

Read more about Marilynne Robinson in University of Washington Magazine.

President’s Medalists from Arts & Sciences

The President’s Medal is presented annually to two graduating seniors who have achieved the most distinguished academic records in their class. One medal is given to a student who has completed at least three-fourths of their requirements at the University; the other is awarded to a student who entered the University with at least 60 transfer credits from a Washington community college. This year, both honorees earned a degree from the College of Arts & Sciences.

President’s Medal - Four-Year Award
Headshot of Anna Finch
Anna Finch
Biochemistry and Oceanography majors

Anna Finch is a natural scholar who was so enthusiastic about beginning her UW career that she first arrived at the UW through the Robinson Center for Young Scholars at 16, already passionate about environmental science. Since then, she has distinguished herself inside and outside the classroom, through research and internships and in creative outlets including traditional Chinese dance. She is guided by her strong sense of purpose and plans to pursue a PhD in biochemical oceanography.


President’s Medal - Transfer Award
Headshot of Quinn Habedank
Quinn Matthew Habedank
Anthropology and Environmental Studies majors

Quinn Habedank arrived at the UW as a transfer student from Green River College, where he first cultivated his interest in environmental studies. At the UW, he expanded his horizons to include studying abroad in Vietnam, doing research, and discovering a passion for archeology, leading him to add an anthropology major to his degree. He plans to follow his outstanding academic achievement by working as an archeologist after graduation and eventually plans to pursue graduate work in archaeology.

Arts & Sciences Dean's Medalists

The four Arts & Sciences Dean's Medalist for 2023
College of Arts & Sciences 2023 Dean's Medalists (from left) Zoe Mikuta, Lucinda Axtelle, Wendi Zhou, and Meghna Shankar. 

Each year, the College of Arts & Sciences recognizes one exceptional graduating senior from each of its four divisions — Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences — based on academic performance and nominations from faculty.  The 2023 honorees are Lucinda Axtelle, Dean's Medalist in the Arts; Zoe Mikuta, Dean's Medalist in the Humanities; Wendi Zhou, Dean's Medalist in the Social Sciences; and Meghna Shankar, Dean's Medalist in the Natural Sciences.

During their time at the UW, these four students worked on clean energy research, improved accessibility in museums, wrote novels that center diverse voices, and grappled with philosophical questions around violence and reconciliation. Learn more about the accomplishments of our 2023 Dean's Medalists.

Arts & Sciences Graduate Medalists

Headshots of three graduate students
College of Arts & Sciences 2023 Graduate Medalists (from left) E. J. Koh, Ludger Clayton Dahm, and Isaac Javier Rivera. 

The Arts & Sciences Graduate Medal honors exceptional graduate students who completed their doctoral degrees this year, with medalists selected on the basis of nomination letters from faculty. The 2023 honorees — E. J. Koh, Ludger Clayton Dahm, and Isaac Javier Rivera — published books, studied new approaches in music education, explored Indigenous liberation politics, and more. Learn more about the accomplishments of our 2023 Graduate Medalists.

Husky 100 Students from Arts & Sciences

Montage of five photos of students named to the Husky 100
The 30 students from the College of Arts & Sciences named to the Husky 100 include (from left) Jerred Mace, Safa Aynoor, Lila Chebbi, Dawit Borrows, and Grace Du. 

Each spring, the UW announces its Husky 100, recognizing 100 undergraduate and graduate students who are making the most of their time at the UW, actively connecting what happens inside and outside the classroom to make a difference on campus and in their communities. Of the 100 students honored for 2023, 30 are from the College of Arts & Sciences. Their interests range from criminal justice to bioethics to design. To learn more, visit the UW’s Husky 100 webpage, which features photos and brief profiles of all 100 students. Congratulations to the honorees for this well-deserved recognition!

Other Awards & Honors

Mal Ahern, assistant professor of cinema & media studies, received an ACLS Individual Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) for a book project, “Factory Forms: Making Copies in the Age of Automation.” The ACLS Fellowship Program supports exceptional scholarship in the humanities and interpretive social sciences that has the potential to make significant contributions within and beyond the awardees’ fields.

Jennifer M. Bean, associate professor and Robert Jolin Osborne Professor of Cinema & Media Studies, received a National Endowment for the Humanities Individual Fellowship for her book project, “Junking Modernity: Early Cinema, Globalization and the Question of History.”

The Burke Museum received the Heritage Education Award from the Association of King County Historical Organizations. The award recognizes “individuals and organizations who have done incredible work in the last year to forward history and heritage in King County.” The Burke Museum was recognized for its Blind/Low Vision Archaeology Exhibit project.

Clemens Cabernard, associate professor of biology, received a Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences, to study the cell and mechanobiology of asymmetric cell division.

Ricardo A. V. Caporale, US Navy lieutenant and assistant professor of naval science, received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for successful completion of his tour as an assistant professor of naval science at the UW.

Sapna Cheryan, professor of psychology, received honorable mention designation for the Marsha L. Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award, for enriching the graduate experience of her students.

Michael Gelb, professor of chemistry and Boris and Barbara L. Weinstein Endowed Chair in Chemistry, received the Robert Guthrie Award from the International Society for Neonatal Screening (ISNS). The award is given annually to honor a member of ISNS who has made an outstanding contribution to newborn or other population-based screening. 

David Ginger, professor of chemistry and B. Seymour Rabinovitch Endowed Chair in Chemistry, was named a fellow of the Materials Research Society for “pioneering research on nanostructured materials, especially the creative application of microscopy to characterize nanostructured semiconductors, including polymers and hybrid perovskites, for solar energy harvesting.”

Matthew Golder, assistant professor of chemistry, was named an Army Research Office Young Investigator for his work, "Multi-Responsive Macromolecular Fluxional Networks as Novel Adaptive Polymeric Systems."

Jang Wook Huh, assistant professor of American Ethnic Studies, received the Constance M. Rourke Prize from the American Studies Association for his article “The Harlem Renaissance in Translation: Socialism, Nostalgia, and the Multilingual Spaces of Diaspora.” The prize is awarded annually to the best article published in "American Quarterly." Huh also received a 2023 ACLS Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, for his book project, “Afro-Korean Encounters: The Literary Intersections of Black Liberation Struggles in the US and Anticolonial Movements in Korea, 1910-1953.”  

Douglas Ishii, assistant professor of English, was awarded a Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Institute for Citizens and Scholars. The Fellowship, funded by the Mellon Foundation and administered by the Institute for Citizens & Scholars, allows exceptional junior faculty to pursue scholarly research and writing during the fellowship period to facilitate their progress toward tenure.

Moon-Ho Jung, professor of history and Harry Bridges Endowed Chair in Labor Studies, received the Organization of American Historians’ 2023 David Montgomery Award, given annually with co-sponsorship by the Labor and Working-Class History Association, for the best book on a topic in American labor and working-class history. Jung was recognized for "Menace to Empire: Anticolonial Solidarities and the Transpacific Origins of the US Security State," a sophisticated and absorbing analysis of Asian-origin peoples — including workers, migrants, students, and revolutionaries — and their resistance to the US empire in the first four decades of the twentieth century.

David B. Kaplan, professor of physics and senior fellow in the UW’s Institute for Nuclear Theory, received the 2022 Herman Feshbach Prize in Theoretical Nuclear Physics, awarded annually by the American Physics Society to recognize and encourage outstanding research in theoretical nuclear physics. Kaplan was recognized "for multiple foundational innovations in nuclear theory, including in lattice quantum chromodynamics, effective field theories, and nuclear strangeness, and for strategic leadership to broaden participation between nuclear theory and other fields."

Sarah Levin-Richardson, associate professor of classics, was named Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) National Lecturer. The AIA’s National Lecture Program selects top scholars from North America and abroad to present a wide range of current archaeological topics to audiences across North America. Lecturers are chosen for their ability to engage the public in the most pressing issues in archaeological research. As a National Lecturer, Levin-Richardson gave talks in Boston, Cleveland, and Edmonton (Canada) on how the architecture, art, objects, and graffiti of Pompeii’s brothel sheds new light on one of ancient Rome’s most marginalized groups — male and female prostitutes.

Priscilla Lui, assistant professor of psychology, has been selected to receive the “Emerging Professional — Contributions to Service Award" from the Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race.

Sangram Majumdar, assistant professor of painting + drawing in the School of Art + Art History + Design, has been awarded the prestigious Gottlieb Foundation award. The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation has been awarding grants to mature, creative visual artists since 1976 to recognize the talents of many individuals around the world who have dedicated long careers to making art and to alleviate some of the financial burdens on those artists so they can devote more of their time and energies to their creative endeavors.

Ben Marwick, professor of anthropology, received an Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award at the UW's 2023 Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Larry McLerran, professor of physics and senior fellow in the UW’s Institute for Nuclear Theory, received the Pomeranchuk Prize from the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics (ITEP) in Moscow in recognition of his pioneering contributions to modern understanding of quantum chromodynamics at high energy density and laying the theoretical foundations of ultra-relativistic heavy ion collisions.

Andrew Meltzoff, professor of psychology, Job and Gertrud Tamaki Endowed Chair, and co-director of the UW’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, was elected to the National Academy of Education. The Academy consists of US members and international associates who are elected based on outstanding scholarship or leadership related to education. In addition to serving on expert study panels that address pressing issues in education, members are also deeply engaged in the Academy’s professional development fellowship programs.

Amy Pace, assistant professor of speech and hearing sciences, has been selected as a Fulbright Scholar for 2023-24. Pace’s research focuses on how children’s language learning skills interact with the structure, quality, and contexts of linguistic exposure, to support bilingual development in children with and without language disorders. She will be hosted by the Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados (CINVESTAV) Unidad Mérida (Mexico) to pursue a project about bilingual ideologies and practices in contemporary Yucatec Maya families.

Alejandro Rico-Guevara, assistant professor of biology, received the Carl Gans Award from the Society for Integrative Biology. The prestigious award is presented to “an outstanding young investigator for distinguished contributions to the field of comparative biomechanics."

Thomas Rothvoss, associate professor of mathematics, received the 2023 Gödel Prize for his paper, "The matching polytope has exponential extension complexity." The Gödel Prize for outstanding papers in the area of theoretical computer science is sponsored jointly by the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science (EATCS) and the Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computation Theory of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM SIGACT).

Stefan Stoll, professor of chemistry, was awarded the Bruker Prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry and will present the Bruker Prize Lecture this year. The Bruker Prize is awarded to a scientist who has made a significant contribution to ESR spectroscopy. The prize is annually awarded in the United Kingdom with an accompanying lecture by the recipient. 

Caroline Strömberg, Estella B. Leopold Professor of Biology & Burke Museum curator of paleobotany, received an Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award at the UW's 2023 Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Rebecca Thorpe, associate professor of political science, received an Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award at the UW's 2023 Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Pimone Triplett, professor of English, was invited by the Pulitzer Prize Board to serve as a member of the nominating jury for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for 2024.

Gunther Uhlmann, the Robert R. and Elaine F. Phelps Endowed Professor in Mathematics, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Uhlmann is a world-renowned expert in inverse problems, which involves calculating the causal factors behind a set of observations. Among other applications, Uhlmann has explored identifying an object by how it scatters light and other electromagnetic waves. As part of these efforts, he has formulated theories for certain types of cloaking technologies, some of which have been realized. He has also worked on partial differential equations, imaging and microlocal analysis.

Alexandra Velian, assistant professor of chemistry, received a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, which provides support for outstanding faculty early in their careers. Velian was also selected for the Inorganic Chemistry Lectureship from "Inorganic Chemistry," in partnership with the American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry. The lectureship recognizes an individual who has demonstrated creativity and impact in leading research in inorganic chemistry.

Heather Wilber, assistant professor of applied mathematics, received the Householder Prize, the most prestigious junior research prize in her field. It is awarded every three years for the best PhD thesis in Numerical Linear Algebra, as judged by a committee. Recipients receive a significant cash prize. Wilber's work involves problems at the interface of approximation theory, computational mathematics, and numerical linear algebra.

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