Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis Award Candidates and Winners

(Note:  Selected finalists appear in order from first to third placement).


Robert F. Guentter, Jr. Grand Prize winner
Chloe E. Mazer

Biobehavioral Health
College of Health and Human Development
"A Mixed Method Review of Cognitive Decline in the Older Incarcerated Adult Population"

Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis 1st Runner up
Ava Self

Chemical Engineering
College of Engineering
“Two-Dimensional Materials for Cancer Therapy: Evaluation of Bare and Lipid-Functionalized Reduced Graphene Oxide (rGO) Biocompatability"

Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis 2nd Runner up
Edward J. Spagnuolo

College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
"Decoding Family-Level Features for Modern and Fossil Leaves from Computer-Vision Heat Maps"


Siena Baker
Community, Environment, and Development and Economics
College of Agricultural Sciences and the College of the Liberal Arts
“The Political Economy of Cellular Agriculture: Delineating Tension Points in the Development of Cultivated Meat Products”

Cassandra Motyka
Security and Risk Analysis
College of Information Sciences and Technology
“The Universal Language of Hatred: The Unlikely Union of Islamic and Right-Wing Extremism”

Taylor A. Slusser
Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Environmental Resource Management
College of the Liberal Art and College of Agricultural Sciences
“Speaking from Eternity: Scriptural Interpretation in the Epistle to the Hebrews”

All three students are Schreyer Honor Scholars. Siena and Taylor are also Paterno Fellows through the College of the Liberal Arts.


Matthew Ross Aronson
Biomedical Engineering
College of Engineering
"Engineering Biomimetic Anticancer Therapies"

Katelyn A. Kirchner
Materials Science and Engineering
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
"Beyond the Average: A Statistical Investigation of Fluctuations in Glass-Forming Systems"

Panini Chaitanya Pandya
International Politics, Spanish, and History
College of the Liberal Arts
"The ‘Indian Question’ and the Construction of Latin American National Identities"

All three of these students are Schreyer Honors Scholars. Panini is also a Paterno Fellow through the College of the Liberal Arts.


Erika Pugh
Russian and Finance
College of the Liberal Arts and Smeal College of Business
"The Rise, Fall, and Renaissance of Shostakovich’s Third Ballet:  Reconciling The Bright Stream with Post-Soviet Culture"

Sarah McKenna
History and Political Science
College of the Liberal Arts
"Analyzing ‘Detrimental Psychological Harm’:  Social Science Evidence and Segregation in the Supreme Court Post-1950"

Alexis Gawelko
Civil Engineering
College of Engineering
"Can Meta Soil Attenuate Seismic Waves?"


Benjamin Black
International Affairs and Asian Studies (IUG in International Affairs)
College of the Liberal Arts
"Incidents in the South China Sea: Exploring the Chinese Perspective of the Disputes"

Sumit Pareek
Chemical Engineering
College of Engineering
"Decision Making within the Built Environment as a Strategy for Mitigating the Risk of Vector-Borne Diseases such as Malaria"

Nicholas Capri
History and Economics
College of the Liberal Arts
"Profits and Piety: Merchant Capitalism and the Protestant Ethic in the Massachusetts Bay Colony"


Alexander Walsh
Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering
"Effects of Extrusion Temperature and Printer Nozzle Speed on the Tensile Properties of 3D Printed Polylactic Acid"

Aviva Doery
International Politics and Global and International Studies, College of Liberal Arts
"The Lives of Lesbian Women in Berlin Before and Beyond the Rise of the Nazis 1933-1945"

Samuel Lapp
Engineering Sciences, College of Engineering
"Modeling Intonation in Non-Western Musical Cultures"


Elyse Mark
English and Asian Studies
College of the Liberal Arts
“Framing a Crisis: Xinhua’s Portrayal of the 2009 Urumqi Riots to the International Community.”

Timothy J. Sullivan
French and Francophone Studies
College of the Liberal Arts
“PTSD, Gender and IPV Perpetration: How (Not) Expressing Emotions Matters.”

Katrina Eckel
History and English
College of the Liberal Arts
“What the Other Didn’t See: An Intersectional Analysis of the Writings of Two Civilians in World War I German-Occupied Belgium.”

For listings of finalists prior to 2016, contact Wendi Keeler at wak109@psu.edu.