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"brilliant students"

Poetry Prize Goes to Environmental Studies Major

Poet Tiffany Thio ’19 draws inspiration from her dedication to science and the great outdoors.

Tiffany Thio ’19 has won the 2017 Mary Barnard Poetry Prize Contest for her poem, “quintessential hard heart.”

Tiffany is a environmental studies–biology major. Her busy course schedule has meant she hasn’t had an opportunity to take creative writing workshops at Reed—yet. “I’ve been writing poetry, stories, and songs since I was a kid, and I wanted to be a novelist when I grew up until I discovered that science is something I really love and want to pursue,” she says. As a kid she moved around between Asia and America and spent her high school years at an international school in Shanghai.

A science and outdoor enthusiast, Tiffany’s poetry takes inspiration from the natural world. She wrote“quintessential hard heart” during a trip for Reed’s outdoor program as she was riding back from skiing in the Santiam Pass. On the road to Sisters she passed by the Detroit Dam on the Santiam River, the same river where she had paddled her first class III rapid in a kayak and taught kayaking camps. “It was kind of bizarre to see flat water and a huge concrete wall in a river that’s flipped my boat so many times! Thinking about the numerous ways in which dams affect riparian habitats and surrounding watersheds is fascinating and quite saddening. Water has always thrilled me, and I love to raft, swim, surf, and kayak—it makes its way into a lot of my writing.” She drew on this and some personal family struggles to craft her winning poem.

Sociology major wins Truman Scholarship

Elea Denegre ’18 won a prestigious Truman Scholarship, recognizing leadership potential in public service.

Sociology major Elea Denegre ’18 was named a national Truman Scholar today in recognition of her potential to be a “change agent” in the field of public service.

A passionate believer in restorative justice, Elea has compiled an impressive track record of service in her time at Reed. During freshman year, she became a SAPR (sexual assault prevention and response) advocate and later became the student program coordinator, managing the support hotline. She joined the Honor Council and developed a proposal to incorporate restorative justice into Title IX violations. She volunteered at the Raphael House, a local nonprofit dedicated to ending domestic violence and was a counselor at Camp Hope, a summer camp serving kids whose lives have been affected by domestic violence. She also volunteered with Reed’s SEEDS program and studied abroad in Japan.

Elea, who hails from Billings, Montana, said she was “shocked and honored” to learn she had won the prestigious award, which provides $30,000 for scholars to go to graduate school in preparation for a career in public service. “It didn’t feel real until I called my mom,” she said. “Then we both started to tear up.”

Economics Grad Pursues Doctorate at Yale

THE WAYS OF FINANCE: Ahyan Panjwani ’16 won the Gerald M. Meier Award for Distinction in Economics

“Indeed, the Bard knew his macroeconomics well!” declares Ayhan Panjwani ’16, an economist with a predilection for Shakespeare and a winner of the Gerald M. Meier Award for Distinction in Economics. Ahyan will begin his doctoral studies in Economics at Yale this fall after receiving recognition for an exceptional senior thesis.

Referring to The Merchant of Venice while describing his research pursuits, Ahyan muses on the deal between Shylock and Antonio for “a pound of flesh and no blood,” highlighting that the character's concern lies within the collateral rather than the interest rate. Similarly, Ayhan will examine collateral and leverage as sources of systemic risk within the economy, moving beyond simply lowering interest rates during a financial crisis.

“Generally, my research interests lie in Macroeconomics with a bend towards finance,” he says. While at Reed, the mathematics-economics grad focused on finance in Brazil for his thesis. “The idea was to determine whether Brazil's current monetary policy is a feasible one given all their troubles in the past few years,” Ayhan details. Citing their failed efforts to maintain inflation, he proposed alternative policies for their economy. At Yale, Ayhan will continue to explore the ways of finance.

Physics Grad Focuses Energy at Cambridge

RELATIVITY AND QUBITS. Zuben Scott ’16 won a Sperling Studentship to study at Cambridge.

Upon hearing there is all sorts of “crazy research happening” at Cambridge from Prof. Joel Franklin ’97 [physics 2005–], Zuben Scott ’16 knew exactly where he wanted to head after graduating from Reed. Thanks to a Sperling Studentship, which is funded by Reed and Cambridge alumnus John Sperling ’48, he'll have the opportunity.

Zuben is now preparing for a year-long Masters of Advanced Study (MASt) in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. This is Part III of the Mathematical Tripos of Cambridge University, a world-renowned mathematics degree program focused on intense, independent coursework rather than research.

With 100 classes to choose from, Zuben will concentrate on “general relativity, quantum computation, and particle physics,” gradually zeroing in on a field as the year progresses. A lover of all aspects of physics, Zuben hopes that with “so many theoretical physicists crammed into one place” he will have enough exposure to confidently select a focused PhD program by the end.

A Rising Star Puts New Fellowship to Good Work

FORWARD LOOKING. Ashlee Fox ’19 won an Evan Rose Fellowship to study the efforts of Milwaukie, Oregon, to revitalize its downtown.

If you ask around campus about rising sophomore Ashlee Fox ’19, it is clear that in a short amount of time she has thoroughly impressed a lot of people. Recently, she was awarded the Evan Rose Fellowship for a 2016 summer research internship to study the efforts of Milwaukie, Oregon, to revitalize its downtown.  

“It's pretty unusual for a freshman to apply and win an award such as this,” says Jolie Griffin, faculty administrative coordinator for the undergraduate research committee. “Ashlee is going to be a student to watch. She's a rising star and everyone who has worked with her has been really impressed—including her sponsor with the city of Milwaukie.”

The fellowship, sponsored in part by Kevan Shokat ’86 and Deborah Kamali ’85, is named in honor of outstanding Reed alumnus Evan Rose ’86, and is one of many opportunities that Reed has for student learning beyond the classroom.

Seniors grasp philosophy prize

Elise Woodard ’16 won the Garlan Prize for her thesis on a pair of puzzles in moral philosophy.

Two seniors have won the Edwin N. Garlan Memorial Prize, which recognizes outstanding scholarship in the field of philosophy.

Philosophy major Elise Woodard ’16 won the prize for her thesis on a pair of philosophical puzzles. Here’s how she explains her work:

In my thesis, I investigated two puzzles about moral knowledge. The first, a puzzle about moral forgetting, is to explain why it seems absurd to assert, “I used to know the difference between right and wrong, but I’ve forgotten it,” whereas claims to have forgotten facts and skills seem ordinary and unproblematic.

General Lit Major Wins Unrue Award

Carol Iglesias Otero ’16 won the Unrue Award for her thesis on Paul Valéry.

General literature major Carol Iglesias Otero ’16 has won the John Gregory Unrue ’84 Memorial Award for an outstanding thesis in the division of literature and languages.

The award committee cited Carol’s “exceptionally original and accomplished scholarship on a famously complex and challenging text by Paul Valéry.”

Her adviser, Prof. Jan Mieszkowski [German and Comparative Literature], noted: “The argument moves seamlessly between reflections on individual lines, words, or punctuation marks and larger observations about poetry, science, and literary history. The result is an elegant constellation of theoretical and practical interventions, something that one encounters all too rarely in our field.”

English Major Wins Unrue Award

English major Hannah Fung-Wiener wins the Unrue Award for her thesis, titled "Sounding Lines."

English major Hannah Fung-Wiener ’16 has won the John Gregory Unrue ’84 Memorial Award for an outstanding thesis in the division of literature and languages.

The award committee hailed Hannah’s “exceptional” thesis, which is titled Sounding Lines.

Her advisor, Prof. Lisa Steinman [English], said: “Hannah is a young writer whose work I expect to see in print in the years to come, since the thesis demonstrates the talent, work ethic, and seriousness of someone who will continue to write and grow as a poet.”

Religion major wins Class of ’21 Award

Photo by Foster Seybert

What is religion, exactly? A sacred book? A belief in an invisible force? A system of morality? A way of life?

Religion major Pema McLaughlin ’16 spent many hours wrestling with this question—so simple yet so deep— in a senior thesis on American Buddhism, which won the Class of ’21 award.

While many religions are preoccupied with eternal truths and revolve around unchanging scriptures, they are fundamentally social activities, Pema says, evolving over time and place. Over the last 30 years, for example, a form of Buddhism has gained currency among middle-class, educated, white Americans, often as part of the self-help movement—which has led some scholars to dismiss it as a “night-stand religion.”

Orcas, Under Pressure, Adopt Killer Survival Strategy

New research by Reed bio major shows that killer whales are using novel forms of social organization to form hunting parties. Photo by Monika Wieland ’07

In the wine-dark waters of the San Juan Islands, a band of killer whales is fighting for survival.

Loss of habitat, human meddling, and intense competition for chinook salmon, its main source of food, have put severe pressure on these creatures. This band, known as the Southern Residents, is now smaller than any other group of resident killer whales, which live in communities scattered along the cold coastal waters of the North Pacific.

There are, in fact, just 81 whales left.

Chinese major wins Lankford Award

Ian Connelly ’16 won the Lankford Award for this thesis on the Folk Memory Project.

Chinese major Ian Connelly ’16 has won the William T. Lankford III Humanities Award for his senior thesis on the Folk Memory Project, a series of documentary films about the Great Chinese Famine of 1959-61.

The award recognizes accomplishment in both history and literature and is given to students with outstanding academic records and strong potential for further achievement.

The award committee praised Ian for his “exceptional” thesis, which, it said, “exemplified independent and rigorous research across disciplines.”

Classics major wins Lankford Award

CHILD'S PLAY. Haley Tilt ’16 won the Lankford Award for her thesis on how ancient Romans thought about childhood.

Classics major Haley Tilt ’16 has won the William T. Lankford III Humanities Award for her senior thesis on children in Roman North Africa between the first and sixth centuries CE.

The award recognizes accomplishment in both history and literature and is given to students with outstanding academic records and strong potential for further achievement.

Haley’s thesis focused on the Roman province of Africa Consularis, which included bits of modern-day Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, during a time when a new religion known as Christianity was exploding across the region. She examined archaeological evidence like gravesites and epitaphs as well as literary evidence like poetry and letters.

Spanish Major Wins Poetry Prize

Tara Borgilt ’17 won the 2016 Mary Barnard Poetry Prize for her poem, "Separation."

Congratulations to Tara Borgilt ’16, who won the 2016 Mary Barnard Academy of American Poets Prize contest with her poem, “Separation.” (Hear Tara read the poem by clicking the Soundcloud link below.)

This year’s contest was robust, with 36 poems submitted. Entries were judged by Elyse Fenton ’03, author of the award-winning book of poetry, Clamor

Tara is a Spanish major from Ashland, Oregon, and has been writing since she was little. “I was an obsessive journaler,” she says. 

Chinese Major Wins Unrue Award

Chinese major Joan Guldin ’15 (center) won the Unrue Award for her thesis. She is flanked by members of the Unrue family, who created the award to honor Greg Unrue ’84. Photo by Raymond Rodriguez

Chinese major Joan Guldin ’15 has won the newly-minted John Gregory Unrue ’84 Memorial Award for her thesis, “Abandoned Trails and False Peaks: A Journey Through the Xiyouji.”

Her adviser, Prof. Hyong Rhew [Chinese 1988–], praised Joan’s thesis as an “original work with masterful reading and beautiful writing.”

Xiyouji, also known in English as The Journey to the West, is a 17th-century Chinese novel about a pilgrimage to the “Western Heaven” to obtain Buddhist scriptures. Joan combed through early records to trace historical and literary depictions of one of its main characters, the Monk Tripitaka. In the course of her research, she also translated an early chantefable which had never before been translated into English—“a remarkable achievement,” according to Prof. Rhew.

History Major Wins Lankford Prize

History major Kalina Hadzhikova ’15 won the Lankford Award for her thesis on Rome and Byzantium. Photo by Matt D'Annunzio

History major Kalina Hadzhikova ’15 has won the prestigious William T. Lankford III Humanities Award.

The award recognizes accomplishment in both history and literature and is given to students with outstanding academic records and strong potential for further achievement.

The award committee praised Kalina's senior thesis, Rome against Romans: Configurations of Imperial Authority in 12th-Century Germany and Byzantium, hailing it as "an exceptional thesis" and "an impressive and original achievement."

Econ Major Earns Meier Prize

Econ major Mat Olson ’15 won the Meier Award for outstanding achievement. He wrote his thesis on the decoy effect and the conjunction fallacy.

Mat Olson ’15 has won the celebrated Gerald M. Meier Award for Distinction in Economics, given by the economics department for outstanding achievement.

Mat's thesis was titled "The Relevance of Irrelevance: Exploring Decoy Effect and Conjunction Fallacy" and his adviser was Prof. Jon Rork [economics 2010–].

"Mat's thesis explored two phenomena in behavioral economics—the conjunction fallacy and the decoy effect—that explain why people make suboptimal choices in certain scenarios," Prof. Rork told us. "One thing Mat wanted to look at was whether people exposed to certain types of academic approaches (statistical, logic, linguistic, etc.) were less likely to succumb to these fallacies.  No such luck, showing that our innate decision making processes cannot be 'taught' away."

Seniors Grasp Philosophy Prize

Philosophy major Eliya Cohen ’15 explains a metaphysical dilemma at the Reed pool. She won the Garlan Prize for her thesis on the problems of time and tense. Photo by Jenn McNeal ’14

Philosophy majors Eliya Cohen ’15 and John Mills ’15 have both won the exalted Edwin N. Garlan Memorial Prize, which recognizes outstanding scholarship in philosophy. 

"It was quite an honor to receive the Garlan Prize," says John, whose thesis is titled “Revealed Peer Disagreement and The Equal Weight View.” His advisor was Prof. Mark Bedau ’76 [philosophy 1991–]. He hails from Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

Eliya’s thesis is titled “Some Considerations on Problems of Time and Tense.” Her advisor was Prof. Mark Hinchliff [philosophy 1991–]. In addition to her philosophical leanings, Eliya worked as a lifeguard at the Reed pool, where she figured out an innovative way to pursue the metaphysics of swimming. She hails from Piedmont, California.

History-Lit Major Wins Lankford Prize

History-lit major Kieran Hanrahan ’15 won the Lankford Award for his thesis on poetry and the Iraq War.

History-lit major Kieran Hanrahan ’15 has won the prestigious William T. Lankford III Humanities Award.

The award recognizes accomplishment in both history and literature and is given to students with outstanding academic records and strong potential for further achievement. It honors Prof. Bill Lankford [English 1977–83], a beloved teacher and scholar of the works of Dickens whose life was cut short by devastating illness.

Kieran’s thesis was titled: “Writing in Water, Building with Sand: American Military Strategy and the Soldier’s Experience in the Iraqi Environment during the Iraq War.” His advisers were Prof. Pancho Savery [English 1995–] and Prof. Josh Howe [history 2012–].

Lit–Theatre Major Nabs Class of ’21 Award

Leah Artenian ’15 won the Class of ’21 award for her senior thesis adapting "The Year of Silence" for the stage

Literature-theatre major Leah Artenian ’15 has won the illustrious Class of ’21 Award for her senior thesis, an adaptation of Kevin Brockmeier’s short story “The Year of Silence” for the stage.

The award recognizes “creative work of notable character, involving an unusual degree of initiative and spontaneity.” For her thesis, Leah wrote the script, assembled the cast, and directed the 90-minute production, which played to packed houses at the Blackbox Theatre in Reed's Performing Arts Building.

In nominating Leah for the award, her advisers Prof. Peter Ksander [theatre 2011–] and Prof. Gail Berkeley Sherman [English 1981–] wrote:

Math Major Zeroes In on Class of ’21 Award

A semester abroad in Hungary got math major Maddie Brandt ’15 interested in the Erdos-Ko-Rado theorem.

Mathematics major Maddie Brandt ’15 has won the illustrious Class of ’21 Award for her senior thesis on the Erdös-Ko-Rado theorem.

The award recognizes “creative work of notable character, involving an unusual degree of initiative and spontaneity.”

Maddie’s thesis carries the rather imposing title “Intersecting Hypergraphs and Decompositions of Complete Uniform Hypergraphs.” Scratching our heads, we turned to Prof. David Perkinson [mathematics 1990–] for an explanation. He wrote:

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