USU College of Science Recognizes Top Scholars of 2021

Utah State University’s College of Science gathered virtually April 1, to recognize students, faculty and staff for outstanding achievements.

“To say this academic year has been a challenge is an understatement,” said College of Science Interim Dean Michelle Baker. “We acknowledge the struggles each of you have faced, the extra sacrifices you’ve made and we applaud your determination. Witnessing your resilience during this past year makes this evening’s occasion especially meaningful, as we celebrate your achievements.”

Valedictorian for the college is Nikki Anderson and the college’s Scholar of the Year is Miles Robertson.

Joshua Barney, Sierra Fox, Michael Herron, Gerald Benjamin Jones, Alex Lyons, Thomas O’Reilly, Tate Shepherd, Derek Smith, Zion Steiner, Jessica Tolman and Jenny R. Whiteley are the college’s Dean’s Scholars.

Noah Braeger is the college’s Peak Prize Undergraduate Researcher of the Year, and was named the university’s 2021 Undergraduate Researcher of the Year at the Robins Awards on April 10. Braeger was also recognized for his service as the college’s 2020-21 Science Senator.

Porter Ellis is the college’s Undergraduate Teaching Fellow of the Year and Melissa Rasmussen is the college’s 2020-2021 Legacy of Utah State nominee.

During the virtual ceremony, USU’s 2021 Goldwater Scholars Ethan Ancell and Manuel Santana, both College of Science students, were recognized.

Spencer Hudson is the college’s Graduate Student (PhD) Researcher of the Year, and was also named the university’s 2021 Doctoral Student Researcher of the Year at the Robins Awards on April 10.

Sean Lyons is the Graduate Student (MS) Researcher of the Year and Will Tidwell is Graduate Student Teacher of the Year.

Gary Tanner received the college’s 2021 Staff Excellence Award.

J.R. Dennison is the college’s Graduate Mentor of the Year, and was named the university’s 2021 Graduate Mentor of the Year at the March 30 USU Faculty Awards Ceremony.

Shana Geffeney was named Undergraduate Mentor of the Year and Joanie Hevel was recognized as Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year.

Faculty Teacher of the Year is Mike Christiansen and Faculty Researcher of the Year is Karen Kapheim.

David Peak is the college’s nominee for the Faculty University Service Award and Alvan Hengge is the nominee for the Cazier Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jon Takemoto is honored for 45 years of service. Minghui Jiang was honored as a 2021 retiree from the college.

Vicki Anderson, Daniel Coster, Susanne Jänecke, Thomas Lachmar and Jim Wheeler are recognized for 30 years of service.

Honored for 25 years of service are Mark Fels and JanaLee Johnson. Tom Chang, Dong Chen, Eric Held, Steve Scheiner, John Shervais and Joe Shope are honored for 20 years of service.

Larry Gardner, Genie Hanson, Jeong-Young Ji, ValaRee Reese, Tammy Rittenour and John Stevens are honored for 15 years of service.

The college also honors faculty members receiving promotions and tenure, approved April 9, by the Board of Trustees: Curtis Dyreson (Computer Science) and Brynja Kohler (Mathematics and Statistics) were promoted to Full Professor.

Tianbiao Liu (Chemistry and Biochemistry) and Maria Rodriguez (Physics) were promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.

Scott Bernhardt (Biology), Chad Mano (Computer Science) and Dean Matthias (Computer Science) were promoted to Professional Practice Associate Professor.

Justin Heavilin (Mathematics and Statistics) and Blair Larsen (Geosciences) were promoted to Senior Lecturer.

The College of Science includes the academic departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics, Geosciences and Physics.

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