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Elizabeth Wilke

Congratulations Class of 2020!

Biological Sciences Class of 2020

The Department of Biological Sciences graduated 114 seniors in the 2019-2020 academic year, including five students who achieved the highest possible recognition of summa cum laude. Another 10 students received magna cum laude recognition, and 31 graduates earned their degrees cum laude. It was not possible to honor the spring graduates in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the university did hold a virtual commencement and is planning a special ceremony later in 2020.

Colin Hartman

Colin Hartman

Summa cum laude

Yvonne Sene

Yvonne Sene

Magna cum laude

Outstanding Graduate in Biological Sciences

Senior Colin Hartman received the department's 2020 Outstanding Graduate in Biological Sciences Award. He did undergraduate research with Dr. Joe Mester studying a photo-reactive drug with the goal of using it to combat white-nose syndrome in bats. He will attend Dartmouth College in the fall, pursuing a PhD in immunology.

"The opportunities I had through the Biology Department at NKU definitely helped me get into one of my top choices. I am extremely grateful, and I look forward to my future career in science."

 

Outstanding Graduate in Environmental Science

Yvonne Sene came to NKU from Senegal to study environmental science and participated in undergraduate research for the last three years with Dr. Chris Curran. She received the Society of Toxicology Pfizer Undergraduate Travel Award in 2019 for  neurotoxicology research. Later,she earned an internship with Cardno ChemRisk for her work on an Institute for Health Innovation Branch Award to facilitate brownfield redevelopment in Northern Kentucky. She was accepted into the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University where she will start graduate studies in the fall.

"NKU opened multiple doors for me and pushed me to try new things that I wouldn’t have thought about. I'm genuinely grateful for everything."

Emma Foster

Emma Foster

Summa cum laude

 

Kevin Black

Kevin Black

Summa cum laude

 

Outstanding Graduate in Neuroscience
Emma Foster earned a perfect 4.0 on her way to a B.S. in Neuroscience in the department's newest major. Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at the University of Nebraska Medical Center where she worked with renowned clinician Dr. Howard Gendelman on a mouse model of Alzheimer’s Disease. She also conducted undergraduate research in Dr. Chris Curran's lab, examining genetic susceptibility to traffic-related air pollution. Over the course of two years, she has mastered neurobehavioral testing of mice, immunohistochemistry, molecular genetics techniques and HPLC/UPLC analysis of neurotransmitters. "Neuroscience is the most challenging yet interesting and rewarding field I have come across," said Foster who is working as a research technician before applying for graduate school.

John W. Thieret Undergraduate Research Award

Environmental Science major Kevin Black received the prestigious Thieret Award for
his undergraduate research in Dr. Lindsey Walters lab and with the Boone County Conservation District. The primary focus of his work with Dr. Walters was investigating the effect of ambient temperature on the incubation patterns of female Eastern Bluebirds. The work resulted in a presentation at a joint meeting of the Association of Field Ornithologists and the Wilson Ornithological Society. In addition, he received the top score for undergraduate travel awards and full funding for his trip to the conferences. Beyond his work with Dr. Walters, Kevin developed two independent projects. The first was a study of bird diversity in forest edge habitats. He also designed a study for Boone County looking at bird diversity in a restored wetland.

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Natalie Holsclaw

Natalie Holsclaw

Summa cum laude

 

Abigail Nienaber

Abigail Nienaber

Magna cum laude

 

Clara Richards Award

Senior Natalie Holsclaw received the Clara Richards award for a combination of academic excellence, undergraduate research and departmental activities. She was a member of Tri-Beta, ECOS and served as secretary for the Scub Club. Her research in Dr. Dick Durtsche's lab looked at sprint speed in the European Wall Lizard. After taking the Coral Reef Ecology and Geology course in Belize, she also worked as an intern in the Mote Marine Laboratory.

 

 

 

Miriam Steinitz Kannan Service Award

Abigail Nienaber was honored with the Miriam Steinitz Kanna Service Award for her outstanding efforts both on campus and off. She held three leadership positions in the Tri-Beta Honorary, starting as Historian before taking on the Secretary duties and serving as Vice-President in her senior year. She was a teaching assistant for Dr. Charles Acosta's Invertebrate Zoology course and did undergraduate research with Dr. Dick Durtsche for two years on the distribution of stoneflies in northern Kentucky. At home, she was the primary caregiver for her brother who has a severe learning disability. She will enter a PhD program at the University of Louisville where she received a competitive Research Fellowship for her graduate studies.