Outstanding 2023 engineering graduates recognized at Engineering Commencement Reception

Philippe Fauchet, Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Dean of Engineering, has announced outstanding 2023 engineering graduates, school and department award recipients at the school’s May 11 Commencement Reception.

“It is among my favorite duties as dean to acknowledge our students’ accomplishments that we recognize by awards and honors they have earned at the end of their undergraduate careers,” said Fauchet. “Today we celebrate their dedication and perseverance, and I am certain they will continue to lead and serve in their careers beyond Vanderbilt.”


Patrick Darmawi-Iskandar, from San Francisco, California, is this year’s Founder’s Medalist for the School of Engineering. He is graduating with a bachelor of engineering degree. Darmawi-Iskandar studied electrical and computer engineering and was a SyBBURE Searle research fellow at the Institute for Space and Defense Electronics where he examined the effects of radiation on carbon nanotube field-effect transistors.

SyBBURE provides mentored experiences exploring the intersection of systems biology and bioengineering. Being part of the inclusive, passionate, and tightknit SyBBURE research community encouraged Darmawi-Iskandar to consider pursuing a doctorate. His parents are first-generation immigrants, and he plans to take advantage of all the opportunities they made possible.

At Vanderbilt he was president of the Amateur Radio Club and helped organize STEM outreach events, including connecting children at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt with astronauts on the International Space Station by radio, an inspiring experience for the kids and for Patrick. After spending the summer as an associate engineer at SpaceX, he plans to study electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Founder’s Medal was endowed by Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt and signifies first honors for each graduating class from Vanderbilt’s schools. The gold medal has been awarded since 1877. The recipient is named by the dean after consideration of faculty recommendations as well as grade point averages of the year’s summa cum laude graduates.


Alexander David Stoneman of Youngstown, Ohio, will lead 2023 engineering undergraduates to their Commencement seats as the School of Engineering’s Banner Bearer. The distinction of Banner Bearer is awarded to the senior engineering student who has been judged by the faculty of the School of Engineering to have excelled in all aspects of his or her undergraduate career.

Stoneman majored in chemical engineering and chemistry with a minor in computer science. His research focus includes T-cells, a key part of immune response and T-cell receptors (TCRs) that help recognize foreign targets. Working with optical tweezers at single molecule and single cell levels, he developed a self-complementary hairpin sequence that can be incorporated into DNA tethers used in optical tweezer experiments. This work contributes to a better understanding of overall TCR functioning, which has major implications for potential treatments for diseases, including diabetes, influenza and cancer.

While an undergraduate, he taught science lessons to local middle schoolers through Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science and was a host to prospective students through ‘Dore for a Day. He served as editor-in-chief of the Vanderbilt Political Review. Stoneman plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at MIT this fall.


Sarah Ann Myers of Oxnard, California, received the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service, which is given to the graduating senior who has shown remarkable leadership qualities and who has also made the greatest contributions in personal service to the school. Myers majored in computer science and child development.

Throughout her time at Vanderbilt, Myers has become a trusted mentor to fellow students—even to entering postdocs in the lab of Maithilee Kunda, assistant professor of computer science and computer engineering. Myers also served as executive president of the Engineering Council and for the past two years she has served in top leadership roles in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. For the past three years, she has been involved with the V-Squared Engineering Mentorship Program, helping first-years adjust to college life and assisting other students with course selection and finding research opportunities. After graduation, Myers will spend a year in Penghu, Taiwan on a Fulbright Scholarship.

Fauchet announced the 22 students who achieved summa cum laude distinction:

Alice Meredith Byrnes, Milton, Tennessee
Abigail Sara Cohen, New York, New York
Andrew Zachary Deister II, Leawood, Kansas
Gabriel Collins Diraviam, Cooper City, Florida
Benjamin C. Fahrenkrug, Waukee, Iowa
Jessica Ruth Handwerker, Lafayette, Colorado
Isabella Maria Hood, Tallahassee, Florida
Christopher Schaefer Keller, Sewickley, Pennsylvania
Rohit Khurana, Phoenix, Arizona
Hannah Katherine Kirkham, Cincinnati, Ohio
Yanwei Li, Beijing, China
Yilin Liu, Shenzhen, China
Xinxuan Lu, Nanjing, China
Arman Moazampour, Bayonne, New Jersey
Abdullah Usama Nassar , Cairo, Egypt
Ethan Huu Nguyen, Centerville, Virginia
Alyssa Marie Questell, Cincinnati, Ohio
Laurel Elizabeth Scott, Owens Cross Roads, Alabama
Daniel M. Shu, Marietta, Georgia
Kevin Matthew Silvergold, Holmdel, New Jersey
Matthew Lloyd Speer, Thousand Oaks, California
Ruoqi Yang, Beijing, China

Program awards go to members of the graduating class who, in the opinion of the program faculty, have made the greatest progress in professional development during the undergraduate career. The 2023 recipients are:

Biomedical Engineering: Kush Jayesh Hari, Columbus, Ohio
Chemical Engineering: Alexander David Stoneman, Youngstown, Ohio
Civil Engineering: Christopher Schaefer Keller, Sewickley, Pennsylvania
Computer Engineering: Zakariyya Samer Al-Quran, Louisville, Kentucky
Computer Science: Lauren Elizabeth Scott, Owens Cross Roads, Alabama
Electrical Engineering: Kush Jayesh Hari, Columbus, Ohio
Engineering Science: Andrew Scott Utesch, Newland, North Carolina
Mechanical Engineering: Alice Meredith Byrnes, Milton, Tennessee

Other awards and honors

  • David Allen Ong, Franklin, Tennessee, is the recipient of the American Institute of Chemists Award, given based on leadership, ability, character, scholastic achievement and potential for advancement in the chemical professions.
  • The Greg A. Andrews Civil Engineering Memorial Award goes to an exemplary senior who plans to do graduate work in environmental and water resources engineering. The recipient is Chelsea McHale Middleton, Nashville, Tennessee.
  • The Thomas G. Arnold Prizes for Biomedical Engineering Systems Design and Research is shared by Staunton George Henry Golding, Denver, Colorado, for research; and by Jonathan Elliott Dwiyono, Chandler, Arizona; Stephan Nabil Gorgey, Nashville, Tennessee; Kush Jayesh Hari, Columbus, Ohio; and Madison Abigail Veliky, Earlysville, Virginia, for design.
  • The Most Entrepreneurial Design Award in Biomedical Engineering is shared by Lauren Fay Elias, Lombard, Illinois; Beatty E. Fann, Portola Valley, California; Samantha Grace Mallahan, Northbrook, Illinois; and Reethi Sesha Padmanabhan, Silver Spring, Maryland.
  • The C. F. Chen Best Design Award for the best design project in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is shared by Yucheng Tang, Nashville, Tennessee; Landen Daniel Ryder, Greenbelt, Maryland; and Xin Yu, Nashville, Tennessee.
  • The ASCE/Dan Barge, Jr. Award in Civil Engineering is given to an outstanding third-year student majoring in civil engineering. The recipient is Megan Gray Higgins, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • The Walter C. Criley Prize is awarded for the best paper written on an advanced senior project in electrical engineering. The award is shared by Axel Irikungoma, Bujumbura, Burundi; Laurent Marthone Lochard, Brooklyn, New York; Abdullah Usama Nassar, Cairo, Egypt; Zachary Ritholz, Port Washington, New York; and Benjamin Henry Van Sleen, Gulf Breeze, Florida.
  • The Arthur J. Dyer Jr. Memorial Prize is awarded to a senior who has done the best work in the study and/or design in use of structural steel, and who is a member of the American Society for Civil Engineers. The recipient is Nicole Ann Witherell, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
  • The Walter Gill Kirkpatrick Prize in Civil Engineering is given to the most deserving third-year student majoring in civil engineering. The recipient is Ada Marie Novak, Batavia, Illinois.
  • The William A. Ma Award is given to an outstanding senior majoring in chemical engineering based on a demonstrated record of leadership and scholastic achievement. The recipient is Blake Austin Christiansen, Meridianville, Alabama.
  • The Wilson L. and Nellie Pyle Miser Award goes to a senior engineering student who has excelled in all aspects of mathematics during the student’s undergraduate career. The award goes to Ying Qian, Shanghai, China.
  • The Robert D. Tanner Undergraduate Research Award is given to a senior who has conducted the best undergraduate research project in chemical engineering. The recipient is Alexander David Stoneman, Youngstown, Ohio.
  • The W. Dennis Threadgill Award is given for outstanding achievement in chemical engineering in honor of a former faculty member and department chair. The award goes to Jacob Thomas Lumpkins, Middleton, Tennessee.

Class of 2023 members of Tau Beta Pi engineering scholastic fraternity

Patrick Kanan Darmawi-Iskandar, San Francisco, California
Benjamin C. Fahrenkrug, Waukee, Iowa
Hannah Katherine Kirkham, Cincinnati, Ohio
Arman Moazampour, Bayonne, New Jersey
Ethan Huu Nguyen, Centreville, Virginia
Ying Qian, Shanghai, China
Alyssa Marie Questell, Cincinnati, Ohio
Daniel Jacob Shade, Deerfield, Illinois
Benjamin Mark Shani, Hartford, Connecticut
Alexander David Stoneman, Youngstown, Ohio
Benjamin Henry Van Sleen, Gulf Breeze, Florida
Qinzhe Xing, Jinan, China

Contact: Brenda Ellis, brenda.ellis@vanderbilt.edu