Engineering school presents 2024 senior honors May 9

Krish Roy, Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Dean of Engineering, has announced the school’s outstanding 2024 engineering graduates, and school and department award recipients at the school’s May 9 Senior Awards Reception.

Madison M. Albert, from North Yarmouth, Maine, is this year’s Founder’s Medalist for the School of Engineering. She is graduating with a bachelor of engineering. Albert, who double majored in biomedical engineering and mathematics, began looking for research opportunities as a first-year student. She was selected for the highly competitive Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. Her project in applied mathematics modeled bone cells. During her sophomore year, William Grissom, associate professor of biomedical engineering and her academic adviser, reached out with an opportunity to join his MRI lab. Albert found that MRI research provided the perfect combination of clinical relevance and computational work for her, and it drives her desire to pursue research as a career.

Her honors include the Case School of Engineering Swanger Graduate Fellowship and Goldwater Scholarship. Albert’s most meaningful service experience during college was being the rector for the University Catholic Awakening Retreat in  2023, with about 150 college students from across Davidson County attending. After graduation, she will pursue a doctorate in biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University. And she will continue her research with Professor Grissom to develop pulse optimization tools for MRI.

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.

Jiliang Li, of Beijing, China, will lead 2024 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.

Li has spent four semesters and two summers working in the labs of Yu Huang and Kevin Leach, assistant professors of computer science, and Li’s co-advisers. He has already successfully published two peer-reviewed publications in top software engineering venues— The ACM International Conference on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE) and the IEEE/ACM International Conference on Program Comprehension (ICPC). He was the leading author for one of the two papers, and the main contributor to the other. He is currently involved in two more research studies.

For two years, Li has provided pro-bono consulting services to local non-profit organizations as a consultant at Vanderbilt Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations (SCNO). Specifically, he established the data infrastructure for Conexión Américas, a nonprofit dedicated to uplifting local Latino communities, and Unscripted Improv, a nonprofit empowering communities through improv classes, shows, and events. Li ispursuing a master’s degree in computer science at Stanford University.

The Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service, which is given to a graduating senior who has shown remarkable leadership qualities and who also has made the greatest contributions in personal service to the school, goes to Megan Gray Higgins, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Heather Nicole Murray, Dayton, Ohio; and Ivan Valery Ntwari, Nyagatare, Rwanda.

Megan Higgins has been dedicated to peer mentorship and community service. She served as president of American Society of Civil Engineers where she led the concrete canoe competition and oversaw the adoption of a community cleanup project. She also was the treasurer of Phi Signma Rho, active in the Society of Women Engineers, and a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. Higgins worked as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Abkowitz Lab and held summer internships at Metro Waters and Haw River Assembly. After graduation, Megan will move to Florida to work at NextEra Energy as an associate power generation engineer.

Heather Murray has served the school, her peers, and the greater community in many capacities including as Engineering Council President, Co-Director of Research for o -“VR” -come, Vice President of the BME Honor Society, team leader in Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science, and as a residential adviser. In oVRcome, she managed patient data and enrollment in the clinical trial that gave virtual reality devices to cancer patients as a means of stress relief. Since 2022, she has worked in the Lippmann Lab, which focuses on cell engineering and microdevice fabrication for the analysis of neurovascular diseases. Murray will continue her research at Boston University, where she will start a Ph.D. program in biomedical engineering with a focus on tissue engineering.

Ivan Ntwari has been a collaborative leader and trusted mentor across several organizations. He served as Vanderbilt Robotics Team Leader, Vanderbilt Design Studio Mentor, ASME Student Section President, VINSE Tech Crew, Nissan Senior Design Team, and curriculum committee student representative. He also is the founder and CEO of two companies: an online brokerage platform tailored for investors to the Rwanda Stock Exchange and a company that developed a diabetes management device. Ivan is slated to work in mechanical design engineering at Tesla.

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship (summa cum laude distinction)
Madison Marie Albert, North Yarmouth, Maine
Evangelos Chatziandreou, Egaleo, Greece
Nathan Timothy Hunsberger, Reno, Nevada
Meredith Joanne Hunter, La Jolla, California
Jason T. Hwong, San Mateo, California
Nisala A. Kalupahana, Hillsboro, Oregon
Jiliang Li, Binzhou, China
John Paul Libanati, Silver Spring, Maryland
Xiaohan Liu, Jinan City, China
Zofia Marie Luther, Sewickley, Pennsylvania
Jennifer Michelle Mazzola, Canton, Massachusetts
Akash Munagala, Saratoga, California
Lincoln Dietz Murr, Knoxville, Tennessee
David O. Obi, Jonesboro, Georgia
Alexander Sukjoong Oh, Clarksville, Maryland
Brett N. Reamon, Boulder, Colorado
Jackson Patrick Rusch, Mequon, Wisconsin
Timothy Joseph Schachner, New York, New York
Miles Takashi Sitcawich, St. Paul, Minnesota
Brooke Madison Stevens, Atlanta, Georgia
Kela Rubiann Totherow, Honolulu, Hawaii
Jiayi Wu, Shanghai, China
Shivam Vohra, Conyers, Georgia
Siyao Zhu, Nanjing, China

August/December summa graduates
Benjamin Jarzin Womsley, Kenilworth, Illinois
Zimeng Zhou, Germantown, Maryland
Madhavi Mani, Brookfield, Wisconsin

Program Awards:
Biomedical Engineering:  John Paul Libanati, Silver Spring, Maryland
Chemical Engineering:  Jordan Alexa Walker, Dallas, Texas  
Civil Engineering:  Ada Marie Novak, Batavia, Illinois
Computer Engineering:  Alexander Sukjoong Oh, Clarksville, Maryland
Computer Science:  Nisala A. Kalupahana, Hillsboro, Oregon
Electrical Engineering:  Meredith Joanne Hunter, La Jolla, California
Engineering Science:  Kela Rubiann Totherow, Honolulu, Hawaii
Mechanical Engineering:  Jason T. Hwong, San Mateo, California

Other Awards:

  • American Institute of Chemists Award: Rebecca Jean Hedges, Mokena, Illinois; and Tyler David Oddo, South Elgin, Illinois, are the recipients of the American Institute of Chemists Award, given based on leadership, ability, character, scholastic achievement and potential for advancement in the chemical professions.
  • 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 Harmony Bickerton, Troy, New York.
  • Thomas G. Arnold Prizes for Biomedical Engineering Systems Design and Research are shared: Design: Madison Marie Albert, North Yarmouth, Maine; Katelyn Alexandra Craft, Landenberg, Pennsylvania; August Erik Jurva, Brookfield, Wisconsin; Rebecca Pan, Andover, Massachusetts; and Nicholas Charles Wan, Aurora, Illinois. Research: Nicholas Charles Wan, Aurora, Illinois.
  • Most Entrepreneurial Design Award in Biomedical Engineering is shared by Kiara Herro, Wayzata, Minnesota; Layla Reejhsinghani, Westport, Connecticut: Marin Schiffman, Lemont, Illinois; and Maxwell Sharp, Darien, Connecticut, for their project, “Protective carrier insert for specimen transport system.”
  • F. Chen Best Design Award for the best design project in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is shared by Neil Badlani, Cincinnati, Ohio; Meredith Hunter, San Diego, California, and Ashley Potts, Sparta, New Jersey, for their project, “Low-cost spectroscopic system for biosensing.”
  • ASCE/Dan Barge, Jr. Award in Civil Engineering is given to an outstanding third-year student majoring in civil engineering. The recipient is Jacob Robert Tomas, Fort Meyers, Florida.
  • Walter C. Criley Prize is awarded for the best paper written on an advanced senior project in electrical engineering. The award is shared by David Limpus, Franklin, Tennessee; Ryan Christopher Taylor, Cedar Hill, Texas; and Isabella Rane Wynocker, Bay Village, Ohio.
  • 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 Megan Gray Higgins, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • Walter Gill Kirkpatrick Prize in Civil Engineering is given to the most deserving third-year student majoring in civil engineering. The recipient is Ella Rose Mostoller, Carrollton, Virginia.
  • 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 Heather Nicole Murray, Dayton, Ohio.
  • 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 Madison Marie Albert, North Yarmouth, Maine.
  • Stein Stone Memorial Award is given to a senior who has earned a letter in sports and who is judged to have made the most satisfactory scholastic and extra-mural progress as an undergraduate. The recipient is Gage Cayman Pitchford, Newnan, Georgia.
  • Robert D. Tanner Undergraduate Research Award is given to a senior who has conducted the best undergraduate research project in chemical engineering. The recipient Katrina Rose Schwensen, Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • 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 Charles Arquette, Oak Park, Illinois, and Miles Takashi Sitcawich, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Class of 2024 members of Tau Beta Pi engineering scholastic fraternity

Jack Abrams, Jupiter, Florida
Madison Albert, North Yarmouth, Maine
Katelyn Craft, Landenberg, Pennsylvania
Aidan Fein, Springfield, Illinois
Amanda Foster, Menlo Park, California
Nicholas Grummon, Franklin, Tennessee
Megan Higgins, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Nathan Hunsberger, Reno, Nevada
Meredith Hunter, La Jolla, California
Jason Hwong, San Mateo, California
Mikaya Kim, Diamond Bar, California
John Libanati, Silver Spring, Maryland
Kaitlyn Lombardi, Hendersonville, Tennessee
Ji Lu, Wenzhou, China
Madhavi Mani, Brookfield, Minnesota
Nicole Montenegro, Wilmette, Illinois
Lincoln Murr, Knoxville, Tennessee
Ada Novak, Batavia, Illinois
Erin Oldham, Houston, Texas
Hari Patel, Carmel, Indiana
Brett Reamon, Boulder, Colorado
Katrina Schwensen, Lincoln, Nebraska
Miles Sitcawich, St. Paul, Minnesota
Parker Smith, Lexington, Kentucky
Brooke Stevens, Atlanta, Georgia
Kela Totherow, Honolulu, Hawaii
Stanley Vinet, Arroyo Grande, California
Jordan Walker, Dallas, Texas
Nicholas Wan, Aurora, Illinois
Jovian Wang, San Ramon, California
Nathan Zhang, Phoenix, Arizona