Three L&S students win Dean’s Prizes

The award is the highest undergraduate honor awarded by the dean to the most academically outstanding students of the 2017 class.

June 9th 2017 | Katie Vaughn
Awards, Students
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The College of Letters & Science is proud to announce that three L&S students have earned Dean’s Prizes, an honor awarded annually to outstanding scholars in the senior class.

To be considered for the $1,500 prize, students must possess a cumulative grade point average of 3.90 or higher, be a comprehensive honors candidate in the L&S Honors Program, have completed a thesis or other major research project and have made significant contributions to the campus community.

Melissa Behling from Racine, Wisconsin, graduated with a degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a certificate in Digital Studies, with plans to use video journalism to serve her community. “Visual storytelling is one of the most impactful ways to advocate for change,” she says. This summer, in addition to working as a producing intern at WISC-TV, she is making a documentary about a local advocate for criminal justice reform. She plans to pursue a career as a television news producer and a documentary filmmaker.

“Melissa is an outstanding student with a powerful work ethic and a deep sense of moral responsibility,” says Lewis Friedland, the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “I am as certain as I can be based on my 35 years of experience in news, documentary and university teaching that Melissa will go on to become a journalist or documentary maker of national significance.”

Samuel Gee from Madison, Wisconsin, doubled majored in History and Religious Studies. He plans to attend graduate school and earn a Ph.D. in modern religious thought — and continue his commitment to public humanities. “I have never considered my scholarly pursuits to be divorced from a commitment to the public good,” he says. It’s a combination that’s served him well at UW-Madison.

“Sam is the single best undergraduate scholar I have worked with here at UW-Madison since I joined the History Department 11 years ago,” says Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, the Merle Curti Associate Professor of American Intellectual and Cultural History. “He’s a dream student, and a stellar scholar in the making.” 

Qihong Lu from Shanghai, China, graduated with degrees in Mathematics and Psychology and a certificate in Computer Sciences. In the fall, he will start work on a Ph.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University, furthering knowledge of the neural computational basis of human declarative memory. He also plans to create a blog to introduce advanced computational methods to psychology students. “I think our field is held back because of the lack of open-access resource explaining recent developments in machine learning in the context of psychology,” he says.

Says Psychology Professor Timothy Rogers, “Mr. Lu is a superstar. He is incredibly productive and boundlessly curious. He’s the smartest undergraduate student I’ve supervised at Madison.”