Three students earn Dean’s Prizes

The College of Letters & Science recognizes three seniors with its top undergraduate honor.

May 18th 2018 | L&S News
Awards, Students
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The College of Letters & Science proudly announces the recipients of Dean’s Prizes, awarded annually to the most outstanding undergraduate scholars in the senior class.

To be considered for a Dean’s Prize, a student must have a minimum grade point average of 3.90, be a comprehensive honors candidate, have completed a thesis or other major research project, made significant contributions to the university or greater community and have received only the highest recommendations from faculty and community leaders.

We congratulate this year’s winners:

Ross Dahlke is a journalism and political science major from Westfield, Wisconsin. In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, with a cheese distribution business with more than $1 million in sales, he is also a serious scholar who has pursued knowledge and conducted research at the intersections of political fundraising, network sociology, geography and social media communications. His senior thesis examined the use of social media and public support in determining issues that motivate political donors in Wisconsin.

“His politics and business experience would suffice, but his academic experience in the past few years is also outstanding,” says professor Lewis Friedland. “In my entire career, I can’t think of a student who better exemplifies what I understand to be the Wisconsin idea.”

Ross was a finalist for both the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. He will begin a job with a data and analytics firm in Minneapolis before pursuing a Ph.D. in political science or communications.

Sanober Mirza is a geography and environmental science major from Rochester, Minnesota. She has served as president of the Geography Club and co-chair of Rethink Wisconsin, in addition to co-founding the Community Environmental Scholars Summer Hike and Learn series. She won the Reid Bryson Undergraduate Scholarship at UW’s Climate Change Symposium, and her senior thesis examined how human activities affect ecosystem processes.

“In my ten years of working with undergraduates, I can confidently say that Sanober is hands-down the most impressive student I have met,” says advisor Joel Gruley. “In short, she is incredibly mature, hardworking, thoughtful and ambitious.”

Sanober will attend graduate school at the University of Montana to study international conservation and development, where she hopes to broaden her perspective on justice in conservation and help to bring equity to the forefront of the global environmental movement.

Jonathan Doenier is a computer sciences and biochemistry major from Wales, Wisconsin. He has served as the secretary, vice-president and president of the Student Society for Stem Cell Research and received both the Biochemistry Summer Research and Hilldale Research fellowships. His senior thesis investigated mechanisms of stem cell maintenance and differentiation in model organism C. elegans.

“He is experimentally fearless, jumping into each method required for his project and making tremendous progress quickly,” says professor Judith Kimble. “He is extremely bright, highly motivated and has an uncanny practical sense that is a huge gift in the laboratory. He loves thinking about problems and loves doing research. That passion coupled to his obvious intellectual gifts is rare.”

Next year, Jonathan will work in Professor Kimble’s lab, researching the fundamental mechanisms of germline stem cell maintenance and differentiation. During this time, he plans to apply to Ph.D. programs in computational biology.