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Friday, Sept. 19, 2014

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Students honored at Opening Exercises



Student award recipients (from left) Ruth Tennen, Adrienne Erickcek, Varun Phadke, James Stillwagon and Peggy Hsu. Photo: Denise Applewhite

The accomplishments of Princeton's students were celebrated with the awarding of four undergraduate prizes at Opening Exercises Sept. 11.

"Among the qualities that matter to us at Princeton, none is more important than intellectual engagement and academic achievement," said Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel. "It is especially fitting that we begin the academic year by honoring a select group of undergraduates for extraordinary accomplishment in their programs of study."

Freshman First Honor Prize

The Freshman First Honor Prize is awarded each year to a sophomore in recognition of exceptional achievement during the freshman year. This year, the prize was shared by Varun Phadke and James Stillwagon .

Phadke graduated from Jamesville-Dewitt High School in Dewitt, N.Y. Born in India, he came to the United States when he was nine years old. He and his family live in Syracuse. An A.B. candidate, he plans to major in molecular biology and complete a certificate in applications of computing. Last year, he was a recipient of the Manfred Pyka Memorial Prize in Physics. He intends to serve this year as a tutor in physics and to join the Princeton Bioethics Forum.

Stillwagon, who is from Fombell, Pa., graduated with highest honors from Sewickley Academy in Sewickley, Pa. Also an A.B. candidate, he plans to major in economics and pursue a certificate in finance. He was a starter last year for the junior varsity tennis team and serves as a senior writer for the campus publication, American Foreign Policy, as a member and foreign policy chair of the Princeton College Republicans and as a member of the Princeton Committee Against Terrorism.

Next month, Phadke and Stillwagon will receive the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence.

George Wood Legacy Sophomore Prize

Ruth Tennen of Collinsville, Conn., received this year's George Wood Legacy Sophomore Prize, given to a member of the junior class in recognition of exceptional academic achievement during the sophomore year.

A graduate of Canton High School, Tennen is pursuing an A.B. degree in molecular biology. Her first scholarly article, on bacterial spores, was published in the 2000 Journal of Applied Microbiology. Her long-range goal is to attend graduate school in preparation for an academic career in molecular biology.

The co-winner of the Freshman First Honor Prize for her class, Tennen also has twice received the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence. This fall she will be an undergraduate teaching assistant for organic chemistry. She also plays the clarinet as a member of the University Wind Ensemble.

George Wood Legacy Junior Prize

This year's George Wood Legacy Junior Prize went to Adrienne Erickcek , a graduate of Loy Norrix High School and the Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center in Kalamazoo, Mich. The award is presented each year to a member of the senior class in recognition of exceptional academic achievement during the junior year.

An A.B. candidate, Erickcek is concentrating in the Department of Physics and plans to write her senior thesis on self-interacting dark matter models. A poster based on her work as a summer intern at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics was displayed at last January's meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Following graduation, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in theoretical astrophysics with the hope of becoming a professor.

Erickcek was a recipient of the President's Award for Academic Achievement and the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence. She also has been recognized for her work in physics as a recipient of the Manfred Pyka Memorial Prize, the Lucent Prize and the Kusaka Memorial Prize in Physics. This past year, she was awarded a Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

A flutist in the University Wind Ensemble, Erickcek has tutored students in physics and mathematics through Butler College and at the Frist study halls.

Class of 1939 Princeton Scholar Award

The recipient of this year's Class of 1939 Princeton Scholar Award was Peggy Hsu , a graduate of Liberty High School in Bethlehem, Pa. The award is given to the undergraduate who, at the end of the junior year, has achieved the highest academic standing for all preceding college work at the University.

An A.B. candidate, Hsu is concentrating in the Department of Molecular Biology. Her senior thesis topic is the genomic analysis of reproliferation in yeast. Following graduation she hopes to enroll in an M.D./Ph.D. program and to pursue a career in academic medicine and research.

The winner of the Freshman First Honor Prize for her class, Hsu also was a recipient of the Manfred Pyka Memorial Prize in Physics, the President's Award for Academic Achievement and the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence.

Hsu is co-editor-in-chief of the Princeton Journal of Bioethics and a peer health educator. She also serves as the project coordinator for the Student Volunteers Council's Katzenbach School for the Deaf Project and as co-coordinator of American Sign Language classes on the Princeton campus.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601



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