LPS Student Awards for 2017

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Congratulations to our Student Award Winners for 2017.


Association of Alumnae Continuing Education Award

Awarded annually to the LPS student whose scholarship and personal qualities of leadership are regarded as being the most outstanding.

Lauren Marie Leiggi

Lauren is graduating with a BA in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. She completed an undergraduate honors thesis on the historical context of how women are portrayed in the media and she is in the process of publishing it outside of the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies library.

While excelling in her studies at Penn, Lauren was involved in co-curricular opportunities such as serving on the undergraduate advisory board for the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies department, joining the Penn American Sign Language organization, Penn-in-Hand, and volunteering as an assistant coach for the Women’s Rugby Football Club.

Lauren worked part time as an undergraduate assistant for the Toll Public Interest Center for Penn Law. When a job became available as a program coordinator for the Center, she was hired full-time and attended class part time in her last year at Penn.

Lauren plans to continue working at Penn Law while preparing to apply to law school and a possible joint doctoral program in cultural history.

Ronald J. Caridi Award

For the student who best exemplifies the uncompromising commitment to scholarship, hard work, and the life which the late Ronald J. Caridi embodied and shared with so many.

Diane M. Panepresso

Diane is a first-generation college student. Growing up, she was always a good student and an avid reader with an interest in history, or, what she would now describe as material culture—but college was not actively promoted in her environment. A year after high school, she attended one semester of college, but with no specific career path in mind, she ended up beginning her family early on. Diane and her husband of 27 years raised three daughters, for whom they placed a high priority on education, involvement in extracurricular activities and community service. Diane then returned to the classroom at Bucks County Community College. Before being accepted at Penn, she became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society; was the recipient of three merit scholarships; was named to the President’s Honor List, and served as the both a presenter and later as the first Student Keynote Speaker at the school’s Student Research Conference.

As a Classical Studies major at Penn, Diane has become deeply involved with the University’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. She received training in object handling and movement and is a volunteer assistant to the keeper of the collection in the Mediterranean section. She photographs objects from antiquity, updates the database and assists with collections management and inventory. She served on the Museum’s student advisory board, was a curatorial intern and received a Penn Museum Fellowship. As a curatorial intern, she co-curated the exhibit Kourion at the Crossroads: Exploring Ancient Cyprus.

In addition to other presentation opportunities, she co-presented archival materials and stories about her research of Kourion in the Penn Museum program, Unearthed in the Archives. Her fellowship research focused on exploring a plausible function for The Painted House, a ca. 500 BC building, the ruins of which have been excavated on the citadel in Gordion, Turkey. The process involved examining artifacts, field notes and archival materials from the Gordion excavations as well as comparanda from other sites in Anatolia.

She has given presentations on her fellowship topic research both at the Museum and elsewhere on campus. Diane hopes to continue her education and is currently exploring graduate schools and employment options while continuing her volunteer work in the Museum.

Linda Bowen Santoro Award

Presented annually by the College of Liberal Professional Studies Alumni Association to a graduating LPS student who displayed unusual motivation and dedication in the pursuit of an undergraduate degree.

Derya Lane

Derya graduated in December, summa cum laude, with a BA in Philosophy. During her career as a Penn student, she served as Vice President of the John Marshall Pre-Law Honor Society and as an editor at the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal. Serving as a research assistant to Ethan Mollick, PhD of Wharton's Management Department, she investigated the emerging implications of crowdfunding on the long-term viability of more than 10,000 companies. She also provided research assistance to Amy Sepinwall, PhD and Vincent Buccola in Wharton's Department of Legal Studies and Business Ethics on a range of topics including: the comparison of annexation and de-annexation laws among all US states; the constitutionality of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act; the role of corporations in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; and the potential correlation between spin-off company lawsuits and escaping debt. Derya is applying to law schools this fall.

LPS Award for Academic Achievement in the Natural Sciences

In recognition of outstanding academic achievement in science studies and dedication to a career in the sciences.

Neisan Sabet

When Neisan and his family arrived in the US as refugees from Iran, he laid out a long-term plan to pursue a medical career while financially supporting himself and his family. After becoming a full-time IT specialist with Penn’s School of Medicine, he soon began working on his BA. His coursework at Penn gave him insight into the science behind the workflows of the research labs and core facilities supported by this work in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, providing him with a better understanding of translational medicine. Neisan witnessed the movement of lab findings into the development of revolutionary bedside treatments, such as chimeric antigen receptor T cell vaccines. His work provided him with the opportunity to interact with patients directly. His favorite experience has been developing a research billing system for the Radiology Department’s Human MRI and CT scanners. He had to analyze the current processes of these already established cores and suggest changes to capture revenue while being mindful of patient confidentiality.

Working in a top medical school exposed Neisan to the latest research. Dr. Wade Rogers, a prominent figure in computational biology, helped him learn how to use the R programming environment to analyze high-dimensional flow cytometry data for leukemia research. Serving as a Farsi language interpreter for his parents has given him the opportunity to interact with doctors in different specialties, providing a unique opportunity to experience how different doctors interact and evaluate patients. As a refugee building his life from the ground up while taking care of his parents, working a full-time job and studying has been a challenging, yet enriching experience for Neisan. He remains undeterred in his path toward medical school. He has known since a young age that helping people through medicine is how he wants to contribute to the world.

2017 Undergraduate Dean's Scholar Award

Presented annually to School of Arts and Sciences students who exhibit exceptional academic performance and intellectual promise.

John G. Grisafi

John is a senior in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and History. In addition to his excellent academic record, he has distinguished himself through service to the University community. Having served in the US Army as a linguist and analyst, John had a leadership role in the Penn Student Veterans Association. He was also an advisor in the a Major Advisory Program in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and History, as well as as an associate editor for the Penn Asian Review. John has undertaken research on the American military experience in the Philippines and its influence on the wartime internment of Japanese-Americans and is currently working as director of intelligence for the website NK News. Post-graduation, John plans to pursue a PhD in Korean and Asian Pacific Studies.

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Applied Positive Psychology

Christopher Peterson Fellowship Award

This award is named for Christopher Peterson, a leading researcher in positive psychology and a founding instructor in the MAPP program, who taught in word and deed that “other people matter.” It is presented annually to a MAPP student in recognition of service to others, academic merit, economic need and personal or professional diversity.

Tajender “TJ” Luthra

By education, TJ is a chartered accountant. Professionally, he is the Inspector General of Police in India, and chief of police in Chandigarh, a territory with a population of 1.3 million, where he commands a force of 7,500 police officers. TJ is passionate about women’s protection, children’s rights and social justice. He has initiated many community policing programs such as YUVA, a program which imparts vocational skills training to children at risk to help them secure gainful employment. TJ also implemented a program that educated his police force on empathy to increase their effectiveness, encourage more humane policing and build trust in the community. In his free time, TJ has a family and is also a poet who published an anthology, Assi Ghat Ka Bansuri Wala, in 2012. He hopes to apply his learnings from his Master of Applied Positive Psychology degree in his police work and to continue to support communities in need.

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Earth and Environmental Science Excellence in Environmental Studies Award

Awarded to a graduating MES student who has not only contributed to the field of Environmental Studies but has also helped the MES program and/or EES department in a significant way.

Bryan T. Currinder

Bryan is a Master of Environmental Studies (MES) student with a concentration in environmental biology. His research and professional interests span freshwater ecology, conservation, and how biological monitoring of freshwater resources can help inform management, particularly in developing regions with understudied freshwater biota. For his capstone project, Bryan partnered with Stroud Water Research Center and a fellow MES student Naimul Islam to undertake a freshwater monitoring project throughout Bangladesh and Bhutan. They focused specifically on the collection of benthic macroinvertebrates from streams and rivers for a better understanding of freshwater health and water quality. Ultimately, Bryan and Naimul hope to bring basic water quality monitoring techniques to communities and public officials in Bangladesh, Bhutan and throughout South Asia.

Before enrolling at the University of Pennsylvania, Bryan worked three years as a field technician for conservation work in Yosemite National Park and received a BS in Biology from Davidson College.

Earth and Environmental Science Excellence in Applied Geosciences Award

Awarded to a graduating MSAG student who has not only contributed to the field of Applied Geosciences but has also helped the MSAG program and/or EES department in a significant way.

Mark Stephen Lotto

After seven years as a Naval Special Operations officer with deployments throughout the Middle East, Mark graduated from the Master of Science in Applied Geosciences program with a concentration in environmental geology. His education continued outside the classroom with an internship with Langan Engineering. During the production of client maps, he manipulated data using the tools he learned in his GIS course, and he conducted groundwater sampling at contaminated client sites just as he studied in his hydrology course. He also gave an office presentation discussing the design of ground source heat pumps that were investigated in the Geology and Geography of Energy.

For his capstone, Mark designed and conducted a sustainability assessment in rural India. He independently traveled to India for two weeks to gather data on arsenic removal filter programs as well as the school water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs. His study resulted in recommendations to the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that run the programs, and was presented at a WASH conference in Kolkata, and will be published in the wH20 Journal later this year. Mark returned to India for a second trip as a student leader with seven other environmental science students to gather data from additional programs.

Mark currently works at General Electric (GE) in its Power business. He is a Project Manager focused on the delivery, construction and operation of wind farms across the US.

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Organizational Dynamics

Paul J. Korshin Award for Academic Excellence

This award is named for the late Penn Professor and internationally known British literature scholar, who taught in Organizational Dynamics for many years. It is annually awarded to a Master of Science graduating student who has shown outstanding scholastic achievement in coursework.

Mark Howard Wehrle

Mark is the IT Technical Director of Network Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2016 he was recognized by the University’s Models of Excellence Honors as part of The Penn Wharton China Center Project team. Faculty working closely with him say that Mark is an inquisitive and passionate professional who brings his humanity to all he does in all the many areas of his life—especially as a student in Organizational Dynamics. He quietly sets the bar high for himself and generously helps his colleagues meet theirs. His excellence is demonstrated in being Mark every day, and in the well-earned recognition he is receiving today with this award for his outstanding contribution to academic excellence.

Faculty Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement in the Organizational Dynamics Program

This Award is presented to a graduating student who has completed the best capstone upon the recommendation of the Organizational Dynamics faculty.

Anthony Joseph Kacmarsky

Tony's capstone, A Story of Choice, is the epitome of what it means to be a student in Arts and Sciences. His approach is a beautiful integration of creative narrative and rigorous academic investigation of universal topics in our personal and professional lives: choice, decision, emotion, rationality, life history, aspiration, and evolution of identity. What's more, Tony's dedication to his fundamental goal of learning drove him, in fact, to write two capstones in one. After the first highly researched and carefully analyzed treatment did not account for or jibe with his understanding of his experience and with the theoretical research on human choice processes, he launched a re-vision. In this, he creates a fuller conceptual and narrative presentation of a model that accounts for not only his story, but also for the fuller representation of how we all make decisions, how we "choose" our identity, and how we might (re)write our life stories. His capstone is a joy to read, and his exposition-stories amalgam a realization of our hope that education will be both dulce et utile.

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(215) 898-7326

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