The Class of 2022 celebrates with faculty and staff in the Department of Biological Sciences.
Noah Weidig did award-winning research with Dr. Allison Parker while earning his biology degree at NKU.
Savannah Pate is honored as the Outstanding Graduate in Biological Sciences by her research mentor Dr. Kristy Hopfensperger and department chair Dr. Erin Strome.
Kaite Clough earned the top undergraduate research award from the Society of Toxicology, an All-University award for leadership, and the Outstanding Neuroscience Graduate in 2022.
The Class of 2022 in the Department of Biological Sciences could well go down in department history as the most honored graduating class ever. Three of the six All-University Awards for Graduates went to seniors in the department.
The Department of Biological Sciences also honored several other outstanding graduates at the annual Senior Celebration.
Noah Weidig earned his bachelor's degree in the Ecology, Evolution and Organismal track while conducting undergraduate research, serving as a TA for three different courses, and earning a perfect 4.0 GPA. He was nominated by his research mentor Dr. Allison Parker. "He would go out of his way to help students who were struggling. He helped organize group work, and his direction always kept his groups focused on the task at hand."
Noah was awarded the Dr. Carol Swarts Milburn Undergraduate Research Summer Fellowship Award to work on an independent project examining how the concentration of nutrients and water volume impacted where Culex females, the main vectors of West Nile virus, prefer to lay their eggs.
"The level of organization and dedication to the project was apparent all summer. In everything but title, Noah acted as a graduate student conducting an independent project with the help of multiple undergraduate students. I cannot stress how impressed I was with Noah’s behavior and research prowess over the summer," said Dr. Parker.
Noah's research efforts earned him first author status on a recently published paper from Dr. Parker's lab. He is currently working as a research assistant at the University of Cincinnati
Savannah Pate was nominated by Environmental Science Program Director Dr. Kristy Hopfensperger for her excellence in academics, research and professional development. "Savannah has been a quiet leader among her peers at NKU," said Dr. Hopfensperger. "Savannah has had a passion for learning and drive and initiative for gaining experience."
Savannah's undergraduate research focused on restoration and development of pollinator habitat in the region. She also worked at a local veterinary clinic where she assisted with surgeries and other procedures.
"Savannah has had a passion for learning and drive and initiative for gaining experience. While maintaining a high GPA in her courses, she has clearly stood out as a leader in the classroom setting among her peers."
When Katie Clough walked across the stage at Commencement, she was draped with multiple honor cords, sashes and medals. In addition to exemplary leadership in multiple organizations and honor societies, Katie spent nearly three years conducting undergraduate research on genetic susceptibility to widespread neurotoxicants.
"Katie is one of the most accomplished and innovative young scientists I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring since joining the NKU faculty in 2008," said her research mentor Dr. Chris Curran.
In addition to receiving the Society of Toxicology's Undergraduate Research Award, she received the James Bradford Award for Best Oral Presentation at the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention annual meeting and was an invited speaker to another toxicology conference, a rare honor for an undergraduate.
Katie was accepted to three prestigious graduate programs in neurotoxicology and is currently studying for her PhD at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Amanda Honaker received the John W. Thieret Undergraduate Research Award for her novel experiments in benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) cardiotoxicity. She collaborated with Dr. Chris Curran and two cardiologists at the Unviersity of Cincinnati to uncover genetic differences following exposure to the widespread pollutant. She received three NKU grants to support that project. Amanda is also the first author of a recent publication on genetic suceptibility to BaP neurotoxicity.
Sam Bauer was a co-receipient of the Thieret Research Award for excellence in field research under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Durtsche. He has received multiple First Place awards for research presentations on the effects of climate change on Kentucky fish. Sam also discovered a salamander species in a new area of the Commonwealth, which will result in a publication in Herpetological Review.
Dylan Young received the Miriam Steinitz Kannan Service Award for his outstanding service as a U.S. Army Reservist during the COVID pandemic. Dr. Charles Acosta nominated him for the award, noting that Dylan managed to complete all of hiscourses despite being called up multiple times to assist over-worked health professionals. Dylan will attend medical school at Wright State University then return to Army service as a medical doctor.
Autumn Clark received the Clara Richards award for academic and research excellence and extensive service on campus and in the local community. Autumn has been doing undergraduate research in Chemistry & Biochemistry since 2021, led Supplemental Instruction tutoring sessions for six different courses, and volunteered with Special Olympics and at the Crossroad Health Center helping disadvantaged patients.
Mackenzie Feltner was a co-recipient of the Clara Richards award. Mackenzie was a Neuroscience major who mastered the use of high-performance liquid chromatography to quantify neurotransmitters in addition to numerous neurobehavioral tests on mice. She is a co-author on a recent publication about benzo[a]pyrene neurotoxicity and currently works as a research technician for Dr. Chris Curran.
All seniors earning a 3.75 GPA or higher were honored for their academic excellence.