Undergraduate Awards 2020

Francis Hobart Herrick Prize, for outstanding biological research and academic excellence in biology.

Winner: Timothy Nehila

Timothy will be doing post-baccalaureate research at the NIH for two years with Dr. Sean Agbor-Enoh and Dr. Hannah Valantine in the field of transplantation genomics before applying to medical school.

His nominator had this to say about Timothy:

Timothy is a highly motivated and deep thinker. He really demonstrated his ability to think independently by writing several primary paper critiques with minimal help. He has distinguished himself in reading numerous papers critically, creating 5 illustrations to deliver complex concepts, and wrote extensive sections [on a project that was] presented [by a graduate student] at a regional Society of Developmental Biology meeting. Tim is meticulous, reliable, and eager to learn.

The Ralph A. Spengler, Jr. Award, for excellence in plant science.

Winner: Evan Fritzke

Next year, Evan plans to attend graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in Horticulture, potentially at UC Davis.

Comments from his nominator:

Evan has conducted independent research on disease resistance in Rhododendrons. He has outlined a creative hypothesis that he developed on his own from his reading of the literature and conducted an experiment to test his novel idea. He has demonstrated that root rot disease — Phytophthora cinnamomi, interacts with soil nitrogen to influence soil pH and plant traits across 3 species of Rhododendron. His research has implications for horticulture, including understanding best culture practices for the economically important important invasive plant pathogen. Evan is a strong researcher and a pleasure to work with.


The J. Paul Visscher Memorial Award of the Cleveland Audubon Society, to the senior student who demonstrates outstanding ability and promise in the field of ecology or environmental science.

Winner: Katherine Leone

After graduation, Kate plans to join the Peace Corps in her gap year, before proceeding to medical school in the summer of 2022 where she plans to enroll in an MD/PhD program and ultimately work in pediatric cardiology.

Kate’s nominator said:

 In collaboration with Cuyahoga County Health District and Cleveland Metro Parks, Kate developed a research project which surveys at-risk populations on the best advised practices in preparing freshwater fish for consumption in Ohio.


The Flora Stone Mather Alumnae Award, for outstanding academic performance in biology.

Winner: Alexa Smith 

Alexa plans to take a gap year after graduation to work and pursue hobbies, before applying to medical school in 2021. She hopes to explore some aspects of medicine and research that she does not yet have experience in before pursuing her goal of being a physician.

Alexa’s nominator’s comments:

Alexa is an excellent student- hard-working, creative, lots of initiative. She’s been outstanding in my lab. She works hard, is independent, and a self-starter.

The Russell M. Lawall Prize in Biological Sciences, for excellence in biology.

Winner: Nova Qi

Nova is headed to Columbia University next year to pursue a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biomedical Studies.

Her nominator had this to say:

Nova took both my classes and excelled, she is super sharp. She engaged in classes and did well in small groups. She is a self-starter and independent.



The Daniel Burke Prize, for excellence in both biology and chemistry.

Winner: Cindy Ho

After graduation, Cindy plans to attend medical school at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, beginning this August.

Comments from Cindy’s nominator:

Cindy has demonstrated amazing research skills through her independent research conducted at the Cleveland Clinic. The quality of her work is outstanding and she engages in every course she has taken at the university. Cindy is also active in extracurricular activities and is a truly well rounded, accomplished student.

Outstanding UTA Award (Undergraduate Teaching Assistant)

Winner: Alexis Thornburg

After graduation, Alexis will be joining the Human Genetics PhD program at the University of Chicago.

Her nominator had this to say about Alexis:

In this role, Alexis is prompt, dependable and knowledgeable of the set up for each experimental procedure. She often anticipates and completes tasks before being asked. In addition, she provides dissection demonstrations to students and assists them in the use of the PowerLab data acquisition devices. Her concern for student success is evident: Alexis regularly checks on their progress, answers questions and assists them with resolving any technical difficulties. She is friendly and approachable with the students, and seems to enjoy this instructional role, yet still maintains a level of authority. Overall, Alexis is an exceptional UTA whose efforts exceed expectations.


Michelson Morley Research Competition in the Biological Sciences

1st Place: Jack Kincaid.
Jack is a rising senior at CWRU and works in the lab of Dr. Nathan Berger at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.

2nd Place: Timothy Nehila
Timothy will be doing post-bacc research at the NIH next year.

3rd Place: Erin Hartmann
Erin will be taking a gap year before applying to either medical school or physicians assistants programs.