Stanford University
Andrew Ying, Philosophy '21, professor Dustin Schroeder, Zoe Von Gerlach, Computer Science '21, and JP Spaventa, Physics '21. 

Students from the Autumn 2017-18 The Space Mission to Europa received an IntroSem Excellence Award for their project, "Designing Space Mission Management Structures Through the Lens of Data Economies.” Pictured from left are Andrew Ying, Philosophy '21, professor Dustin Schroeder, Zoe Von Gerlach, Computer Science '21, and JP Spaventa, Physics '21. (Photo credit: Devon Ryan)

Undergrads honored for outstanding work in Introductory Seminars

JP Spaventa, '21, Zoe Von Gerlach, '21 and Andrew Ying, '21, were awarded for the project they created in geophysics professor Dustin Schroeder's Introductory Seminar, The Space Mission to Europa

BY Alex Kekauoha
ClockFebruary 28, 2019

Twenty-three Stanford undergraduate students have been recognized for outstanding work in Introductory Seminars. During a recent award ceremony, Stanford faculty praised student research projects ranging from research papers to personal essays, and spanning many topics, from NASA management structures to K-pop fan culture.

The Introductory Seminars Excellence Awards took place Jan. 24 at Denning House. Honorees were selected by faculty for having submitted the most outstanding work completed in seminars during the 2017-18 academic year. Award recipients were selected from a pool of more than 2,500 students who take about 230 classes taught by faculty in each of Stanford’s seven schools.

“When given the opportunity and support, Stanford students surpassed our expectations,” said host Russell Berman, the Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities and director of Introductory Seminars.

Faculty members nominated students by submitting their work, along with a letter outlining and assessing each student’s project. As each award was presented during the ceremony, Berman read an excerpt from each faculty nomination letter. Students were visibly pleased to hear what their faculty mentors had to say about their work. Antigone Xenopolous, ’20, touched her heart upon hearing economics professor Ran Abramitzky describe her as one of the top students he has taught at Stanford and praised her research into the economics of immigration in the United States.

“Antigone’s policy brief [on immigration] contains suggestions that Congress will be very wise to consider,” said Abramitzky.

Katie Fong, ’21, received an award for her work in the seminar Kangnam Style: Korea’s Soft Power in Our Globalized Economy. Her faculty mentor, Dafna Zur, an assistant professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, said Fong’s paper on K-pop fan culture was a universal recipe for doing excellent research. Zur cited “a sophisticated synthesis of analysis, a talent for narrative and a dogged rigor.”

JP Spaventa, ’21, Zoe Von Gerlach, ’21, and Andrew Ying, ’21, worked with Stanford geophysics professor Dustin Schroeder for the seminar The Space Mission to Europa. Their project looked at how NASA is organizing a search for alien life on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. The seminar culminated with a presentation during which the students challenged the project’s lead scientists to think critically about the mission’s management structures.

“After their presentation, the lead scientist on the entire NASA mission told me that he planned to reevaluate how mission-wide science team meetings are organized,” Schroeder wrote in his nomination letter.

full list of this year’s honorees is available on the Introductory Seminars website.

Introductory Seminars, sponsored by VPUE Stanford Introductory Studies, are small-group courses taught by esteemed faculty to frosh and sophomores. They are offered in a wide range of disciplines, in more than 60 departments and programs and all seven schools of the university. More information about the program and details about applying are available on the Introductory Seminars website.

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