Seniors’ thesis projects garner university medals

Firestone and Golden Medals are awarded to the top 10 percent of undergraduate honors theses completed in a given year.

Thirty-five graduating seniors were recognized recently for their outstanding thesis projects. They are recipients of the 2016 Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, the Robert M. Golden Medal for Excellence in Humanities and Creative Arts; and the David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prize.

The prizewinners represent 24 academic departments and all three schools with undergraduate programs – the School of Humanities and Sciences, the School of Engineering, and the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. Several students also conducted research in conjunction with the Graduate School of Education and the School of Medicine.
The projects conducted by the winners of this year’s Firestone and Golden medals and the Kennedy Prize represent the breadth of the undergraduate experience at Stanford. They included research on germ cells, federal farm animal policy, the tailoring industry in Naples, ethics and autonomous vehicles, and the writings of author Zadie Smith.

“When students enter Stanford as freshmen, they are told that creating new knowledge through research is a central part of the Stanford mission,” said Harry J. Elam, Jr., vice provost for undergraduate education, at the awards ceremony. “The students we celebrate today have not simply participated, but embraced and relished that ideal.”

The Firestone and Golden medals are awarded to the top 10 percent of theses completed in a given year. The Firestone Medal recognizes theses written in the social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering and applied sciences. The Golden Medal similarly distinguishes theses in the humanities or creative projects in the fine arts. The medalists each received an engraved bronze medal, citation and a monetary award.

The Kennedy Prize is awarded annually to the single best thesis in each of the four divisions of humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering. It was established in 2008 in recognition of history Professor David M. Kennedy’s long-standing mentoring of undergraduate writers and his retirement from active teaching. Recipients of this award have accomplished significantly advanced research in the field and have shown strong potential for publication in peer-reviewed scholarly works. Winners each received an engraved plaque and a monetary award, presented this year by Elizabeth Hadly, senior associate vice provost for undergraduate education and a professor of environmental biology.

Read about the awardees, their thesis titles, honors program or department, and advisers in Stanford Report.