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Four recent graduates and one current student from UT have been named winners in the prestigious 2019 Global Undergraduate Awards competition.

The Global Undergraduate Awards is the world’s largest international academic awards program, recognizing excellent research and original work across the sciences, humanities, business, and creative arts. The top 10 percent of students in their respective categories are honored as highly commended. Regional winners are the best in their category representing one of seven international regions in the competition, and a final global winner is selected in each category.

UT’s winners were Juhi Patel, a spring 2019 graduate, who was named a global winner; Pete Paueksakon, also a spring graduate, who was a regional winner; Tyler Hounshell, a fall 2018 graduate, who was a regional winner; Dara Carney-Nedelman, a spring 2019 graduate, who was highly commended; and senior William White, who was highly commended.

“We are proud that our students are able to compete at such a high-level international forum for research,” said Marisa Moazen, assistant vice chancellor for research engagement and director of undergraduate research. “Almost 20 percent of the student body conducts research. This year, we saw a 150 percent increase in campus submissions, but we would love to see an even greater increase next year.”

All winners are invited to attend the Global Summit, which will be held November 11–13 in Dublin, Ireland. As a global winner, Patel will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the summit, where she will be presented with a gold medal. The Office of Undergraduate Research will provide funding for Paueksakon, Houndshell, Carney-Nedelman, White, and a faculty member to attend the Global Summit.

“It’s important to celebrate the successes of our students engaged in undergraduate research,” said Robert Nobles, interim vice chancellor for research. “Giving them the opportunity to represent the University of Tennessee on an international stage is an honor.”

This year, the UA received 3,437 entries representing 338 institutions and 50 countries.

Here are more details about UT’s winners:

Juhi Patel, of Knoxville, Tennessee, earned her bachelor’s degree in microbiology and classics. She is the global winner in the classical studies and archaeology category. Patel was awarded a Fulbright and will seek a master’s degree in the history of medicine at Newcastle University in England.

Patel’s submission, “Applying Modern Immunology to the Plague of Ancient Athens,” was based on her honors thesis, which looked at a plague that ravaged ancient Athens during the Peloponnesian War. She investigated how a refugee crisis may have affected the rapid spread of the plague, and how the illness could have been slowed through the adoption of protocols developed by modern immunologists.

“I am excited to attend the Global Undergraduate Awards in Dublin,” said Patel. “It is an incredible opportunity to engage with my peers across the world and learn about their research.”

Pete Paueksakon, of Bangkok, Thailand, earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture. He is a regional winner for the United States and Canada in the architecture and design category.

His project, “Towards Fibrous Architecture,” focuses on design research that mimics the fibrous nature of bone to create multinodal modular components using glass fiber, resin, and a novel winding process. The project resulted in the fabrication of a small architectural pavilion composed of 25 uniquely fabricated components assembled into a lightweight fiber composite structure.

Tyler Hounshell, of Sevierville, Tennessee, earned his bachelor’s degree in sustainability. He is a regional winner for the United States and Canada in the earth and environmental sciences category. Hounshell plans to attend graduate school in economics in fall 2020 and continue his research.

His project, “Ecosystem Services of Urban Tree Canopy for the Mitigation of Climate Change: Measuring Carbon Sequestration and Understory Temperature Reduction of Knoxville’s Urban Forest,” investigates the potential of urban forests as a way to cushion the negative externalities of climate change.

Dara Carney-Nedelman, of Erwin, Tennessee, earned her bachelor’s degree in communication studies. She is highly commended in the psychology category. She is currently pursuing a career in public diplomacy.

Carney-Nedelman’s project, “AUIRTROSAI (Acronym Usage in ROTC: The Relationship of Socialization and Identification),” examines the understudied relationship between knowledge of acronym meanings by cadets in Reserve Officer Training Corps programs and their socialization and identification in the group.

William White, of Knoxville, majoring in literature, is highly commended in the literature category.

White’s project, “How Not to Read: The Nazis’ Appropriation of The Merchant of Venice,” explores the danger of reducing a work of literature’s meaning to a determinate claim by focusing on how Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice was used by the Nazis as anti-Semitic political propaganda in World War II.

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