2020 Honors Thesis Prize Recipients

The Honors Thesis Project is an outstanding piece of scholarly work. The threshold for receiving a prize, however, is extraordinarily high, and the choice is always difficult. Faculty committees evaluated many outstanding projects, and determined prize recipients in five different categories: creative, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences & engineering, and professional. Prize recipients receive an award of $500. 

Creative Category

Picture of Monica Savanne
Monica Savanne

Major: Recording & Allied Entertainment Industries (College of Visual and Performing Arts)

Thesis Title: Tangaza Magazine: A Publication Dedicated To Highlighting East Africa’s Urban and Contemporary Music Scene

Faculty Advisor: Prof. Bill Werde

Monica produced an online and print magazine dedicated to highlighting East Africa’s vibrant, contemporary music scene. The magazine showcases the music talent that East Africa has to offer, as well as the potential it holds to be a major music market. Her research included interviews with artists and music business professionals from East Africa’s music scene. The print release sold 60% of its inventory and the magazine has already reached important artists and managers worldwide, who are interested in collaborating with Monica.

Monica’s project was also selected as the recipient of the David Orlin Prize for the single Outstanding Thesis Project of 2020.

Humanities Category

Picture of Tyler Youngman
Tyler Youngman

Major: Information Management & Technology/ Music History (School of Information Studies/College of Arts & Sciences)

Thesis Title: The Restoration of Riverwalk

Faculty Advisor: Prof. Theo Cateforis

In this project, Tyler explores the historically significant impact of Riverwalk, a musical piece that was composed by Carl A. Johnson in 1989, in memory of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103. Tyler used Finale, a digital music notation software, to digitize, transcribe, and edit Riverwalk’s score, making this musical composition readable for modern audiences.

Social Sciences Category

Picture of Natalia Rice
Natalia Rice

Major: Sociology/English & Textual Studies (College of Arts & Sciences/Maxwell School)

Thesis Title: POC in a PWI: Examining the Experiences & Social Navigation Patterns of Students of Color at a Predominantly White Institution

Faculty Advisor: Gretchen Purser

Natalia’s project examines the experiences and social navigation patterns of students of color attending a predominantly white institution (PWI). She analyzes the impact that ethnoracial incidents and conflicts— conceptualized as ‘trigger events’— have on students’ modes of belonging and perceptions of the institution.

Natural Sciences & Engineering Category

Julia Riley

Major: Biochemistry and Neuroscience (College or Arts and Sciences)

Thesis Title: Elucidating Cellular Stress Responses of ALS-Linked Biomolecular Condensates

Faculty Advisor: Carlos Castañeda

Julia’s research characterizes molecular mechanisms related to a fatal, incurable disease called ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). There is no cure for ALS yet because we do not understand what causes it in the majority of the cases. One of the known indications of ALS is the appearance of protein clumps called aggregates within motor neurons. The cause of this protein aggregation is not yet known  and Julia’s research seeks to understand this process as this may help contribute to understanding the cause of ALS.

Professional Category

Picture of Kylie Walter
Kylie Walter

Major: Inclusive Elementary and Special Education (School of Education)

Thesis Title: And They Were Roommates: Navigating Inclusive Mentorship in Higher Education

Faculty Advisor: Christine Ashby

Kylie’s project aims to shed some light on the emotions, challenges, and successes that occur when mentors and mentees with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities work to foster symbiotic relationships on a college campus. The project includes a short film that follows an inclusive roommate pair – a matriculated junior majoring in Education and a non-matriculated freshman studying Studio Arts. Their conflicts, social life, efforts to support independent living, and self reflections are candidly captured on camera, contextualized by interviews with eleven of their peers. The film has been accepted into the DisAbility Education Film Festival at Western Colorado University.

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