Three Class of 2021 Seniors Complete Honors Projects

Created: May 3, 2021
Last Updated: May 3, 2021

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WASHINGTON, PA (May 3, 2021) – Three Washington & Jefferson College students were awarded academic honors this year following the completion of their honors projects.

These projects, which typically take a year to complete, represent an extraordinary commitment to academic study. Taking place outside of, and in addition to, a student’s regular course load, an honors project is an exploration of a topic or problem in the student’s area of study. This research piece or substantial piece of creative work culminates with a critical review by faculty in the area study as well as by faculty from across the College.

“Honors projects represent a tremendous investment of focus, diligence, and creativity on the part of our students and the faculty advisors who have supported them,” said Dr. Tara Fee, Chair of the Academic Status Committee, which is the faculty committee that reviews and evaluates honors projects. “Through their work, the three students awarded Honors for this year have helped to advance scientific knowledge on some very interesting questions of biology and neuroscience.”

Biology major Leslie Watkins ’21 was awarded Honors in Biology for her research on “Gastrointestinal Pathology and Neuroinflammation in Parkinson’s Disease.” Leslie’s project represents the work she did in the laboratory of Ted Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine during Summer 2019, remotely during Summer 2020, and during the current academic year. Her internship was supported by W&J’s Merck Internships for Excellence in Science program. Her on-campus Honors project director was Dr. Anupama Shanmuganathan, Associate Professor of Biology.

Neuroscience major Jerrik Rydbom ’21 was awarded Honors in Neuroscience for his research on “Tau-mediated changes to gut microbiome composition and immune activation.” Jerrik’s project represents work that he did as an Independent Study in the W&J Biology department in the laboratory of Dr. Kelly Lohr, Assistant Professor of Biology, throughout Fall 2020 and Spring 2021.

Neuroscience and Spanish major Julia Schaffer ’21 was awarded Honors in Neuroscience for her research on “Short- and Long-term Neurobehavioral Impairments and Plasma Cytokine Levels Following Helium Ion (4He) Exposure in Long Evans Rats.” Her project represents the work she did in the laboratory of W&J alumna Dr. Catherine Davis-Takacs (Psychology ’04) at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine during Summer 2019, and remotely during Fall 2019, Summer 2020, and the current academic year. Her internships were supported by two awards from W&J’s Merck Internships for Excellence in Science program. Her on-campus Honors project director was Dr. Candy DeBerry, Professor of Biology.

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