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Undergraduate Researchers of the Year

Each year we honor the exceptional achievements of some of Maryland’s top undergraduate researchers. This year, seven students will receive $1,000 awards. Here, we celebrate their substantial accomplishments and intellectual passion.

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Jesse with students in front of research poster
Jesse Matthews
Jesse Matthews, a Banneker/Key recipient and a member of the University Honors program, completed double degrees in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Applied Mathematics in May 2021. In recognition of his research and academic accomplishments, Jesse was awarded the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and the Dinah Berman Memorial Award. 

Jesse’s research interests are in enabling renewable energy by studying the properties of solid polymer electrolytes (SPE) to make them safer and environmentally friendly. In the fall 2021, Jesse plans to begin a PhD in Chemical Engineering at Stanford University.
Tyler stands on city sidewalk in winter gear
Tyler Hoffman
Tyler completed a degree in Mathematics with minors in Computer Science and History in May 2021. Tyler’s extensive research experiences have spanned mathematical biology, structural acoustics, network science, quantum computing, topological data analysis, and spatial data science.

During his time at UMD Tyler interned with the Naval Surface Warfare Center in their NREIP program and in 2020 participated in the Computational Statistics NSF REU at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Tyler was recently awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to fund his PhD in Geography, which he starts at Arizona State University.
rachel stands on steps in front of state house
Rachel Yu
A member of the Global Fellows program, Rachel Yu completed a double major in Government and Politics and Information Systems with a minor in Asian American Studies in May 2021. Under the mentorship of Dr. Margaret Pearson, Rachel completed her honors thesis on the narratives utilized by the Chinese government to deliver messaging to foreign audiences about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During her time at UMD, she has successfully interned with both the US Department of State and the US Census Bureau. Additionally, she currently works as a coder at AidData and is the Executive Chair and Presiding Officer of the University Student Judiciary.

Rachel was recently awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to fund her PhD in Political Science, which she starts at the University of California, San Diego in Fall 2021.
Naheer headshot with computer graphic points
Neehar Peri
Neehar Peri, a member of College Park Scholars, completed a degree in Computer Engineering in May 2021. During his time at the University of Maryland, he has been involved in multiple on-campus research projects since 2018, most recently working under the mentorship of Dr. John Dickerson. His research interests are in creating intelligent systems (such as autonomous vehicles) that can help humans make better decisions and safely navigate the world.

After graduating from the University of Maryland, Neehar will work as a summer research intern at Argo AI and will begin a Ph.D. in Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University.
Danielle's headshot in front of trees
Danielle Zukerman
Danielle Zukerman completed a degree in Hearing and Speech Sciences in May 2021. She received the Karin E. Young Memorial Endowment Award in May 2020, a departmental scholarship awarded to students with an interest in audiology. Under the guidance of Dr. Matthew Goupell, Danielle received both a Maryland Summer Scholars award in 2019 and a BSOS Summer Scholars award in 2020.

The research she completed over both years helped contribute to her honors thesis on exploring cochlear implant programming methods to maximize users’ ability to perceive spatial cue. In Fall 2021, Danielle will begin a PhD in Clinical Audiology at the University of Maryland.
Andrew's headshot
Andrew Forschler
Andrew Forschler, a member of College Park Scholars, completed a degree in History with a minor in Secondary Education and an East Asian Studies certificate in May 2021. Under the mentorship of Dr. Robyn Muncy, Andrew completed an honors thesis about the “pansy and lesbian craze” in the 1930s and 40s. This research represents an original contribution to LGBTQ+ history in the US and shows how a closet was constructed around homosexuality.
Rebecca holds thread, smiling
Rebecca Gordon
Rebecca Gordon completed an Individual Studies Program degree in Global Public Health in May 2021. During her time at UMD she participated in the College Park Scholars and Federal Fellows programs and was a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board for the Office of Undergraduate Studies. Mentored by Dr. Dina Borzekowski, Rebecca worked on two research projects, one examining African children’s experiences during COVID-19 and the second studying adults’ attitudes and intentions to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

View ROY presentation with video clips

UMD Undergraduate Researchers of the Year

About the Awards

All candidates were nominated by their mentors. They were selected by a panel of faculty and staff on the basis of:

  • A substantial track record of research accomplishment;
  • A very high level of intellectual/ technical competence;
  • Demonstrated ability and willingness to take substantial initiative and responsibility for key aspects of the research projects in which he/she has been involved, including developing research ideas/ hypotheses/ approaches, design, problem solving, and implementation, etc.;
  • A high level of ability to work collaboratively either with fellow researchers, or with mentors, as appropriate to the candidate’s field;
  • Demonstrated experience communicating the results of their research, as appropriate to their field, through posters, presentations, publications, etc., as this is an integral aspect of the research enterprise. It is understood that there are substantial differences regarding opportunities for such communication among widely different disciplines.
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