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20 University Scholars to travel through Yellowstone Park, 5 states this May

Friday, May 13, 2016

LAWRENCE — Twenty outstanding sophomores at the University of Kansas will complete a semester seminar on energy with a trip through Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska this month that will include a stop at Yellowstone Park.

The students are all University Scholars and are selected on the basis of academic credentials, commitment to their education, intellectual promise and evaluations by instructors. Their academic disciplines range from biochemistry to strategic communications to English. Students in their second year at KU with a 3.8 cumulative grade point average are invited to apply. In addition to enrolling in the interdisciplinary seminar, the students receive a small scholarship and are paired with mentors in relevant fields from the university community.

The trip from May 15-26 will help the scholars gain authentic experiences with the kinds of natural materials they have been studying as part of their seminar this spring, said Jennifer Roberts, associate professor of geology, who will lead the trip.

“These types of trips help these students refine their already strong higher-order thinking skills, efficient work habits and gain a sense of cultural inclusion,” Roberts said. “As a geologist, I’m familiar with the benefits of field work, and I hope to bring that experience to these outstanding students from a wide array of disciplines.”

The University Scholars Program was founded in the spring of 1982 by Judge Deanell Tacha, then vice chancellor for academic affairs, and the late Professor Francis Heller. More than 700 alumni have gone through the program and achieved success in a wide variety of disciplines.

The 2016 University Scholars are listed below by hometown, major, parents’ names, high school and their mentors.

Mario Balcázar: La Paz, Bolivia; majoring in physics and electrical engineering; Ivaro Balcázar and Claudia Muñoz-Reyes; Saint Andrew’s School; mentored by Shannon Blunt in electrical engineering and computer science.

Julia Balmaceda: Lenexa; majoring in biochemistry with a minor in Spanish; Joaquina and Daniel Balmaceda; Notre Dame de Sion; mentored by Thomas Prisinzano in medicinal chemistry.

Bridgette Befort: Topeka; majoring in chemical engineering; Jay and Merrill Befort; Hayden High School; mentored by Sara Gregg in history.

Sana Cheema: Hays; majoring in biology; Gulraiz and Nazish Cheema; Hays High School; mentored by Aroop Pal in internal medicine.

Megan Hansen: Hutchinson; majoring in English and molecular, cellular, developmental biology; Ron and Traci Hansen; Hutchinson South High School; mentored by Matt Stein, a Lawrence oncologist.

Alex Houston: Lawrence; majoring in political science and environmental studies; Mary Morningstar and Peter Houston; Free State High School; mentored by Uma Outka in the School of Law.

Sebastian Huayamares: Lima, Peru; majoring in chemical engineering and mathematics with a minor in business; Federico Huayamares and Monica Moreno; Lord Byron School; mentored by Stevin Gehrke in chemical engineering.

Brianna Jackson: Overland Park; majoring in human biology; Debbie and Ken Jackson; Blue Valley West High School; mentored by Mike Zabel, a Lawrence cardiologist.

Hannah Johnson: Wichita; majoring in computer science and mathematics; Monica and Brett Johnson; Andover Central High School; mentored by Perry Alexander in electrical engineering and computer science.

Emmaline Lorenzo: Leawood; majoring in chemistry with minors in mathematics and philosophy; Michael and Marilyn Lorenzo; Blue Valley North High School; mentored by Cindy Berrie in chemistry.

Marisa Mitchell: Salina; majoring in environmental studies and English; Mark and Kathleen Mitchell; Salina South High School; mentored by Stacey White in urban planning.

Mikaela Myers: Denver; majoring in marketing with a minor in fine arts; Sean and Jennifer Myers; Regis Jesuit High School; mentored by Cathy Curless in the School of Business.

Brook Nasseri: Topeka; majoring in microbiology and English; Kevin and Nicoel Nasseri; Cair Paravel Latin School; mentored by Laura Mielke in English.

Hanna Ritland: Omaha, Nebraska; majoring in strategic communication with minors in business and dance; John Ritland and Greta Vaught; Omaha Central High School; mentored by Janet Rose in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Sandra Siomara Sanchez: Overland Park; majoring in history and global and international studies with minors in indigenous studies and East Asian languages and cultures; Jane and Hector Sanchez; Blue Valley West High School; mentored by Steve Hawley in physics and astronomy.

Madison Sargent: Prairie Village; majoring in aerospace engineering; Peter and Susan Sargent; St. Teresa’s Academy; mentored by Ron Barrett-Gonzalez in aerospace engineering.

Emma Tuschhoff: Bellevue, Washington; majoring in evolutionary biology with a minor in Spanish; Stephanie and Jeff Tuschhoff; Hazen High School; mentored by Jorge Soberon in ecology and evolutionary biology.

Joseph Vincent: Shawnee; majoring in aerospace engineering; Erin and Tony Vincent; Mill Valley High School; mentored by Craig McLaughlin in aerospace engineering.

Taylor Zabel: Smith Center; majoring in biochemistry; John and Laura Zabel; Smith Center High School; mentored by Vincent Francisco in applied behavioral science.

Michael Zhou: Overland Park; majoring in mechanical engineering and mathematics; Jueren Zhou and Wei Chen; Blue Valley North High School; mentored by Erik Van Vleck in mathematics.

Photos: Students in the University Scholars (Honors) Seminar class, taught by Jen Roberts, geology professor, receive a lesson outside Lindley Hall in putting up tents and taking field notes. The students will travel to the Northwest U.S., including Yellowstone Park, as part of their research seminar on energy.