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Civil Engineering Graduate Brittany Gesner Awarded ODU's Kaufman Prize

  • Kaufman Prize recipient, Brittany Gesner
  • Juliana Pryor, recipient of the Provost's Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher

Brittany Gesner, a December 2011 civil engineering graduate from the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, is the winner of the 2012 Kaufman Prize.

The award was given out at the Student Honors and Awards Dinner Thursday, May 3, at Old Dominion University.

Gesner, from Gardner, Mass., was active in Chi Epsilon sorority and was named Outstanding Scholar for the Batten College in December. She has been president of the Society of Women Engineers for the past two years.

She was a student ambassador when ODU hosted Womengineers Day in February, acting as hostess for guest speaker Kathy Bethany, director of the Office of Cost Management in the Overseas Building Operations of the U.S. State Department. Gesner, who named Linda Vahala, associate dean of the Batten College, as her most inspirational faculty member, is currently pursuing a master's in civil engineering at ODU.

The Kaufman Prize is regarded as one of the highest student honors at ODU. It was established by Landmark Communications Inc. to recognize graduating seniors who have had an exceptional and constructive influence on the university, its students or the community by demonstrating the highest qualities of leadership and service.

The award is named for the late Charles L. Kaufman, who was a noted community leader, philanthropist and friend to the university. Following Kaufman's example, the award winner must have shown sustained participation in leadership of campus or community groups, an outstanding record of volunteer activities and academic achievement, or the achievement of a major task affecting the campus or community.

The Kaufman Prize Selection Committee interviews nominees and recommends to President John Broderick those to be chosen for the Kaufman Honors and the person who is to receive the Kaufman Prize.

For winning the Kaufman Prize, Gesner received a $10,000 cash award and a plaque.

The Kaufman Prize runner-up was Waylin Ross, a senior political science major selected as chairman of Virginia21, a body of students representing each community college and public university in the state. The organization encourages state legislators to support higher education in Virginia. Ross named Elizabeth Kersey, assistant to the president for local, state and federal governmental relations, as his most inspirational faculty member.

Also at the Student Honors and Awards Dinner, a new award was presented. The first-ever Provost's Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher was presented to two students, Joshua Hibberd, who graduated in December with a double major in physics and electrical engineering, and Juliana Pryor, a soon-to-be biology graduate.

The award honors individuals who have exemplified excellence in research while undergraduates at ODU. A selection committee chose the award winners based on the uniqueness of research, longevity of experience and contributions to their respective disciplines through presentations, exhibitions and publications.

Hibberd was deeply involved in undergraduate research and participated in research for the Batten College, the College of Sciences and NASA Langley.

Pryor worked with Michael Stacey, research associate professor with the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics, for the past year. Her research was focused on the role of gene expression in chest wall cartilage deformities. Pryor is co-author of a manuscript that has been submitted to the peer-reviewed journal Connective Tissue Research.

This article was posted on: May 4, 2012

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