University of Vermont

College of
Agriculture and Life Sciences

Department of Plant and Soil Science

Suitable for Framing: College Achievers Generously Awarded

Honors Day 2014 Applauds Top Student, Staff & Teaching Performers

Portraits of two young women
PHI BETA KAPPA ~ Megan Morris, left, and Audrey Woods were inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa national honor society, along with Hannah Moran, not pictured. The trio are all graduating seniors in UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Cheryl Dorschner photos.

Stacks of freshly printed certificates, shiny engraved plaques, beribboned boxes, potted plants and handshakes were the take-home symbols for the 42 awards handed out to 86 undergraduates at UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) 2 1/2-hour Honors Day ceremony on April 19. Students, families, staff and faculty gathered in Carpenter Auditorium on the University of Vermont campus – a new venue this year.

CALS’ Dean Tom Vogelmann commended the students and said, “there are many reasons that explain the success of the students who just received our College’s top awards. One of those reasons is the high caliber of CALS teaching – we value, even insist on, teaching that enables our students to do their best as they earn their degrees and after they leave us.”

While this Honors Day primarily recognizes students according to their majors and the administrative departments under which those fall, several students receive larger College- and University-wide accolades.

University Awards

One graduating senior from the College received top university-wide recognition: Sean Hennessy took home the Mortar Board Award for outstanding service, scholarship service, scholarship, and leadership.

Hannah Moran, Megan Morris and Audrey Woods were inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa national honor society.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Award

Chelsea Howland received the Alexander Kende Academic Merit Award, which honors the achievements of a second‑semester junior CALS student for academic excellence and interest in medicine or bio‑medical research, in memory of alumnus Alex Kende. With Howland studying and doing research at a pediatric hospital in Ireland, her parents Philip and Catherine Howland of Springfield, Vermont, accepted the award until her return. 

Undergraduate Research Leaders

Eleven students received certificates for their distinguished undergraduate research that was performed above and beyond pursuing their regular course of study. They are:

  • Pamela Bay, “Plant-Derived Bioactive Lipids Impacts Glucose Homeostasis and Energy Metabolism in Mice,” under the direction of Jana Kraft and Tom Jetton.
  • Elizabeth Berman, “The Impact of Changes in Beverage Options on Beverage Choice, Calorie and Added Sugars Consumption on a University Campus,” mentored by Rachel K. Johnson.
  • Serena DiMattia, “Investigating the Molecular Interaction Between Src Family Kinases and PKA in Ovarian Cancer Cells,” guided by Paula Deming and Stephanie Phelps.
  • Thomas Hilzinger, who won the Kende Award last year, “Investigation of the Effect of a Wedge Residue on the DNA Scanning Behavior of MutY Homologs on Damaged DNA Using Single Molecule Techniques,” in the Susan Wallace lab.
  • Kenny John, “Investigation of Transcription Factor Betl Ligand-Binding in Pseudomonas aeruginosa,” mentored by Matt Wargo.
  • Anna Lidofsky, “Explaining Hospital Length of Stay of Patients Admitted With Seasonal Influenza Infection,” under the leadership of Dr. David Kaminsky and Douglas I. Johnson.
  • Brendan M. Lyons, “Variation of the Cytosolic Phosphoglucose Isomerase Gene in Andean Polystichum (Dryopteridaceae)” in the David Barrington laboratory.
  • Kirsten Meisterling, a December graduate, “The Effect of Free Fatty Acids on the mTOR Signaling Pathway in Mus musculus CD4 T Cells,” directed by Oliver Dienz, and Douglas I. Johnson.
  • Megan N. Morris, “What do Children Select from a School Salad Bar? A Descriptive Study Using Digital Imaging to Assess Children’s Food Selections,” under the direction of Rachel K. Johnson and Bethany Yon.
  • Zachary Noel, “Evaluation of the Efficacy of Natural Resistance in ‘Honeycrisp’ Apples to Reduce Fungicide Applications for Venturia inaequalis (Cooke) G. Wint,” with mentors Terry Bradshaw and Ann Hazelrigg.
  • Taylor A. Slone, “Understanding Multi-functional Agriculture in New England-levels of Participation, Farm Operators’ Demographics and Farm Operators’ Satisfaction,” led by Kathleen Liang.                    

Department Awards           

Chairs from CALS’ nine departments and programs presented scholarships and honors in their areas.

Animal Science

Elizabeth Remick received the Elmer Towne Award, presented by the Vermont Dairy Industry Association.

The faculty chose Samuel Scheu for this year’s George H. Walker Award for dairy science.

Sean Blouin and Elizabeth Remick received Brian Hawley scholarships.

For greatest contribution to equine or companion animal activities, Donald J. Balch Awards went to Benjamin Daggett and Emily Rule.

Twenty-one students were tagged as future leaders by the American Society of Animal Science. They are:

  • Seniors: Evelyn Bulkeley, Jack O’Day III, Shannon Heath, Roberta Hemmer, Ashley R. McCoy, Samuel Scheu and Kirsten Weberg.
  • Juniors: Sarah Colando, Elizabeth Doiron, Mandy Erdei, Sara Forsythe, Petty Kim, Samantha Monck and Laurel Saldinger.
  • Sophomores: Austin Ebbott, Sara R. Friedman, Stephanie Morancy, Alice V. Symington, Nicholas Tatakis, Ken Wesley and Sarah Zeger.                                            

Every year CREAM herd advisors receive Brett Klein Memorial Scholarships. CREAM stands for Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management. Fall advisors were Chantal Girard, Ashley S. Hudson and Tyler Launhardt. Spring advisors were Rachel Lundstedt and Samuel Scheu.

This year’s Animal Science Faculty Awards went to Evelyn Bulkeley.

And Samantha D’Amico and Kirsten Weberg received the Triona Wilder Marno-Ferree Memorial Award for enthusiasm for UVM Horse Barn activities.

Eight students received Doris and Julian Malkiel scholarships for juniors and seniors pursuing pre-veterinarian studies. They are: Lauren M. Brown, Heather Curley, Desmond Dana, Chelsea L. Davidson, Stephanie Morancy, Emily K. Rule, Maria Watko and Ethan R. White.


Cody Couperus received the Robert Woodworth Award for highest academic performance by a native Vermonter majoring in biochemistry.

Biological Sciences

Scholastic Achievement Awards for outstanding academic records are senior Serena DiMattia, and juniors Kyle R. Edwards, Collin Kwasnik and Maria L. Laroche.

Community Development and Applied Economics

Graduating seniors with the highest scholastic grade-point average each major are:

  • Anthony DeCenzo in Community Entrepreneurship
  • Corey Wilga in Community And International Development
  • Katherine Ettman in Public Communication

Seniors with the top 10 percent cumulative grade point average are: Michael C. Abbott, Caleb Brabant, Anthony DeCenzo, Katherine Ettman, Michael A. Fadden, Hillary Laggis, Eleanor D. Mills, Jocelyn Morin, Kayleigh Neu and Corey Wilga.

Joseph Tomlinson won the department’s Teaching Assistant Award.

Zoe S. Adams and Hillary Laggis earned the Community Service Scholar Award.

Environmental Program

Stephanie Haynes and Rory Shamlian were honored as the top graduating senior in the Environmental Program.

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Kelly Nguyen and Audrey A. Woods received Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Awards.

Krystina Kattermann received the Nicole J Ferland Award.

Audrey A. Woods was awarded the Lucille P. Markey Outstanding Senior in Molecular Genetics Award.

Thomas Hilzinger took home the Warren R. Steinbring Outstanding Senior in Microbiology Award.

Nutrition and Food Sciences

Eliza Hamburger and Sierra Parker earned the Agnes T. Powell Award.

Morgan Devoid and Andrea J. Francis received the Bertha Terrill Award.

Carsan Dittman and Olivia E. Gross took home the Blair Williams Award.

Emilie Riddle received the Nutrition And Food Sciences Faculty Award.

Elizabeth Berman, Garabed Hartounian and Megan N. Morris received Nutrition and Food Sciences Research Awards.

Lauren M. Cole was named Outstanding Dietetics Student.

This year’s Cornelia Wheeler Irish Memorial Scholarship Awards went to Louis Bruderer and Patricia Dansereau.

Plant Biology

Madeleine Hassett and Rogelio Zimbron received the Sproston Award for undergraduate research projects of high academic

Brendan Lyons received the department’s Superior Performance Award for research and teaching activities of the department.

Plant and Soil Science

Donald Keith III, Zachary Noel and Brittany Spezzano shared the American Society for Horticultural Science Collegiate Scholars Awards for being in the top 15 percent in their class.

Zachary Noel also received the American Society for Horticultural Science Outstanding Horticulture Student Award, Ralph Lewis Jones Award and Seymour Horticultural Prize.

Noel shared with Spezzano the W. H. Darrow Horticulture Prize.

And Brittany Spezzano took the James E. Ludlow Endowed Scholarship all by herself.

If that’s not enough, the trio: Keith, Noel and Spezzano were recognized as teaching assistants along with John E. Davis.

One staff and two faculty members received annual awards during the students’ ceremony. Marcia Purvis received the Outstanding Staff Award, David Conner received the North American Colleges and Teachers Of Agriculture Merit Award and Laura Hill Bermingham received the Joseph E. Carrigan Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Related links to be posted soon.

Josie Davis, associate dean for academic programs, Rose Laba and Megan Precourt of student services organized this event. Flowers were donated by UVM Greenhouses.