ϡȱ Board of Regents Honors Student Excellence Scholarship Winners

Baltimore, Md. (April 30, 2024) – Twelve students across the ϡȱ (ϡȱ) are recipients of the 2024 ϡȱ Board of Regents Student Excellence Scholarships.

The award is the highest honor the Board bestows to recognize exemplary student achievement. Scholarships are presented in four categories: Academics, Scholarship, and Research; Innovation and Creative Activity; Leadership and Advocacy; and Outreach and Engagement.

Each award carries a $2,000 scholarship provided by the System and the ϡȱ Foundation. The students will be honored at a private ceremony on Sunday, May 19.

“I often find myself in awe of our students,” said Chancellor Jay A. Perman. “The curiosity they bring to their work, the brilliance and creativity that animate it, the dedication they show to making a real and meaningful difference in the world—all of it inspires me. And I know it inspires their professors, too. It’s a pleasure to pay tribute to them.”

Within each category, one winner is a freshman or sophomore, one is a junior or senior, and one is a graduate or professional student.

ACADEMICS, SCHOLARSHIP, AND RESEARCH
EMILIA JANE GERMAIN
SOPHOMORE
FROSTBURG STATE UNIVERSITY
While pursuing a BS in mathematics, Emilia has maintained a 3.9 GPA, has made the Dean’s List every semester, and serves as a math tutor. She was recently inducted into the Kappa Mu Epsilon national mathematics honor society.

Last summer, Emilia took part in a research experience for undergraduates at Youngstown State University. The research—on the statistical concept of permutations and cycles—has been chosen for presentation at two national conferences and is being peer-reviewed for publication in undergraduate journals.

Emilia uses her expertise in statistics to conduct analyses with important impacts. For instance, she’s exploring the statistics of police brutality and its relation to police spending in Appalachian counties. She analyzes data on police departments, municipal infrastructure, and social programs, and how these expenditures are reflected in county budgets.

One of Emilia’s professors compares her favorably to PhD students he’s taught: “I really believe in her future.”

DARIUSH ALIGHOLIZADEH
SENIOR
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, BALTIMORE COUNTY
Dariush is pursuing two bachelor’s degrees, in biochemistry and computational biology. He scored in the 96th percentile on the MCAT and is a member of the Pre-Medical Society and Honors College at UMBC.

For five years, Dariush has conducted research at Towson University’s Devadas Lab, where he’s mentored six junior students and become the highest ranking lab manager. He’s published two research papers in peer-reviewed journals on magnetoplasmonic nanoparticle syntheses and chemical warfare agent sensing; he’s sent three more papers off; and two additional papers are in process.

Dariush held a remote research position at the CDC Southeastern Center for Excellence, where he developed software for detecting malarial infections. He’s interned at the Johns Hopkins and University of ϡȱ schools of medicine, studying glioblastoma and other aggressive brain cancers.

His nominator calls him a stellar student, leader, peer mentor, team player, and “one of the best researchers the world is yet to discover.”

JONAS RAPHAEL MILLER
GRADUATE STUDENT
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, BALTIMORE COUNTY
Jonas is a third-year PhD student studying marine biotechnology with a concentration in aquaculture endocrinology at the ϡȱ’s Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET).

His doctoral research—funded by NOAA and the U.S. Department of Agricultureaddresses the problem of low fecundity and egg survival in captively bred North American Atlantic salmon, and develops methods for spawning salmon year-round. The trans-regional, interinstitutional project has him collaborating with colleagues at USDA, the University of Maine, the University of Wisconsin, and our own University of ϡȱ, College Park. Through this work, he aims to develop a new generation of environmentally sustainable aquaculture platforms.

Jonas is also bringing up the next generation of environmental scientists. He teaches three local high school students the principles of aquaculture and molecular benchwork, and hopes to teach at the university level and collaborate with international researchers in this field.

INNOVATION AND CREATIVE ACTIVITY
EMMA BARRETT
FRESHMAN
TOWSON UNIVERSITY
Emma is a pre-music education major who has found ways to deepen her education through out-of-class, hands-on experiences. For example, she recently volunteered at an elementary school as assistant director for “Frozen Jr.,” with responsibility for blocking scenes, helping students with their solos, and choreographing dance numbers.

Emma was recently invited to create a quartet for an event with the Washington National Cathedral Choir and is fully responsible for rehearsals, preparing the group to perform within a month. In her spare time, she challenges herself to learn difficult pieces on the piano, improving not only her sight reading and playing—but her academic performance, as well.

One of her professors says Emma’s level of preparation is so good for a first-year voice student that they can spend their time together shaping her ideas “rather than trying to draw them out.”

BRADLEY AURORA POWERS
JUNIOR
SALISBURY UNIVERSITY
Bradley is pursuing a BFA in art with a track in ceramics. Driven to be a full-time artist, she’s become skilled in pottery, starting her own business—CeramicsByBradley.

Her technical proficiency is complemented by her artistic vision—what she calls “the ideas her art brings into the world.” She creates sculptures that juxtapose beauty and unease, and in exploring how to finish these pieces, she employed a technique called saggar firing, which no one at SU was using—or even teaching.

Bradley is president of SU’s Clay Club, giving all students the chance to try ceramics. Since taking over, she’s more than doubled participation in the club, hosts workshops and studio days, funds trips to national conventions, and engages members in service activities.

Her professors say she has an excellent sense of design and meticulous attention to detail, always pushing herself to improve her work.

JENS WIRA
GRADUATE STUDENT
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
Jens is a PhD candidate in IMET’s Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences program, where he studies dinoflagellates, a group of enigmatic yet beautiful aquatic algae. Because established methods of study often don’t apply to these algae, Jens says his work involves “constant innovation.”

Innovation drives more than his research; it drives how he communicates science. Jens initiated a 3D printing service at IMET, restoring a discarded 3D printer, and then transformed that same printer into a microscope operated by a GameCube controller, which allows people attending IMET events to interactively explore microorganisms. In addition, he’s creating a holographic display to publicly showcase IMET’s work.

Jens also works with IMET’s previous artist-in-residence, Dr. Lisa Moren, providing technical assistance for her ongoing exhibition at the Peale Museum. His innovative approach to science and artistic collaboration bridges the gap between complex scientific concepts and public understanding, making science accessible and engaging to all.

LEADERSHIP AND ADVOCACY
ANNA TOVCHIGRECHKO
SOPHOMORE
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK
Anna is pursuing two bachelor’s degrees, in psychology and criminology/criminal justice. Her experience as the child of an incarcerated parent has profoundly shaped her life, compelling her to create change and community for others like her.

Anna was accepted into UMD’s Do Good Accelerator Fellows Program, through which she started the UnLocked Project, which raises awareness and support for children of incarcerated parents. She later created and hosted a peer support group for these children.

Part of Anna’s advocacy is sharing her story through the Honors Humanities Program, the Do Good Institute, and the UnLocked Project. She also works with the Justice Reform Club and helped organize a panel of experts—from UMD, UMBC, and The Sentencing Project—to examine holistic prevention for juvenile delinquency. Her goal is to submit to Gov. Moore a proposal to increase the funding going to these prevention efforts.

JADE LESCHACK
JUNIOR
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK
Jade is pursuing two bachelor’s degrees, in physics and mathematics, and is an ascending researcher in experimental and theoretical physics, with a passion for quantum science.

In her first semester, Jade founded the Undergraduate Quantum Association (UQA), which functions as the student voice for quantum at UMD, helping students access quantum resources across academia and industry. UQA now has nearly 450 members online and on-campus, and it’s part of the Quantum Coalition, a network of student-led quantum clubs worldwide.

Jade has organized tours of quantum companies and labs; facilitated industry-sponsored, student-led research projects; and organized events like weekend-long quantum hackathons and UMD’s first-ever Quantum Career Fair, which drew nearly 200 students and corporations. Jade has represented UMD at two industry-facing conferences and sat on panels about the future of the quantum workforce.

She’s an exemplar of the next generation of leaders bringing quantum technologies to fruition.

ROSE PAGANO
PROFESSIONAL STUDENT
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, BALTIMORE
Rose is a second-year medical student who balances a demanding education with her advocacy for health care accessibility and social justice.

As co-president of the Medical Student Section of MedChi, ϡȱ’s medical society, Rose proposed and lobbied for MedChi to adopt policies that have improved medical education in ϡȱ. One such policy mandated that naloxone training for opioid overdose be integrated into ϡȱ’s medical education curricula. The policy passed, and the University of ϡȱ School of Medicine has begun providing naloxone training to first- and second-year medical students.

Rose also organized an Advocacy Day in Annapolis, where she facilitated meetings between medical students and state legislators to lobby for bills that would expand access to behavioral health care and protect patient information.

Her nominator writes, “Ms. Pagano lives every day to help the community around her. She’s the definition of a servant leader and an unwavering advocate.”

OUTREACH AND ENGAGEMENT
ELIZABETH JI-WOO BROWN
SOPHOMORE
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK
Elizabeth is pursuing a BA in international relations and sociology. As the daughter in a military family, Elizabeth moved 10 times between three countries during her childhood. That experience developed in her a special connection with international students. She understands the challenges people face when in a foreign environment.

Elizabeth volunteers with UMD’s International Student and Scholar Services. Through International Coffee Hours, she connects people from the same country and facilitates conversations among new groups. As an International Orientation Leader, she welcomes international students and helps them get involved in campus life. And as president of English Conversation Partners, she helps students and spouses practice their conversational English and engage in discussions about American culture or their own.

One of her nominators says, “Elizabeth will continue to make significant contributions to communities worldwide by connecting people through empathy and respect.”

STEPHORA ALBERI
JUNIOR
SALISBURY UNIVERSITY
Stephora is pursuing a BS in computer science on the cybersecurity track. But her outreach targets a different kind of security altogether: road safety—particularly on Salisbury’s West Side, home to many marginalized communities.

With the backing of SU leaders and resources, Stephora and her team crafted an IRB-approved, trilingual survey for the community—in English, Spanish, and Haitian Kreyol. She worked with churches, community groups, and local businesses to promote the survey, which gathered residents’ experiences with West Side roads and their suggestions for better road safety.

After 273 responses poured in, Stephora and her team analyzed the data and shared the results with city and county officials. And with her advocacy success established, Stephora also discussed with city leaders strategies for improving public transportation access.

“I’ve worked with many amazing students at SU,” says one of her professors, “and Stephora truly stands out among them.”

KATHERINE MARIA RAJA
PROFESSIONAL STUDENT
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, BALTIMORE
Now in her final year of medical school, Katherine works to improve neighbors’ health literacy and access to essential services.

She served as co-president of the UMB Health Alliance, and established a clinic at UMB’s Community Engagement Center focused on the social determinants of health. To create a network of referrals to the clinic, she partnered not only with medical departments, but also with ϡȱ Carey Law’s Immigration Clinic.

She and her clinic colleagues perform comprehensive social needs assessments for residents and provide individualized care coordination services. In the clinic’s first year, more than 30 neighbors were served, and Katherine dedicated well over 300 hours to this work.

Katherine was part of the Johns Hopkins COVID K12 Initiative, teaching children how the virus spreads and how to protect themselves and their communities. And she’s a trusted resource for Baltimore’s Spanish-speaking citizens.

Her nominator calls Katherine a “compassionate clinician” who honors patients’ dignity while addressing their complex needs.

#####

The ϡȱ comprises 12 institutions: Bowie State University; Coppin State University; Frostburg State University; Salisbury University; Towson University; the University of Baltimore; the University of ϡȱ, Baltimore; the University of ϡȱ, Baltimore County; the University of ϡȱ Center for Environmental Science; the University of ϡȱ, College Park; the University of ϡȱ Eastern Shore; and the University of ϡȱ Global Campus. The ϡȱ also includes three regional centers—the Universities at Shady Grove, the ϡȱ at Hagerstown, and the ϡȱ at Southern ϡȱ—at which ϡȱ universities offer upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses.

ϡȱ universities and programs are among the nation’s best in quality and value according to several national rankings. Learn more about the and our strategic plan, Vision 2030: From Excellence to Preeminence. 

 

Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719
Email: mlurie@usmd.edu