Achievements Selected recent feats by students, faculty, and staff

Please see below for recent student, alumni, faculty, and staff accomplishments:

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Michael Alonzo (environmental science) received $89,126 from the University of Maryland, College Park National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) for his project "Expanding Access to Data-Intensive Remote Sensing Algorithms through Collaboration with the Socio-environmental Research Community."

Kim Blankenship (sociology) received $10,026 from George Washington University for her project "District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research (DC CFAR)."

Boncho Bonev (physics) received $42,850 from the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for his project "Ground-Based Studies of Comets Using High-Resolution Infrared Spectroscopy."

Laura Cutler (Center for Israel Studies) received $60,000 from the Israel Institute, Inc. for her project "Israel Institute Support AY18-19."

Douglas Fox (chemistry) received $52,858 from the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities for his project "Fluorescent Cellulose Nanomaterial Development Project."

Matthew Hartings (chemistry) received $67,785 from NIST for his project "Integrated Multifunctional Photonic Sensors with Stimulus-specific Transduction Layers for Monitoring Carcinogenesis."

Jessica Leight (economics) received $788,858.98 from the US Department of Labor for her project "The Impact of Mentoring and Life Skills Training on Secondary School Progression and Child Labor Among Girls: A Randomized Controlled Trail in Rajasthan."

Mieke Meurs (economics) received $53,748 from the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) for her service as executive vice president-treasurer to IAFFE.

Mieke Meurs (economics) received $24,500 from the Open Society Foundation (OSF) for her project "Feasibility Study for Care-Gender Macroeconomic Model for Policy Analysis in Columbia."

Laura Owen (education) received $13,115 from the Sylarn Foundation for her project "College Readiness - Middle School Campus Experience."

Michael Robinson (mathematics and statistics) received $16,700 (total estimated award amount for Phase I, $150,000) from the Battelle Memorial Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for his project "DARPA AIDA, Topological Hypothesis Management in a Hypergraph Knowledgebase."

Anastasia Snelling (health studies) received $76,937 from DC Public Schools for her project "Strategies for Improving Consumption of Healthy Foods in DC Public Schools."

Anastasia Snelling (health studies) received $35,997 from the DC Central Kitchen for her project, "Healthy Food Access Initiatives – Healthy Corner Store Partnerships Program."


Nathan Harshman (physics) won a Reviewer Excellence award from the American Association of Physics Teachers for the contributions he has made to the American Journal of Physics.

Chemi Montes-Armenteros (graphic design), won a 2018 Graphis Platinum Award for his poster "Music of Steve Reich."

Jassie Rio (audio technology) took second place at the 2018 Guthman Musical Instrument Competition for her partly digital gramophone called the GramFX.

Melissa Scholes Young (literature) won Best Book Award in Literary Fiction from American Book Fest for her debut novel, FLOOD. The book was also reviewed by the Mark Twain Forum and featured on Center for Mark Twain Studies (Elmira College). Kevin MacDonnell writes, "Flood reflects America's rural-urban divide, racism, empty-headed faith, willful ignorance, wheel-spinning, and marveling at distracting fireworks instead of the vast universe looming behind them. It's more than a hillbilly elegy." 

Arthur Shapiro (psychology) won the Single Volume Reference/Science award from the American Publishers Awards for The Oxford Compendium of Visual Illusions by Arthur G. Shapiro and Dejan Todorovic. 

Rachel Louise Snyder (literature) has been shortlisted for the prestigious J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, for her new manuscript, "No Visible Bruises."


Michael Alonzo (environmental science) published "Quantifying Boreal Forest Structure and Composition Using UAV Structure from Motion" in Forests.

Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy (dean of the School of Education) authored an opinion piece for Salon about how arming teachers can turn would-be teachers away from entering the profession. Holcomb-McCoy wrote, "While we debate gun laws, we should simultaneously debate the compensation of teachers." The piece was also featured in EdWeek as part of a roundup of opinions about how educators approach dealing with school shootings.

Ibram X. Kendi (director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center) wrote an opinion article for the New York Times about the history of racism and what makes a person a racist. Kendi wrote, "A racist is what a person is, what a person is saying, what a person is doing." Kendi also talked with WTOP-FM and KCRW Radio.

Evan Kraft (economics) wrote an opinion piece for The Hill about the recent rise in US wages. Kraft wrote, "It has been very difficult to gauge how many of those who are counted as out of the labor force actually would be willing and able to come back."

Allan Lichtman (history) wrote an opinion article for The Hill discussing the voting power of women in upcoming elections. Lichtman wrote, "The [November] midterm elections offer a historic opportunity for women… by voting out of office Republican apologists for who is arguably the most immoral and anti-woman president in U.S. history."

Cynthia Miller-Idriss (sociology and education) wrote an opinion article for Refinery29 discussing the emotional support systems career women use to navigate the challenges of being a working mom. Miller-Idriss wrote, "It took me over a decade of parenting to fully appreciate how much I rely on the support of workplace moms I don't know very well."

Carolyn Parker (education) wrote an opinion article for IEEE's blog, The Institute, about gender disparity in STEM fields. "By systematically working to improve the school system as well as cultural perception, we can move the needle on this and close the gender disparity within STEM. And we must. We need all of the smartest thinkers involved in solving the future's biggest challenges—not just half of them," said Parker.

Jessica Young (health studies) wrote an opinion article for The Conversation about the relationship between place and health. Young wrote, “Prosperous zip codes tend to have social resources that distressed zip codes do not, like access to fresh and nutritious foods, cleaner air and high-quality schools.” The story ran in 28 outlets, including the San Francisco Chronicle.


Naomi Baron (world languages and cultures) appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio to discuss what technology use tells us about how we connect with-and ignore-each other. Baron said, "... With the newest technology, we can assume-because the message goes really fast-we should respond really fast if we care."

Naomi Baron (world languages and cultures) spoke to The Atlantic about people's increasing tendency to avoid replying to texts or emails. Baron said, "Americans have far fewer manners in general in their communication than a lot of other societies."

Ernesto Castañeda (sociology) spoke to the Austin-American Statesman about research that finds DACA recipients are employed or in school. Castañeda, who was not involved in the research, said, "With more than 3,000 respondents, this is an exceptionally large sample size."

Tim Doud (art) spoke to The Washington Post about how he and other artists are trying to build a space for artists to work and collaborate in an effort to change D.C.'s reputation as solely a political town. Doud said, "It's not a space where you go in and close your door.

Matthew Hartings (chemistry) was interviewed for the Stereo Chemistry podcast about his research on 3D printed MOF materials.

The Daily Mail featured new research by Kathleen Holton (health studies) on the link between chronic pain and the food additive monosodium glutamate. Results demonstrated that when study participants cut monosodium glutamate from their diets, their symptoms improved. Holton said, "This preliminary research in Kenya is consistent with what I am observing in my chronic pain research here in the United States."

Caleen Sinnette Jennings (theater) appeared on PBS NewsHour to discuss D.C.'s Women's Voices Theater Festival. Jennings said, "What's important is the fact that the story is worth telling, and the story is worth seeing. I think women of my generation wrestled with that thought. It's good to see younger women coming along and saying, 'Why was this even a question?'"

The Washington Post interviewed Caleen Sinnette Jennings (theater) about her new play, Queens Girl in Africa, a semiautobiographical play about her time living in Nigeria during its civil war. Describing her script, Jennings said it was "a little bit of both [research and memory]. When you're 15, you don't know how incredibly important the history that surrounds you really is." Queens Girl in Africa is the first play in a lineup kicking off the second Washington Women's Voices Festival.

Ibram X. Kendi (director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center) spoke to the Matador Review about his research interests, and how he got into racial scholarship. Kendi said, "I think there's a distinction in recognizing that an idea is offensive and being offended. I try not to feel offended as much as recognize that an idea is offensive and challenge it."

The Washington City Paper interviewed Ibram X. Kendi (founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center) to learn more about the center and its initiatives, his research, and what the media can do to promote antiracist beliefs. Kendi said that the media should be, "thinking through ways to present the imperfections of people in D.C., that there is nothing wrong with those imperfections, because that's what makes them human."

NBC4-WRC and ESPN's The Undefeated featured the announcement of the new joint initiative between The Antiracist Research and Policy Center and the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives that was shared on Douglass' 200th birthday (Feb. 14). The Frederick Douglass 200 will honor 200 people who embody the spirit of Frederick Douglass. At an event to announce The FD200, Founding Director Ibram X. Kendi said, "We cannot think of a better way to honor one of humanity's greatest ancestors, one of America's greatest ancestors, one of African-America's greatest ancestors than by honoring 200 people whose modern-day work best reflects the living and loving legacy of Frederick Douglass."

Ibram X. Kendi (founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center) talked with NPR about issues American educators face when teaching students about slavery. Kendi said, "Saying that the deadliest conflict in American history was fought over an effort to keep people enslaved conflicts with students' sense of the grandness of America… and the grandness of themselves as Americans." The story ran in over 75 NPR affiliate stations. 

Allan Lichtman (history) spoke to the New Republic about how Trump could win reelection. Lichtman said, "If Trump wins reelection, it will be because he quells a revolt in his own party, establishes more of a conservative agenda than just tax cuts, avoids a big foreign policy disaster, and perhaps even achieves a foreign policy success."

Allan Lichtman (history) spoke to The Washington Times about his prediction of President Trump's possible impeachment. Lichtman said, "I don't think this is going to develop organically in Congress, and so the critical component has to come from the special counsel."

Allan Lichtman (history) appeared on CNN to discuss reports that President Trump's official schedule has gotten shorter. "In a sense, executive time might be considered a good thing-but not for this President."

Allan Lichtman (history) spoke to AFP about Donald Trump's position on immigration. Lichtman said, "Trump very neatly among modern presidents has sought to exploit [immigration] for political purposes." Lichtman also appeared on MSNBC.

Inside Higher Ed spoke to Cynthia Miller-Idriss (director of the International Training and Education Program) to learn more about a new book she co-authored called "Seeing the World: How U.S. Universities Make Knowledge in a Global Era." The book explores the idea that American universities have a strong American focus when it comes to research. Miller-Idriss and her co-authors said, "We believe that American social scientists jeopardize their long-term relevance if they remain ethnocentric. But in the short term, the rest of the world continues to believe that Americans produce the best scholarship."

Vice Magazine interviewed Cynthia Miller-Idriss (education and sociology) for a Q-and-A about the relationship between far-right youth culture and fashion. Miller-Idriss, whose new book covers the topic, said, "What you're seeing in Germany are codes and signals that are recognizable to people in the scene, but not always to outsiders. I'm not sure we're seeing that in the states yet."

Pamela Nadell (director of AU's Jewish Studies Program) spoke to WAMU-FM about a new report on the growing Jewish population in Washington D.C. Nadell said, "Jews in Washington, according to this report, are younger on average than Jews in other communities- and that portends excitement for the future." 

Carolyn Parker (education) spoke to The Chronicle of Higher Education about incorporating crisis-preparedness courses into education programs. Of this type of training in school districts, Parker said, it's "very much on the procedures of what one needs to do when there's an active shooter in the building. It doesn't get to the emotional part of it, both what teachers can do in the classroom for students and for teachers themselves."

Theresa Runstedtler (chair of the Critical Race, Gender and Culture Studies Collaborative) spoke to Mother Jones magazine about remarkable figures in black history that are often overlooked and forgotten. Runstedtler said, "Usually, we go from the civil war and somehow magically end up in the civil rights movement…this narrative that erases all of that work, can also be disempowering for people"

Theresa Runstedtler (chair of the Critical Race, Gender and Cultural Studies department) spoke with CNN about President Trump's rocky relationship with the NFL. Runstedtler said that Trump's tweets and comments about NFL players "just shone a spotlight on the debate and gave it a kind of national profile that it might not have had."