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Co-op’s Mitchell Awards Recognize Academic Excellence

Giving News

University Co-op President George Mitchell

In what has become a spring tradition, the University Co-operative Society and The University of Texas at Austin awarded the University Co-op George H. Mitchell Student Awards for Academic Excellence on May 2.

Each year the awards acknowledge undergraduate students nominated by their professors for recognition of their hard work and extraordinary contributions to their fields of study. With a $20,000 grand prize and combined prize total of $41,000, seven awards were presented this year at the 13th annual ceremony.

The grand prize winner was astronomy/Plan II Honors senior George F. Miller, who graduates this month and will begin work on a PhD at Harvard in the fall.

Three other undergraduates — Seth Whitsitt, physics; Ramu Kharel, Asian studies; and Ryan Truby, biomedical engineering — won the second prize and received $5,000 each. The three winners of the $2,000 awards were James W. Salazar, biomedical engineering; Jillian Owens, religious studies and Plan II; and Jean Nava, sociology, mathematics, and economics.

Past winners of the Mitchell Awards are already helping to change the world, and this year’s nominees are well on their way. Illustrating the magnitude of the students’ work, the selection committee recommendation for one of the finalists states:  “…This method advances biomedical science by allowing doctors to better differentiate diseased regions from normal tissue, and it provides a valuable new tool to noninvasively diagnose and characterize pathologies such as cancer by enhancing their imaging and detection.”

Founded in 1896 by William J. Battle, a professor of the Greek language who later served as president of the University from 1914 to 1916, the University Co-op fulfills its 116-year old mission as a non-profit corporation by returning all profits to its owners — UT’s students, faculty, and staff. Since 2000, the Co-op has given more than $32 million to UT in the form of gifts, grants, and rebates.

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