Class Day ceremony honors an extraordinary, centennial cohort

Monday, May 24, 2021
by Scott Lyon

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering honored its 23 graduating seniors in a Class Day ceremony on Monday, May 24, conferring multiple honors and awards for academic achievement.

"You have overcome very special obstacles to get to where you are today," said department chair Athanassios Panagiotopoulos, the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. "Kudos to all of you!"

The event was held virtually due to public health concerns regarding the ongoing pandemic.

The graduating class of 2021 overcame an extraordinary set of circumstances. They were forced to leave campus in the middle of their junior year, disrupting every aspect of life including two months of work in the department's signature experimental laboratory course, known colloquially as core lab. The pandemic-caused shift led to an unprecedented level of undergraduate experience with real-world problem solving under highly constrained conditions, and marked this class as one of the most resilient in memory. In their senior year, the students navigated a fall semester of remote learning, pivoting toward thesis research projects that could be carried out under the University's public safety guidelines, and a third major transition, in their final semester, to a hybrid-learning model that included some in-person research and instruction.

"This has been the largest disruption to society and education in 100 years or more, and these students had to navigate the trials and tribulations of a COVID world while completing their degrees," Panagiotopoulos said.

From bedrooms, car interiors, living rooms and lobbies, the graduates beamed emoji-laden applause and congratulations to one another from across the country and around the globe.

The newly minted class will enter the workforce at organizations such as AstraZeneca, SpaceX and the Children's National Hospital, or matriculate into graduate or professional programs at institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Duke University and Yale University.

"I taught a lot of these students in their very first CBE course," said Mark Brynildsen, the director of undergraduate studies and an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering. "It's really excellent to see them come full circle."

Of the 23 graduates, 16 earned certificates in 10 different programs, including Engineering Biology, Neuroscience, and Sustainable Energy. (An undergraduate certificate at Princeton functions much like a minor at other universities).

Four earned honors; seven more earned high honors; and two students — Nathan Alam and Rebecca Mays — earned highest honors.

Twelve of the graduates were inducted into one or more honor society: Sigma Xi, for distinguished scientific research; Tau Beta Pi, recognizing outstanding engineering achievements; and Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's preeminent liberal arts honor society.

A ceremony held by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, in the afternoon, recognized the graduating seniors as part of the full BSE program and awarded one chemical and biological engineering graduate, MaryKate Neff, the George J. Mueller Award, recognizing a combination of high scholarly achievement and excellence in intercollegiate athletics.

This was the centennial class of Princeton's engineering school, founded in 1921.

The full list of chemical and biological engineering students graduating in the Class of 2021, along with any honors and awards they received, is below:

Rebekah Adams

Nathan Alam
Highest honors, Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Beta Kappa
Ernest F. Johnson Outstanding Senior Thesis Award; Christodoulos A. Floudas Chemical Process Design Award; Overall Excellence in Chemical Engineering Award

James Armstrong
Honors

Bryce Bickel
Honors, Sigma Xi

Jane Brown
High honors, Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi
Richard K. Toner Thermodynamics Prize

Hee Joo Choi
High honors, Sigma Xi
Christodoulos A. Floudas Chemical Process Design Award; Michelle Goudie '93 Senior Thesis Award, funded by the DuPont Company

Peter Colvin

Albert Jiang
Sigma Xi
Ernest F. Johnson Distinguished Service Award

Amila Kujovic
Honors, Sigma Xi
SABIC Senior Thesis Award

Rebecca Mays
Highest honors, Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi
Michelle Goudie '93 Senior Thesis Award, funded by the DuPont Company; Overall Excellence in Chemical Engineering Award

Natalia Miller

Emmanuel Mintah

Reshma Modi
High honors, Sigma Xi
Christodoulos A. Floudas Chemical Process Design Award

MaryKate Neff
Honors
George J. Mueller Award (SEAS)

Marcus Norkaitis

Jae Won Oh
High honors, Sigma Xi
Christodoulos A. Floudas Chemical Process Design Award; Michelle Goudie '93 Senior Thesis Award, funded by the DuPont Company

Claire Orare

Saira Reyes
High honors, Sigma Xi

Charlotte Tausche

Chantal Thantrong

Dominique Wudunn
High honors, Sigma Xi
Sigma Xi Book Prize

Angela Yang
High honors, Sigma Xi
Ernest F. Johnson Distinguished Service Award

Nancy Yang