Department honors graduates in virtual Class Day ceremony

Monday, Jun 1, 2020
by Scott Lyon

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering honored its 24 graduating seniors in a virtual Class Day ceremony on Monday, June 1, conferring multiple honors and awards for academic achievement.

During the ceremony, director of undergraduate studies Mark Brynildsen congratulated the seniors for completing "one of the most demanding majors at Princeton."

Acting department chair Richard Register, in his opening remarks, stressed the role of the students' family members, whose guidance and support "sustained our seniors throughout four years of personal and academic challenges, including the current coronavirus pandemic and the transition to remote learning midway through their final semester." He said that the students, through their many accomplishments, had "enriched not only themselves but the entire Princeton community."

Due to public health concerns, the ceremony was held remotely via the Zoom web application, a staple of higher-education gatherings throughout the crisis.



The University held its virtual commencement one day earlier, graduating the Class of 2020 in one of the strangest academic finales in generations. Campus life ground to a halt as nearly all undergraduate students left for home in the days leading up to March 23. Those turned out to be the graduating seniors' final days as Princeton residents. Following spring break, instruction moved entirely online and events were either held virtually, postponed or cancelled.

While a staggering disruption, students adapted to the conditions with remarkable poise, completing lab assignments and finalizing thesis research without access to the physical spaces and instruments specifically designed to collect and analyze such data.

In the end, the festivities that mark the high point in the academic year, normally held in every corner of the campus, were instead held in living rooms and home offices around the world. This year, rather than filing stiffly into neat rows of folding chairs, loved ones of all ages logged into a centrally hosted webinar and gazed into their computer screens. Their smiles did not register the difference.

The 24 graduates come from 13 different U.S. states and five nations. They earned certificates from nine different programs, including Russian Language and Culture, African American Studies, Sustainable Energy, and Engineering Biology, the most popular certificate program among this class. (An undergraduate certificate at Princeton functions much like a minor at other universities).

Six of the graduating students earned honors; four more earned high honors; and two students — Alexander Bechtold and Rawlison Zhang — earned highest honors.

Thirteen of the students were inducted into one of three honor societies: 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. One student, Niroshan Anandasivam, was inducted to all three.

The full list of chemical and biological engineering students graduating in the Class of 2020, along with any honors and awards they received, is below:

Niroshan Anandasivam
Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Beta Kappa, High Honors
Overall Excellence in Chemical Engineering Award

Todd Baldwin

Alexander Bechtold
Sigma Xi, Highest Honors
Air Products Outstanding Senior Thesis Award

Glenda Chen

Heather Cho
Sigma Xi, Honors

Robert Evans

Sofie Gonzalez

Brittany Grego
High Honors
Richard K. Toner Thermodynamics Prize

Luqman Issah
Sigma Xi, Honors    
SABIC Senior Thesis Award

Elisabeth Juechser
Sigma Xi, High Honors
Christodoulos A. Floudas Chemical Process Design Award

Parker Lewis
Christodoulos A. Floudas Chemical Process Design Award

Madison Manning
Sigma Xi, Honors

Alexandra Mayo
Sigma Xi, Honors
Sigma Xi Book Prize

Serge Nsanzineza

Margaret O'Connell
Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, High Honors
Christodoulos A. Floudas Chemical Process Design Award; Overall Excellence in Chemical Engineering Award

Florence Odigie
Michelle Goudie '93 Senior Thesis Award, funded by the Du Pont Company

Mofopefoluwa Olarinmoye

Margarita Orlova

Devorah Saffern

Audrey Shih
Sigma Xi, Honors

Riley Wagner
Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, High Honors
Ernest F. Johnson Distinguished Service Award; Christodoulos A. Floudas Chemical Process Design Award; Michelle Goudie '93 Senior Thesis Award, funded by the Du Pont Company; Overall Excellence in Chemical Engineering Award

Megan Whitley

Rawlison Zhang
Sigma Xi, Highest Honors
Merck & Company Outstanding Senior Thesis Award

Janet Zhao