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15 students selected as the 40th class of University Scholars

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

LAWRENCE — The 40th class of University Scholars and their faculty mentors were recently recognized during digital receptions hosted by the University of Kansas. The University Scholars Program is designed to recognize and encourage academically talented and motivated sophomores who have demonstrated intellectual achievement and curiosity.

Competitively selected from KU’s sophomore class, University Scholars receive a $1,500 scholarship and are assigned a faculty mentor to support the development of their academic interests and engagement with research. The close and continuing working relationships between professors and University Scholars, as well as the seminar’s role as a vehicle for interdisciplinary exchange on a topic of contemporary interest, provides a rich and challenging environment for all participants. The University Scholars program prepares students for academic excellence now, while at KU, and in leadership roles once they have graduated.

This spring, Giselle Anatol is teaching the interdisciplinary University Scholars seminar, titled “Marginalized Bodies & ‘Medicine’ in Literature,” which will interrogate why diseases like COVID-19 rage through low-income and communities of color and affect low-income populations so disproportionately.  

“I have always been fascinated by literary representations of doctors, patients and traditional medicine, as well as alternative healing practices,” said Anatol, KU professor of English, who noted that she started her own college career as an undergraduate studying biology and pre-medicine. “This [literature] became all the more timely when COVID-19 hit, and statistics became available about disparities in death rates among different communities.” 

The 2021 University Scholars are listed below alphabetically by hometown, major, and faculty mentor.

Leena Abdelmoity: Overland Park; majoring in political science and global and international studies; mentored by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender & sexuality studies.

Krishna Bhadu: Bolivar, Missouri; majoring in microbiology and psychology; mentored by Ludwin Molina, associate professor of psychology.

Johnny Dinh Phan: Overland Park; majoring in biochemistry and dance; mentored by Brandon Dekosky, assistant professor of pharmaceutical chemistry and chemical engineering.

Kamiyah Hicks: Kansas City, Kansas; majoring in human biology, pre-med; mentored by Folashade Benette Agusto, assistant professor of ecology & evolutionary biology.

Ximena Ibarra: Pittsburg; majoring in political science and American studies; mentored by Ben Chappell, associate professor of American studies.

Abeer Sami Iqbal: Urbandale, Iowa; majoring in behavioral neuroscience; mentored by Katie Batza, associate professor of women, gender & sexuality studies.

Sonia Kandalkar: Olathe; majoring in math; mentored by Jide Wintoki, Capitol Federal Professor of Business.

Elena Lemke: Garden City; majoring in biology; mentored by Aimee Wilson, assistant professor of humanities.

Maxwell Lillich: Lawrence; majoring in political science; mentored by Lourdes Gouveia, adjunct assistant professor of sociology.

Christina Nguyen: Overland Park; majoring in pharmacy; mentored by Phillip Drake, assistant professor of English.

Carlos Schwindt: La Crosse; majoring in biology; mentored by David Slusky, De-Min and Chin-Sha Wu Associate Professor of Economics.

Hunter Smith: Overland Park; majoring in microbiology; mentored by Doug Crawford-Parker, senior lecturer in English.

Oluwanifemi Sofowoke: Lawrence; majoring in biochemistry; mentored by Teruna Siahaan, Aya and Takeru Higuchi Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

Ladazhia Taylor: Kansas City, Kansas; majoring in journalism; mentored by Nicole Hodges Persley, associate professor of American studies and African & African-American studies.

Sadie Williams: Augusta; majoring in economics and English; mentored by Misty Schieberle, associate professor of English.


KU Today
Course offerings are “among the most comprehensive in the nation,” according to “A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs”
98% of University Honors Program graduates are employed or accepted to graduate school within six months of graduation
40% of students in the University Honors Program conduct research before graduation
9 to 1: Average ratio of KU honors students to faculty advisors
1 of only 7 programs nationwide to receive a top rating from “A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs” in 2014
60% of University Honors Program students study abroad
KU honors students select their advisors from top-ranked KU faculty