Three seniors whose summer work exemplifies the wide range of undergraduate research supported by Northwestern were honored by the University in December.


Alex Benjamin, Joseph Hurley and Alexander Nitkin were honored with Fletcher Undergraduate Research Grant prizes, administered annually by Northwestern’s Office of Undergraduate Research.


In their research, Benjamin explored the human aspects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster to craft an original play, Hurley investigated how copper enters the cells of "methane-eating" bacteria and Nitkin examined the effects of Chicago Public School closures in 2013.


Provost Dan Linzer, Ronald Braeutigam, associate provost for undergraduate education, and Neal Blair, chair of the Undergraduate Research Grant review committee, presented the students with award certificates.


“These students show the incredible range of projects that are getting funding by the Office of Undergraduate Research,” said Peter Civetta, director of the office.


Funded by the Fletcher Family Foundation, the $250 Fletcher prizes were presented to the three undergraduates for research they conducted last summer with support from Northwestern Undergraduate Research Grants. The students’ faculty advisers also received the Karl Rosengren Faculty Mentoring Award, including $250, in recognition of their work with the students. The mentoring award is named for the long-time Undergraduate Research Grants review committee chair, who left Northwestern last summer.


“These experiences help students transition out of school and into the skills they need to succeed in the rest of their lives,” Civetta said.


“It is experiential learning at its best because it pairs faculty wisdom with student ingenuity,” he said. “Students learn to take ownership of their education and can begin to achieve their own goals.”

To read the original story, including biographies of the three seniors who were honored, visit the Northwestern News Center.

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