The 2018 University Co-op George H. Mitchell Award Winners Honored at Annual Ceremony and Dinner

May 7, 2018

On May 1, UT Austin, with generous financial support from the University Co-op, recognized five undergraduate students for their superior scholarly or creative achievement at the annual University Co-op George H. Mitchell Award ceremony held at the Texas Union. 

Two students received awards of $2,500 each, two students received awards of $5,000 each, and one student received the top award of $12,000.

The grand prize winner was Zahra Ahmed, a senior mechanical engineering major, whose research has been working to design, fabricate, and test new types of absorptive materials for athletic helmets.

"I can honestly say that our undergraduate students are some of the most impressive students I have ever met, and the award recipients are outstanding examples of that excellence," said Rachelle Hernandez, senior vice provost for enrollment management, and the presenter of the student awards. "They are impact-makers and future leaders in their fields. They will change the world!"

This year, 69 undergraduate students submitted their research or creative project in one of four categories: artistic/creative, humanities, social sciences, and STEM. A committee of faculty members reviewed each application, and five students were selected as recipients of the 2018 University Co-op George H. Mitchell Award for Academic Excellence. 

2018 Award Recipients

Zahra Ahmed

Zahra Ahmed

Award: $12,000
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Category: STEM
Winning project: Negative Stiffness Elements for Helmet Padding Application

James Ding

James Ding

Award: $5,000
Major: Biology, pre-med student
Category: Social Sciences
Winning project: A Model for Improving Transgender Healthcare Quality

Oluwaseun Olayiwola

Oluwaseun Olayiwola

Award: $5,000
Major: Dance Studies
Category: Artistic/Creative
Winning project: A Triptych of Choreographic Experiments Understanding and Interrogating Identity

Ashlie Martinez

Ashlie Martinez

Award: $2,500
Major: Computer Science
Category: STEM
Winning project: CrashMonkey: A Framework to Systematically Test File-System Crash Consistency

John Lin

John Lin

Award: $2,500
Major: Biomedical Engineering, pre-med student
Category: STEM
Winning project: Nondestructive tissue analysis for ex vivo and in vivo cancer diagnosis using a handheld mass spectrometry system