Undergraduate prizes awarded to seven students for academic achievement

Princeton University celebrated the academic accomplishments of its students with the awarding of four undergraduate prizes to seven students at Opening Exercises on Sunday, Sept. 3.

“We’re very pleased to honor this year’s prize winners,” Dean of the College Jill Dolan said. “Many Princeton students boast exceptional records of accomplishment. These students have achieved quite a lot academically and also contributed by their example to what it means to take full advantage of a Princeton undergraduate education. Their programs of study illustrate their exemplary dedication to our liberal arts mission. My colleagues and I wish them warm congratulations and look forward to their continued success.”

Freshman First Honor Prize

This year’s Freshman First Honor Prize is shared by Jenny Li and Daniel Yu. The prize is awarded to members of the sophomore class in recognition of exceptional achievement during their first year.

Li is from Vancouver, British Columbia, where she attended Eric Hamber Secondary School. A member of Forbes College, she is a computer science major who intends to pursue a minor in statistics and machine learning.

This summer, she interned as a developer for Chessle — a guessing game like Wordle for chess aficionados. 

Yu is from New York City, where he attended The Dalton School. A member of Forbes College, he is considering majoring in English or African American studies and pursuing minors in gender and sexuality studies, and creative writing.

This summer, Yu participated in the PIIRS Global Seminar “Vienna: Culture and Politics” and worked as a research assistant for Catherine Clune-Taylor, assistant professor of gender and sexuality studies.

The George B. Wood Legacy Sophomore Prize

This year’s George B. Wood Legacy Sophomore Prize is shared by Dylan Epstein-Gross and Ella Harris. The prize is awarded each year to members of the junior class in recognition of exceptional academic achievement during their sophomore year.

Epstein-Gross is from Tallahassee, Florida, where he attended James S. Rickards High School. A member of Butler College, he is a computer science major who is also pursuing a certificate in robotics and intelligent systems, and a minor in statistics and machine learning. He serves as an undergraduate course assistant in the computer science department and is a math tutor with the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning.

Outside the classroom, he is a member of the USG Data Analytics Committee, Data Science Club, Hack4Impact Club, Quiz Bowl team, Princeton’s climbing team and the Lobster Club Improv Comedy troupe. He writes crossword puzzles for The Daily Princetonian and serves on its tech team. He was previously an events coordinator with E-Club’s IgniteSTEM and executive board member for last year’s Princeton Science Olympiad Invitational.

This summer, through High Meadows Environmental Institute, Epstein-Gross interned with the University of Washington’s Ocean Dynamics Group in Seattle and worked remotely as a machine learning engineer intern with Ticket Wallet, a startup founded by Princeton alumni Ryan Clare ’23 and Truman Gelnovatch ’22.

Harris is from Columbia, Maryland, where she attended Oakland Mills High School. A member of Whitman College, she is an African American studies major and is also pursuing a minor in gender and sexuality studies.

She is a member of the Undergraduate Board of Advisers for the Department of African American Studies, a group leader for Community Action, a mentor for the Princeton University Mentoring Program (PUMP) and a former research assistant with the Princeton Baby Lab.

This summer, she was a research assistant for Art Hx, a digital platform directed by Anna Kesson, associate professor of art and archaeology and African American studies, which uses artwork and archival material to explore the connections between race, medicine and colonialism. Harris’ research focused on the history of Black motherhood in the U.S.

The George B. Wood Legacy Junior Prize

This year’s George B. Wood Legacy Junior Prize is shared by Victoria Graf and Anurag Pratap. The prize is awarded to members of the senior class in recognition of exceptional academic achievement during their junior year.

Graf is from Arlington, Virginia, where she attended Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. A member of Whitman College, she is a computer science major who is pursuing a certificate in applied and computational mathematics, and a minor in neuroscience.

Her senior thesis will focus on the alignment and interpretability of large language models. Her advisers are Danqi Chen and Karthik Narasimhan, both assistant professors of computer science.

Graf is president of the student-led Princeton Data Science, a club for students interested in using data to understand the world, and former president of the student-led Princeton Neurocience Network. She is a 2023 recipient of a Goldwater Scholarship, an annual award for outstanding undergraduates interested in careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. She has served as an undergraduate course assistant for several computer science, chemistry and math courses. Outside of the classroom, she has served as vice president and social chair of the student-led Princeton Pianists Ensemble.

This summer, Graf conducted research at the University of Southern California on defending language models from backdoor attacks, participating as a USC-Amazon SURE Fellow in the USC Viterbi Summer Undergraduate Research Experience Program.

Pratap is from Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, where he attended Hasbrouck Heights High School. A member of Mathey College, he is a neuroscience major who is also pursuing minors in creative writing, and gender and sexuality studies.

His senior thesis in neuroscience investigates the role of the cerebellum in influencing plasticity in the neocortex. His adviser is Sam Wang, professor of neuroscience, and he is being mentored by Esra Sefik, associate research scholar in neuroscience. Pratap’s creative writing thesis, advised by Kathleen Ossip, lecturer in creative writing, is a collection of poems that meditate on the relationship between “unalive” and silent materials (cotton, silk, indigo dye, perfume, plastic, etc.) and the assumptions of personhood, race and gender.

He is an undergraduate course assistant for organic chemistry and an image cataloguer for Art Hx. He is also involved with the Climate & Inclusion Committee of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and serves as a peer mentor for incoming Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) scholars on campus.

This summer, through Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS), Pratap interned at Yale University School of Medicine with Dr. Ira Leeds, a 2006 Princeton graduate.

Class of 1939 Scholar Prize

Brian Li received the Class of 1939 Princeton Scholar Award, which is awarded each year to the undergraduate who, at the end of junior year, has achieved the highest academic standing for all preceding college work at the University.

Li is from Basking Ridge, New Jersey, where he attended The Pingry School. A member of Mathey College, he is a comparative literature major who is also pursuing a minor in global health and health policy.

His senior thesis focuses on the history of medicine during the early modern period (1500-1750) in western Europe and China, and how the debates among medical traditions of this era have shaped 21st-century medicine. His adviser is Marina Brownlee, the Robert Schirmer Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and Comparative Literature.

He is an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Mohammad Seyedsayamdost, professor of chemistry.

Outside the classroom, Li is a head advising fellow with Matriculate, which works with high-achieving low-income high school students, providing them with insights and encouragement to help them enter colleges that fit their talents and where they will thrive. He is also a peer representative, a member of the Princeton curling team and a residential college adviser at Mathey College.

This summer, he was a fellow with the Stanford Chariot Program, under Stanford’s pediatric anesthesiology division, working with a team of physicians and clinical researchers in researching the applications of immersive technology such as augmented and virtual reality on pediatric pain, anxiety and rehabilitation.

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