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2 Eastern Seniors Win CSCU Henry Barnard Distinguished Awards

Published on April 07, 2020

2 Eastern Seniors Win CSCU Henry Barnard Distinguished Awards

Eastern Connecticut State University students Stefanos Stravoravdis '20 of Colchester and Evelyn Lemus Silva '20 of Burnsville, NC, have been named recipients of the 2020 Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award. The Barnard Award is the premier academic recognition program of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System (CSCU) and is sponsored by the CSCU Foundation. It recognizes 12 outstanding undergraduates each year from Connecticut's four state universities - Central, Eastern, Southern and Western. To be considered for a Barnard Award, a student must have at least a 3.7 GPA and a record of significant community service. Students are nominated by their university and president.

Hartford native Henry Barnard was a principal force in creating the American public school system in the 19th century, serving in the Connecticut General Assembly before becoming superintendent of schools in Connecticut and principal of the New Britain Normal School in 1850. He became the first U.S. commissioner of education in 1867.

Stefanos Stravoravdis
Stefanos Stravoravdis presents his research. 

During his four years at Eastern, Stravoravdis earned a 4.0 GPA, double majoring in biology and mathematics. He is on Eastern's Dean's List; a member of the Honors Program; treasurer of the Biology Club, and also a member of the Mycology Club. He was inducted into the Tri-Beta Honor Society and received the Tri-Beta Honors Award.

Stravoravdis participated in Eastern's Summer Research Institute in network science as well as a summer fellowship at Cornell University. He also collaborated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station on his honors research. This past year, Stravoravdis' research was published in the Journal of Microbiology and in the proceedings of the American Association of Cancer Research Annual Meeting.

Stravoravdis with Mentor
Stravoravdis with his faculty mentor, Biology Professor Jonathan Hulvey.

Stravoravdis has actively participated as a speaker in Eastern's Antibiotic Awareness Week; spoke at the University's Tiny Earth Day Microbiology Mini-Symposium, where he discussed his anti-fungal research with students from Ellis Technical High School; and appeared on "Locally Sourced Science," the Boyce Thompson Community Outreach podcast that engages students interested in the sciences.

"I am grateful to have worked with wonderful mentors, especially my thesis mentor Dr. Hulvey, who have given me so many opportunities to learn, to discover, to achieve, and to talk science from start to finish. I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Dr. Szczys, my first research mentor, who provided me my first real opportunities to participate in scientific research."

Biology Department Chair Elizabeth Cowles and Jonathan Hulvey, assistant professor of biology wrote, "Stefanos is at the top of undergraduates we have worked with and mentored over the past 10 years. He is a consummate student, and during his classroom discussions, he often presents a depth and scope of perspective that is unrivaled by his classmates."

Stravoravdis is applying to doctoral programs in microbiology at several universities: "Microbes are responsible for helping sustain numerous processes vital to life's existence on earth. I can try to broadcast the fascinating and important knowledge that we gain from these diverse creatures, emphasizing the pathogens that encompass a small facet of the microbial world in which we all reside. I will continue this effort with a focus on excellence and compassion for people of the world, so that I can affect positive change at local and global levels."

Evelyn Lemus Silva

Lemus, a biology major, has a 3.88 GPA and is a member of Eastern's first class of Dream.US Opportunity Scholars - undocumented students from other states with DACA status (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) attending Eastern on academic scholarships. A first-generation college student, Lemus has been named to Eastern's Dean's List and received an Academic Achievement Award each semester she has attended the University. She is also a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership and the Tri-Beta Biology honor societies.

In addition to being an Opportunity Scholar, Lemus has been awarded the Cheryl Frye Pioneering Research Award; the Earl Honeycutt Memorial Science Scholarship; the Michael Gable Biology Student Assistantship Award; and scholarships from Windham Region Chamber of Commerce, Mountain Air Pilot's Association and the Yancey County Bus Drivers. She has also received research funding from the national J.C. Hicks Endowed Fund.

This past year, she engaged in internships and cooperative education at the Stanford University School of Medicine; as a HOPE Medical Scholar at Harvard University's Medical School; and participated in Harvard University's Biomedical Science Careers Student Conference. Lemus presented her research on Alzheimer's Disease at Eastern's CREATE Conference and at the NUERON Conference at Quinnipiac University.

At Eastern, Lemus serves as a biology lab technician. She also volunteers at Windham Hospital, where she helps staff at the operating room desk and sterile processing department and helps to translate the needs and concerns of Spanish-speaking patients. She is a member of Eastern's Competition Dance Team and Ski and Board Club and volunteers for Eastern's Center for Community Engagement.

Lemus presenting
Lemus presents her research at Stanford University. 

Kurt Lucin, associate professor of biology, and Biology Department Chair Cowles wrote about Lemus's problem-solving skills and initiative: "We obtained a new piece of equipment last year, which we did not know how to use. Evelyn called the company on her own and worked with them to figure out the necessary parameters for our experiment. She then completed her assignments and analyzed the data. You know you have a special student when they begin to make you unnecessary for the success of their project."

"I came to Eastern as a product of someone's own generosity, which is why I am motivated to continue my academic achievement and also give back," said Lemus. "People believed in me and motivated me. Receiving the Barnard Award means perseverance, growth and gratitude for the countless opportunities and challenges that have culminated into shaping the person I am and will continue to be beyond my time at Eastern.

"As a research physician, I plan to apply my knowledge to prevent and treat diseases and injuries, and I want to be engaged with communities that resemble my own. Just as was given to me, I hope to give to others."

Written by Dwight Bachman