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2008-2009 Presidential and Boeing Scholars

Presidential Scholars


Kenza Arraki

Research Faculty Mentor: Professor Scott Anderson


Kenza is currently a third year student with senior standing majoring in Astronomy, Physics, and minoring in Mathematics. From her first day at the UW she has been involved in research in the Astronomy department and is currently participating in research on asteroids as well as quasars. Her main research project under Dr. Scott Anderson hopes to verify the timescale of variability of broad absorption line quasars as well as to determine the sensitivity of the instruments to their variation. In order to accomplish this, she will be writing code in IDL that will create synthetic spectra of quasars similar to the real data.  It was always clear to her that she wanted to be an astrophysicist and she wants to spread her enthusiasm about the subject to future
generations of scientists. She loves traveling and photography. Her plans are to continue her studies of astrophysics in graduate school.









Yordanos Fesehaye

Research Faculty Mentor: Professor Rachel Chapman

Yordanos is an Eritrean-American, born in the Horn of Africa, who was forced to flee her homeland at the age of three because of a brutal thirty-year war. Living in the US, she has grown up in a unique hybrid of cultures, languages and traditions. Yordanos is the first in her family to attend either high school or college and therefore grasps every educational opportunity that crosses her path. Recently, Yordanos constructed a yearlong independent study from Cairo to Cape Town to assess the effectiveness of United States humanitarian intervention in terms of eliminating health and educational disparities among street children. Along with three other undergraduate students she encompassed a 7,000-mile overland trek through Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa.

Her passion lies within the international community particularly with the African Diaspora. Yordanos' background as a young Eritrean leader who speaks both the Tigrinya and English language fluently and posses the eagerness for retaining her cultural background puts her in a unique position to navigate two worlds. For her Honors Anthropology Thesis, Yordanos intends to research the acculturation and adaptation patterns of Eritreans' in Seattle across three generations, as it relates to identity formation and intergenerational transformation of cultural values, gender roles, and notions of honor. As a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship she will conduct in-depth research under the mentorship of Dr. Rachel Chapman. This spring Yordanos will present her completed research project at the University of Washington Research Symposium.

Yordanos believes her parents' difficult journey to the United States taught her the value of hard work and perseverance. She is double majoring in Public Health and Anthropology with a minor in African Studies. Yordanos continues to excel academically and has made the Dean's List four consecutive quarters. In addition to achieving academic excellence, Yordanos serve as a positive role model in her community. This has led her to become active in African Student Association (UW), Upward Bound, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. Zeta Phi Beta is a historically black Sorority that is a community conscience, action oriented organization. Yordanos fully exemplifies the four principle of the organization as her involvement in Zeta reaffirms her dedication to Finer Womanhood, Scholarship, Service and Sisterly Love. Her passion to learn and to serve will lead her to earning her PhD in Anthropology or Public Health to become a university professor and a lifelong researcher.


Jessica Guidry

Research Faculty Mentor: Professor Angela Ginorio


Jessica is a 32 year old senior at the University of Washington. She is a dual degree (Painting/Drawing and Comparative History of Ideas) transfer student from Olympic Community College.  Her recent academic achievements have included: making the wait list of the Yale Norfolk Art Program, recruitment by MIT and is a recipient of the 2008-9Presidential Scholarship, and maintains a 3.76 GPA.


While reading dense theoretical texts, from Foucault to Haraway Jessica began to problematize the application of such privileged information; privileged because they were incomprehensible to most of her friends and family. She wanted to use visual art to liberate and free the knowledge nested within the shells of these dense texts.  Also she sought to present and juxtapose this theoretical information along side pragmatic history, especially the history of oppressed people in the US.  From this type of investigation and thinking Jessica  has created the beginning of a methodology of communication, appropriation, and production of knowledge.  She use history, social science, and history to create visual form, and I use artistic discourse and problem solving while researching and writing “academically”.  For example art practicum methods are used to draw abstract relationships between information sources and create hypotheses. 


The project she has proposed to consummate my Presidential Scholarship is an interactive visual art piece.  This piece will be used as a means of communicating racial disparities in the UW community.  This project will also serve as a critique of colorblind attitudes to “Diversity”.   Jessica will be using the game of BINGO to collect mark and information, the criteria for marking a space within the bingo card grid is dependant upon the participants personal positionality. The methodologies she will use to execute this project will be recorded, scrutinized and implemented into a pedagogical design, for an art-centered education, that can be successful especially in disadvantaged communities.  Simply this project is a design, within a design.


Joel Leigh

Research Faculty Mentor: Professor Thomas Quinn


Joel is a Junior studying Physics, Astronomy and Applied Mathematics at the University of Washington.  After spending three years as a firefighter in the Lummi Nation Joel has returned to school to pursue his interest in astrophyical research.  As the first person in his immediate family who will complete a degree Joel strives to take advantage of every academic opportunity.  He has received several merit-based awards for academic achievement including, most recently, the John Baer Prize.  Last Summer Joel was able to participate in the NASA Summer Undergraduate Research Program using Hubble Space Telescope data to create preview images of planetary nebulae used for morphological classification.  His current research project with advisor Thomas Quinn focuses on the merger of spiral galaxies containing supermassive black holes.  Using simulated telescopic observations of smoothed particle hydrodynamic computer models allows the analysis and classification of the galxies during the merger and their respective comparison to observed characteristics.  The project relates specifically to integration of the spectral energy distribution of the active galactic nucleus within the center of the galxies, and its contribution to galaxy morphology and evolution through time.  Outside of school Joel enjoys snowboarding and photography, as well as the local Seattle music scene.   


Vanessa Montoya

Research Faculty Mentor: Professor Stacy K. Betz


Vanessa is a senior with dual majors in French and Speech and Hearing Science (SPHSC). She originally transfered from Wenatchee Valley College (WVC), in her home town. Travel, cultural and linguistic exploration have long been her passion. During the summer of her junior year of High School Vanessa was a People to People student ambassador to Australia where she learned about cultural, historic and ecological issues prevalent in the country. After High School Vanessa was awarded a Rotary Youth Exchange Scholarship from the 5060 district chapter to study in France. Ultimately she lived in France for two years cultivating and polishing her love for the french language. While in France Vanessa visited Germany, Tunisia, Italy, England, Sweden, Greece, Belgium, Switzerland and Morocco. Upon returning home she studied at WVC and transfered to UW. Vanessa worked tutoring grade school children at John Stanford International School (JSIS). There she helped in the mainstream, spanish, and the BOC classrooms (for children newly immersed in the american school system and culture) by assisting in the classrooms and presenting material for study to the class. She also had the pleasure of coordinating the After School Program for JSIS which works on enriching and further developing english and spanish language skills.

This year Vanessa is excited about conducting research for the McNair, EIP Presidential and the SPHSC Honors program! She has long studied language through the guise of literature but now she gets to study interesting scientific aspects of language processing. Vanessa would like to thank her family and her beautiful daughter Sophia who have given her the support and strength to better herself through education.

Kelvin Wong

Research Faculty Mentor: Professor Robert Halvorsen


Kelvin is currently a senior majoring in Economics and Mathematics and minoring in Environmental Science and Resource Management. His research interests include international, environmental, and financial economics and looking for relationships between God and Economics. He believes that Jesus can be glorified through research in any academic fields (especially Economics) and finding out how to do so will be a life-long learning process for him. Ideally, he wants to integrate all his interests and fields of study into his research. Kelvin hopes to become a professor in Economics teaching introductory Economics so that he can inspire students as his first Economics teacher in high school inspired him. His current research involves analyzing the “green” movement (specifically in hybrid cars) and its economic efficiencies by trying to break down the premium paid for a “green” product. Aside from academics, Kelvin is a leader of Campus Crusade for Christ and attends Mars Hill Church. He also currently works for the Economics Department as a student help. 



Boeing Scholars


Luis Acevedo

Research Faculty Mentor: Professor Tuofu Zhu


Luis is a senior majoring in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Spanish minor. Born in Mexico, Luis and his family now reside in Snohomish County in Washington State. A national United Health and PacifiCare Foundation Latino Health Scholar and UW OMA Diversity Scholar, Luis has participated in the Stipends for Training Aspiring Researchers (S.T.A.R), Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (I.M.S.D), UDOC and Summer Medical and Dental Educational Program (S.M.D.E.P) programs at the University of Washington. Bringing together his personal interests in the study of infectious diseases in rural communities with biomedical research, Luis currently works with Dr. Tuofu Zhu’s research team in the department of Laboratory Medicine, Division of Virology. His research interests lie in understanding the pathogenesis of HIV-1 infection, with particular emphasis on the mechanisms of HIV-1 persistence at extraordinarily low levels in vivo and the development of sensitive assays to detect the persistence of Merck Adenovirus 5 in vaccinated individuals. Thankful to his family and friends for their continued support, Luis hopes to someday help improve the healthcare and quality of life in rural communities.






Paul Lu

Research Faculty Mentor: Professor Geoffrey S. Gottlieb


Paul is a senior majoring in Neurobiology. He is interested in the HIV/AIDS epidemic and neurodegenerative diseases. Last year he participated in an internship through the UW Honors program in collaboration with the Seattle Battelle Research Center, to travel to Zimbabwe and assist with behavioral/preventative HIV research. He is currently working with Dr. Geoffrey Gottlieb and Dr. James Mullins on a project involving a cohort of HIV-2-infected Senegalese individuals. He processes subject blood samples to extract for DNA sequences, and determines common resistance patterns and resistance mutation pathways. Limited data to date in this cohort suggest a high degree of ARV resistance, and therefore illustrates a need for further genotypic analysis. He hopes to continue his research on HIV dynamics through the MD/PhD program.







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