Outstanding Students

    Date Posted: 
    Wednesday, May 11, 2016

    Every spring, the College of Optical Sciences recognizes exemplary students, as nominated by professors and selected by faculty committee. This year, we are happy to recognize Johnathan Cushing, Kaitlyn Williams and Xingzhou Tu as the 2015-2016 Outstanding Students of the Year. All three were publicly recognized and awarded plaques by Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Programs, R. John Koshel, during the OSC Ice Cream Social, which took place on May 4.

    Outstanding Graduate Student

    The Outstanding Graduate Student was awarded to Johnathan Cushing, as nominated by Professor Eric W. Clarkson. Johnathan was also recently highlighted in our Another Wavelength feature. Professor Clarkson says of Johnathan:

    2016 Outstanding Graduate Student - Jonathan CushingJohnathan has shown a determination in his life to this point to exceed expectations. Since college was not an immediate option after high school, he spent six years in the U.S. Navy. During this time he attended the Navy Nuclear Power School, served on a submarine, and obtained an A.S. degree in Applied Nuclear Engineering. He then obtained a B.S. in Physics from San Diego State University and was accepted to the Optical Sciences Ph.D. program here at the University of Arizona. I anticipate that he will continue to succeed in our program and finish the Ph.D. program in a few years.  

    Johnathan has demonstrated leadership and organizational capabilities during his time here. He is the Social Committee chair for the SPIE and OSA student chapters at UA, and therefore is in charge of organizing activities for students and faculty. For example, he recently led a camping trip to Mount Graham where students and faculty got to enjoy the mountain air and tour the Large Binocular Telescope facility. He has also volunteered for work at elementary schools, introducing students to optics and engineering concepts and promoting careers in STEM fields.  

    Outstanding Undergraduate

    The Outstanding Undergraduate goes to senior Kaitlyn Williams, nominated by Professor Michael Nofziger, who says: 

    2016 Oustanding Undergraduate - Kaitlyn WilliamsKaitlyn Williams is one of the most motivated, outgoing, driven, organized, mature and hard-working students that I've had the honor of working with. She is a model for what all of us would like to see—students who take their classroom knowledge of science and engineering, their passion for helping young students get excited about their own futures and their excitement about being a Wildcat, to the world outside of our campus. We are well-known for our world-class research, for our sports and for our many internationally-recognized programs. What people don't often get to see are students like Kaitlyn—students working "behind the scenes" to motivate and excite young, future Wildcats to come study here. Kaitlyn truly has helped strengthen the foundation of what makes our University great! 

    Just recently, Kaitlyn helped me organize and teach a Saturday teacher-training event, where we hosted 10 teachers from four local schools. She taught them how to integrate optics into their curriculum, and how to use the 100 optics kits that we handed out. And, before the spring semester is over, Kaitlyn is also going to teach optics classes at Ironwood Ridge High School as well as at Wilson K-8 Elementary. 

    Outstanding Teaching Assistant

    Xingzhou Tu was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Assistant, nominated by Professor Masud Mansuripur, who says:

    2016 Oustanding Teaching Assistant - Xingzhou TuXingzhou Tu was a truly outstanding TA. He was responsible for grading homework and exams, and holding office hours. A majority of the students told me how good Mr. Tu had been as a TA throughout the semester. I consider Xingzhou Tu one of our best Ph.D. students, and am very impressed both with his academic performance and with his sense of duty and responsibility as a TA. I strongly recommend Xingzhou Tu for the best TA award this year.

    Congratulations to all of you!