Outstanding Students Reflect College's Best Facets

    Date Posted: 
    Wednesday, April 30, 2014

    During last week's scholarship and awards ceremony, the College of Optical Sciences named Johnathan Davis its Outstanding Senior and Byron Cocilovo both its Outstanding Graduate Student and its Outstanding Teaching Assistant.

    This week, the UA College of Engineering also recognized Johnathan as outstanding senior and Byron as outstanding TA, announcing them as the top performers not only in their fields but throughout the engineering disciplines.

    Outstanding Undergraduate Student Johnathan Davis; photo credit Chris Summitt

    According to professor Michael Nofziger's nomination letter, not only is Johnathan Davis' academic performance incredible, but so is the path that led him to UA and the College of Optical Sciences. A native of the Rochester, N.Y., area, Johnathan founded optics company Gemini Instruments before leaving high school. In 2004, he won the National Young Astronomer Award. By 2005, he was working for UA's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab on some of the world's largest telescopes, including the Giant Magellan Telescope and the Large Binocular Telescope. His capstone team project was awarded the Best Overall Design second prize at last year's Engineering Design Day.

    Johnathan has applied to OSC's M.S. in Optical Sciences program.

    Outstanding Graduate Student and Teaching Assistant Byron Cocilovo

    Byron Cocilovo won both OSC's Outstanding Graduate Student Award and its coveted Outstanding Teaching Assistant recognition. Adviser Robert A. Norwood, who nominated Byron for both awards, called out Byron's exceptional grades and work ethic, as well as his willingness to go beyond the call of duty to enrich the experiences of his students, colleagues and community. 

    As for Byron's performance in the classroom, co-nominator Trin Riojas, coordinator at the NSF Engineering Research Center for Integrated Access Networks, said, "Byron is one of our best! ... You couldn’t have a better role model." In her nominating letter, CIAN's education and outreach director Allison Huff wrote about his impact on CIAN's summer 2013 Research Experiences for Undergraduates student. "Byron confidently took the student under his wing and mentored him in a way one would expect from a friend, or a big brother. ... Even though Byron was busy with his own research, and busy teaching other participants, he calmly and patiently taught the REU student what was needed to succeed beyond the program."

    Byron's research focuses on designing, fabricating and characterizing light-harvesting grating structures for photovoltaics and plasmonics. His work has appeared in Applied Optics and Optics Letters.


    Photo of Johnathan Davis by Chris Summitt