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Undergraduate Student Awards and Honors

The Newton Underwood Award

Newton Underwood. who taught physics from 1936 until 1950, established this award in 1961 to honor the memory of his father, Judge Emory Marvin Underwood. A graduate in the class of 1900, he received a law degree in 1902 and served on the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust from 1922 until his death in 1960. Newton Underwood sought to recognize the most deserving and promising graduating senior or graduate student majoring in physics.

The faculty have established the following criteria for this award, in order of importance:

  1. graduating senior
  2. GPA in technical courses
  3. Overall GPA
  4. Involvement in research
  5. Department service (officer in SPS, etc.)


2017 Zachary Bednarke
2016 Dylan Oliver Teague and Tennessee Joyce
2015 Elliot Scher and Isabelle Marie Pelaschier
2014 Collin Bruce Erickson, Jyotirmoy Mandal, and Jeffrey Swaney, Jr.
2013  Hunter Ray Burroughs, Blake Dewey, and Megan Twomey
2012  Justin Lee Menestrina and Ben Wyatt
2011  Evan Ronald MacQuarrie, Jonathan Lynn Kohler, and Liwei Jiang
2010  Patrick Michael Diggins and Benjamin B. Fenker
2009  Brittany Ann Rohrman and Julie Elizabeth Managan
2008  Kevin Joseph Emmett, Peter Colin Scully, and Charles Scott Wright
2007  John Michael Jumper
2006  Theodor Dan Brasoveanu, Kevin Mitchell Givens, and David Nicholas Mashburn
2005  Jonathan David Stricker
2004  Mikey Erin Bary and Adam Bryant
2003  Jonathan Newport
2002  Lisa Angelika Whitehead and Jessica Louise Hodges
2001  Damon B. Farmer
2000  Richard W. Helms
1999  Ann Marie Pitruzello and Andrew Wayne Puckett
1998  David Latimer and Michael Dorris
1997  Rebecca Susan Dodder and Mark Sales
1996  Edward Allen Keyes
1995  (none)
1994  Todd Keene Timberlake and William Darian Boggs
1993 (none)
1992  Robert Bryan Atchiso, and Stanley Wayne Brown
1991 Charles Thomas Black
1990 (none)
1989 Gregerory Paul Guyton and Monica Charlotte Hellerquist
1988 (none)
1987 Richard Farley Rees Jr.
1986 Joseph Davy Kirkpatrick and  Daniel Charles Ralph
1985 (none)
1984 Storrs Townsend Hoen
1983 Thomas Randall Harley
1982 Donald Rex Wright
1981 Scott Thomas Milner
1980 Christopher D. Myre
1979 Ray Franklin Cowan
1978 Paul Hermen Eichel
1977 Elton Shouse Smith and Franklin Bradford Meyers
1976 James Fraser Patrick
1975 Richard Irvine Hadden
1974 John Caldwell Englund
1973 Robert Herman Magruder
1972 (none)
1971 Reeves Cecil Westbrook
1970 Dennis Wayne Duke
1969 John Pace VanDevender
1968 David Howard Ward
1967 James E. Hayes
1966 James Virgil Tyler
1965 Charles Richard Chappell
1964 Richard David Taylor III and  Daniel Wilson Weedman
1963 (none)
1962 Theodore William Burkhardt and Jess Brooks Thomas Jr.

The Larry Cathey Award

Endowed in 1974 in memory of Larry Ross Cathey, B.A. 1966, M.A. 1968, Ph.D. University of Santa Cruz 1974. It is awarded to an outstanding undergraduate student who has completed the astronomy minor and or a student who has shown evidence of interest and enthusiasm for astronomy. Traditionally this award has been given to a graduating senior. 

The criteria for this award, as established by the UPC and in order of importance, are:

  1. completion of (or be completing) the Astronomy minor or be a Physics major who will have completed at least three courses in astronomy.  These must be three or four hour courses, and at least one of these must be at the 2000 level.  In exceptional circumstances, a student who does not meet the above two criteria may be considered for the award.  This student must have taken a substantial number of the astronomy course offerings realistically available to him or her, and in any event it must equal or exceed four three-hour courses.  Additionally, the student who receives the award without meeting either of the first two criteria must have shown some evidence of interest and enthusiasm for astronomy above and beyond coursework, sufficient to recommend him or her to the committee for this award.
  2. GPA in physics and astronomy
  3. involvement in research
2017 James Johnson
2016 Jack Lubin
2015 Emily Kate Rolen
2014 (none)
2013  Benjamin Douglas Wibking
2010  Alisha Rose Kundert
2011  Rebecca Rattray
2010  Katherine Elizabeth Robbins
2009  Calen Henderson
2008  Anders Jensen
2007  James Ovelman
2006 Andrew Charles Collazzi
2005 Nahved Imran Mahmud
2004 James Schlaerth
2003 Jonathan David Shaub
2002 Zuzana Melherova
2001 Wendy Renee Williams
2000 Elisabeth B. Ambrose
1999 Wilson Andrew Tillotson
1998 Michael Dorris
1997 Evan J. Gnam
1996 (none)
1995 (none)
1994 Todd Keene Timberlake
1993 Lionel Jacob Crews
1992 Robert Charles Berrington
1991 Elin Donice Hanson
1990 (none)
1989 (none)
1988 Richard Farley Reese Jr.

The Ernest A. Jones Scholarship

The Ernest A. Jones scholarship was established in 1985 by Professor Emeritus Ernest A. Jones, his two sons: Dr. Phillip R. Jones and Dr. Bruce E. Jones, and Mary Slack. Professor Jones taught physics and astronomy  at Vanderbilt from 1951 to 1985. The scholarship aims to increase the number of students majoring in physics and astronomy and to strengthen the programs. It may be awarded to a freshman (f) or sophomore who indicates an interest in majoring in physics or physics/astronomy or to a junior or senior who has declared a major in physics or physics/astronomy. Traditionally this award has been given to a freshman (f) and/or sophomore. 

The criteria for this award, established by the UPC and in order of importance, are:

  1. GPA in technical courses, particularly physics
  2. overall GPA
  3. All students in P121 or P225 will automatically be considered; students in other courses will be considered if nominated by a member of the physics faculty.
  4. The UPC should have reasonable confidence that the recipient intends to major in physics.
  5. Involvement in research.
2017 Yuhan Guo
2016 David Zhang (f)
2015 Joshua H. Palmer and Paul Register
2014 Cameron Thomas Togrye, Bradley Kovanda, and Ziyuan Chen
2013 Elliot Scher, Isabelle Marie Pelaschier, Dylan Oliver Teague (f), and Kirk Huang (f)
2012 Jeffrey Ray Swaney, Jr., and Collin Bruce Erickson
2011  Megan Twomey and Jyotirmoy Mandal
2010  Justin Lee Menestrina and Tyler Whittle
2009  Richard Bisson, Jonathan Lynn Kohler, Evan Ronald MacQuarrie
2008  Andrew Michael Levin (f)
2007 Julie Elizabeth Managan & Calen Henderson
2006 Brittany Ann Rohrman (f)
2005 Daniela Stefan and John Michael Jumper
2004 Parker Grey (f)
2003 Jonathan David Stricker
2002 Mikey Erin Bary and Adam D.Bryant
2001 Kyle Cochran and Jonathan Newport
2000 Daniel Bowles (f)
1999 Matthew Aaron Deeley (f) & Wendy Renee Williams
1998 Elisabeth Ambrose