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Presenting the 2024 Honors Graduate Theses Awards

The Marriott Library celebrates the accomplishments of three graduates from the Honors College: Eliza Diggins, Savannah McDaniel and J. Clista Galecki. These students were chosen for their exceptional senior theses in the fields of physics and astronomy, English and chemistry. They were awarded the prestigious Alison Regan Library Thesis Award, each receiving $1,000 in recognition of their outstanding work. 

Savannah McDaniel

The winner for the Humanities and Create category went to Savannah McDaniel for her thesis, Creature Comforts: Domesticity and Domestication in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (1818) and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) 

Lisa Swanstrom, Savannah’s advisor, wrote, “[I was] delighted to have encountered such a perceptive, curious and thoughtful young scholar…Savannah is the finest undergraduate student I have had the pleasure of knowing in my eight years at the University of Utah…She is a clear and rigorous thinker, a careful and articulate writer and an absolutely gifted reader.” 

Eliza Diggins

The winner in the Science Category went to Eliza Diggins for her thesis, Constraining Modified Gravity Using Galaxy Cluster Dynamics. 

Her advisor, Daniel R. Wik said, “I have known Eliza since the fall semester of 2021, when she took my introductory astronomy course for majors, ASTR 3070. She easily aced the course, [but] even more impressive was her Communicating Science Project…I was amazed to see a professionally produced and narrated video…The level of professionalism, clarity and style exhibited by the demonstrations and explanations in the video were far above any such finished project from the previous time I had taught the course…Simply put, Eliza is the most talented research student, undergraduate or graduate, that I have worked with, by a large margin.” 

J. Clista Galecki

The second winner in the Science Category went to J. Clista Galecki for her thesis, Assessing Plant Adaptability to Wildfire Impact and Drought. 

William R. L. Anderegg, Ph.D., her advisor, explains, “Clista is a stellar candidate for the Marriott Library’s thesis award. To date, she has shown tremendous independence, drive and passion for biology and ecology research…Her honors thesis is absolutely top-notch, and I am exceptionally impressed with her independence, drive, work-ethic and strong background in biology…Put simply, Clista has been incredibly dedicated, focused and intellectually engaged over multiple years in my lab.” 

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