Schreyer Honors College recognizes six for outstanding achievement and service

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Schreyer Honors College presented awards to faculty, Scholar alumni and one student during its annual ceremony at the Nittany Lion Inn on Oct. 5.

Herman Pontzer and Christa Hasenkopf received the awards for Outstanding Scholar Alumnus and Alumna, respectively, while James Sellers received the Excellence in Teaching Award and Jacqueline O’Connor received the Excellence in Honors Advising Award. Douglas Evans was honored with the Outstanding Scholar Alumni Mentor Award.

Additionally, Scholar Rachel Hooker received the Robert “Bear” Koehler Award for service to the College.

"These Scholar alumni and faculty help our Scholars reach their goals exemplify the mission and vision of the Schreyer Honors College," said Schreyer Honors College Dean Peggy A. Johnson. "It is so inspiring to see how they continue to shape the future and our world."​

Johnson and Scholar Alumni Society Board President Todd Bacastow presented the alumni awards. Pontzer, an associate professor of anthropology at the City University of New York’s Hunter College, earned a bachelor of arts in anthropology from Penn State. He co-founded and co-directs the Hazda fund, which raises awareness and support for the Hazda hunter-gatherer community of Tanzania.

Hasenkopf is the co-founder and CEO of OpenAQ, the first global, open-source platform for real-time air quality data. Its mission is to fight unequal access to clean air through publicly available data. She has received a Fulbright Scholarship to establish an air-monitoring system in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University in the Environmental Science and Policy Program. She graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in astronomy and astrophysics from Penn State.

Johnson and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Keefe Manning presented the teaching and advising awards to Sellers, professor and associate head of undergraduate mathematics at Penn State, and O’Connor, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering at Penn State. The awards were selected based off the nominations of students.

“Dr. Sellers was engaging, a great teacher, and really cared about his students,” wrote a nominator of Sellers, who was recently elected secretary of the Mathematical Association of America. “He took time to answer questions, clearly explain concepts, and explained why the material was important, not just how to do problems.”

“It is clear that her primary concern is the academic development of all the students in her lab, and she goes out of her way to foster that development,” wrote a nominator of O’Connor, who has been an honors adviser for the Schreyer Honors College since 2014 and has chaired the Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Schreyer Honors Advising Committee since 2016.

Evans, who was unable to attend the ceremony, is the president and CEO of Lungpacer Medical Inc., which develops therapeutic solutions to preserve the strength of the diaphragm in patients that require ventilation. He has been involved with the college’s Mentoring with Honors program since 2006.

“I had three job offers, and selecting the best one was very difficult,” wrote a nominator. “Doug made the process significantly easier for me, and made me feel more confident in my eventual choice.”

Hooker is a sophomore in the Smeal College of Business majoring in supply chain and information systems with a minor in digital media trends and analytics. She is also involved with Alpha Kappa Psi, the Public Relations THON Committee, the Springfield THON organization, the Penn State Marketing Association, and the Penn State Filipino Association.

The Schreyer Honors College promotes achieving academic excellence with integrity, building a global perspective, and creating opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. Schreyer Honors Scholars, including Gateway Scholars admitted after their first or second year of enrollment, total more than 2,000 students at University Park and 20 Commonwealth campuses.

Last Updated October 12, 2017