facade of rackham graduate school

NERS and Engineering Physics Students Receive Awards from Rackham and College of Engineering

Mackenzie Warwick, Pujan Ajmera, Julian Kinney, and Dion Li were honored for their outstanding achievements and academic excellence.

Four students in the U-M Department of Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences have been honored by the College of Engineering and Rackham Graduate School. Pujan Ajmera, Julian Kinney, and Dion Li have all received College Leaders and Honors Awards. Mackenzie Warwick was given an Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award from Rackham.

Dion Li

Henry Ford II Prize 

$10,000 stipend

This award is presented to an outstanding junior who has demonstrated academic excellence.

“Many thanks to Profs. Y. Y. Lau and Alec Thomas and my undergraduate advisor Michelle Sonderman for their tremendous support and encouragement,” said Dion. 

In addition to the Henry Ford II Prize, Dion Li also won the Best Student Paper Award at the 48th Annual IEEE International Conference on Plasma Science (ICOPS) in 2021. He received a Department of Energy (DOE) SULI internship at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) for the Spring 2022 term, published two additional refereed journal articles (one of which was an Editor’s Pick in the December 2021 Issue of the Physics of Plasmas), and his paper on the Ramo-Shockley Theorem was in the Top 3 on the list of Popular Articles in IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science for October 2021. Dion also won the Best Presentation Award at the 12th Annual Graduate Student Symposium 2021 of the Michigan Institute for Plasma Science and Engineering (MIPSE).

mackenzie warwick portrait

Mackenzie Warwick

Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award 

$1,000 award

The Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Awards recognize the efforts and accomplishments of GSIs who demonstrate extraordinary dedication and excellence as teachers. Faculty members are encouraged to nominate graduate students who display the highest levels of commitment, creativity and skill in the classroom.

“I’m honored to receive this award,” said Mackenzie. “Nuclear education is really important to me and I’m happy that the past two years I’ve spent revamping our senior design course has been recognized. Thank you to all of the faculty and staff who teamed up to nominate me and their continued support as we finish another year!” 

Mackenzie’s most recent accomplishments include finishing up her two INL projects: waste management of fusion reactor materials and irradiation creep experiments. She is hoping to have a successful irradiation in the first week of May and to finish her paper for publication. She is currently preparing to take the senior design students to the ANS Student Conference at UIUC in April. “Teaching senior design has been exceptionally rewarding as I’ve had the privilege to see everyone’s transformation since September,” said Mackenzie. “I’m excited to see everyone’s presentations at the conference!”

Jordan Noey portrait
Jordan Noey

Jordan Noey

Richard and Eleanor Towner Prize for Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors 

$1500 award

This award honors engineering GSIs who have demonstrated innovation and excellence in teaching, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It truly is a great honor to be selected for this award,” said Jordan. “I want to thank my advisor, Professor Kimberlee Kearfott, for encouraging me to apply for the award and being there every step of the way. I also want to thank the students for their eagerness to learn and participate in the labs. It is a joy interacting with and learning from them. I hope to continue improving the course to make it an even greater success for the next students to take it.”

Jordan’s most recent accomplishments include finishing up some of the many research projects he has been working on for the past few years. He hopes to get at least three articles submitted for publication in the following summer. He has also been gathering some environment samples from various locations around Brazil, including Ipuiúna, Espírito Santo do Pinhal, and Ibitiúra de Minas, and is very excited to analyze them.

Pujan Ajmera portrait

Pujan Ajmera

Distinguished Undergraduate Achievement Award (Engineering Physics)

$500 stipend

This award is presented to the outstanding undergraduate in each degree program. Criteria considered by the department awards committee include academic achievement, exemplary character, leadership in class and activities, and potential for success in future endeavors. 

“I’m excited to say that in the past year, I have published two papers and have been accepted into several PhD programs in Chemistry to start in Fall 2022!” said Pujan.

“I want to thank the engineering physics department, as well as my mentors in the biophysics and chemistry departments,” said Pujan, “and I’m excited to say that I will be attending graduate school to pursue a PhD in chemistry! Go Blue!”

portrait of Julian Kinney

Julian Kinney

Distinguished Undergraduate Achievement Award (Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences)

$500 stipend

This award is presented to the outstanding undergraduate in each degree program. Criteria considered by the department awards committee include academic achievement, exemplary character, leadership in class and activities, and potential for success in future endeavors.

“All the professors in this department have made me excited to go to school every day. Special shoutout to Michelle Sonderman,” said Julian. “I came to her over 2 years ago with a hunch I’d like NERS and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

“Perhaps my biggest accomplishment is knowing I’ve reached a place where I can wake up every morning and enjoy my intellectual pursuits,” says Julian. Along with going to school tirelessly for 5 years, Julian has also interned at Los Alamos National Laboratory where he learned valuable skills in science and the art of hiking with only 2 peanut-butter jelly sandwiches. He has also worked under Professor Carolyn Kuranz’s laboratory astrophysics group and been a part of a student-led CubeSat mission (MiTEE) through the Multidisciplinary Design Program (MDP). He wants everyone to know that although he doesn’t write in third person very often, when he does it is always rewarding. Patting oneself on the back is important.

Media Contact

Sara Norman

Marketing & Communications Manager