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Firestone Medal & Kennedy Honors Theses Winners from Human Biology

The Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research is awarded University-wide to graduating students for honors projects in engineering and the social, physical and natural sciences.

The David M. Kennedy Prize is awarded to the single best thesis in four academic areas: humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering & applied sciences. Recipients of this award have accomplished exceptionally advanced research in the field and have shown strong potential for publication in peer-reviewed scholarly works. 

All honors theses in Human Biology may be viewed in Building 20 upon request.


  • Leila DeSchepper: "Spatial profiling reveals marked transcriptomic changes and epithelial cell remodeling in pediatric ileal Crohn’s disease." Mentored by Michael R. Howitt
    • Winner of the David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prize in the Natural Sciences
  • Ana Geller: "Evaluating Age-Associated Changes: Unraveling the Role of TET1." Mentored by Nidhi Bhutani
  • Harrison Konsker: "Developing a Novel CRISPR/Cas9-Based Gene Therapy for EGFR-Mutated (Exon 19) Lung Cancer." Mentored by Joseph Shrager
  • Sophia Longo: "Identification of non-coding genetic variants that disrupt genetic regulatory mechanisms of antigen presentation in cancers and autoimmune diseases." Mentored by Paul Khavari


  • Joshua Chan: "Identification of a Novel, Cytotoxic Memory CD4+ T Cell Population and Shared Antigen Specificity Potential in a Subset of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients" Mentored by Mark Davis, Jonathan Pritchard, Calvin Kuo, and Vincent van Unen
  • Jennifer John: "'Who Knows What is the Truth': Exploring Abortion Misinformation Among Young Adults" Mentored by Lee Sanders and Paul Blumenthal
  • Nicholas Rouillard: "Bariatric Surgery Outcomes Among Patients With NAFLD-related Liver Cirrhosis: A Retrospective Cohort of Patients From California's HCAI Database" Mentored by Mindie Nguyen and Julie Parsonnet
  • Lexi Straube: "From Catastrophe to Opportunity: Investigating a Novel Intervention for Post-Traumatic Growth and Resilient Immunity in the COVID-19 Aftermath" Mentored by Alia Crum and Annette Salmeen


  • Carissa Lee: "Multimodal Mapping of Cardiac Cell Types Throughout Mammalian Embryonic Development." Mentored by Sean Wu, Julie Baker, and Francisco Galdos
    • Winner of the David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prize in the Natural Sciences
  • Sofia Schlozman: "Exploring Medical Student Perspectives on Mental Health Self-Disclosure." Mentored by Jennifer Wolf, Lars Osterberg, and Aliya Kassam


  • Julia Rathmann-Bloch, "Human Biology. How The Angular Gyrus Updates and Integrates New Knowledge"; Anthony Wagner, Psychology & David Lyons, Psychology
  • Avi Gurion Kaye: “Investigating the Role of Autophagy in Hepatocyte Turnover”; Roeland Nusse & Abby Sarkar, Developmental Biology


  • Laura Jonsson: “Home Language Environments of Young Children across Households and Socioeconomic Status: Evidence from Rural China”;  Scott Rozelle, SIEPR, & Virginia Marchman, Psychology
  • Cameron Nosrat: “Impact of Recent Climate Extremes on Mosquito-Borne Disease Transmission in Kenya”; Desiree LaBeaud, Pediatrics, Paul Fisher, Pediatrics, & Jonathan Altamirano, Pediatrics
  • Walter Sobba: "ARID1A Loss Leads to Mucinous Differentiation and Therapeutic Opportunities in CRISPR/Cas9-Engineered Human Gastric Cancer Organoids"; Calvin Kuo, Hematology, Paul Fisher, Pediatrics, & Yuan-HungLo, Medicine
    • Winner of the David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prize in the Natural Sciences


  • Joanna Langner: “Treading Water as a Potential Risk Factor for Femoroacetabular Impingement of the Hip”; Garry Gold & Feliks Kogan, School of Medicine
  • Catherine Sanchez: “A Cluttered Past: Exploring the Relationship Between Early Life Stress & Hoarding Disorder”;  Carolyn Rodriguez, Psychiatry & Jennifer Wolf, School of Education


  • Kristin McIntire: “A meta-analysis of survival trends in glioblastoma patients treated with temozolomide/radiation therapy from 2005-2017: evidence for the benefit of additional study agents”; Albert Wong & Paul Fisher, School of Medicine
  • Amy Xu: “The Role of USP16 modulation and Wnt signaling upregulation in the alleviation of motor deficits associated with Down Syndrome”;  Craig Heller, Biology & Dennis Grahn, Biology


  • Melissa Eidman: "Still reservations: examining barriers to health and health seeking behavior on the Yurok reservation"; Donald Barr & Gabriel Garcia, School of Medicine
  • Maria Castro, "Quantitative analysis of white matter tracts in preterm and full term children with differences in fractional anisotropy"; Heidi Feldman, School of Medicine, & Jeffrey Wine, Psychology


  • Emily Taing: “Syp, the Drosophila homolog of mammalian hnRNP Q, functions in the regulation of meiotic progression in male germ cells”; Margaret Fuller, School of Medicine, & Kristy Red-Horse, Biology
  • Jordyn Irwin: “Understanding Emergency Department patient perceptions of the social determinants of health through the Stanford Health Desk”;  Jennifer Newberry & Donald Barr, School of Medicine


  • Charlotte Geaghen-Breiner: “The role of prostaglandin F2alpha biosynthesis in regulating the female reproductive axis”; Russ Fernald & Scott Juntti, Biology
  • Laurie Rumker: “Before and after the flood: stability and resilience of the human gut microbiota”; David Relman, Stanley Falkow, & Les Dethlefsen, School of Medicine
  • Emily Witt: “Vitamin D modulates inflammatory and metabolic gene expression in Multiple Sclerosis"; Lawrence Steinman, Keith Van Haren, & Allan Reiss, School of Medicine


  • Emily Liang: “Association between latent proviral characteristics and Immune activation in antiretroviral-treated HIV type 1-infected adults”; Catherine Blish & David Katzenstein, School of Medicine
  • Louise Lu: “Gut instincts: knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding parasitic intestinal worms in rural China”; Scott Rozelle, FSI-FSE & Julie Parsonnet, School of Medicine
  • McKenzie Wilson: “Geospatial patterns of burn injury in Cape Town: GIS analysis of burn-related ambulance dispatches”; Timothy Stanton, BOSP & Bob Siegel, School of Medicine


  • Michael Diaz: “Analyzing the psychophysiological correlates of posttraumatic growth in metastatic breast cancer patients”; David Spiegel, Firdaus Dhabhar, & Arianna Aldridge-Gerry, Psychiatry
  • Elise Geithner: “Medical Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
in pediatric intensive care patients at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital”; Lisa Medoff, Human Biology & Richard Shaw, Psychiatry
    • Winner of the David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prize in the Social Sciences
  • Stephen Matzat: “Quantitative MR assessment of hip articular cartilage damage in patients with femoroacetabular impingement”; Garry Gold, Radiology & Marc Safran, School of Medicine


  • Vanessa Dang: "Uncovering glutamine metabolism as a part of MYC associated oncogene addiction in renal carcinoma"; Dean Felsher, Paul Fisher, Emelyn Shroff, Stanford School of Medicine
    • Winner of the David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prize in the Natural Sciences
  • Amy Showen: "Exploring South African farmwomen’s healthcare access and utilization experiences to optimize National Health Insurance implementation"; Tim Stanton, BOSP, and Paul Wise, Pediatrics.
  • Jaqueline To: "Kiss2 development in a socially-regulated vertebrate reproductive system"; Russ Fernald and Caroline Hu, Biology.


  • Autumn Albers: "Identifying the barriers to condom use in rural Papua New Guinea"; Cathy Heaney and Jennifer Wolf, Human Biology.
  • Lee Love-Anderegg: "Linking tree ecohydrology, drought seasonality, and forest mortality"; Joe Berry, Carol Boggs, and Rodolfo Dirzo, Biology
    • Winner of the David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prize in the Natural Sciences
  • Elisa Zhang: "Faster-ageing strain of Nothobranchius furzeri fish regenerates a greater length of tail tissue upon partial injury than slower-ageing strains do"; Anne Brunet, Genetics and Russ Fernald, Biology.


  • Evan Chen: "Investigating the mechanism of differentiation in hepatocellular carcinoma upon MYC inactivation"; Dean Felsher, and Paul Fisher, Medicine.
  • Allison Rhines: "Social network effects in cultural evolution among rural-urban migrants in China"; Marcus Feldman, Biology and Melissa Brown, Anthropology.
  • Lauren Shapiro: "Isotropic MRI of the healthy shoulder with 3D-FSE-Cube"; Garry Gold, Radiology and Gordon Matheson, Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine.
  • Lauren Wood: "Learning in fish: Why such different outcomes?"; Russ Fernald and Julie DesJardins, Biology.


  • Bria Long: "Memory and descriptions for causal events in Japanese speakers"; Lera Boroditsky, and Herb Clark, Psychology.
  • Lauren Smith: "Interferon treatment of Ebola hemorrhagic fever"; Kate Rubins, Whitehead Institute, and Robert Siegel, Microbiology and Immunology.
  • Cheuk Tam: "Dissecting the cellular timer: a screen for genes involved in D. melanogaster TA cell counting"; Margaret Fuller and Roeland Nusse, Developmental Biology.


  • Rebecca Grossman-Kahn: "Integral and Invisible: The Role and Role Perceptions of Community Health Workers in Northeast Brazil"; Donald Barr, Sociology, and Catherine Heaney, Psychology and Stanford Prevention Research Center.
  • William Love Anderegg: "The Butterfly Effect: The Response of Riparian Bird Diversity to Climate Change and Human Development"; Terry Root, Woods Institute for the Environment, and Carol Boggs, Human Biology.


  • Amelia Hausauer: "Declines in Breast Cancer Incidence in the United States by Age, Race/Ethnicity and Tumor Subtype, 1992-2004"; Christina Clarke Dur and Paul Fisher, School of Medicine.
  • Michael Susman: "The Role of Glia-Related Synaptic Proteins in Experience-Dependent Cortical Plasticity"; Ben Barres and Jeffrey Wine, Psychology.


  • Stephanie Mika: "Seeking a Referent or Fleeing a Mismatch: How Should We Interpret Children's Eye Movements in a Preferential Looking Procedure?"; Anne Fernald and Virginia Marchman,Psychology
  • Felipe Perez: "Rhythmic Regulation of Retina Progenitor Cell Production by Clock Gene Through Proliferation of Cellular Nuclear Antigen"; Russell Fernald and Sheng Zhao, Biological Sciences
  • Krista Rappahahn: "Identification of Novel and Recurrent Exonic Deletions in the CFTR Gene of Hispanic Cystic Fibrosis Patients"; Iris Schrijver, Pathology, and Paul Fisher, Neurology and Neurological Sciences, and Pediatrics