The University of Nevada, Reno has named biology student Emily Ann Weissgerber the recipient of the Spring 2016 Herz Gold Medal for having earned the highest grade-point average. The Herz Gold Medal will be presented to Weissgerber for her outstanding scholarship during the University's Friday evening Spring Commencement ceremony, May 13.
Weissgerber knew she wanted to pursue an undergraduate career in science when she spent childhood summers in Cobb, California, hiking and learning about native California wildlife. She loved listening to birds, watching lizards and skinks on the creek banks.
"My time spent around nature left me with a strong desire to understand my surroundings and the mechanisms through which the world functions," Weissgerber said. "My childhood experiences left a unique impression on my goals and desires; I am passionate about following new adventures and sharing my knowledge of the world with others."
After a Nevada Bound tour of the University campus four years ago, Weissgerber fell in love with the science program, enrolled, and has excelled in her biology courses and beyond. She became an academic advisee and discussion group leader, helping develop an online discussion group program.
"I cannot be more proud and excited for Emily," Elena Pravosudova, associate professor and vice chair of the University's biology department, said. "She is, without a doubt, in the top one percent of all the undergraduates I had a pleasure to work with in my two decades in academia. She has been instrumental in development and growth of our Mandatory Discussion Group Program for my introductory cell and molecular biology course and genetics course."
Weissgerber will finish her undergraduate tenure with an honors thesis about mountain chickadees and will be co-author on a biology publication.
"I have worked with Dr. Elena Pravosudova, Dr. Pamela Sandstrom and Dr. Vladimir Pravosudov extensively," Weissgerber said. "I have learned a lot about research and applying classroom concepts to real-world problems. They have all provided me endless opportunities and have been very important parts of my education."
She will continue her education at Pacific University School of Pharmacy in Portland, Oregon exploring a career in health care.
"I know she will be an excellent graduate student and an outstanding pharmacist," Pravosudova said. "She has all the qualities necessary for this very demanding and difficult profession; she is mature, organized and neat. She loves biology and chemistry, so this field is a perfect fit for her."
The Herz Gold Medal is the University's oldest and most prestigious award and was established in 1910 when the University was only 36 years old by brothers Richard and Carl Otto Herz.
Funding for the award is provided by the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation and the Thelma B. and Thomas P. Hart Foundation, a Reno-based charity. The foundations continue to honor the Herz family and this tradition of recognizing excellence.