Five physics students awarded the YSEA’s Seniors of Distinction Award for 2023-2024

May 16, 2024

The Yale Science and Engineering Association announced its Seniors of Distinction awards at their annual dinner in April. The award recognizes Yale College seniors who demonstrate excellence in academics, service, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities in Science, Applied Science, and Engineering majors. This year we had five physics majors who received the honor: Barkotel Zemenu, Rose Powers, Rachel Merrill, Finn Gibson, and Pranav Parakh, see brief biographies below.

Smiling person.Barkotel Zemenu, Physics (Int.) major.

Barkotel Zemenu, Physics (Int.), is a senior undergraduate researcher in Wright Lab’s Moore group working in the field of nuclear and particle physics. He served as the co-president and outreach co-chair of Yale Society of Physics Students (SPS), peer tutored all four introductory physics sequences (from PHYS 171 to PHYS 261) and represented the Yale physics community as a three-year member of the Physics Undergraduate Student Advisory Committee. After graduating, he will be pursuing a PhD in physics at Stanford University as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar.

Zemenu states, “I am very grateful for the incredible support system I’ve had during my four years at Yale. My advisor, David Moore, could not have been any more supportive, and as a history-turned-physics major, I can’t stress enough how much I owe to his insights, patience and availability.”

Smiling person.Rose Powers, Physics (Int.) major.

Rose Powers (YC24) is a Physics-Intensive major working with Sarah Demers, and a member of Yale’s Wright Lab. Rose’s area of focus is high-energy particle experiment, and she is currently doing research and development for a future Muon Collider. In the past, Rose has also worked with YUAA on the CubeSat project. Rose is involved with the Yale STEM community as a part of Yale’s SPS branch, where she served as Outreach Co-Chair during the 2022/2023 academic year. She is passionate about science education, whether through outreach or the peer tutor program at Yale. Rose is deeply honored to be awarded the YSEA Senior of Distinction Award, and she is grateful for the STEM community at Yale, without which her fulfilling undergraduate experience would not be possible. She also wishes to congratulate this year’s other awardees.

Smiling person.Rachel Merrill, Physics major.

Rachel is an Eli Whitney Student from Kansas City, MO. She majored in Physics but also completed an Advanced Language Certificate in Modern Hebrew. At Yale she has served on the boards of the Eli Whitney Student Society and Women and Gender Minorities in Physics (WiP+), while also working as a ULA for introductory physics and a peer mentor in the Office of Educational Opportunity. This Fall she will be attending Cornell University to begin a PhD program in Physics.

Merrill stated, “Winning this award was extremely meaningful to me because I was nominated by my DUS, Professor Sarah Demers. Her encouragement has meant a great deal to me during my time in the Physics department, particularly during my senior research project. I wanted to explore an area of physics research (Physics Education Research) outside of the research areas covered in the department, and Professor Demers was extremely supportive of my designing my own project, and helped me find an advising team to work with to turn my dream project into a reality. I appreciate her, and Yale’s Physics Department, so much!”

Pranav Parakh, Mathematics & Physics major.

Pranav Parakh hails from Niagara Falls, Canada, and is a Mathematics and Physics major. He has been a researcher at the Quantronics Lab (QuLab) since 2021 under the direction of Prof. Michel Devoret and is currently working on simulating the behaviour of superconducting circuits. Outside of quantum, Pranav is game for nearly any sport (he plays as many intramural as possible!), is a member of the Yale Club Squash Team, and enjoys playing guitar and piano. Pranav will be starting a PhD in Applied Physics at Stanford in September.

Parakh states, “It is an honour to be recognized by YSEA as a Yale College “Senior of Distinction”. It has been an intense, challenging and oh-so-rewarding four years with the support of professors, TAs, classmates, and the Physics department.”

Finn Gibson, Mathematics & Physics major.

External link: