$500 award each to Noah Gardner and Manraj Sekhon
Manraj Sekhon, a microbial biology undergraduate student, enjoys working in a research lab because it enables him to explore science in a way that "reinforces and enriches the concepts learned in the classroom."
Along with Noah Gardner, Sekhon was awarded the Plant & Microbial Biology Citation in recognition of their outstanding academic work at UC Berkeley. Both students will receive $500 each.
Every year, PMB awards the major citation to the top graduating undergraduate student in Genetics and Plant Biology major and the top student in the Microbial Biology major. The recipients are selected by the faculty for their academic excellence and contributions to UC Berkeley and the community.
The winners were chosen based on their academic achievements. Both will be graduating in May 2016, according to Jennifer Halpert, an undergraduate academic advisor for the Office of Student Affairs in the College of Natural Resources. The citations were presented just prior to the last seminar of the PMB Seminar Series for Spring 2016.
Shibo Zhang Award
PMB recognizes each Major Citation recipient with a Shibo Zhang Award. This award is a $500 award made in honor of Shibo Zhang, a former postdoctoral fellow in PMB. Zhang was lost to the plant community in a tragic accident in December, 2007 and an endowment in his honor was created to recognize excellence in undergraduate education.
Noah has received Dean's Honors for four semesters and will graduate with the Highest Honors Distinction and Honors in the GPB major. He also was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at the end of his Junior year. In addition to his coursework, Noah has been involved research with faculty in the PMB Department since January 2014. He has worked with Markus Pauly, Tom Bruns, and Barbara Baker and is currently completing his honors thesis at the Plant Gene Expression Center.
Noah has also been in many campus programs during his time at Cal. Noah was the first Cal undergraduate invited to be a mentor for the "Be A Scientist" program, where he helps middle school students learn to design and execute their own research projects. He has also served as a Cal Student Orientation Leader, a member of the Senior Gift Committee, and as Vice-Chair of Membership for the UC Rally Committee.
Noah will be attending UC Davis next year, entering their Ph.D. program in Plant Pathology.
Manraj has been on the Dean's Honor List every semester beginning in Spring 2013. His GPA is in the top 2% of his class, and he has had straight As for several semesters back-to-back. In fall 2015 he took eight courses (25 letter-graded units) and got straight As.
In addition to his academic excellence, Manraj has channeled his passion for science into his volunteer work and being an advocate for social change. He has contributed much to UC Berkeley and the local and global community. He has volunteered with the Suitcase Clinic, a humanitarian student organization, and for Universities Allied for Essential Medicine, a global organization of university students. He also created a DeCal course where he teaches and encourages his fellow students to be advocates and address the healthcare disparities in slums and under-resourced neighborhoods around the world.