March Students and Faculty of the Month

March 31, 2022

March Winners

The Honors College is excited to announce March’s Faculty and Students of the Month! We will be recognizing nominated students and faculty members for their dedication to the Spartan community.

In addition, the HC will feature students and faculty embracing our values including inclusion, critical thought, collaboration and integrity.

During the month of March, Natalie Phillips and Katharine Hung were chosen as Faculty of the Month. Nupur Huria, Sarah Judis and Jada Vassar were chosen as Students of the Month.

Natalie Phillips

Dr. Phillips is an Associate Professor in the Department of English. She is a member of the Affiliated Faculty in the Cognitive Science Program. Dr. Phillips is also the Director of the Digital Humanities and Literacy Cognition Lab (DHLC).

The DHLC is devoted to cultivating interdisciplinary projects in literature, cognitive and neurosciences, and the Digital Humanities. Student researchers work on cutting-edge interdisciplinary research projects on novel reading, neuroaesthetics of poetry, medical and public humanities projects, and narrative responses to classical music. The Mellon Grant project is part of DHLC, called “Creativity in the Time of COVID-19: Art as a Tool for Combating Inequity and Injustice.” It explores how everyday people are using creativity to cope with the pandemic.

In addition, two students from the DHLC lab, Tushya Mehta and Grace Bonnema, were selected as the finalists for undergraduate research out of 2500 competitors at the national council of undergraduate research (NCUR).

“Dr. Phillips’ collaborative multidisciplinary approach to scholarship, research, and teaching continues to inspire all her students as well as the researchers that work in her amazing DHLC Lab… She treats us as colleagues in the research field and makes us into confident young researchers who can take up any challenge we come across… Learning from her is the true honors college experience,” said her nominator.

Katharine Hunt

Dr. Hunt is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. She has taught 16 different Chemistry courses at MSU ranging from first-year honors courses to special topics courses for graduate students.

Dr. Hunt's research currently focuses on the probability of transitions between quantum states of molecules, due to applied electromagnetic fields. Her research group is also working on quantum computing. One of Dr. Hunt’s major research contributions has been to prove Richard Feynman’s “conjecture” about the nature of Vander Waals dispersion forces. These are quantum mechanical forces of attraction between all molecules. They are also believed to be responsible for the ability of geckos to walk on ceilings!

In terms of the numbers, Dr. Hunt currently have 93 research publications, with several more in the works. 

She has served for many years on MSU Committees to select students for various national and international fellowships, including the Rhodes, Marshall, Churchill, Gates-Cambridge, and Fulbright awards. 

Her nominator said, “Dr. Kathy Hunt has tirelessly supported and mentored students applying for prestigious awards and is an important advocate for the NIFS Office.”

Dr. Hunt won a 2020-21 Norman L. and Olga K. Fritz Excellence Teaching Award from MSU’s College of Natural Science. And she is a Spartan for life, attending University of Cambridge for her Ph.D. as a Marshall Scholar after her undergraduate years at MSU and in the Honors College.

Nupur Huria

Huria is a first-year student majoring in Human Biology and Psychology with a minor in Bioethics.

She is the lead advocate for MSU’s Mission Menstruation, a non-profit committed to improving access to free emergency period products on university campuses. Huria launched the organization and doubled free product locations. She also worked with the Department of Advertising to dedicate a course on developing advocacy strategies for period equity.

“Nupur is a first-year student with an activist spirit - who actually takes action… I’m nominating her to raise visibility for her outstanding work,” her nominator said.

In addition, Huria is a research assistant in Dr. Klump's lab, part of MSU’s Department of Psychology. There, she investigates genetic, hormonal, and environmental influence on eating disorders in adolescent male twins.

Sarah Judis

Judis is a junior majoring in Chemical Engineering. She is extremely involved in the Spartan community, including being a part of the Club Softball Team and the Society of Women Engineers.

“Sarah worked with GM in summer 2020 to design and manufacture masks that were widely and freely shared with the medical community and in healthcare settings. She returned in Fall 2021 to pursue a research project related to her mask-design and manufacturing work. This work is well-worthy of MSU’s attention,” her nominator said.

Judis’ research that was conducted through an Honors Research Seminar was called “Face Mask Efficiency of Filtering the COVID-19 Virus.” The research results were presented at the 2021 University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum.

This summer, Judis will be interning at Dow in Midland, MI.

Jada Vassar

Vassar is a first-year student majoring in Journalism, with a concentration in Writing, Reporting, and Editing. She also has a minor in Documentary Production.

Currently, Vassar works at The State News as a Copy Editor. There, she has hands-on experience with digital editing in a fast-paced newsroom.

Her nominator said, “This is a freshman who is showing determination throughout their journalism career… she is taking action and making changes to help fulfill the goals she wishes to achieve in the future.”

In addition, through the HC, Vassar is a Professorial Assistant, where she has learned the process of creating a book. In addition, Abner is a student volunteer at the Hamilton Community Health Network in Flint.