UW News

January 22, 2014

UW names undergraduate medalists for academic performance

News and Information

The University of Washington has named the freshman, sophomore and junior medalists, the most outstanding students in their respective classes, based on academic records for the 2012-13 academic year.

Sophomore Jeffrey Lee of Kent is the freshman medalist, junior Megan Kufeld of Fremont, Calif., is the sophomore medalist and senior Connor Lynch of Wenatchee is the junior medalist, all based on work from the previous year.

Jeffrey Lee

Jeffrey Lee

Lee, who is majoring in neurobiology and philosophy, sees medical school in his future and is specifically interested in learning about the brain to better “appreciate how this measly 3-pound hunk of tissue wedged between our ears has so much capacity for curiosity and innovation.”

Lee graduated from Kentwood High School, where he was valedictorian and 2012 student of the year in science, history and music. He tutors English and chemistry, is an avid photographer and enjoys playing the piano, reading and working out.

He also volunteers at Seattle Children’s hospital, where a favorite part of the experience is hearing how a person’s background influences philosophy and outlook.

“I want to do the same thing with my patients. I simply delight in listening to each individual’s story, learning something new and important in every conversation,” he said.

Megan Kufeld

Megan Kufeld

Kufeld is known to sports fans as the goalkeeper for the UW women’s soccer team and in 2013 was named to the Pac-12 All-Academic First Team and was honorable mention on the All-Pac-12 team. She is a biology major determined to succeed in the classroom as well as on the field.

“I feel I can be an example that it is possible to excel in both academics and athletics. I hope that my example may encourage other athletes to approach their education with the same dedication they put towards their sport,” she said.

Kufeld is a member of the Washington Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the Seattle Sounders Women soccer team and was in the player pool for the U.S. under-23 national team. She plans to continue her soccer career after graduation, perhaps playing professionally in Europe, before pursuing a graduate degree and working in biomedicine.

“It’s very interesting to me how we can discover and understand the molecular and cellular inner workings of the human body, allowing for the production of diagnostics, preventatives and treatments that improve health and well-being,” she said.

Connor Lynch

Connor Lynch

Lynch, majoring in physics and Russian, credits his parents with teaching him the benefits of “studying well and appreciating my learning opportunities.”

He decided to major in physics because it “offers models for phenomena that occur around us daily.” He has done research in the nanoscale optoelectronics laboratory of Xiaodong Xu, an assistant professor of physics.

While in high school, Lynch began learning Russian and enjoyed it so much that he decided to make it a major as well. He has taken a Russian course in Moscow and participates in the UW Russian club.

He was named valedictorian of his graduating class at Wenatchee High School, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Sigma Pi Sigma physics honors society, and earned the Gregory Lynn Andersen Scholarship in physics for 2013. He enjoys spending time with his family, watching movies and skateboarding with his brother.

The medals, to be presented March 6 by UW President Michael K. Young, recognize the students’ talents and thoroughness in their academic work. The awards include $5,000 for future academic expenses.