Undergraduate Academic Affairs

January 30, 2020

2018–19 President’s Medalists announced

Undergraduate Academic Affairs

The President’s Medalist Award celebrates the top student in each undergraduate class. Selected by a committee for their high GPA, rigor of their classes and number of Honors courses, the recipients for the 2018–19 academic year come from a broad range of disciplines.

Junior medalist Renee Zhang is preparing for a career in medicine with dual degrees in biology and violin performance, while also serving as concertmaster for the UW Symphony. Sophomore medalist Louis Patsawee Maliyam puts his problem-solving skills to work as a computer science major and celebrates his love for dance, which is his minor. Freshman medalist Piper Coyner is studying Persian and Near Eastern studies and actively exploring other interests, including cinema studies.

These exceptional students will be recognized at a reception with University President Ana Mari Cauce, and this award will be added to the students’ permanent academic record.

Meet this year’s medalists:

Renee Zhang, junior medalist

Majors: Biology and Violin Performance
Expected graduation: 2021
Hometown: Portland, OR

Renee Zhang playing violin

Music and medicine have always been Renee Zhang’s twin passions.

At the UW, she’s exploring the ways these subjects complement one another by pursuing dual degrees in biology and violin performance. Zhang is getting hands-on research experience under Olivia Bermingham-McDonogh, a professor in the department of biological structure.

Outside of her academic pursuits, Zhang serves as the concertmaster of the UW Symphony Orchestra and president of the Chamber Music Club. One of her goals is to make music more accessible to students on campus by expanding performance opportunities for both music and non-music majors. She also plays the violin for residents at local assisted-living and memory-care facilities.

After graduating, Zhang hopes to embark on a career in medicine. She believes that having a creative outlet is instrumental to her well-being, and she will continue to share her love of music with those around her.


Louis Patsawee Maliyam, sophomore medalist

Major: Computer Science
Minor: Dance
Expected graduation: 2020
Hometown: Samutprakarn, Thailand


Louis Maliyam holds a laptop.


Louis Patsawee Maliyam’s interest in technology began when he helped his family run an internet café in Thailand.

A Royal Thai Scholarship recipient, he arrived at the UW excited to challenge his problem-solving skills as a computer science major. Maliyam is a teaching assistant at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, because he wants to help people realize their dreams through education. He also recently interned as a software developer at Indeed.com.

Maliyam balances his love of computer science with his passion for dance, which is his minor. He sees dance as a tool for self-exploration and better understanding the world. He believes his well-rounded education in the arts and sciences has widened his world and prepared him for the future.

The support from people in his life has helped Maliyam thrive, and he hopes to bring that culture of caring to the tech industry, where he plans to work.

Piper Coyner, freshman medalist

Major: Near Eastern Studies
Intended major: Cinema and Media Studies
Expected graduation: 2022
Hometown: Olalla, WA


Piper Coyner holds videos.


Piper Coyner is an avid reader whose lifelong fascination with other cultures and foreign languages has shaped her path at the UW.

Coyner is majoring in Near Eastern studies and studying Persian. She’s particularly interested in literature, which she sees as a gateway to understanding the essence of a culture.

Inspired by her love of books and movies, Coyner is also exploring other majors, including cinema and media studies. When she’s not in class, you can find Coyner at a film screening or classical music concert. She also writes reviews for the UW Film Club.

Coyner plans to continue exploring her intellectual interests by taking a variety of classes and studying abroad. She hopes to combine her many passions into a career — whether in law, film production or literature.