Penn Announces Eight 2018 Thouron Award Winners

Six University of Pennsylvania seniors and two alumni have received 2018 Thouron Awards to pursue graduate studies in the United Kingdom. Each scholarship winner receives tuition and stipends for as long as two years to earn a graduate degree.

The recipients:

Alexis Montouris Ciambotti from Warren, N.J., is majoring in political science and classical studies with a concentration in international relations in the School of Arts and Sciences. A 2018 Dean’s Scholar, she is a former Perry World House Student Fellow and a former Fellow of the Penn Program on Democracy, Citizenship and Constitutionalism, now the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy. She previously served as a John Thouron Summer Scholar at the University of Cambridge.

Isabella Cuan from Sparta, N.J., is majoring in the biological basis of behavior and minoring in the history of art in the School of Arts and Sciences. A 2016 Thouron Summer Prize recipient, she has conducted research in cognitive decision-making, health services, digital photography and narrative medicine. She volunteers at the United Community Clinic in Philadelphia, and as a writing tutor at the Marks Family Writing Center at Penn. She also contributes to the Perelman School of Medicine-based platform Doctors Who Create.

Gina Liu from Charleston, Ill., is in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management, studying biology and business with concentrations in computational biology and statistics. A research assistant in Penn’s Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics, her interests lie in injury and violence prevention. She’s also a computer science teaching assistant, a board member of Penn Boxing and a volunteer at the Penn Wissahickon Hospice.

Ashley Marcus from Golden Beach, Fla., is majoring in communication with a concentration in political communication, in the Annenberg School for Communication. An NCAA athlete and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member, she also works as an anti-violence educator and advocate, giving presentations on sexual violence and bystander intervention and encouraging Penn athletes to take the “It’s on Us” pledge to recognize and take action against sexual assault.

Nicholas Stiansen from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., studies bioengineering with a focus on medical devices. On campus, he works as an undergraduate research assistant in Beth Winkelstein’s Spine Pain Research Laboratory, studying cervical spine biomechanics. He’s also a teaching assistant for a junior-level bioengineering lab course and has served as the president of the Engineering Deans’ Advisory Board and as the treasurer of the Biomedical Engineering Society.

Justin Hopkins from Glendale, Calif., will graduate with a bachelor’s degree with honors in political science in May. A Civic Scholar and previous recipient of the Thouron Summer Prize, he is studying the extent to which automation influences right-wing populist movements. He co-founded a non-profit organization, The Locus Initiative, which connects and mobilizes millennials around charitable giving.

John Paul Hagan, a 2016 graduate, majored in psychology with minors in the biological basis of behavior and political science from the School of Arts and Sciences. At Penn, he researched the neuropsychological processes behind economic decisions and how cognitive processes influence moral judgments. Building on that research, he plans to study topics related to normative judgment and decision-making, an interdisciplinary field that bridges psychology, philosophy and policy.

Emily Zinselmeier, a 2017 graduate, majored in materials science and engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, majoring in architecture with a minor in Hispanic studies from the School of Arts and Sciences. She co-founded Penn’s chapter of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists, led fundraising efforts for the Global Architecture Brigades and worked with the Center for Analyzing Evolved Structures as Optimized Products to explore biometric composite systems and their potential applications.

Established and supported through gifts from Sir John Thouron and the late Esther du Pont, Lady Thouron, the Thouron Award is a graduate-exchange program between the University of Pennsylvania and British universities that aims to improve relations between the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships serves as Penn’s primary information hub and support office for students and alumni applying for major grants and fellowships, such as the Thouron Award.

Penn seniors, current graduate or professional students and recent graduates who are U.S. citizens are eligible to apply. Additional information about the Thouron Award is at

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