Ben Janda, a senior chemistry major from Schmid College of Science and Technology, has been named the recipient of the Cecil F. Cheverton Award for 2023.
“I genuinely don’t think that any of my academic achievements or potential could have been tapped into if it weren’t for the professors I’ve had and the mentors that I’ve worked with,” said Janda, who was a recipient of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and a Beckman Scholar last year.
“[The award] shows how far I’ve come, but that was because of the hard work of a lot of other people as well,” he said.
Janda, who plans to attend UCLA in the fall to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry, said that his time spent doing undergraduate research — his lab work has focused on investigating organic catalysts they hope will be more sustainable and cost-effective replacements for precious metals — has been a key highlight of his time at Chapman.
“I work with Dr. Liberman-Martin, an organic chemistry professor. And my time in their lab has been nothing but positive,” he said, adding that the experience more than compensated for a sophomore year spent entirely remote thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had such an amazing experience in the lab that I’ve been working in and as a result of that, I’ve been able to travel and give talks, and I’ve won some scholarships and awards that have helped me out with school,” he said.
“Ben has thrived in a research environment, where his attention to detail has led him to discover that an unexpected chemical reaction was occurring in his experiments,” said Liberman-Martin, Ph.D. “He readily contextualizes his results in the broader field of catalysis and designs creative experiments to test new hypotheses. Ben is also excellent at communicating his research to both chemists and a wider audience.”
Janda also works as a student tour guide on campus.
“I have fantastic bosses and amazing coworkers, and I think that relaying my experience to prospective undergraduate students has been just remarkable because I am glad that I have a positive experience to portray to them.”
Janda’s advice for younger students is to jump at every opportunity that presents itself.
“It’ll build your experience and maybe one of them is a job and you don’t get that job, but you have the application experience and you have the interview experience that you can carry into doing other things. That has probably been the No. 1 kind of motto for me in the last few years.”
“One thing that’s kind of surprised me about myself is that, in high school, I wasn’t really like that,” he says. “But just my willingness to do new things has really expanded. And that’s something that I want to carry with me for the rest of my life.”
The Cheverton Award is the oldest and highest undergraduate student honor, awarded by a vote of the full Chapman faculty. A gift of the class of 1929, the original bronze Cheverton Award cup remains on exhibit in Argyros Forum along with its successor, a silver bowl. These trophies are engraved with the names of all Cheverton awardees since 1929.
In addition to the Cheverton, the following awards were announced during the May 5 Campus Leadership Awards.
Gloria and Julian Peterson Award for Outstanding Leadership
Ronald M. Huntington Award for Outstanding Scholarship
Paul S. Delp Award for Outstanding Service
Outstanding Diversity Leadership Award
Jerry Price Campus Leadership Award
James L. Doti Outstanding Graduate Student Award
Michael Sayer (Phd)
Makena Metz (MA/MFA)
Shannon Coyle, Sarah Abdo, Brianna Dinn, Ramsey Elshiwick, Cynthia Le, Angelina Sorensen, Feras Halabi, Leah Zahn, Whitney Gassmann Mennes, Alexia Campbell, Ishaan Shah, Kyle Tanimura, Jeff Pai, Onjolie Silva-Padovan, Helen Lee
Rachael Berns, Rama Bedri, Emily Cho, Myles Downey, Angela Garcia, Mo Hijazi, Kurt Horney, Nathan Mermilliod, Kevin Nguyen, Valentyna Simon
Sam Shlafstein, Cristina Inboden, Holland Hatch, Madeleine Chang, Tyler Weitzman, Carson LeSage, Kaia Goddard, Ruthie Weeks, Josh Milanes Fernandez, Paris Donohoe
Outstanding First Years
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