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Provost’s Award Winners

Graduating students recognized for excellence as academic role models, leaders

By Sophia Huang McKenzie

Published May 20, 2020

Every year CSUMB honors graduating students for their outstanding achievements with six university-wide awards and five Dean’s Medalist awards. This is the second in a series of stories about this year’s honorees. To see our Class of 2020 virtual celebration, go to Graduate Celebration 2020.

Alexandra Thomsen, Environmental Science, M.S.

Provost’s Graduate Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement

Alexandra Thomsen

A dedicated student and researcher, Alexandra Thomsen graduated from CSUMB with a perfect 4.0 GPA, a master of science degree, and a clear path to pursue an impactful career in coastal conservation and restoration.

“The research that Ms. Thomsen is conducting is likely to help drive policy decisions up and down the coast. She is helping to restore 65 acres of a salt marsh ecosystem in order to make the region more resilient to sea level rise due to climate change,” said Fran Horvath, CSUMB’s interim provost and Thomsen’s campus thesis advisor.

Even so, it’s her dedication to educating others that makes her most deserving of the Provost’s Graduate Award, Horvath said. The recipient must be an academic role model and leader who contributes to the learning and development of others.

Thomsen earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Brown University in 2016, and began the master’s in environmental science program at CSUMB in 2018. Throughout her college career, she has volunteered in the community to promote science education..

While at CSUMB, Thomsen mentored students in a program at North Monterey High School to encourage careers in marine science. She completed advanced training in geographic information systems and developed a lesson and activities for students. She also volunteered for the Sea Lion Bowl, a regional competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.

I am extremely grateful for my time at CSUMB, which has helped me prepare for a future career in applied coastal science through a rigorous course plan focused on skill development, opportunities to apply course material to my own research and internship, and the ability to apply for and participate in other training programs.”
Alexandra Thomsen, award winner

On campus Thomsen worked with the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Center (UROC), helping students with their projects. She served on the Summer 2019 Graduate Student Panel Workshop and met with smaller informal groups through coffee hours. In spring 2019, she promoted the School of Natural Sciences’ Seminar Series as outreach coordinator.

In 2019 the UC Davis Coastal and Marine Science Institute selected Thomsen for its Scholar Training Program, which teaches participants how to advance environmental policy issues. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems named Thomsen a Graduate Research Scholar in 2018. In that role, she shared science information with the general public through a blog.

“I am extremely grateful for my time at CSUMB, which has helped me prepare for a future career in applied coastal science through a rigorous course plan focused on skill development, opportunities to apply course material to my own research and internship, and the ability to apply for and participate in other training programs,” Thomsen said.

Learn more about Thomsen’s research in collaboration with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve in Moss Landing.

Amanda Hansen, Psychology

Provost’s Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement

Amanda Hansen

When Amanda Hansen transferred to CSUMB after graduating from the College of Marin in 2017, she had “a vague sense of wanting to help individuals with mental health concerns,” she said. At CSUMB, Hansen solidified her goal and earned a coveted place in a prestigious clinical psychology doctorate program at Kent State University.

“I attribute this success to the opportunities afforded to me by CSUMB and the psychology department’s wonderful faculty members,” Hansen said. In addition, the university has “assisted me in gaining invaluable research training and hands-on experience working with diverse groups of people,” she said.

For her accomplishments in research and extracurricular work while maintaining a 3.83 GPA, Hansen received this year’s Provost’s Award for Exemplary Academic Excellence.

Hansen worked extensively in the community while at CSUMB. She pursued a service learning opportunity at a local housing nonprofit for individuals living with severe mental illness and substance dependence. She volunteered for a local rape crisis center and a national crisis text line. She worked at a local youth homeless shelter, and co-facilitated sessions in a batterer intervention program. She also helped facilitate group sessions on campus at the Personal Growth and Counseling Center.

Given her strengths in writing and statistics, efforts to improve her research and clinical skills, attention to detail, and efforts to be a peer mentor and role model, I’m confident she will be a thoughtful and successful scholar and clinician who will make a positive impact in her career.”
Danielle Burchett, faculty research mentor

Hansen actively contributed to three research projects as a UROC researcher. Each project directly related to her interest in personality dysfunction and its assessment. She presented this work to on-campus, regional, and national professional audiences, as well as to a local municipal agency, according to Danielle Burchett, associate professor of clinical psychology and Hansen’s research mentor.

As part of a community-based research project, Amanda networked with organizations within the Seaside Blue Ribbon Task Force for Youth Violence Prevention. She participated in obtaining institutional review board approval, drafting the consent and youth assent forms, and facilitating three focus groups with adolescents.

“Amanda is a go-getter who seeks opportunity for growth and manages a very busy schedule successfully,” Burchett said. “Given her strengths in writing and statistics, efforts to improve her research and clinical skills, attention to detail, and efforts to be a peer mentor and role model, I’m confident she will be a thoughtful and successful scholar and clinician who will make a positive impact in her career.”

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