Amanda Walker: Honors Program Senior of the Week

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Congratulations to Amanda Walker, Honors Program Senior of the Week. Amanda is a Trustee Scholar who will graduate with a major in Chemistry and a minor in Mathematics. She received Dean’s List First Honors Fall 2008 - Spring 2010 and Second Honors Spring 2011 - Fall 2012.

Amanda dedicated much of her undergraduate career to her area of study: chemistry. She was a chemistry tutor on campus, as well as the 2011 - 2012 president of USD’s Chemistry Club. During Spring 2010, Amanda presented at the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting in San Francisco. She will present her chemistry research again at the ACS National Meeting in San Diego this March.

As a recipient of USD’s Bridges to Doctoral Institutions Award, Amanda conducted research at MIT during Summer 2011. She worked in the lab of MIT’s Professor Paula Hammond. Amanda also completed undergraduate research with USD’s Professor Peter Iovine. Amanda began working in Dr. Iovine’s lab in 2009 and ended up choosing him as her thesis advisor. Amanda’s Honors Thesis is titled, "Synthesis, Characterization, and Film Forming Properties of LigninCore Hyperbranched Polyglycerol Materials." She explains, "Novel lignin‐core hyperbranched polyglycerol polymers were synthesized. The structure of the resulting polymers was characterized, which included the determination of molecular weight , degree of branching, and hydroxyl group content. Thin films were then formed from these polymers via cross‐linking. I’m currently testing several methods of crosslinking."

Reflecting on her experience in the Honors Program, Amanda most enjoyed the high-level of discussion in honors courses. Her favorite honors class was Prison: Culture and
Communication, taught by Dr. Fritsvold and Dr. Bowman. “I liked the interdisciplinary aspect of the course and learning about the intricacies of life in prison and how communication affects the experiences of prisoners,” she said. Amanda plans to attend graduate school next fall to pursue a PhD in Chemistry. “Ultimately, I would like to conduct research in the field of alternative energy,” she said. 

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