The University of Richmond's School of Arts & Sciences announced the winners of the David C. Evans Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship and the Creative Arts at the School's Honors Convocation on April 15.

Rachel Chikowski, a senior biology major and dance minor, was given the David C. Evans Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts. Chikowski, who is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, holds the Alton Williams Theatre and Dance Scholarship and has been a four-year member of the University Dancers. During her senior year, she served as the team’s captain and was one of the dancers to attend the American College Dance Festival Assocation’s Mid-Atlantic Conference, where a piece by the University of Richmond Dancers was one of twelve selected to be performed at the festival’s gala. Chikowski plans to take a year off to complete some short-term projects before attending medical school.

Chris Florio, a senior history major and philosophy minor, received the David C. Evans Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship. Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, Florio has a perfect 4.0 average after seven semesters at Richmond and has been conducting undergraduate research under history professor Bob Kenzer since his sophomore year. He initially started studying the many co-counsels used by Abraham Lincoln in his more than 5,000 court cases, sifting through archives at Harvard University’s Baker Library to measure Lincoln’s success as an attorney. A year later, Florio was one of only 15 college students from across the United States to receive the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History Summer Scholarship to conduct research in New York City. There, he began the foundation for his senior honors thesis, “The Politics of Sectional Servitude: Constructing American Abolitionist Discourse in Black and White 1837-1847,” which has been led by Kenzer and history professor Eric Yellin. Florio has also served as the student member of the University of Richmond’s Board of Trustees.

Evan Wang, a senior chemistry major and mathematics minor, received the David C. Evans Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship. Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, Wang has already published two peer-reviewed publications (for one of which he was the first author), has a third paper under review and has published a book chapter along with presenting at numerous scientific venues. Wang won the Goldwater Scholarship, a national award that recognizes excellence in science and mathematics, during his sophomore year. Funded by grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Beckman Foundation, Wang has conducted research in chemistry professor Carol Parish’s lab every summer and academic year since the summer before Wang started at Richmond. Last summer, Wang spent time researching and presenting his work at the Institute for Theoretical Chemistry in Vienna, Austria. Wang is an ardent violinist, is fluent in Chinese, speaks French and plans to study theoretical chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley.

Kathy Hoke, associate dean for research support, made the awards. Rhetoric professor Mari Lee Mifsud and mathematics and computer science major Matt King, ’09, made the opening remarks about the value of pursuing a liberal arts education.

Mifsud remarked on Circe’s gift in Homer’s Odyssey, and in particular, the fact that Circe sends Odysseus home after his prolonged stay with departure gifts but no pomp and circumstance—doing so without being detected by Odysseus and his men. A gift with no calculated return is, in many ways, comparable to the gift of a liberal arts education. While students’ hard work and busyness make it easy to assume one has “earned” their degree, the effects of the Liberal Arts are immeasurable gifts that can’t be commodified. Mifsud urged students to resist defining a liberal arts degree by its earning potential or power in the market economy, but rather, by its gifts of critical thinking and communication. She encouraged students to take those gifts and reciprocate them by carrying on the liberal arts legacy.

King talked about the two kinds of teachers he’d encountered at Richmond: professors and poets. Even as a math and computer science major, King said he ran into his share of poets—teachers who used metaphor and generative thinking to help their students evaluate ideas. King compared writing a mathematical proof to writing poetry, “It’s about knowing what you want to say even when you don’t know how to say it.”

English professor Ray Hilliard, who directs the Core course, also presented the John Riling Award for Excellence in Writing to John Twomey, ’12, for his essay, “Beyond Immanence: De Beauvoir and Marx on the Loss of Individuality.”