As part of its annual tradition to welcome new and returning students, Harvey Mudd College kicked off the 2019–2020 academic year Sept. 3 with a Convocation ceremony. Keynote speakers Hieu Nguyen, vice president for advancement, Tom Donnelly, chair of the faculty, and President Maria Klawe, spoke on the themes of the College mission and “seeing Mudd through fresh eyes.” The gathering also included award presentations to two sophomores: Hanna Porter ʼ22 received the Jean and Joe Platt Prize and Kip Macsai-Goren ʼ22 received the First-Year Writing Prize, the latter awarded by the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts (HSA).
The Jean and Joe Platt Prize was established in 1977 and is awarded annually to a first-year student distinguished by their academic accomplishments and contributions to the life of the College.
Bill Daub, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of chemistry, presented the award to Porter. “In addition to her excellent academic work with one of the highest GPAs of her class, she’s been a great contributor to the Mudd community, while keeping active in the world outside of our campus,” Daub says.
During the spring 2019 semester, Porter was one of four presidents and a sustainability representative for Drinkward Residence Hall, playing an active role in the initiative to reduce the use of single-use bottles on campus. She also participated in The Claremont Colleges Orchestra as a second-chair violist.
As a Platt Prize recipient, Porter received a check and a selection of books of her choice: The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula Le Guin, The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear by Seth Mnookin and The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman.
First-Year Writing Prize
The First-Year Writing Prize is awarded to a student whose research paper has been deemed the best from the Critical Inquiry (HSA 10) course sections. A student is nominated by his or her professor in the spring, and a committee then meets over the summer to select a winner from the nominations.
Paul Steinberg, chair of the HSA department, professor of political science and environmental policy and holder of the Malcolm Lewis Chair of Sustainability and Society, presented the award to Macsai-Goren, who wrote the paper “Sociobiology and the Internet: A Science for Sexism.” He was nominated by Vivien Hamilton, associate professor of the history of science and one of the professors who teaches an HSA 10 section.
“He wrote some code to harvest comments from YouTube videos of prominent feminists giving speeches, and looked for the presence of sociobiology in the comments (comments that appeal to evolution and genetics to explain gender differences and advocate for particular gender roles),” Hamilton says. “He found a small but persistent strand of sociobiology, often used to justify male leadership, aggression and sexual violence.”
Included in the award prize is a selection of books chosen by Hamilton for Macsai-Goren: Science and Social Inequality: Feminist and Postcolonial Issues by Santa Harding; Agnotology: The Making & Unmaking of Ignorance edited by Robert N. proctor and Linda Scheibinger; Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez; and Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society by Cordelia Fine. Macsai-Goren also received $500, and his name was added to the First-Year Writing Prize plaque in the HSA department.