Outstanding Thesis Awards

Each Fall and Winter semester, the IRIS Department recognizes two Integrative Studies (formerly Liberal Studies) majors whose senior projects represent particularly outstanding work. The awards are announced at the Fall and Winter Senior Showcase Event. Recipients are given a small monetary prize, framed award certificate, and also have their names engraved on a commemorative plaque that is permanently displayed in the second floor gathering room of Lake Ontario Hall on Grand Valley's Allendale Campus.

The Wendy J. Wenner Thesis Award

The Wenner Award is given to work that embodies the spirit and legacy of Dr. Wendy J. Wenner. Dr. Wenner first taught in GVSU's English Department before being named as the founding Dean of Grand Valley's new College of Interdisciplinary Studies in 2004, later the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies. Dr. Wenner's lifelong commitment to interdisciplinary inquiry, inclusive and equitable teaching and service, as well as her tireless commitment to supporting innovation and the transformational power of education are among her many legacies. This award is given to students whose senior projects show strong, ethical research practices, are well-written, and which demonstrate work that is both academically excellent and that has "real-life" application. 

Wendy J. Wenner

Wendy J. Wenner

Founding Dean, Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Stanley Krohmer

Stanley Krohmer

Senior Affiliate Faculty (Retired)

The Stanley Krohmer Senior Project Award

The Krohmer Award is given to work that honors the creative spirit, commitment to critical inquiry, innovation, and community-mindedness that can be seen throughout Professor Stanley Krohmer's life and work. A long-time faculty member in IRIS (formerly Liberal Studies), Professor Krohmer has been recognized not only for his outstanding teaching but for his own tireless commitment to lifelong learning as part of a larger creative, engaged community of artists, writers, and scholars. Professor Krohmer is also an award-winning painter and photographer, much beloved by colleagues and students alike. This award is given to students whose senior projects take a creative approach to their subjects, whether through writing, visual, or other multimedia approaches and celebrates the way the humanities can enrich all aspects of human experience. 

Winter 2022 - Melinda Stein and Heather Brewer

Melinda Stein, Wendy J. Wenner Senior Thesis Award for "Lady and the Linguist: Language Ideology Shifts in the Land of Ooo"

Heather Brewer

Heather Brewer, Stanley Krohmer Senior Project Award for "Writing Inclusive and Diverse Narrative Fiction"

Fall 2021 - Jenna Johnson and Brielle Friar

Jenna Johnson

Jenna Johnson Wendy J. Wenner Senior Thesis Award for "The Gendered Differences in Diagnosing ADHD"

Brielle Friar

Brielle Friar Stanley Krohmer Senior Project Award for "Accessibility to Doula Care"

Winter 2021 - Madison Couch and Lindsey Wylie-Groen

Madison Couch

Madison Couch Wendy J. Wenner Senior Thesis Award for "A Crisis at the Border"

Lindsey Wylie-Gruen

Lindsey Wylie-Gruen Stanley Krohmer Senior Project Award for "ABA Therapy: Controversy and Reconciliation"

Fall 2020 - Natasha Stewart and Grace Branding

Natasha Stewart

Natasha Stewart Wendy J. Wenner Senior Thesis Award for "Returning to Knowing, and Teaching the Old Ways"

Grace Branding

Grace Branding Stanley Krohmer Senior Project Award for "An Anti-Racist Reading Guide for White People"

Winter 2020 - Amanda Niswander and Ivy Baillie

Amanda Niswander (left) and Ivy Baillie

Amanda Niswander (left) Wendy J. Wenner Sr. Thesis Award for "Buildling Communities for Restorative Justice" and Ivy Baillie (right) Stanley Krohmer Senior Project Award for "Identity and Amateur Literature"

Fall 2019 - Benjamin Scott-Brandt and Kate Willett

Benjamin Scott-Brandt

Benjamin Scott-Brandt, Wendy J. Wenner Award for "Functions of Behavior in Secular Student Communities"

Kate Willett

Kate Willett, Stanley Krohmer Award Fall 2019 for "Mindfulness Curriculum"

Winter 2019 - Erica Ramos

From left, Dean Mark Schaub, Liberal Studies Major Erica Ramos, Liberal Studies Department Chair Melanie Shell-Weiss

Wendy J. Wenner Award
Erica Ramos (middle)
Thesis Title: Earthship Technologies: The Environment and Housing Equality

Fall 2018 - Shanna Turner and Leah Fast

Shanna Turner with Melanie Shell-Wiess

Wendy J. Wenner Award 
Shanna Turner
Thesis Title: Crimes Unreported

Leah Fast with LIB faculty

Stanley Krohmer Award
Leah Fast (second from right)
Thesis Title: Identity

Winter 2018 - Lisa Castro and Waverly Sisson

Lisa Castro accepts award

Wendy J. Wenner Award
Lisa Castro (far right)
Thesis Title: Is Architecture Compassion Made Visible?
Exemplifying Our Way of Building

Waverly Sisson Senior Thesis Title: Tritiya Prakrti: Queering Religious Studies

Outstanding Religious Studies Award
Waverly Sisson (second from left)
Thesis Title: Tritiya-Prakriti:
Queering Religious Studies

Fall 2017 - Timothy Novak

Timothy Novak

Thesis Title:
A New and Holier Love:
Intersectional Narratives in Postbellum Southern Commemoration

Area of Focus:
Politics of Memory

Winter 2017 - Christopher "Pez" Lopez

Pez Lopez

This research focused on understanding the various levels of social justice activism one could take part in as well as outlined an often unspoken of activist, the Influential Insider, and how they best can implement systemic change in a system. Various texts were analyzed and provided the base for the levels of activism and plan of action for the aforementioned Influential Insider. The research focuses on the idea that, to create true systemic and sustainable change in broken systems or institutions, there must be an Influential Insider to aid in the implementation of change. True systematic change only occurs when those seeking change understand the motives, intentions, culture, and people of an institution of system. 

Fall 2016 - Erin Donnelly & Marc Lehman

Erin Donnelly

Erin Donnelly

Thesis Title:
Outdoor, Experiential Education:
The Implementation of Lesson Plans in the Classroom

Area of Focus:
Environmental Action, Policy, and Communication

Marc Lehman

Marc Lehman

Thesis Title:
Questions on the relationship between narrative identity and hermeneutic design

Area of Focus:
Linguistics and Design Anthropology

Winter 2016 - Cody Gallagher

Cody Gallagher

Thesis Title
Not Milk: A Feasibility Study

Area of Focus:
Sustainable Food Systems and
Small Business Management

Fall 2015 - Marisol Menken


Thesis Title
Education and Racism

Area of Focus:
Equal Opportunities &
Social Advocacy

Winter 2015 - Leslie Boker

Boker W15 WJW

Thesis Title
Treatment of Trans Characters in
Japanese Sequential Art and Animation 

Area of Focus:
Japanese Language and Culture

Fall 2014 - Natalie DePyper


Thesis Title:
Talk Isn’t Cheap; It’s Powerful

Area of Focus:
Community Development and
Cultural Integration

Winter 2014 - Suzanna Katerberg


Thesis Title:
Extending Domestic Violence Advocacy for
Incarcerated Battered Women

Emphasis Area:
Leadership and Advocacy

Fall 2013 - Julie A. Kane

Julie Kane

Thesis Title:
An Integrative Approach to Discovering the Benefits of
Environmental Education and Nature Experiences

Emphasis Area:
Environmental Leadership

Winter 2013 - Annette M. Nelson

Annette Nelson

Thesis Title:
Biophilia: Examining Our Relationship with Nature
and its Influence on an Environmental Mindset

Emphasis Area:
Sociology, Psychology, and
the Environment

Fall 2012 - Kathryn Smidstra

Winter 2012 - Andrea Marz

Andrea Marz

Thesis Title:
Urban Food Deserts: An Interdisciplinary Analysis

Emphasis Area: 
Sustainability in Theory and Practice:
Environmental and Social Justice

Kathryn Smidstra

Thesis Title:
Commitment to Consciousness:
Cultivating the Capability of Mindfulness in Learning

Emphasis Area:
Education, Philosophy and
Religious Studies

Page last modified May 12, 2022