News Release



Boise State Alumni Association Honors Top Ten Scholars

The Boise State University Alumni Association will honor 10 of the university’s best and brightest graduating students at the annual Top Ten Scholars awards reception. The event is April 21 in the Student Union Grand Ballroom; doors open at 3:30 p.m. and the program is from 4:30-6 p.m. The reception is open to the public. Please RSVP to the Alumni Association at 426‑1698. Parking is free with a downloadable parking pass.

The keynote speaker for this year’s event is David M. Cooper, a 1971 Boise State alumnus. Cooper is managing partner for the regional accounting firm Cooper Norman.

Top Ten Scholars are chosen from among the top 10 percent of Boise State’s graduating class for 2008-09. They are selected based on academic performance, recommendation from college deans, and extracurricular and research activities.

“These ten students represent the very finest in scholarship and community service and are excellent examples of Boise State’s role in helping to shape our nation’s next leaders,” said Boise State President Bob Kustra. “If the examples they've set here on campus are any indication of what’s to come as they launch new careers or move on to other academic challenges, their future success is without question.”

Each Top Ten Scholar also honors a Boise State professor who was particularly influential to his or her success. This year’s award winners and their honored professors are:

Nicolás Diaz
Landon Grange
Wade Lanning
Emma McInturff
Pankhuree Dube
Dan Simenc
Mallory Sullivan
Dane Vanhoozer
Jessica Verbanac
Hailey Wilson
Click to enlarge

Nicolás Diaz, from Argentina, a political science and Spanish major, with a minor in Japanese studies. His interest in international socio-economic factors has played heavily into his research and vocational pursuits. Diaz has presented work at Clinton Global Initiative University and the International Studies Association-West annual conference and is awaiting acceptance to two other conferences. He has actively participated in several campus organizations, including serving as vice-president of the Honor Student Association, treasurer of both Pi Sigma Alpha and Gamma Beta Phi, and president of the Japan Club. Other pursuits have included an internship at the Ada County Courthouse, where he worked with the small claims and interpreter’s department, as well as volunteer work with UNICEF, Boise State Volunteer Services Board and Boise State Spring Break Alternative. Diaz plans to attend graduate school, where he would like to specialize in Latin American and Asian relations.

Honored professor: Adrian Kane, assistant professor of Spanish.

Landon Grange, Boise, a Spanish major who has also satisfied most of the requirements for a biochemistry degree. His on-campus involvement includes leadership positions with the LDSSA, tutoring at the drop-in math center and serving on the Boise State Policy and Appellate Board. Grange utilizes his fluency in Spanish and medical knowledge as a volunteer at the Garden City Community Clinic and has also volunteered to help with translation at parent-teacher conferences at local elementary schools. Last summer, he was invited by the University of Alabama in Birmingham to participate in a funded research program. He’s currently working on a project on synthesizing carbonyl reeductase inhibitors to improve the efficacy of chemotherapy drugs called anthracyclines. Grange plans to become a neuro-ophthalmologist, contributing to stem-cell research that could lead to cures for people who suffer from blindness and vision-impairment. He has been invited to interview for UAB’s medical scientist training program and the University of Utah’s joint MD/Ph.D. program.

Honored professor: Steve Barrett, adjunct faculty of English.

Wade Lanning, Pocatello, a materials science and engineering major with an emphasis in biomedical engineering. Lanning’s interest in his field of study was influenced by his participation in the 2005 National Youth Science Camp in West Virginia, a month-long experience meant to develop and enhance the aptitude of high-achieving students. His university involvement includes serving as treasurer of the Engineering Honors Society and as facilitator of the 2008 Honors College retreat. He volunteered at the Boise Discovery Center during an Invent Idaho event and helped organize a Cookies for Troops service project. Lanning’s research includes finite element analysis of metal microstructures. He has been chosen to present research and his senior project in posters at this year’s Boise State Undergraduate Research Conference. Lanning plans to attend graduate school and pursue a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering.

Honored professor: Megan Frary, assistant professor of materials science and engineering.

Emma McInturff, Pocatello, a chemistry major with a minor in Spanish. She has utilized her interest in math and science as a tutor at the drop-in math center and as a teaching assistant in the chemistry department, as well as instructing two freshman chemistry lab courses. In studying aziridinomitosenes, a group of potential anticancer drugs, she completed the synthesis of a target compound. After training in biochemical techniques at Pacific Lutheran University, she contributed to the discovery of novel protein-DNA interactions of aziridinomitosenes. In addition to studying abroad in Málaga, Spain, McInturff traveled to Baja, Mexico, for a service-oriented kayaking trip and participated in an environmental studies trip to Lake Powell. Her service work includes organizing an annual Locks of Love Cut-off for students through the Honors Association and volunteering at a homeless shelter and for the Salvation Army. McInturff has been accepted into some of the top graduate programs in the country and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in organic chemistry.

Honored professor: Don Warner, associate professor of chemistry.

Pankhuree Dube, New Delhi, India, a double major in history and political science with a minor in Latin American studies. Dube is fluent in Spanish, studied Mandarin and has native fluency in Hindi. Her volunteer service includes working as a Spanish-speaking teaching assistant for children of migrant workers in Boise State’s High School Equivalency Program. She served two years as president of the Phi Alpha Theta history honor society, for which she organized “Reel vs. Real” events. Dube’s honor’s thesis focuses on indigenous mobilization in India and Mexico. Her project for graduate research on Oaxaca-central India was well received by Oaxacan, American and South Asian academics at the 2008 NCCLA Conference. Last summer, she was chosen to participate in a workshop on global sustainability at UC-Berkeley. That same year her panel proposal was accepted at the ISA-West Conference in San Francisco. Pankhuree plans to pursue a Ph.D. and teach at the university level.

Honored professor: Nick Miller, professor and chair of the Department of History.

Dan Simenc, Chico, Calif., a double major in applied mathematics and economics. He spent his high school years as a professional freestyle kayaker where he paddled extensively throughout the United States, Canada, South America, and Europe. Throughout his collegiate studies, he tutored various subjects including philosophy, math, business, chemistry and economics. His research endeavors include working as a research assistant for the Economics Department, where he studied air pollution in the Treasure Valley. He presented a collaborative class project on Boise State’s carbon footprint at the Idaho Conservation League 2008 Wild Idaho Conference and administered a self-designed individual carbon footprint calculator to the attendees. Simenc’s volunteer experience includes teaching kayaking to injured veterans during a weeklong tour of Colorado. He is president of the Economics Club and past president of the Kayak Club. After taking a year to travel and work, Simenc plans to pursue a Ph.D. in economics.

Honored professor: Chris Loucks, professor of economics.

Mallory Sullivan, Jackson Hole, Wyo., a biology major with an emphasis in human biology. Last summer she was selected as an INBRE scholar to participate in biomedical research. This led to presenting a poster at an INBRE conference, where she won third place in fellow-presenter votes. Sullivan’s campus involvement includes working as a peer advisor for pre-professional students and membership in both Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Pre-Med Club. Her volunteer work includes mentoring a little sister through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, doing intake and eligibility at the Garden City Community Clinic with Genesis World Mission, working at ALPHA, and helping at an art therapy group for dementia patients. This summer she plans to go to Belize on a pre-medical mission trip. She has shadowed various physicians for more than 100 hours and will be applying for medical school with the goal of entering in the fall of 2010.

Honored professor: Kristen Mitchell, assistant professor of biology.

Dane Vanhoozer, Boise, a history major with a minor in Japanese studies. As an employee with the U.S. Forest Service for the last five years, Vanhoozer worked closely with helicopters in the prevention and suppression of wildfires and assisted in burned area recovery projects. This work influenced his current research project, which examines the environmental consequences of suppressing wildfire in the Boise National Forest. Vanhoozer won the Wallace G. Kay Writing Contest for a paper analyzing the Civil War Battle of Antietam and will present his work at a Phi Alpha Theta regional conference. As part of an on-campus service-learning project, Vanhoozer acted as a guide to Japanese exchange students. From this experience, he built global connections and will teach abroad in Japan after graduating. Serving as a teaching assistant for History 111 helped Vanhoozer realize his passion for teaching. He plans to apply to graduate schools to study environmental history with the goal of becoming a university professor.

Honored professor: Lisa Brady, associate professor and assistant chair of the Department of History.

Jessica Verbanac, Boise, a double major in Spanish and elementary education with a focus in bilingual/ESL. Upon entering Boise State, Verbanac became president of BESO, the Bilingual Education Department’s academic organization. Her desire to help children become lifelong learners has inspired her academic studies and volunteer work. She studied abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she volunteered at a local public elementary school, giving advanced English instruction to migrant students. As a member of AmeriCorps, Verbanac worked at Jefferson Elementary School as a reading and math tutor and translated for meetings between staff and parents. From 2007-09, she was awarded the Grow Your Own Teacher stipend and worked as an ESL tutor at Whittier Elementary. She will complete her student teaching in Kuna and plans to stay in Idaho where she will teach in a bilingual classroom. Her hope is to break down barriers between race and language by helping students build lasting bonds of friendship, learn from each other and question together.

Honored professor: Roberto Bahruth, professor and chair of the Department of Bilingual Education.

Hailey Wilson, Lapwai, a health science studies major with a minor in biology. As a registered member of the Nez Perce tribe, Wilson has developed a desire to work with disadvantaged populations in rural areas. For the past two years, she has served as president of the Intertribal Native Council, where she helped the club become more involved in campus and community activities outside of the annual pow wow that hosts more than 3,000 attendees. She has also been involved with the E-Peh-Tes pow wow committee for eight years and volunteered at the Lapwai Valley Boys and Girls club for five years. Her campus involvement includes membership in Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Pre-Med Club. In 2007, Wilson interned in a molecular epidemiology lab at the Harvard School of Public Health where she researched throat cancers and other respiratory disorders. Wilson plans to apply to medical school this summer; her goal is to become a family practice physician and specialize in rural medicine.

Honored professor: Ed Baker, associate professor of community and environmental health.


Media Contact: Kathleen Tuck, University Communications, (208) 426-3275,

Boise State University is “The New U Rising” with record student enrollment, new academic buildings, additional degree programs and a growing research agenda. Learn more at

The Office of Communications and Marketing - Boise State University
1910 University Drive - Boise Idaho 83725-1030
Located in Capitol Village, 2225 W. University Drive

Last reviewed on Tuesday, April 21, 2009