A recent graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a heavily involved member of the UNO community, will have the opportunity to continue his academic career thanks to earning a prestigious fellowship from the national Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
Sam Underwood, who will be pursuing a master's degree in the College of Engineering on UNO's Scott Campus this fall, was named just one of 50 students in the country to receive $8,500 in funding through Phi Kappa Phi. It is something Underwood says will help him continue his research into understanding the impact of sound on how English and Spanish speakers comprehend auditory information.
"It's a really distinct honor to be recognized on a national level like that and it is also a huge motivator," Underwood says. "It's going to allow me to work even harder in graduate school because those financial constraints won't be as prominent."
Phi Kappa Phi's 2019 class of fellows represents students from 58 different colleges and universities across the nation.
“We are pleased to have offered this opportunity to emerging scholars for the past 87 years, and are especially delighted this year to significantly increase both the amount of the individual awards as well as the total amount awarded,” Society Executive Director Mary Todd, Ph.D., said.
Earlier this year Underwood was named the recipient of the College of Engineering Dean's Award as well as the Senior Vice Chancellor Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award. In addition to his coursework and being a member of Phi Kappa Phi, he was involved in the UNO University Honors Program and played in the UNO pep band "The Maverick Machine."
Underwood credits his accomplishment to his faculty advisors, including Lily Wang, Ph.D., associate dean for faculty and inclusion in the UNL College of Engineering, and Erica Ryherd, Ph.D., associate professor of architectural engineering.
"They are the two acoustics faculty members that have been huge role models for me going through the program."
He also credits UNO University Honors Program Director Lucy Morrison, who helped nominate him from the UNO chapter of Phi Kappa Phi and worked closely with him on his award submission.
"The process started in early March and each school can only send one person so that was a pretty intensive process. I'm super thankful to Dr. Morrison for all of her guidance through that process and helping me craft a quality application."
Prior to returning to school this fall, Underwood has been interning at Threshold Acoustics in Chicago, helping advise architects on everything from wall construction to provide proper noise blocking to the layout of large performance spaces.
It is a skill he says he hopes to leverage to ensure that people are engaging in healthy sound habits as well as healthy physical or emotional habits.
"It's important to be more conscious about things like noise pollution and hearing conservation. Those are the sorts of things I encourage people to explore as well as being more conscious about their own environments and how that can impact our physical wellbeing and our emotional and psychological health as well."
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.