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Newcomb-Tulane College announces the Class of 2021 William Wallace Peery Society

May 18, 2021 3:30 PM
Trisha Torres ltorres3@tulane.edu
2021 Peery Society Inductees



Twenty students from the Class of 2021 were awarded membership to Newcomb-Tulane College’s William Wallace Peery Society. First presented in 1965 in honor of Dr. Peery, a professor of English and dean of Tulane's College of Arts & Sciences from 1955 to 1964, the Peery Society is the university's top academic honor. It recognizes exceptional seniors who represent the top 1% of their graduating class for academic achievement.

These inductees were chosen by a selection committee chaired by Newcomb-Tulane College Dean Lee Skinner that included faculty from all five undergraduate schools. The new Peery Society members have distinguished themselves through an honors thesis or equivalent accomplishment and demonstrated both depth and breadth in their intellectual pursuits. The 2021 recipients are Asher Baden, Callie Belback, Gavin Blair, Joanna Calhoun, Ashley Chen­, Alexandra Duffy, Carly Harad, Collin Harper, Jared Imber, Riley Juenemann, Ann Kapustiak, Paige Montfort, Carson Sanders, Matthew Shernicoff, Grace Slapak, Aubry Tedford, Alexandra Tighe, Yuzhi Wang, Kaiyu Wang, and Claire Wynne.

Dean Skinner said, “More than ever this year, our Peery Society members exemplify academic creativity, dedication to scholarship, and intellectual commitment. Each one has excelled in their chosen field, conducting individual projects, and they represent a truly impressive range of disciplines. Peery Society students seek out challenges and test their own capabilities, always happiest when confronting a new problem. I’m inspired by what they’ve already achieved and eagerly anticipating what each one of these talented students will do next.”

From this group, Riley Juenemann was awarded the William Wallace Peery Medal for Academic Excellence, the college’s top academic honor. The Peery Medal is bestowed upon an inductee who best exemplifies Dr. Peery’s educational philosophy, which stresses breadth and depth of learning and encourages students to work to their greatest intellectual capacity.

Riley Juenemann, 2021 Peery Medalist
Riley Juenemann, 2021 Peery Medalist

Juenemann, who is graduating with a double major in mathematics and computer science and a management minor, has been an NTC Honors student all four years of college, a member of the Math Club, Cookies and Code, Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, Circle K, Mortar Board National Senior Honors Society and Jazz Combo. Juenemann was an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow, served as a New Student Orientation Wave Leader and played intramural soccer. Throughout her undergraduate career, she has conducted research in collaboration with Tulane Professor Scott McKinley and Duke University Professor Christine Payne, developing a statistical dashboard to automatically categorize diverse particle movement patterns in live-cell data. Juenemann has completed a Mathematics Honors Thesis and a Computer Science Capstone to expand upon this work.

Professionals have lauded Juenemann’s research, selecting it for recognition. Last summer, she was chosen to take part in the Heidelberg Laureate Forum, which would have given her a funded trip to Germany to meet with a select international group of young researchers in mathematics and computer science. The event, however, was made virtual due to COVID. She followed this up in October by winning a First Place Poster at a regional mathematics conference. In November, Juenemann virtually attended a national mathematical biology conference that Northwestern University hosted and won the First Place Prize for Undergraduate Research in Quantitative Biology. In January, she won the Outstanding Poster Award during an annual meeting of the Joint, one of the largest mathematical societies hosted by the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America. 

Professor McKinley described Juenemann as “[embodying] every virtue we could hope for a young scientist: insatiable curiosity; steadfast productivity; a ruthless eye for detail; unshakeable intellectual honesty; creativity in the face of cruel setbacks; and the ability to communicate triumphs and tribulations as they come along.”

Beginning fall 2021, Juenemann will be pursuing a PhD in Computational and Mathematical Engineering at Stanford University. She has won a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation as well as a Stanford Graduate Fellowship and the Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education Doctoral Fellowship, which will aid her in her studies.

In reaction to receiving the Peery medal, Juenemann said, "I am honored to be selected as the recipient of the William Wallace Peery Medal and inducted into the Peery Society amongst such a talented and dedicated group of peers. I am thankful for the tremendous support I have received over my four years at Tulane, particularly the outstanding mentors who have fostered my intellectual curiosity and resilience in research. I graduate from Tulane exceptionally educated, diversely experienced, and eager to make an impact in my field. As I reflect on this award and my experiences in New Orleans, I highly appreciate this period of personal and academic growth and the impact it has had on my life."