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University of Akron to Graduate the World's First Students with Ph.D. Training in Biomimicry

UA to Award Degrees to Nearly 3,000 at Spring Commencement

Published: May 9, 2017 1:41 PM
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AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron (UA) will graduate the first two students in the world with Ph.D.-level training in biomimicry. They are among a total of 2,994 degree candidates who will be awarded degrees at six commencement ceremonies scheduled for UA’s E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall Friday through Sunday, May 12 – 14.

UA’s soon-to-be alumni hail from 29 states and 39 countries. The group includes 66 candidates for doctorate degrees, 91 for Juris Doctor degrees, 649 for master’s degrees, 1,886 for bachelor’s degrees and 302 candidates for associate degrees. University of Akron President Matthew J. Wilson will deliver the address at all of the commencement ceremonies this weekend.

Biomimicry is a rapidly growing field that involves finding answers to engineering problems by studying nature. UA’s Integrated Bioscience program is the only one in the world offering Ph.D. training in biomimicry. Completing the five-year curriculum, which includes part-time work with a corporate, industry or education sponsor arranged by fellowship program partner Great Lakes Biomimicry, are:           


  • Bor-Kai (Bill) Hsiung, who was sponsored by the Sherwin-Williams Company. Hsiung has led game-changing research inspired by blue tarantulas that could revolutionize how colors are manufactured.
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  • Emily Kennedy, sponsored by GOJO Industries. Kennedy has invented a hedgehog-inspired product that can be used as a liner in football helmets for concussion prevention, as well as a variety of shipping and packaging applications.


Beyond biomimicry, there are a number of other inspiring stories involving the Spring 2017 graduates, including:


  • Joe Chadbourne, who will receive a bachelor’s degree in accounting this weekend. Described as an ‘outstanding student’ by one of his professors, Chadbourne has been blind since birth. That hasn’t stopped him from earning excellent grades and being involved in a number of campus and community organizations. Chadbourne plans to get an accounting job, and eventually obtain a master’s degree.


  • Callie Mack is the student speaker for Friday evening’s commencement. Mack has compiled a perfect 4.0 GPA as a member of the Williams Honors College, despite the demands of being a student-athlete on the Zips volleyball team. She is president and co-founder of the Zips for Haiti student organization, and was a leader of a service trip just last month to New Zealand. Mack has earned numerous honors during her UA career, including the Game-Changer Award.



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