Engineering students honored for academic achievement at Opening Exercises

By Denise Valenti
September 09, 2019

Two engineering students of the Class of 2020 were among seven Princeton undergraduates honored for their academic achievements at Opening Exercises on Sunday, Sept. 8.

“We are proud of these exemplary scholars and pleased to celebrate their academic success,” said Dean of the College Jill Dolan. “These students have achieved quite a lot academically while also contributing broadly to the Princeton community. They set a vital example for their peers across campus, not just with their abundance of extra courses and numerous A+ grades, but by the range of their intellectual and co-curricular interests. My colleagues and I are pleased with their accomplishments and proud of their commitments.”

The George B. Wood Legacy Junior Prize was shared by Audrey Cheng, who is majoring in operations research and financial engineering, and Eitan Levin, a mathematics major. The prize is awarded each year to members of the senior class in recognition of exceptional academic achievement during junior year.

Cheng, of Palo Alto, California, attended Henry M. Gunn High School. In addition to concentrating in operations research and financial engineering, she is pursuing certificates in applications of computing and engineering and management systems.

Cheng is a member of Butler College, where she is a residential college adviser and a member of the Butler College Council. She is involved in several entrepreneurial groups, including the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council, for which she co-led the New York Tiger Trek in spring 2018. She is senior analyst for Tiger Capital Education, an investment club, and served as vice president of Princeton Social Innovation.

Cheng volunteers as a tutor for the Petey Green Program. She has collaborated on research with Wyatt Lloyd, assistant professor of computer science.

This summer, she was an investment banking summer analyst for Goldman Sachs. Previously, she was a summer analyst for Apollo Global Management and an engineering practicum intern for Google.

The Class of 1939 Princeton Scholar Award, which is awarded each year to the undergraduate who, at the end of junior year, has achieved the highest academic standing for all preceding college work at the University, was shared by operations research and financial engineering major Nicholas Johnson and physics major Grace Sommers.

Johnson, of Outremont, Quebec, is a graduate of Selwyn House School and attended Marianopolis College, both in Westmount, Quebec. He is pursuing certificates in statistics and machine learning, applied and computational mathematics, and applications of computing.

Johnson is a member of Whitman College, where he is a residential college adviser. He serves as a writing fellow at Princeton’s Writing Center, editor of Tortoise: A Journal of Writing Pedagogy and president of Princeton’s chapter of Tau Beta Pi. He is a member of the Princeton chapter of Engineers Without Borders and served as its co-president in 2018.

This past summer, Johnson worked as a software engineer in machine learning at Google’s California headquarters. He previously interned at Oxford University’s Integrative Computational Biology and Machine Learning Group, developing and implementing a novel optimization technique under the supervision of Aleksandr Sahakyan, principal investigator and group head. He presented the project at Princeton’s inaugural Day of Optimization in October 2018 and at the 25th Conference of African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences in June 2019, where his project was recognized with the Angela E. Grant Poster Award for Best Modeling.

Johnson has interned at Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, and he participated in Whitman’s exchange program with Morningside College at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in March 2017.

(This story was adapted from a longer version, with details of the other winners, published on the Princeton University homepage.)