Undergraduate Awards

Rice Engineering Awards & Scholarships

The George R. Brown School of Engineering offers a variety of awards and scholarships based on academic status, major, and interests. Learn more about these awards and scholarships.

Distinction in Research and Creative Works in CMOR

The Department of Computational Applied Mathematics and Operations Research will recognize graduating seniors for outstanding creative contributions with the award of Distinction in Research and Creative Works in CMOR.

By establishing this distinction, the department hopes to kindle in students an ambition to make a significant contribution beyond routine classroom assignments.

This distinction shall be awarded for significant contributions in research, design and creative projects. The basis for the award may be one outstanding work or a consistent series of meaningful contributions made over the duration of an undergraduate career.

According to a George R. Brown School of Engineering policy, no more than 30% of CAAM/OPRE majors in a graduating class may receive this distinction.

How to Apply

Only CAAM/OPRE majors are eligible for Distinction in Research and Creative Works Award in CMOR.

Students will be considered for this distinction in the spring semester before they graduate. December graduates should submit their portfolios in the Spring following their graduation.

To be considered, a student must:

  • Declare your intention to apply for this distinction by sending a brief email to cmor_dept@rice.edu with the subject: "Distinction in Research and Creative Works in CMOR" by March 15th during the spring semester.
  • Electronically submit a portfolio to cmor_dept@rice.edu with the subject: "Distinction in Research and Creative Works in CMOR" by the end of the 10th week of the spring semester.

Only students who apply according to these guidelines will be eligible.

Upon review of the portfolios, the department's undergraduate committee will recommend awards to the department chair, who will issue the final approval.

Portfolio Requirements

Your portfolio should comprise:

  • One page abstract. This well-written introduction should concisely summarize the longer works that make up the main substance of the portfolio. This abstract must contain a clear statement of the role that fellow student collaborators, faculty advisers, and other mentors played in the works included in the portfolio.
  • Copies of papers/final reports/etc. from research and design projects. These must have been completed during the student’s undergraduate years at Rice, though the projects may have been conducted off campus, e.g., with collaborators in the Texas Medical Center, through an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates), or through an industrial internship. Cogent written reports are strongly favored over collections of slides from project presentations or posters. Candidates may include links to videos or computer codes.
  • One or more letters of recommendation from faculty or other advisers (at Rice or elsewhere) addressing the student’s contribution to the project. The advocate should send this letter directly to cmor_dept@rice.edu.

Applicants should carefully consider the composition of their portfolio. It is quite possible, for example, that two members of a design team will both apply, but only one will be awarded. Although the design project might be the main element in the portfolio, supporting material from other projects can make a difference.

Material included in this portfolio may not be submitted for distinction in any other major.


Successful candidates must explain how their undergraduate research contributions rise “above and beyond the norm” accomplished by many of our majors.

The following, while not exhaustive, are hallmarks of exceptional research:

  • Publish an article in the research literature.
  • Present work at a regional or national conference.
  • Publish an article in a Rice research journal or as a CMOR Department technical report sponsored by a faculty adviser.
  • Win an award at the Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium.
  • Make a significant contribution to the needs of design team’s client, who should write a letter of endorsement.
  • Demonstrate a high degree of dedication, leadership and creative contribution to a research team or mathematically-oriented outreach project over the course of several years.

CMOR-Chevron Prize

The annual CMOR-Chevron Prize for CAAM/OPRE Majors and CAAM Minors is awarded for particularly outstanding performances in a class, notable contributions in undergraduate research, or excellence in outreach activity. This prize was established in 2009. Recipients are nominated.


  • 2023: Mac A. Cabello, Ivana J. Hsyung, George M. Lyu and Orestis Tsatalmpasidis
  • 2021: Anthony Minsuk Kang, Robert Schellenberger and Madeleine Elaine Tumbarello
  • 2019: James Alan Fuente and Joseph Emilio Munar
  • 2018: Anna Cowan, Ian Frankel, Victor Gonzalez and Jing Gu
  • 2017: Jonathan Celaya, Alexander Gardner and Wendy Knight
  • 2016: Nathan Leo Bucki, Isabelle Ainsley Cochran, Margaret Njeri Gacheru and Shan Zhong
  • 2015: James J. Allred, Christopher R. Harshaw, James Lee and Emily A. Meigs
  • 2014: Fortino Garcia, Katherine Van Leeuwen, Thomas Weidman and Xuaner Zhang
  • 2013: Justin Scott Dong, Michael Ross Franco, Timothy Young-Hwan Moon and Sara Elizabeth Schwettmann
  • 2012: Katherine McConachie, Scott Nauert, Andrew Tilley and Guang Yang
  • 2011: Lathan Henderson, Joey Huchette, Hao Li, Sailesh Prabhu and Elizabeth Van Italie
  • 2010: Arjune Bose, Michael Eastwood, Amber Kunkel and Zachary Rubenstein
  • 2009: Jeffrey A. Bridge, Jordon D. Cavazos, Ryan George, Yue Hu, Yuekai Sun and Cynthia R. Sung

Michael Ross Franco Award

The Michael Ross Franco Award is given to Rice undergraduates who are exemplary computational and applied math students. This award was created by Michael Franco’s family in honor of Michael and to celebrate students who share Michael’s passion for computational and applied mathematics.

Michael Ross Franco graduated from McMurtry College at Rice University in 2014 with a double major in computational and applied mathematics and pure mathematics. At the start of his senior year, Michael was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, which necessitated intense chemotherapy for eight months. However, despite this treatment, Michael’s passion for his CAAM work drove him to complete his course work and graduate on-time alongside his classmates. Michael's senior design project, under Rice Professor Tim Warburton and UT MD Anderson Assistant Professor Dr. David Fuentes, assisted in the development of a prototype therapy-modeling tool for MRI-guided laser ablations to treat brain tumors.

After graduation and during the remainder of his cancer treatment, Michael worked at BP’s Center for High-Performance Computing, where he helped improve BP's parallel methods for acoustic wave propagation. In Fall 2016, Michael joined the Applied Mathematics Ph.D. program in the UC Berkeley Department of Mathematics. At Berkeley, he is focusing on developing high-order methods for the numerical solutions of PDEs. Michael is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Michael and his family hope that this award inspires its recipients to tenaciously pursue their passions and continue to excel in their CAAM/OPRE studies.


  • 2023: Charlie Liu, Natasha Patnaik and Serena Y. Wang
  • 2022: Chawit "Poom" Kritpracha, Praneeta A. Nalluri and Daihan "Jack" Zhang
  • 2021: Matthew Ethan Brun and Joshua St. Mikals Washington
  • 2019: Eappen Sebastian Nelluveilil
  • 2018: Varun Suriyanarayana