Reaud Honors College recognizes faculty, students in awards ceremony

The Reaud Honors College is proud to announce their inaugural award recipients recognizing Honors Students of the Year and Honors Faculty of Distinction, launched during their 60th anniversary year and during Lamar University's centennial celebration. 

Reaud Honors College Award Recipient Students

Honors Student of the Year in Research and Scholarship – Jennyfer Zarate 

Jennyfer Zarate is a first-generation Southeast Texas Legends Scholar and graduate of the Reaud Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in Biology Pre-Med. She aspires to work as a surgery or lab technician for a year before pursuing a career as a surgeon and obtaining a Ph.D. 

As a McNair Scholar, she conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of gut microbiota and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, learning advanced lab techniques under Dr. Ashwini Kucknoor. She presented her research at Baylor University, Honors Scholars Day, and the SACNAS NDiSTEM Conference in Puerto Rico. 

Jennyfer has demonstrated leadership as the Founding President of the SACNAS chapter at LU, Historian for TriBeta, and Peer Mentor for the Honors Student Association. She also served as an honorary board member for the Arc of Greater Beaumont through the Reaud Honors College’s Stepping Up initiative, and she was a member of the American Medical Student Association.  

Honors Student of the Year in Community – Annabelle Broussard  

Annabelle Broussard, a Presidential Scholar and Reaud Honors College graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, has accepted a position as an Operations Engineer at INEOS Olefins & Polymers. Recognized as a Senior of Significance, she showcased leadership in various roles, including LU Ambassador, Orientation Leader, and Cultural Development Chair for the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. She also held positions such as Vice President of LU’s History Club and Event Coordinator for the Society of Women Engineers. 

Awarded the Reaud Honors College’s inaugural Honors Student of the Year in Community, Annabelle excelled in community-building activities, notably establishing mobile health clinics in Lima, Peru, and founding Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations. Her civic leadership earned national recognition, including the President’s Volunteer Service Award. 

Annabelle's academic achievements include presenting at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference and participating in American Institute of Chemical Engineers meetings. She gained extensive practical experience through internships and co-op positions at companies like Air Products, Corteva Agriscience, and ExxonMobil Lubricants. 

Honors Student of the Year in Leadership – Kelvin Elgar 

Kelvin Elgar, a Presidential Scholar and Reaud Honors College graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, has accepted a position as a Process Engineer with Chevron in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a Senior of Significance and the inaugural Honors Student of the Year in Leadership from the Reaud Honors College, Kelvin demonstrated exceptional leadership and innovation. He served as SGA Senior Class Senator, SEC Vice President of Internal Affairs, Cardinal Orientation Team Leader, and LU Ambassador. 

In the College of Engineering, Kelvin was an Engineering Ambassador, Founding President of the Cardinal Energy Club, President and Regional Coordinator of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, and a lab assistant for the Center for Advances in Water and Air Quality. His community involvement included serving as an honorary board member for Stable Spirits and as the inaugural Vice President of Students Consulting for Nonprofits. He received the Ann Shaw Leadership Award in his junior year. 

Kelvin's leadership extended to the Texas State University System (TSUS) as the 2023-2024 TSUS Student Regent, representing 90,000 students and providing a student perspective to the Board of Regents and the Chancellor. His undergraduate research, under Dr. Clayton Jeffryes, focused on converting corn ethanol waste to value-added products using microalgae Chlorella vulgaris.  

Honors Professor of the Year – Dr. Ashwini Kucknoor  

Reaud Honors College Award Recipient Dr. Kucknoor

Dr. Ashwini Kucknoor holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Calgary (2002),  Master of Science in Plant Physiology from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India (1996), and a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the same university (1994).  

Her research focuses on the molecular pathogenesis of parasitic protozoan species, including Trichomonas vaginalis, and Leishmania amazonensis. Key research areas involve host-parasite interaction and signaling, gene expression analyses of Rhomboid proteins, differential expression of parasite surface proteins, and host cell gene expression. She also collaborates on projects developing antimicrobials for fresh produce, water treatment, and textile coating, and supervises Honors Microbiology projects on antimicrobial resistance. 


Honors Faculty of Distinction – Dr. Bianca Easterly  

Assistant Professor Dr. Bianca Easterly earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Houston and her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Public Administration (MPA) degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Before her academic career, she worked in both the private and public sectors, including the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Service. Reaud Honors College Faculty Award Recipient Bianca Easterly

Dr. Easterly's research focuses on American and state institutions and politics, public policy, federalism, intergovernmental relations, and judicial processes and behavior, particularly morality policies and political institutions' responsiveness to public opinion. Her work is published in journals such as Policy Studies Journal, Law & Policy, and Social Science Quarterly, and she writes as an invited columnist for PA Times. 

Since joining Lamar University in 2013, Dr. Easterly has been involved in numerous roles, including ACES Fellow, STARS Mentor, and member of the QEP Steering Committee and Arts & Sciences Council. She received a Research Enhancement Grant in 2016 and a Summer Faculty Research Award in 2017. She was also a lead presenter at the "Cardinal Conversations" lecture series and was named Professor of the Year by Reaud Honors College students for 2017-2018.