Three Students Awarded Katharine Malone Prizes for Academic Excellence

For immediate release:
Sept. 9, 2008
Contact: Molly Tarantino,

WELLESLEY, Mass. – At convocation on Sept. 2, Wellesley College President H. Kim Bottomly announced the names of three students being honored as recipients of Katharine Malone Prizes for Academic Excellence. The First-Year Student Prize was awarded to Caitlin Kearns, the Sophomore Student Prize to DaEun Im and the Katharine Malone Scholarship to Colleen Kirkhart.

The Malone Prizes were established in 1985 by Wellesley alumna Claudine Malone in honor of her mother, Katharine Malone. They are awarded annually to a sophomore, a junior and a senior who exhibit “the harmonious combination of academic excellence, active and contributing citizenship and accomplishment.” The first-year and sophomore prizes each consist of a $10,000 award, while the prestigious Malone Scholarship carries a $50,000 award with eligibility for an additional $10,000 per year of graduate study.

During her first year, Kearns, a sophomore from Royal Oak, Mich., was awarded the Three Generations Writing Prize, took advanced-level courses, performed with the Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra and participated in WEED, the campus environmental organization. She demonstrated a dedication to community service by serving as the volunteer representative for Pomeroy Hall House Council and working at such organizations as the Wellesley Free Library, Sunday’s Bread Soup Kitchen, the Stone Zoo and St. Francis House. Kearns intends to serve in the Peace Corps after graduation and then go on to graduate school to study physics or economics. She plans to pursue a career in sustainable development and has spent her past summer on a residential internship in sustainable farming and farm management at Smith Community Farms.

Im, a junior from Torrance, Calif., is a neuroscience and women’s studies double major. She is the president of the Wellesley Hippocratic Society and founder and co-president of the Wellesley College chapter of Extra Hands for ALS, for which she received the 2008 Katharine Timberman Wright Award, which provides seed money for student volunteer activities. She is also a staff volunteer at the Women’s Lunch Place in Boston. Since the fall of 2006, Im has been a student researcher in Professor Marc Tetel’s laboratory, investigating how ovarian hormones act in the brain to regulate hormone-dependent behavior. This year, her research was supported by the National Science Foundation Award for the Integration of Research and Education Sophomore Early Research Grant, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Summer Research Fellowship and the Sherman Fairchild Foundation. This summer, Im continued her research with Tetel through a 2008 summer research fellowship award from the Endocrine Society, which is normally awarded to graduate and medical students and only a few undergraduates in the country. After Wellesley, Im plans to attend medical school to earn a M.D./Ph.D. degree with the future goal of practicing medicine and conducting research.

Kirkhart, a senior from Raleigh, N.C., is a neuroscience major. She has served as a tutor in the biology department and the Mentoring in the Science Program, where she is currently student director. She has also served on the Neuroscience Advisory Committee and as a grader for the neuroscience program. She has been vice president and president of the Neuroscience Club, as a member of Wellesley for Equality, Wellesley College Amnesty International, Outing Club and Wellesley College Democrats and has worked as a student research assistant for the Wellesley Office for Resources as a part of her work study program. Kirkhart was the recipient of the prestigious Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation scholarship to conduct independent research in Professor Barbara Beltz’s laboratory from the summer of 2007 through the summer of 2008. She is using the crustacean model to investigate the effects of lithium and serotonin, treatments for bipolar and unipolar depression on adult neurogenesis. Kirkhart is also writing a thesis in the same lab. After Wellesley, she plans to attend graduate school in neuroscience.

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries. For more information, go to