Three seniors named winners of the 2024 Babcock Prize

May 08, 2024

Congratulations to Yiyan Hao, Vivian Lee, and Jade Marum on receiving the 2024 Kenneth L. Babcock Prize in Environmental Science. 

Established in 1995 in memory of Kenneth L. Babcock by a group of donors, including his late widow, Claude Babcock (BA ’52 English, MSW ’82), and brother Sherman Babcock (BS ’41 Soil Science), the prize recognizes exceptional academic achievement by graduating seniors in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM)

A photo of a woman in a white dress wearing a stole posing in front of a stone building.

Yiyan Hao

Molecular Environmental Biology and Data Science

Throughout her undergraduate years at UC Berkeley, Yiyan Hao pursued her passion for quantitative biomedical research through a variety of research experiences, while facilitating the learning and growth of her peers in the field of data science.

In the past four years, Hao has conducted research in the labs of several faculty members at UC Berkeley and beyond. She began her undergraduate research career in the lab of Molecular and Cell Biology professor Yang Dan, performing wet lab experiments to study sickness behavior in a mouse model. Since then, Hao has gone on to analyze camera trap data in the labs of ESPM professors Arthur Middleton and Justin Brashares, examine MRI data with UCSF professor Duan Xu, expand the benchmarking of a new bioinformatic tool with Statistics professor Elizabeth Purdom, and explore deep learning for healthcare with Computational Precision Health professor Adam Yala. She has also contributed to novel nanoparticle development for magnetic particle imaging in the lab of Bioengineering professor Steven Conolly.

Since 2021, Hao has been an undergraduate teaching assistant for data science courses DATA8 and DATA140, hosting office hours, discussion sections, and tutoring sessions. Beyond academia, Hao has been a volunteer at Highland Hospital and a labor coach for new mothers with limited English proficiency.

After graduation, Hao plans to pursue a PhD in Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. 

A photo of a woman in a white dress wearing a stole posing in front of a stone tower.

Vivian Lee

Molecular Environmental Biology and Public Health

Vivian Lee is on a mission to make a difference in the community by working at the intersection of environmental and human health.

As an undergraduate, Lee has conducted research with several UC Berkeley faculty members and alongside Bay Area health professionals. She is a longtime undergraduate researcher in the lab of neuroscientist John Flannery and has assisted in studies of adeno-associated viruses, a common and harmless vector that could be used in gene therapies for vision restoration. She also worked in the lab of Public Health professor Justin Remais, where she assisted recent postdoctoral researcher Jennifer Head with research on environmental factors impacting Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever) incidences in central California.

Lee most recently conducted independent research with the Asian American and Pacific Islander Health Research Group, partnering with San Francisco Chinese Hospital to study the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the community health needs of Chinatown residents. Her final literature review will be published in the Asian American Research Journal.

Outside the classroom, Lee volunteers to teach science and math to elementary school students at San Francisco’s YMCA Chinatown and provides college counseling to high school seniors through Matriculate, a nonprofit that seeks to improve equitable access to higher education by connecting low-income high school students to trained undergraduate advisors.

After graduating, Lee plans to assist in clinical trials for children with food allergies at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong. She hopes to pursue a career in medicine and health advocacy, utilizing a multidisciplinary approach to address health at the individual, community, and environmental levels

A photo of a woman in a yellow dress wearing graduation regalia standing outdoors with buildings visible in the background.

Jade Marum

Environmental Sciences 

Jade Marum is a passionate and dedicated advocate for environmental justice and sustainability.

During her undergraduate career, Marum had the opportunity to represent UC Berkeley students as one of 10 members of a student delegation to the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference. While there, she networked with conference participants and spoke during a press conference centered on youth concerns regarding the climate conversation. Marum also serves as a student representative to the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability, where she contributes to developing university-wide sustainability efforts through equity-focused work groups.

Marum has worked in the lab of ESPM professor Christopher Schell, working with postdoctoral researcher Christine Wilkinson to analyze trends in the distribution of green and blue spaces in northern California. Her honors thesis, advised by Professor Michael Mascarenhas, focused on the experience of BIPOC students in campus-affiliated blue spaces. 

Maurm contributes to the campus community outside of academia by working as a Nature Education and Wellness Associate with the Student Environmental Resource Center. She has facilitated community outdoor education trips and activities grounded in environmental justice and climate wellness that are accessible to marginalized communities.

After graduation, Marum plans on attending the University of Edinburgh to pursue a graduate degree in Environment, Culture, and Society.