2024 URP Student Awards Celebration

April 23, 2024

On a warm evening at the Cypress & Grove Brewing Company, the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Florida held its 2024 Annual Student Celebration. The room was full of excitement and anticipation as students, faculty, and alumni gathered to honor the remarkable achievements within the URP community.

The event opened with heartfelt welcomes from Kathryn Frank of the URP Awards Committee and Ivy Hu, the department chair, setting a celebratory tone. Additional greetings came from Yesenia Castañeda of the Student Planning Association, Jarrell Smith of the URP Advisory Council, and Laura Dedenbach, each emphasizing the collaborative accomplishments and achievements of the past year.

Dr. Ivy Hu presenting to the audience

The ceremony transitioned to acknowledging faculty accomplishments, starting with Dr. Ruth Steiner who was recognized for her panel participation at the National Academies of Sciences. Dr. Kathryn Frank was applauded for her expertise on coastal resilience featured on CNN, and Dr. Renee Tapp was honored with the Ashby Prize for her influential research in housing policy. Dr. Zhong-Ren Peng’s global recognition in the top 2% of scientists and his appointment at The Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center highlighted his significant contributions to climate change adaptation. Dr. Ivy Hu’s new role as co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Planning Education and Research was also celebrated, marking her as a leading voice in planning education.

Kyle Dost, Dr. Kristin Larsen, and Dr. Laura Dedenbach

A special moment was dedicated to Kristin Larsen, who was recognized for her induction into the AICP College of Fellows, the highest honor in the planning profession. This recognition was particularly meaningful as it celebrated her long-standing contributions and transformative impact on the field and within the URP community.

APA Outstanding Student Award

Yesenia Castañeda

Dr. Laura Dedenbach and Yesenia Castañeda

The APA Outstanding Student Award is presented by the American Planning Association to one student in each accredited planning program.  This award recognizes a student who has performed well in class, demonstrates leadership, and shows promise of early achievement in the planning profession.

The recipient of the 2024 APA Outstanding Student Award is Yesenia Castañeda.

Peter J. Kanavos, Sr. Memorial Award

Madison Eichhorn, Jenna Johnston, Bryce Grame

Dr. Abhinav Alakshendra and Madison Eichhorn
Dr. Kathryn Frank and Jenna Johnston
Dr. Ruth Steiner and Bryce Grame

The Peter J. Kanavos award is given in honor of Mr. Kanavos, who was the president of the Flag Development Company, and is funded by his family and friends.  This award is usually presented to a student who is interested in real estate development but not limited to it.  

The recipients of the 2024 Peter J. Kanavos, Sr. Memorial Award are Madison Eichhorn, Jenna Johnston, and Bryce Grame. Congratulations Madison, Jenna, and Bryce!

Ulla Rydberg Memorial Award

Siying Wu

Siying Wu and Dr. Emre Tepe

The Ulla Rydberg award is given in honor of Ms. Rydberg who was a researcher in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the time of her death in 1991.  It honors her commitment to gerontology and other forms of social planning by recognizing an outstanding student focusing on one of these fields.  

The recipient of the 2024 Ulla Rydberg Award is Siying Wu. Congratulations, Siying!

Margaret E. Raynal Memorial Award

Lauren Finn

The Margaret E. Raynal award is given in honor of Margaret E. Raynal, who was the state trainer for the Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education Program until her death in a bicycle crash in December 1996.  This award is presented to students who specialize in environmental or transportation planning or health education.

The recipient of the 2024 Margaret E. Raynal Award is Lauren Finn. Congratulations, Lauren!

Mario Ripol Memorial Award

Jess Hays

The Mario Ripol Memorial Award is presented in memory of Mario Ripol, who was a research associate in GeoPlan when he was killed in an automobile crash in December 2000.  This award is made possible by Mario’s family and friends and a major contribution from WRS Infrastructure & Environment Inc. This award is presented to an outstanding student who specializes in information technology for planning.  

The recipient of the 2024 Mario Ripol Memorial Award is Jess Hays. Congratulations, Jess!

Jim Beeler Public Service Memorial Award

Angie Castrillon

Kyle Dost and Angie Castrillon

The Jim Beeler Public Service Memorial Award is given in honor of James Nevin Beeler, Jr., who graduated from the URP program in Spring 2011, and passed away in Fall of 2012.  Jim was active in local political and civic circles everywhere he lived.  He was not afraid to get involved in public controversy and public service.  Before becoming a URP student, he served on Tampa-Hillsborough County Planning Commission and worked on several campaigns for area politicians.  This award is presented to students who engage in public service and make a difference in their communities.  

The recipient of the 2024 Jim Beeler Public Service Memorial Award is Angie Castrillon. Congratulations, Angie!

Paul and Malea Zwick Graduate Student Award

In Je Lee

Paul Zwick, In Je Lee and Zhong-Ren Peng

The Paul and Malea Zwick Graduate Student Award is a new award established by URP Professor Paul Zwick and his wife, Malea. The award recognizes a student who has best integrated innovative use of technology into their solution for urban and regional planning problems or research.

The recipient of the 2024 Paul and Malea Zwick Graduate Student Award is In Je Lee. Congratulations, In Je!

Carl Feiss Urban and Environmental Design Award

Haley Busch and Haiden Lewis

Dr. Kristin Larsen and Haley Busch
Dr. Abhinav Alakshendra and Haiden Lewis

The Carl Feiss Urban and Environmental Design Award was established by URP alumni and friends in honor of Carl Feiss, who was among the founding faculty of URP.  He was trained as an architect and was instrumental in founding the planning professional nationally through his work on affordable housing, historic preservation and other regional planning priorities.  This award is given to a URP student whose interests align with Urban and Environmental Design and who has demonstrated significant promise relative to future professional or academic success, based upon studio work, papers, or presentations in urban and environmental design. 

The recipients of the 2024 Carl Feiss Urban and Environmental Design Award are Haley Busch and Haiden Lewis. Congratulations, Haley and Haiden!

2024 Distinguished Planning Alumnus of the Year

Zach Shrader

Dr. Ivy Hu, Zach Shrader and Jarrell Smith

This award honors a URP alumnus who has made significant contributions to the planning profession and demonstrated a commitment to the URP program and its students. Zach Shrader, recognized in 2024, has notably transitioned to the Federal Railroad Administration, maintaining strong ties with the URP community and exemplifying the qualities of a distinguished alumnus.

2024 URP Outstanding Teacher of the Year

Dr. Kathryn Frank

Madison Eichhorn, Dr. Kathryn Frank and Yesenia Castañeda

The 2024 Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award is presented by the Student Planning Association (SPA), and this year’s recipient is Dr. Kathryn Frank. Dr. Frank is Associate Professor in the department with a topical emphasis on community engagement, resilience, and environmental planning. She teaches a variety of courses for both on-campus and online students, including Planning Administration and Ethics, Environmental Land Use Planning and Management, Planning Research Design, and Community Engagement. Students recognized Dr. Frank’s commitment to student engagement and collaboration, and noted her dedication to building relationships with students. Dr. Frank is known for being a positive presence in the classroom and is committed to student excellence by encouraging students to be their best. 

Group photo at the 2024 URP Awards Celebration

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