Noell Cosby is this year’s top first-year chemistry student, earning her the honor of being the inaugural recipient of the Piepho Award for First-year Excellence in Chemistry.
Recognizing the student with the highest combined grades in CHEM 131 and CHEM 231 is an annual rite, says department chair Rob Granger, but this year’s prize is new. In the past, the student received the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, a massive tome full of scientific data published since 1913.Instead, Cosby’s name will appear first on a permanent plaque displayed in Guion Science Center that honors the contributions and service of Professor Emerita Susan Piepho. Piepho retired from the department in 2007 and is credited with modernizing the curriculum and laying the foundation for the way chemistry is taught at Sweet Briar today.
Piepho also has been a role model to students through her numerous research publications, her leadership on campus committees, and her contributions to local community organizations such as the Lynchburg Branch of the American Association of University Women, the Sweet Briar Community Garden, and the Hill City Master Gardener Association.
Cosby was both delighted and surprised by the news, being unaware of the award’s existence — and she’d just recovered from the shock of receiving “Golden Test Tube” honors for being among the top five first-years in chemistry, she said. The Lynchburg native is in the College’s pre-vet program and anticipates majoring in biology with double minors in chemistry and dance.