Allen School senior Hannah Werbel is among four undergraduates to earn the prestigious Dean’s Medal from the University of Washington’s College of Arts & Sciences. Werbel, who will receive her bachelor’s in Computer Science with minors in Physics and Mathematics this month, was named a Dean’s Medalist in the Natural Sciences category for her academic excellence, leadership, and service.
From the moment she stepped on campus, Werbel has distinguished herself through a rigorous program of study and her participation in a variety of extra-curricular and volunteer activities. In her sophomore year, she earned the Freshman Medal as part of the UW President’s Medalist Awards in recognition of her high academic standing and campus involvement. Outside of the classroom, Werbel has played the piccolo as part of the Husky Marching Band for the past four years, frequently volunteering her time and talents for smaller alumni and charity functions in addition to her regular band duties. Her efforts earned her the Bill Bissel Memorial Award last year, which recognizes the student who most embodies the band’s “touch of class” motto.
Werbel, who is legally blind, has made accessibility a centerpiece of her campus engagement. She has served as president of the Washington Association of Blind Students since her freshman year and also worked as a student assistant for the DO-IT Center, which focuses on empowering people with disabilities to succeed through education and technology. In that role, Werbel planned events for high school students participating in the center’s summer college preparatory program and spoke at a variety of events about accessibility in higher education and the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. In 2017, Werbel was selected to participate in the Lime Connect Fellowship Program, which offers professional and leadership development opportunities to outstanding juniors with disabilities.
In addition to being an accomplished student, accessibility advocate, and musician, Werbel excelled in research. Even before her arrival on campus, Werbel completed a summer research internship in the UW BioRobotics Lab during her junior year of high school. As part of her internship, she programmed software modules in MATLAB to analyze data generated from experiments with brain-computer interfaces. The research team was so impressed with Werbel’s work, she was invited to continue working in the lab after her internship ended. Werbel also spent two quarters as a teaching assistant for the Allen School’s introductory computer science class, CSE 142. She was recognized with the Outstanding Female Engineer Award from the UW chapter of the Society of Women Engineers in 2017.
“Hannah’s time at UW has been marked by interdisciplinary academic excellence and leadership inside and outside of the classroom,” said Hank Levy, Director of the Allen School and Wissner-Slivka Chair. “She is humble, intelligent, hard-working, and inspirational. Hannah joined our undergraduate program as an interest-changer after her sophomore year, and she has only reached the beginning of her potential in the field of computer science. She likely doesn’t quite know how special she is and how far her talent will take her, and I hope this recognition pushes her to even greater heights.”
Alternately described as “dedicated,” “selfless,” and “an ambassador for the University,” Werbel has helped make the campus community a better place than when she found it. Following her graduation from the Allen School, Werbel will spend the summer as a research intern with Microsoft Quantum Computing before joining Facebook full-time as a software engineer.
Read GeekWire’s Geek of the Week profile of Werbel here and our previous Undergrad Spotlight featuring Werbel here.
Congratulations, Hannah, and thank you for your commitment to excellence and service to your fellow students inside and outside of the Allen School!