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Kate Bormann and Pooja Kalavagunta Win Graduate Excellence Awards

June 07, 2022

Interiors graduate students Kate Bormann and Pooja Kalavagunta were selected as recipients of 2022 Graduate Excellence Awards presented by Drexel University to recognize student work with a significant impact on the field or society. The awards honor graduate students who have completed original and innovative research, scholarship, or creative work during their career at Drexel. Awardees receive a cash prize and are announced during Commencement. Two other students, Jennifer Sandora and Hannah Korpel, were also nominated for Graduate Awards.

Kate Bormann received the 2022 Teck-Kah Lim Graduate Student Excellence Award in recognition of her outstanding selfless service to peers and the local community, and for the promise her work has for future impact. Kate entered the interiors graduate program with an interest in prison spaces having been a volunteer GED teacher at Montgomery County Correctional Facility. She honed that interest by pursuing a mentorship with Dr. Jordan Hyatt in Drexel’s Justice Studies program, interviewing more than a dozen experts across the country, and traveling abroad to visit prisons in Norway and Sweden. Kate used that research in her thesis, imagining and refining the design of prison spaces to better support, motivate, and encourage people who are incarcerated.

Pooja Kalavagunta was selected for a 2022 Drexel Research Excellence Award, given to students who have completed original, innovative research, scholarship and/or creativity during their career at Drexel. Throughout her time in the interiors graduate program Pooja has explored cinematic experience, utilizing film and animation to express spatial phenomena. Her thesis takes up the idea of memorializing loss, using techniques from film to heighten emotional interaction and spatial experience, posing questions about how we experience digital and analog spaces, and the emotional connections we have with these experiences. In addition to this work, Pooja was previously recognized by Metropolis Magazine among the Future 100 designers, and has served as a Graduate Assistant in the Interiors program.