Merrill P. Freeman Medals

Dr. Merrill Freeman was born in Ohio in 1844 and served the University of Arizona as a regent and as a chancellor. His will provided for two medals to be awarded annually to students selected by the UA administration.
Qualifications include outstanding moral force of character. Additional factors which may be considered are: popularity, receipt of athletic awards, membership in organizations, service on committees and as officers. This is a medal award.
2021 Outstanding Senior Award Recipients:

Nikita Ganesh

Nikita Ganesh is a first-generation Indian American student originally from Phoenix. Nikita spent most of her formative education living outside the United States. At the age of 12, she moved abroad to Bangalore, India. From there, she relocated to Hong Kong and later Shanghai. After graduating from Shanghai American School, she chose to return home and attend the University of Arizona.

Today, Nikita is pursuing degrees in psychological science and Chinese. Given her international experience, she studied Mandarin to gain fluency in the language and a greater understanding of a culture she immensely appreciates. At the University of Arizona, Nikita found her place within various campus organizations. Although she never expected to play a collegiate sport, Nikita has been a starting player on the University of Arizona women’s rugby team since her freshman year. Serving as vice president for the past two years, she takes comfort in knowing she has created a pathway for women – regardless of shape and size – to be a part of a sport made for everyone. Within her involvement in campus honoraries, including SOPHOS Sophomore Honorary and Links Junior Honorary, Nikita has given back to the Tucson community through philanthropic and community service. She is also a part of Alpha Kappa Psi and has served as the director of fundraising and professionalism. Nikita is honored to have been crowned Homecoming queen this past year.

After interning at an immigration law firm during her junior year, Nikita solidified her desire to pursue a legal career. Through her honors thesis on reporting attitudes with respect to Title IX changes, Nikita has been able to put her passion for the legal field into action as an undergraduate. She looks forward to dedicating her professional career to ensuring equal access to justice.

After graduation, Nikita will pursue a law degree at the University of Pennsylvania with a Dean’s Fellow scholarship.

Daniel Robert Wieland

Daniel Robert Wieland is graduating summa cum laude from the Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, and biomedical engineering with a minor in math. Born and raised in Tucson, Daniel always had his eyes set on medicine and research from an early age after witnessing the debilitating effects of disease on friends and family. Committed to health care and community betterment, he has applied himself extensively in his education, research and service.

As a freshman, Daniel joined Dr. Jacob Schwartz’s lab in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, researching proteins responsible for diseases such as ALS and Ewing sarcoma (a pediatric bone cancer), and currently has two manuscripts in progress. For his work, he has received a Barry Goldwater Scholarship and a Galileo Circle Scholarship, as well as an Excellence in the Biological Sciences award. Additionally, he conducted epidemiological research with Dr. Chien-Hsiang Weng of Brown University, with whom Daniel has two co-first author publications and is currently writing another. Under Dr. Dennis Discher, he conducted virtual bioinformatics cancer research at the University of Pennsylvania.

Daniel serves as president of the University of Arizona chapter of HOSA, formerly called the Health Occupations Students of America, and as an officer of the Arizona Global Health Project, which sets up biannual temporary free clinics in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. He volunteered in the ER at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, recruiting patients for clinical trials. For his senior design project, he worked on a way to visualize sequencing data to diagnose secondary infections in intubated COVID-19 patients. As a chemistry and biochemistry ambassador and mentor, he helped first-year students transition into college and assisted the department in its events. As an undergraduate biology research ambassador, he assisted others in applying for research opportunities on campus. For his accomplishments, he was awarded the Biochemistry Outstanding Student Award for his respective class each year.

Upon graduation, Daniel plans to enroll in a dual M.D.-Ph.D. program with the goal of treating patients both at the bedside and through the lab.