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Undergraduate Awards

The Rick Riolo Undergraduate Research Prize

The Rick Riolo Undergraduate Research Prize is awarded for two outstanding research projects in the field of complex systems. First prize is $1000 and second prize is awarded $500. All current UM undergraduates are eligible and can self nominate [with faculty sponsor signature] or be nominated by any member of the CSCS community. The project can be a senior thesis, a research paper, a conference paper or poster, a class project, a UROP project, an empirical analysis, or the development of a computational or mathematical model.   

The breadth of criteria aligns with the intellectual openness of Rick Riolo. An expert in evolutionary modeling and genetic programming, Rick authored more than 80 papers in a variety of fields using a range of computational and analytic techniques.

Rick also spent decades teaching complex systems theory and the craft and science of agent-based modeling.  Rick was among the most visible and influential researchers, mentors, and instructors in the interdisciplinary field of complex adaptive systems. Rick made time for everyone and encouraged exploratory research.

Rick’s many friends, colleagues, and students have endowed this prize in his honor with the hope that it will encourage students to ask deep questions, experiment with new tools and methodologies, and be guided by a desire for understanding absent disciplinary constraints.


Award Criteria: recipients must be undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Michigan. 

Application Due Date: Nominations are due the second Monday in October at midnight and can be emailed to The award is decided by the Complex Systems Voting Faculty and the award winner will be announced the second Monday in November. 

Award Amount: First Prize: $1,000; Second Prize: $500

Number Awarded: Two awards per year to individuals or a groups

Application Format: Email with subject line RRMF Prize, Include in the message body a one-paragraph description (< 500 words) of the project including its origin and contribution to knowledge along with the project title. You should include if possible an outcome the project (e.g. paper, poster) either attached as a pdf (<20MB) or as a universally-accessible URL in the message body. Self-nominations are preferred, but a faculty sponsor is required. If self-nominating, please CC your faculty sponsor in the application so that we may contact them to confirm their endorsement of your submission.

Types of Submissions: Senior thesis, research paper, conference paper or poster, class project, UROP project, empirical analysis, or the development of a computational or mathematical model. Include the date and title of the work.


Award Recipients:

2023 - Zhongming Jiang and Devanshi Shah - co-winners

2022 - Cameron Haynes first place | Ziheng Xu and Alexander Takla co-second place recipients

2021 - Andrew Forche first place | Jingyi Gao second place