October 3, 2017 Interior Architecture Student Earns an International Research Award

Rachel Hunt, a fourth-year Interior Architecture student, was recently named Highly Commended in the international 2017 Undergraduate Awards.

The Undergraduate Awards, sometimes called the “junior Nobel Prize,” is the world’s largest international academic awards program that recognizes exceptional research, creative activity and original work of college students in the sciences, humanities, business and creative arts.

design by Rachel hunt

Hunt’s work focused on bioluminescent organisms and the way in which they produce light to set a schedule and react to their environment. Her portfolio submission, Herbaria, applied lighting techniques pulled from her research to help employees tune to the natural circadian rhythm to improve productivity at work.

“I looked at behaviors, reactions to environmental conditions, migration, scheduling and how light played a role in all of these,” Hunt said. When the time came to design, she used the context and analysis of her research to inform the design of the space.

A rendering of people seated at workspaces within a modern, open office setting.

As a Highly Commended winner, Hunt will travel to Dublin, Ireland, in November to attend The Undergraduate Awards Global Summit and accept her award from Michael Higgins, president of Ireland.

While in Ireland, she will present her work to other students as well as the professional jury, including Derek McGarry, National College of Art & Design; Dr. Marc O’Riain, Cork Institute of Technology; and Prof. Lloyd Scott, Dublin Institute of Technology. Hunt also will attend lectures, workshops and debates and collaborate with students from across cultures and disciplines.

This is the first year The Undergraduate Awards included a category for architecture and design. UT students submitted 13 of the 85 submissions in the architecture and design category—more than any other institution in the United States and Canada. Overall, this year UA received a record 6,432 entries representing 299 institutions, 47 countries and 117 different nationalities.

Only the top 10 percent of students are awarded Highly Commended with additional Regional and Global winners in each category. In addition to Hunt, two other UT students were honored, one with a Regional award and another, Alexandra Brito, with a Global award.

All undergraduate students at UT are encouraged to participate in research. For information, visit