Ethan Bachand ‘22
Chief News Editor
In front of a large crowd in Rehm Library, Landon Cass ‘19 presented his thesis that won the Vannicelli Award on November 4th. Friends, family, and the Holy Cross community came to the talk, “Renewable Energy Policy in a Changing World”, which was also a celebration for Cass’s winning of the prestigious award for the Spring 2018 Washington Semester.
Each semester, students that participate in the Washington Semester program must complete a thesis while also interning and going to class. Students must defend their work to a board of faculty, and in the end one thesis is chosen to be the best from a group.
The award is named after former Holy Cross Professor Mauricio Vannicelli, who also has a seminar room dedicated to him on Fenwick 3. Each recipient of the award is granted the opportunity to present their thesis when they return to campus, and have their name added to a plaque in the Smith 3 hallway.
This year, Cass earned the award for his thesis in the Spring semester. During his time in Washington D.C., he also interned at prominent lobbying firm Flywheel Government Solutions.
Professor Gary DeAngelis, the director of the program, opened the event by talking about the significance of the Washington Semester, noting the hard work that all students put into it. After speaking about the history of the award and Mr. Vannicelli himself, he introduced Cass for his presentation.
As previously mentioned, the talk was titled “Renewable Energy Policy in a Changing World”, which was a shortened version of his thesis. The presentation revolved around Renewable Portfolio Standards, specifically the policy, partisanship, and prospects that surround it.
When asked about what inspired him to choose this topic, Cass said, “The work that I was doing in D.C. A lot of our work was happening around clean energy and renewable energy, so I wanted to explore that in a more in-depth way outside of the workplace.”
Following the talk, the audience was invited to join in a question and answer session with the award winner. Despite an array of questions from faculties and peers, Cass was able to answer all questions with confidence and defend his research.
Speaking to The Spire after the talk, Cass stated that when he found out he had won the award, “I was pleasantly surprised. I know how hard all of my colleagues worked while we were down there, and so it was humbling to receive the award because I was with them in the library, so I knew how much work went into it.”
He would continue his statement, saying “It’s just a great honor. It is totally humbling, and I’m just happy to write a great paper [which] is what it is all about”.
When asked if this was a career path that he wanted to follow, Cass responded “Potentially. [I’m] figuring all of that out. Senior year, so we’ll figure it all out and hopefully in some capacity I will continue researching and being active in the renewable energy field.”
Two more talks featuring the recipients of the award are slated for the Spring semester, as the Fall 2018 and 2019 winners will deliver similar presentations. The first one of the year, however, set a high bar for those that follow.