Unexpected journeys to a higher cause
Six alumni win LAS Alumni Achievement Awards and LAS Dean's Quadrangle Award
But not all of them saw that far ahead. A pioneer in the treatment of concussions called her studies at the University of Illinois part of her long and winding road to sports neuropsychology.
What these honorees all had in common, however, were key moments—unexpected turns in the road—that changed them forever, whether it was the death of a brother or working in a lab. They also all passed through the halls of LAS.
Six alumni will be honored at LAS Homecoming celebrations this weekend. Five of them—a concussion specialist, an artist and civil rights activist, a biochemist, a biomedical engineer, and a renowned geologist—will receive an LAS Alumni Achievement Award. One, an HIV researcher, will receive an LAS Dean's Quadrangle Award. Click their names in each summary to read a more detailed story about the alumni and their achievements.
When Doris Derby (MA, ’75, PhD, ’80, anthropology) was watching the news in 1963, she saw police attacking civil rights protestors in the South, using billy clubs, dogs, and fire hoses. Those images convinced her to move from New York City to Jackson, Mississippi, where she participated in many dramatic and dangerous moments of the civil rights movement. She also used her visual art, especially photography, to document what was happening. For this and other actions, Derby has received a 2016 LAS Alumni Achievement Award.
Today, Mosher still hunts for rocks—only she is now dean at the acclaimed Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. For her leadership in her field, she will be awarded a 2016 LAS Alumni Achievement Award.
In addition to leading Jackson, and her renowned research on mountain formation, Mosher was president of two major geological societies and chaired the Council of Scientific Society Presidents. She also started GeoScienceWorld, one of the first aggregations of journal articles in any scientific field.
Niklason created a prototype engineered blood vessel in 1997, and in 2012 an advanced version was used successfully in the first dialysis patient. The FDA has fast-tracked the engineered blood vessel, moving it into Phase 3 human clinical trials.
For her innovations in the health field, Niklason has been awarded a 2016 LAS Alumni Achievement Award.
She is also working to grow new lungs in the lab. As Niklason puts it, “We are on the cusp of what I think is going to be a permanent change in medicine.”
Pieroth is the concussion specialist for several professional sports teams. She is also associate director of the sports concussion program in the NorthShore University HealthSystem. She created “A Step aHead,” an award-winning joint education [image:19824 class:fright]program with the Blackhawks, Athletico, the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois, and NorthShore.
For her efforts, Pieroth has received a 2016 LAS Alumni Achievement Award.
In the meantime, her two young boys continue to play all types of sports. The fear of concussions, she said, should not stop any child from being active.
He proved that out of the 5,000 or so proteins in a cell, you only needed two—actin and myosin—to create movement that was the equivalent of a muscle contraction. It was a huge breakthrough that influences every scientist who studies molecular motors. Spudich has received a 2016 LAS Alumni Achievement Award.
In another breakthrough, Spudich’s team at Stanford University helped to open up the field of single molecule biology. Spudich also co-founded Bio-X, a major interdisciplinary research lab, and he founded two companies that have drugs in late-stage clinical trials.
A mysterious ailment struck Deborah Paul’s younger brother, Tim, in 1982. Doctors determined the problem was caused by AIDS, and in 1985, he passed away at the age of 28.
One year later, Deborah Paul (MS, ’79, biology) became the first person to develop a test that detected HIV, the virus behind AIDS, in the blood. The test was used by Abbott Laboratories to develop Norvir, the first protease inhibitor to target the HIV virus. Paul has received the 2016 LAS Dean's Quadrangle Award for her devotion to her family, her work, and Illinois.
In memory of Tim, Paul has established the Deb and Tim Paul Endowment Fund to support University of Illinois work in infectious disease and immunology.
- Alumni Honors
- Alumni Profile
- Alumni Profiles
- Life science
- Physical science
- Social and behavioral science