Five Eberly College of Science alumni were recognized for the impact that they have had on society, science and their respective professions since leaving the university.
The Outstanding Science Alumni Awards for 2012 honor Dr. Eliav Barr, Dr. Gary R. Fleisher, Howard R. Gordon, Dr. Joellen M. Schildkraut and Robert C. Shaler for their outstanding accomplishments in various fields of science.
Barbie Collins, Penn State’s assistant director of alumni relations, said the award winners were chosen based on what the candidates have done since they left the university and how they relate to students.
“It’s basically their outstanding accomplishments that they’ve done since leaving Penn State, their impact on the world around them and their ability to connect and reconnect with students in a way that makes them realize that there is more than just college,” Collins said. “It can open [the students’] eyes to all of the things they can do once they graduate.”
The pool of 14 candidates nominated for the award this year were appraised by the Eberly College of Science Dean’s executive committee, which consists of all the science department heads and program chairs. Five of the candidates were then chosen to receive the award.
Since the award’s inception in 1995 by the Alumni Society of the Eberly College of Science, 73 Penn State alumni have been named Outstanding Science Alumni.
Gordon, currently a physics department faculty member at the University of Miami, and a recipient of the award, described the feeling of being honored with the award as “fantastic,” considering the number of living alumni from the Eberly College of Science and the relatively small number of award recipients.
Many of these graduates were present at the awards ceremony, which took place the weekend of Sept. 28. The weekend’s festivities also involved a host of other activities for the honorees.
“I set up individual meetings with each of them through all the individual departments that they had graduated from,” Collins said.
Each candidate then went on to give a presentation to current students in their various former departments.
“It was inspiring, because it opened up new possibilities,” said Ann Lee (freshman-premedicine), a student who attended Dr. Barr’s presentation, which was delivered to an audience of premedicine students.
Colleen O’Rourke (freshman-premedicine) agreed, also describing the presentation as “very informative, and applicable to any pre-medical student because he talked about how to best take advantage of our time at Penn State.”
Gordon also said Penn State played a large role in helping him attain his success.
“There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “I changed my area of research three or four times, and I was able to do that relatively easily because of the education that I got at Penn State.”
After their presentations, candidates met with various other faculty members, including Dean Daniel J. Larson, the dean of the Eberly College of Science, and showed their Penn State pride by taking pictures with the Nittany Lion.
“It feels great to be recognized by your school. I mean, even though I went there a really, really long time ago, it’s still my school,” Gordon said.