UTMB Graduate School awards 39 degrees

Jun 21, 2016, 14:45 PM by Kurt Koopmann
GSBS Commencement 2016

UTMB’S Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences awarded 39 degrees during its 48th commencement ceremony May 20 in Levin Hall.

David W. Niesel, PhD, chief research officer, senior vice president and dean of the GSBS, presided over the convocation, and Dr. David L. Callender, UTMB’s president, conferred the degrees.

“Today’s ceremony recognizes and celebrates the hard work, determination and scholarly achievements that have earned each of you an advanced degree in the field of biomedicine,” Callender said. “With this degree, you are joining a respected group of UTMB alumni making a difference around the globe, including world-renowned biomedical and clinical researchers.

"Graduates of UTMB biomedical programs now hold prestigious and influential positions in universities, government and industry in the United States and around the world. Their accomplishments—and those that you will undoubtedly add—are a testament to the strong legacy of our Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.”

The Graduate Student Organization presented its Distinguished Teaching Award to Janice Endsley, PhD, associate professor in the departments of Microbiology and Immunology and Pathology. Endsley also serves as director for the Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Facility.

During the ceremony, Lynn Soong, MD, PhD, professor in the departments of Microbiology and Immunology and Pathology, received the Distinguished Faculty Service Award. A dedicated faculty member for more than 18 years, Soong is also director of the Microbiology and Immunology Graduate Program.

The Distinguished Faculty Research Award was presented to Dr. Allan R. Brasier, professor of Internal Medicine and Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Distinguished Chair in Endocrinology. Brasier is the director of UTMB’s Institute for Translational Sciences, and the Sealy Center for Molecular Medicine. He was recognized for his work investigating inflammatory disorders, and for his leadership in new research approaches including translational team science and precision medicine.

Slobodan Paessler, PhD, was honored with the GSBS Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2016. A member of the GSBS class of 2007, Paessler has achieved international prominence as a researcher in the field of virology since earning his PhD in Experimental Pathology. Today he is a professor in the department of Pathology at UTMB and also serves as chair of the James W. McLaughlin Endowment. Paessler gave the commencement address.

A new award, the GSBS Impact Award, was presented to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and scholarship, and has brought distinction to the graduate school. The recipient was Dr. Kjell N. Lindgren, a United States astronaut who recently completed a 141-day mission aboard the International Space Station. Lindgren earned his Master of Public Health degree at UTMB in 2007, two years before being named to the astronaut corps. He also addressed the graduates at the ceremony.

The commencement mace bearer was Tracy Toliver-Kinsky, PhD, associate professor in the departments of Anesthesiology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Toliver-Kinsky also led the graduates in reciting the Biomedical Scientist’s Oath during the ceremony.

For the entire 2015–2016 academic year, which includes three terms, the GSBS awarded a total of 68 degrees.