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Graduate Alumni Achievement Award Winners

The Graduate Alumni Achievement Award recognizes exemplary achievement and contributions to profession, discipline, community or society by alumni with graduate degrees from Virginia Tech.

From 2002 through 2019, the award was presented during the spring semester Graduate Commencement Ceremony. In 2020, the Graduate School moved the award presentation to the fall semester Graduate Commencement Ceremony in December. Below you will find brief biographies of the award winners, most of which were written when they received their awards.

Learn more about the award and the nomination process on this page.

The 2003 Graduate Alumni Achievement Award recipient is Dr. Robert C. Richardson, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Dr. Richardson is currently the vice provost for research and the F.R. Newman Professor of Physics at Cornell University. He is a 1958 graduate of Virginia Tech, having earned a Bachelor of Science in physics. He went on to receive his Master’s degree in physics from Virginia Tech in 1960, and a doctoral degree in physics from Duke University in 1966.

After earning his Doctoral degree, Dr. Richardson joined the Cornell Department of Physics as a research associate. Two years later he was named assistant professor, and in 1972 became an associate professor. He was promoted to full professor in 1975. Since 1987 he has served as the Newman Professor, and from 1990 to 1997, he served as Director of Cornell’s Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics. During his 37-year tenure at Cornell, Dr. Richardson has made significant contributions to physics research and education.

When Dr. Richardson won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physics, he distinguished himself as the first Virginia Tech alumnus to win the Nobel Prize.

Dr. Richardson is renowned in his field, and has served on numerous boards in his discipline, held leadership roles in professional societies, and won many prizes, awards, and honors.

Dr. Harold L. Martin, Chancellor of Winston Salem State University. Dr. Harold Martin earned his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Virginia Tech in 1980. At that time, there were only 16 African-American Ph.D.s in this field in the nation. After graduation, Dr. Martin returned to the historically black university where he had earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees, North Carolina A&T, becoming the first African-American faculty with a doctoral degree in the school of engineering.

As Dr. Martin moved from department head to college dean, he engineered the recruitment of top minority and female students into engineering and mathematics programs. This in turn fueled the regional economy which was changing from manufacturing-based to knowledge-based. When Dr. Martin became chancellor of Winston Salem State University in 1999, he launched major initiatives to build business, community, and alumni relations. He oversaw completion of the university’s computer network backbone, earned the confidence that won a $43 million bond referendum for new facilities, boosted enrollment by 40 percent over a three-year period, and brought the first advanced degree programs to the university.

Dr. Martin serves on numerous advisory boards and professional societies, and has shown continued interest in Virginia Tech and its engineering programs. He has served on the Advisory Board of the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is currently a member of the college’s Engineering Committee of 100.

Dr. Judith Bailey. Dr. Bailey is a Virginia Tech alumna who received her MA in 1973 and her doctorate in Administration and Supervision in 1976. She has led a remarkable career in academe and has made innovation, academic enhancement and economic expansion her hallmarks. Since 2003 she has been president of Western Michigan University, which also serves as the region’s leader in economic development. Among her many accomplishments was the successful completion of the university’s largest capital campaign, the establishment of the University’s $10 million Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center, and the formation of the Western Michigan University Research Foundation. By gubernatorial appointment, Bailey has served since 2003 as a member of the steering committee for the Michigan Technology Tri-Corridor.

Before joining WMU, Dr. Bailey was president of Northern Michigan University, where she conducted the university’s first capital campaign and instituted the university’s first master’s terminal degree program. Her efforts increased the enrollment and quality of baccalaureate students, and she implemented the Teaching, Learning and Communication Initiative providing each student with a laptop and full support services as part of tuition.

Prior to that she was Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost of the University of Maine, where she undertook a major academic reorganization and increased research and sponsored activity by 30 percent over a three-year period. She has also held positions at the University of the District of Columbia and University of Maryland.

Dr. Bailey has been a technical consultant for the U.S. Department of State and for university and public school systems, including several here in Virginia. Uppermost in all her endeavors has been a commitment to diversity and academic and cultural enrichment, as a part of every student’s university life experience.

Dr. Joe A. Hairston has been Superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools, one of the nation’s 25 largest school systems, since 2000 where his leadership in advancing student achievement, in implementing technological innovations, and in developing community advocacy and fiscal support of the school system has brought him to the attention of the Maryland Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Education and the White House.

He has implemented several innovative programs including a partnership with the University of Maryland-Baltimore County under a National Science Foundation grant that addresses the issue of recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers, online professional development courses in cooperation with the University of Virginia at no cost to all professional staff, online pre-college testing in PSAT, SAT and ACT, international partnerships with educators in England, China, Italy and other nations, and AVID–Advancement via Individual Determinism which places minority students and underachieving students from low-income families on a college bound track. Dr. Hairston’s strategies to improve public schools in Baltimore County, including development of a “blueprint” for school system progress, effective use of technology to support student achievement, and a key partnership with the College Board to promote college attendance, evolved over the course of his noteworthy career. He has been particularly successful in implementing high school reforms to increase academic rigor, for infusing technology into the administration and schools, and in increasing business partnerships while developing community advocacy and fiscal support for the school system.

Among his many honors, he has been recognized by the White House, the U.S. Department of Education and The Washington Post for educational leadership, and he received the Maryland State Department of Education Vanguard Award. In 2005, eSchool News named Dr. Hairston one of the nation’s Top 10 Tech-Savvy Superintendents. He also received the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the National Exemplary Secondary School Award, and an Outstanding Leadership Award from the International Society for Technology in Education.

A native of Virginia, Joe A. Hairston earned a doctorate in education administration from Virginia Tech in 1993 a master’s degree from American University, and bachelor’s degree from Maryland State University.

Dr. Charles Camarda began his career at NASA at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, in 1974. He has logged 333 hours in space, including on NASA’s Return to Flight mission in 2005 during which the Shuttle docked with the International Space Station. He was selected for astronaut training in 1996 and also served as director of engineering at Johnson Space Center. He is currently assigned to the NASA Engineering and Safety Center where he uses technical expertise to evaluate problems and supplement safety and engineering activities for Agency programs.

He has won over 21 performance and achievement awards from NASA and holds 7 patents, one of which earned him Industrial Research and Design magazine’s award for one of the top technical innovations in 1983, and has one patent pending. He was on the first space flight following the Columbia tragedy, and his work on the heat-pipe cooling system and studies of foam materials, problems which played a role in the disaster, helped result in a successful launch and return.

Dr. Camarda earned a bachelor of science degree from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1974, a master of science degree in engineering science from George Washington University in 1980, and a doctorate in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech in 1990. He and his wife, Melinda, have four children.

Mitchell A. Byrd started his career at the Biological Warfare Laboratories in Fort Detrick Maryland in 1954 and ended up being a primary force in the recovery of the bald eagle from the edge of extinction in Virginia and the return of the peregrine falcon to the region east of the Rocky Mountains. His scientific contributions to teaching and learning, endangered species recovery and to society are exemplary.

Byrd joined the faculty at the College of William and Mary in 1956, where he served the academic community for 50 years. He served as Chairman of the Biology Department for 13 years during a time of rapid growth and led its transition into a nationally recognized department. He instructed thousands of undergraduate students and mentored over three dozen graduate students, many of whom have gone on to distinguished careers of their own. His outstanding academic performance is recognized in his having been named Chancellor Professor of Biology. Upon his retirement he founded and directed the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary with the goal of continuing endangered species management and to provide opportunities for students that otherwise would not be realized. The Center is seeking to establish a Mitchell A. Byrd Chair in Conservation Biology to honor his legacy.

Among his most distinguished contributions are those in service to wildlife, not only recovery planning but taking a leadership role in persuading thousands of people in the importance of easements and the effects of land use with regard to protecting our living natural resources. His pioneering work has been recognized in dozens of state and regional awards. He was appointed by the Governor to the board of Trustees of the Virginia Museum of Natural History and has been on the board of directors for numerous ecological agencies including the Environmental Defense Fund, the James River Association, and The Wildlife Society. He has served in leadership and advisory capacities for a broad range of environmental concerns including the International Bear Research Conference, the Virginia Caledon Natural Area, management of the Dredge Islands at Cape Hatteras, the North American Wading Bird Conference and numerous others.

Dr. Byrd earned his master’s (1951) in forestry and wildlife and Ph.D. (1954) in Fisheries and Wildlife from Virginia Tech.

Dr. Joseph DeSimone received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Virginia Tech in 1990. He currently holds two chaired professorships: the Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the William R. Kenan Professor of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University.

Dr. DeSimone is an accomplished researcher and inventor. He has published more than 240 scientific articles and has 115 patents issued in his name, while another 120 patents are pending. His ability to see his projects through to potential applications has made him a successful entrepreneur. His projects range from bio-absorbable stents that are now being evaluated in an international clinical trial for the treatment of coronary artery disease, to inventing an environmentally friendly process for the creation of high-performance plastics. He is a clear leader in the field of what has become known as the carbon dioxide technology platform, which led to him being awarded a ten-year, $40 million NSF Science and Technology

Center. More recently he has concentrated in the area of uniformly mass-produced nanoparticles for applications in nanomedicine, especially for the design of engineered drug therapies for the fight against cancer.

Among a great many honors, DeSimone was awarded the Lemelson-MIT prize, a $500,000 award that honors outstanding mid-career inventors dedicated to improving the world through technological invention and innovation. He has been named one of the “One Hundred Engineers of the Modern Era” by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He was among the youngest people ever to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He was also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2008 won the Tar Heel of the Year award from the Raleigh News and Observer.

Dr. DeSimone received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Ursinus College in 1986. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Suzanne, and they have two children, Philip and Emily.

Dr. Richard T. Crowder has had an outstanding career as a corporate leader and public servant to agricultural industries globally. In 2008 he joined the faculty of Virginia Tech as a professor of international trade in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

Dr. Crowder’s executive career has spanned 40 plus years with significant contributions to major U.S. corporations, the U.S. government and non-governmental organizations. He served in the office of the U. S. Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President as Chief Agricultural Negotiator, with the rank of ambassador. In this position he was responsible for directing all U.S. agricultural negotiations worldwide. For this service he was presented with the Distinguished Service Award by the United States Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President.

Dr. Crowder began his professional career as a staff economist for Exxon, and then held a number of high-level executive positions with Wilson & Company, The Pillsbury Company, Armour Swift-Eckrich and DEKALB Genetics. He took a leave from the corporate world in 1989 to become Under Secretary of International Affairs and Commodity Programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In this position he headed two presidential missions to the former Soviet Union to address food needs and policies of the former Soviet republics. He also received two other Presidential appointments: to serve as a member of the boards of directors of the Commodity Credit Corporation and the Rural Telephone Bank. In 2002, Dr. Crowder was named the CEO of the American Seed Trade Association and oversaw representing the interests of the over 800 plus company trade association worldwide.

Dr. Crowder rallied alumni of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics to create a scholarship to honor his mentor, Professor W. L. “Hoot” Gibson, Jr., which now provides five student scholarships a year. He also endowed the George T. and Estelle M. Crowder Scholarship in memory of his parents.

Dr. Crowder earned his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech in 1960 and his master’s degree in 1962 in Agricultural Economics. He received his Ph.D. in a

Agriculture Economics from Oklahoma State University in 1966 and has received its Distinguished Alumnus Award. He was named to the Virginia Tech Agriculture Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007 and is one of 100 alumni selected as a Virginia Tech Alumnus of the Millennium 2000.

Kirk H. Schulz currently serves as the 13th President of Kansas State University, where he initiated the K-State 2025 visionary planning initiative, which seeks to place Kansas State University among the top 50 public research universities in the next 15 years.

Dr. Schulz attended Old Dominion University before transferring to Virginia Tech, where he earned his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees.

In recognition of achievements in the field of Chemical Engineering, Dr. Schulz has been selected as a Fellow in both the American Society of Engineering Education and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was recognized with the Virginia Tech College of Engineering Outstanding Young Alumnus Award in 2000.

President Schulz is active in the Boy Scouts of America, and serves on the Executive Board of the Coronado Council. He also serves various roles on the boards of Cereal Food Processors, the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, the Kansas Bioscience Authority, the Big 12 Athletic Conference, and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

Dr. Satish Kulkarni received his doctorate in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech in 1972. After a distinguished career leading international and national collaborations related to energy, security, and the environment, Dr. Kulkarni returned to Virginia Tech last year as Director of Energy.

Dr. Kulkarni has an exemplary record of innovative scientific, educational and political leadership in national and international arenas. He began his career at Babcock & Wilcox’s Nuclear Power Generation Division before joining Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he directed numerous interdisciplinary projects. Upon deputation from Lawrence Livermore to the University of California’s office of the President he helped develop, communicate and

implement a unified corporate research strategy to better utilize and manage resources between California’s three national laboratories and the ten-campus University of California system.

Later, the U.S. Department of State appointed him to serve as the Science, Technology, Environment and Health Counselor in the US Embassy in New Delhi, India.

Dr. Dhruv Grewal is a Professor of Marketing at Babson College and holds its Toyota Chair in Commerce and Electronic Business. His career has been impressively prolific in multiple areas since receiving his doctorate in marketing in 1989. Dr. Grewal also earned his master’s degree at Virginia Tech.

He has authored more than 119 articles in the top journals in his field, serves on editorial review boards, and co-authored a text on marketing research. He has received seven teaching excellence awards as well as multiple awards for research over a 23-year period.

The Academy of Marketing Science has named him a Distinguished Fellow and has conferred to him four separate Lifetime Achievement Awards in different areas of marketing.

Dr. John P. Grotzinger is the chief scientist for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Mission and holds a chaired professorship at California Institute of Technology. In 1985 Dr. Grotzinger earned his doctorate in geological sciences from Virginia Tech and joined Columbia University in a post-doc position while working with the Geological Survey of Canada.

A few years later he joined the faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he later held a chaired professorship before moving to California and Cal Tech. Dr. Grozinger is a fellow

of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has won more than two dozen awards in recognition of his scientific accomplishments, most recently, the Roy Chapman Andrews Explorer Award, and the Charles Doolittle Walcott Medal, presented only once every five years by National Academy of Science. NASA awarded him its Outstanding Public Leadership Medal.

As chief scientist at NASA’s Mars Science Mission Laboratory he leads a team of 450 scientists in a $2.5 billion research program to study Mars. He and his team developed the Curiosity Rover which has performed so well that Discover magazine listed this rover giving researchers unprecedented access to the Red Planet as No. 1 in its list of the "Top 100 Science Stories of 2013."

John R. Hillman (’90, master’s degree, Civil Engineering), 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner.

Hillman, founder and president of HC Bridge Company, LLC, has been involved in the design, inspection and construction management of almost every kind of bridge that can carry pedestrians or vehicles. He invented a hybrid composite beam (HCB) that makes bridges safer, stronger, and lighter, with a manufacturing and the production process geared toward environmental sustainability.

Hillman was named a 2013 Champion of Change for Transportation Technology by President Barack Obama and honored at the White House. In 2012, Hillman received the Charles Pankow Award for Innovation from American Society of Civil Engineers.

In 2010 Engineering News-Record gave him their Award of Excellence. He was a co-recipient of the 2010 Construction Innovation Forum’s NOVA award and also that year won the American Composite Manufacturing Association’s Ace Award. Prior to that, he received the ASCE’s National Grand Award in 2009 and was honored by Popular Science Magazine in 2008 for his HCB invention.

Hillman earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and holds four U.S. patents as well as 24 international patents. He has worked at several well-known bridge companies, including Figg & Muller, Jean Muller International, and VSL. He is currently employed as the Bridge Practice Leader for Parsons Transportation Group.

Laura DeNardis, professor and associate dean in American University’s School of Communication in Washington, D.C., will receive the Graduate School’s 2016 Alumni Achievement Award during commencement exercises on May 12 in Cassell Coliseum.

A globally recognized Internet governance scholar, DeNardis earned her Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech, after earning a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree from Cornell University.

With a background in information engineering, she studies the social and political implications of Internet technical architecture and governance. Her work has been featured in such publications as Science Magazine, The Economist, New York Times, Time Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, The Atlantic, and the Wall Street Journal. She has written several books, including The Global War for Internet Governance, published by Yale University Press in 2014.

DeNardis is an affiliated fellow of the Yale Law School Information Society Project and served as its Executive Director from 2008-2011. She is a Senior Fellow of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and a frequent keynote speaker at global universities and institutions. She has previously taught at New York University and Yale Law School and currently is the Director of Research for the Global Commission on Internet Governance. She also is an appointed member of the U.S. Department of State's Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy (ACICIP). 

Robert D. Allen is a Distinguished Research Staff Member and Senior Manager of the Materials Discovery and Innovation Department at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, where he leads chemical/materials research. Allen grew up in Sharon, Penn. and attended Gannon College in Erie, Penn. where he received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Allen studied polymer chemistry at Virginia Tech and earned his Ph.D. in 1985. His research focused on living anionic polymerization. Allen joined IBM in 1985, where he was introduced to the world of photoresists under the direction of C. Grant Willson. Allen was named an SPIE (international society for optics and photonics) Fellow for his pioneering work in the development of 193nm photoresists.  He is a member in the National Academy of Engineering, won the 2014 American Chemical Society (ACS) award in Industrial Polymer Chemistry, and is a Fellow of ACS’s Polymer Division.  He recently was elected to the Virginia Tech College of Science’s Hall of Distinction.  

Mauro Atalla, Class of 1996, will receive the Graduate Alumni Achievement Award during the Graduate Commencement Ceremony at 2:30 p.m. on May 10 at Cassell Coliseum on the Blacksburg campus.

Atalla is the Vice President of Engineering and Technology for Sensors and Integrated Systems, a business of United Technologies, Corporation. He leads the Sensors and Integrated Systems division in Burnsville, Minnesota, a unit that includes more than 60 product lines, with more than 1,300 engineers working from a wide range of national and global locations. He is responsible for all design engineering activities, from technology development to product design, to support to field service.

Atalla joined United Technologies Corporation in 2000 and has worked with most of the firm’s business units. Prior to his work there, he was a research scientist with the Active Materials and Structures Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an associate professor at a university in Brazil. He is the author or co-author of six patents, and his publications include numerous journal articles and a book chapter. He also has delivered 29 conference papers and was co-chair of Ninth International Conference on Adaptive Structures and Technologies. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Atalla earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of Campinas in Brazil. He earned his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech, and also earned an MBA from Duke University. He serves on the Industrial Advisory Boards of Virginia Tech’s Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics Department and the University of Michigan’s Aerospace Department.   

Benjamin K. Sovacool (Ph.D., 2006) will receive the 2019 Graduate Alumni Achievement Award during the Graduate Commencement Ceremony on May 16 at 2:30 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum on the university’s Blacksburg campus.

Sovacool is a professor of energy policy at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex’s School of Business, Management, and Economics in the United Kingdom. He serves as director of both the Sussex Energy Group and the Center on Innovation and Energy Demand, and is internationally known for his research, which focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, the politics of large-scale energy infrastructure, designing public policy to improve energy security and access to electricity, and building adaptive capacity to the consequences of climate change.

Sovacool is a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report, due to be published in 2022, and is an advisor on Energy to the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation in Brussels, Belgium.

He has written numerous academic articles, book chapters, and reports, and is author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of 20 books.  He also has received 20 national and international awards and honors, and has presented research at more than 150 international conferences across the globe.

As a graduate student at Virginia Tech, he worked on a large grant from the NSF’s Electric Power Networks Efficiency and Security Program analyzing the barriers to small-scale renewable electricity sources and distributed generation in the United States.

He holds a Ph.D. in science and technology studies and a master’s degree from Virginia Tech, a master’s degree from Wayne State University and a bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University.

Dr. James L. Moore III, the vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer at The Ohio State University and the executive director of the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male. He also is the EHE Distinguished Professor in Urban Education at Ohio State’s College of Education and Human Ecology.

Dr. Moore’s professional life has been devoted to improving the life conditions and opportunities for all students and he has been especially passionate about creating educational access for African American males.

He has served as a program director for Broadening Participation in Engineering in the Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, and was an associate provost for Diversity and Inclusion at The Ohio State University, where he managed numerous programs and units.

Dr. Moore is internationally recognized for his research and work on African-American males and has been quoted and featured in major newspapers and was named one of the top 200 most influential scholars in the United States who inform education policy, practice and reform by Education Week.

He has co-edited five books and published more than 130 articles, obtained more than $20 million in grants, contracts, and gifts; and given more than scholarly presentations and lectures throughout across the globe. He has received numerous awards and honors for his work and is recognized as an outstanding mentor for his work with graduate students.

Dr. Moore received his B.A. in English Education from Delaware State University and both his M.A. Ed., and Ph.D. in Counselor Education from Virginia Tech. 

Jonathan Foote and Carolina Dayer are professors at the Aarhus School of Architecture in Denmark and are this year’s co-recipients of the Graduate Alumni Achievement Award.  Dr. Foote received his MArch in 2001 and his Ph.D. in Architecture in 2013. Dr. Dayer earned her MArch in 2007 and her PhD in Architecture in 2015. During their graduate studies at Virginia Tech’s Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center, known as the WAAC (pronounced “wack”), they became engaged and married.

Dr. Dayer studied the drawing practices of famed modern Italian architect Carlo Scarpa, examining archival drawings and interviewing his assistants and son to how establish Scarpa’s highly innovative drawing techniques elevate everyday events into his world-renowned architectural designs. Dr. Foote studied renaissance artist and architect Michelangelo’s construction templates and proved for the first time that Michelangelo used them not just for transferring instructions to builders but for active experimentation and design changes. They have taught at several universities in the US and abroad and have continued a very active schedule of publishing their research in books, journals and presentations at conferences.

They have continued their connections with Virginia Tech as lecturers and committee members. Dr. Foote created an international network program, allowing many faculty members from both his institution and Virginia Tech to visit and cooperate with each other. They have a deep and sincere commitment to the highest quality of work to serve the field and care for the growth and wellbeing of individuals with whom they work – both students and colleagues. 

Karey Sutton (Ph.D., Science and Technology Studies, 2010) is the 2023 Alumni Achievement Award winner. Sutton is the Health Equity Research scientific director for MedStar Health Research Institute in Washington, D.C., where she is responsible for strategy and growth in health equity research and for building partnerships and community relations to foster such research.

Before joining MedStar, she worked with the Association of American Medical Colleges, as Director of Research for the association’s Center for Health Justice, which she launched. She co-created toolkits and video series on trustworthiness in the medical fields. Throughout her time with AAMC, she increased awareness and visibility of health equity research and its value in academic medicine. Associate Professor Daniel Breslau, who nominated Sutton for this award, said “In all of these roles and throughout her research, Dr. Sutton emphasizes the importance of collaborative work, strategic and research-driven policies and analysis, and a deep concern for doing good by communities that continue to experience structural racism and white supremacy at the hands of medicine and public health.”

She earned her doctoral and master’s degrees in Science and Technology Studies at Virginia Tech, and two bachelor’s degrees from Howard University. Her research explored the neglect of African-American and Latinx communities in genetic testing and research. Since completing her degrees, she has been recognized as a leader in health equity research and advocacy. During her time at Virginia Tech, Sutton was active in the Black Graduate Student Organization, the Graduate Student Assembly (now the Graduate and Professional Student Senate), and was a Minority Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) scholar.

Sutton is seen as a leader and “champion for health equity research” with deep strategic, policy and methodological expertise.

Owen Wagner, who earned a master’s degree in agricultural and applied economics in 2007, will receive the Graduate School’s 2024 Graduate Alumni Achievement Award at the Graduate Commencement ceremony on Dec. 15.

Wagner currently is vice president and senior analyst focusing on grains and oilseeds for North American markets at Rabobank, a financial services company. Wagner’s His research explores sustainable aviation fuel using agricultural feedstocks to supplement conventional jet fuel. His research also aims to mitigate the economic and environmental concerns associated with fuels and with the agricultural focus on growing feedstocks for fuel.

Prior to joining Rabobank, he was chief executive officer of the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association and conducted wide-ranging economic and marketing research. He also served as a research senior economist with LMC International.

In a recent interview, Wagner credited his degree from Virginia Tech with helping him relate to clients and having a global economic understanding of markets. His nominators noted that he embodies the spirit of Ut prosim through his service to regional and global agriculture and through is volunteer community work in Raleigh, North Carolina.