Celebrating our annual award winners!May 21, 2020
The winners of this year’s ColoradoSPH awards
Dean’s Special Recognition Award: This award recognizes an individual or organization for major contributions to ColoradoSPH. This year’s winner, Judith Albino, PhD (University of Colorado President Emerita; past Interim Dean and Associate Dean of Advancement; Professor, Community and Behavioral Health), has been involved with the School since the beginning, holding various administrative roles and contributing to faculty development through the Clinical Faculty Scholars and Leadership Development Program and as a model to our increasing number of female faculty. In addition to her administrative work, she directed the Center for Native Oral Health Research and is currently serving as Scientific Editor and Co-Project Director for the 2020 Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health in America. She also funds a diversity scholarship that has supported 17 public health students with almost $100,000 in funding in the last five years alone.
Honorary Delta Omega: The Honorary Delta Omega Inductee possesses exceptional qualifications and has attained meritorious distinction in the field of public health. This year’s inductee is former Colorado State Senator Jeanne Nicholson, who led a single-nurse public health agency in Gilpin County for twenty years. As Senator representing the 16th district, she helped draft and pass the 2008 Colorado Public Health Improvement Act, a critical step for advancing public health for all Coloradans.
Excellence in Faculty Research: This award recognizes an outstanding investigator with a demonstrated record of nationally and internationally recognized research or creative work providing significant contribution to their profession or discipline. This year’s recipient, Betsy Risendal, PhD (Associate Professor, Community and Behavioral Health), has had an amazingly successful year in research productivity. She received four grants as either Principal Investigator or co-PI and has two more under review. Over the past few years, she’s co-authored 15 papers, reflecting her lifetime commitment to cancer survivorship, most recently in the translation and dissemination of cancer prevention and control evidence-based interventions.
Faculty Excellence in Student-Mentored Research: This award recognizes a ColoradoSPH faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to student learning by engaging students in the procurement of external funding or dissemination of research findings. This year’s winner, Jessica Elf, PhD (Assistant Professor, Epidemiology), makes herself available to help advisees while still granting them agency and independence. Students who work with her are exposed to all stages of the research process, from IRB application to manuscript writing. Her advisees recognize her as the embodiment of what it means to be a research mentor.
Faculty Excellence in Mentoring and Advising: This award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to student learning and professional development through advising and mentoring. This year’s winner, Laura Saba, PhD (Assistant Professor, Biostatistics and Informatics), cultivates an environment of excellence in her lab without the stigma of failure. She provides her advisees with the intellectual freedom to conduct research in their areas of interest and guides students in the process of figuring out their own paths forward as they progress in their careers.
Faculty Excellence in Teaching: This award recognizes a family remember for his or her instructional contributions to ColoradoSPH. This year’s winner, Virginia Visconti, PhD (Assistant Professor, Community and Behavioral Health), receives praise from her colleagues for her dedication to meeting students where they are and providing knowledge to move them forward and inspire lifetime learning and curiosity. She invites engagement and student contribution into her classroom and treats students as professionals and colleagues, going beyond teaching into being a true educator.
Outstanding Contribution by a Staff Member: This award recognizes ColoradoSPH staff who demonstrate outstanding achievement, a strong work ethic, cooperation with others, and a commitment to the school. This year’s recipient, Bernadette Gutierrez, is the leader of Staff Council and department administrator for Community and Behavioral Health. Those who work with her praise her responsiveness and commitment to every project she takes on. Her innovative solutions and creative approaches are evident in small tasks providing support for faculty and large event organization. All of her colleagues stress what a joy she is to work with and acknowledge how their jobs are made easier thanks to her dedication.
Faculty Award for Excellence in Public Health Practice: This award recognizes faculty for their excellence and commitment to public health practice or service in the Rocky Mountain Region. This year’s winner, Patricia Valverde, PhD (Instructor, Community and Behavioral Health), is an expert teacher and trainer, giving dozens of training workshops on patient navigation, primarily to organizations with an American Indian and Alaska Native focus. Since 2017, she has also served as the Co-Chair for the Steering Committee for the National Navigation Roundtable in Workforce Development.
Student Excellence in Public Health Practice: This year’s winner, Abbey Collins (MPH ’19, Community Health Education) has spent the last few years developing programming to address sexual health education for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their parents, and community members. Recognizing the difficulties that written material can introduce, she uses gifs to provide tools for individuals with severe intellectual disabilities to recognize and report sexual assault. She has never shied away from difficult or uncomfortable topics and leads discussions with evidence-based responses in a non-judgmental manner.
Outstanding Contribution by a Student: This award is given to one student from each of our three campuses who demonstrates extraordinary commitment or contributions to our school.
University of Northern Colorado: This year’s winner from UNC, Leah Brunner (MPH, Community Health Education), is a Graduate Assistant and a member of the ColoradoSPH at UNC Student Council. She gives tirelessly both to the school and to her work addressing suicide prevention in youths, and is the go-to person on campus to represent the school.
Colorado State University: This year’s winner from CSU, Ashley Clark (MPH, Physical Activity and Healthy Lifestyles) serves as a student ambassador for CSU, gives campus tours, and has presented to new students as part of orientation. Her professors praise her effort, intelligence, and engagement in the classroom.
CU Anschutz: This year’s winner from CU Anschutz, BreAnna Teeters (MPH ’20, Health Systems, Management and Policy), served as CU Student Council President and the President of the Tri-Institutional Student Leadership Council, in addition to serving on multiple committees during her time at ColoradoSPH. She is always willing to offer assistance and is dedicated to bettering the experience for students in the school.
University of Colorado awards given to ColoradoSPH faculty and leaders
University of Colorado University Medal: University Medals are awarded by the University of Colorado Board of Regents in recognition of outstanding achievements and contributions associated with the University. Donna Boucher, Immediate Past Chair of the Colorado School of Public Health Advisory Board, received this award in recognition of her service to the Colorado School of Public Health. She played a critical role in the creation of the school as part of the School of Public Health Initiative and has served on the board since 2011. Currently, she works to raise public awareness of the challenges facing society and our healthcare system surrounding mental health in support of the new Population Mental Health and Wellbeing program.
Distinguished Professor: The title of “Distinguished Professor” is the highest honor the University of Colorado bestows on faculty members, recognizing outstanding contribution to academic discipline. This year, Lee Newman, MD (Professor, Environmental and Occupational Health; Director, Center for Health, Work & Environment) was honored for his work as the founding director of both the Center for Health, Work & Environment and the Mountain & Plains Education Research Center, and as co-founder of Health Links™ and the Certificate in Total Worker Health ®. Dr. Newman has been with the school since before its inception as a member of the Department of Preventive Medicine and played a critical role in the development of the Colorado School of Public Health.
President’s Excellence in Teaching Award: This award is selected by the graduating class for outstanding, innovative, and inspirational contributions to our students’ professional development. This year’s winner, Molly Lamb, PhD (Assistant Professor, Epidemiology), makes indelible marks on her students through her creative methods of sharing knowledge with students and genuine desire to help the community, along with her commitment to diversity and supporting students of different backgrounds.
Chancellor’s Teaching Recognition Award, ColoradoSPH: This award is nominated by the graduating class and selected by a committee with a student representative, a faculty representative, and an administrator. This year’s recipient from the students of ColoradoSPH, Wei Perng, PhD (Assistant Professor, Epidemiology), has gone above and beyond in her first year teaching, creating an atmosphere of community and collaboration that makes the curriculum gratifying for students. She simultaneously exudes professionalism and approachability in a way that motivates her students to succeed. Chancellor’s Teaching Recognition Award, Graduate School: This year, the teaching award on behalf of students of the Graduate School also went to ColoradoSPH faculty. Katerina Kechris, PhD (Professor, Biostatistics and Informatics) stands out to her students because of her ability to make difficult topics tangible through high-quality, enthusiastic lectures and thorough, well-thought out slides. Students in her classes feel prioritized, valued, and understood, and often leave the classroom praising “the best course they’ve ever taken.”
CSU Awards Given to ColoradoSPH Faculty
Faculty Institute for Inclusive Excellence Diversity Impact Award: This award recognizes one Faculty Institute for Inclusive Excellence Fellow who has actively transformed their classroom and positively influenced the campus climate. This year’s winner, Chrissy Chard, PhD (Assistant Professor, Community and Behavioral Health/Health and Exercise Science), tailors programming surrounding physical activity, self-esteem, and body image in adolescent girls using community-based participatory research. She is the co-founder of a non-profit for middle school students called Smart Fit Girls.
Provost’s Award for Faculty Excellence: Lincoln Laureate: This award celebrates exceptional balance and joint excellence across teaching, scholarly, or creative activity and service in the best spirit of the land grant university mission. This year’s recipient, Heather Leach, PhD (Assistant Professor, Community and Behavioral Health/Health and Exercise Science), focuses on the social ecologic determinants of physical activity adoption and maintenance, benefits of physical activity for cancer survivors, and translating physical activity intervention research into standard health care practice.
Emerging Community Engagement Scholarship Award: This award celebrates a community-university partnership with potential for long-term impact, achievement, and scholarship. This year’s winner, the Colorado Blueprint for Food and Agriculture, is led by a team including Dawn Thilmany, PhD (Professor, Community and Behavioral Health/Agricultural and Resource Economics). The Blueprint highlights the key activities, investments, and planning that will be done to frame the long-term mission of the Food and Agriculture arm of the Regional Economic Development Institute.
Congratulations to all of our 2020 award winners! You are just part of what makes ColoradoSPH great.