2020 University and Regents award winners University and Regents award winners
Regents’ Rising Researcher Award
Alexis is an associate professor of computer science and engineering and Autonomous Robots Lab director. With applications in subterranean exploration, nuclear site inspection, and search and rescue, Alexis’ research is supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Department of Agriculture and more. Alexis has received several best paper awards and distinctions for his more than 100 scientific publications, and participated in and organized several large-scale international research projects.
Regents’ Creative Activities Award
Dmitri Atapine, cello professor and Department of Music chair, is a highly sought performer and educator who regularly appears with leading organizations across the U.S. and abroad. An artist with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Atapine is co-director of the Young Performers Program at Music@Menlo Festival in the Bay Area and founding artistic director of the University’s Apex Concerts. Atapine holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale School of Music.
Research Faculty Mentor
Kate Berry is a geography professor whose research interests include water governance and geographies of social identity. She is currently a member of the Ozmen Institute for Global Studies Advisory Committee and has previously served as Core Curriculum director and president of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers. Berry received her doctorate from the University of Colorado Boulder, a master’s from Colorado State University and her bachelor’s from Northern Arizona University.
of the Year Award
Geoffrey Blewitt is a geosciences professor and joined the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology in 1999. He founded the Nevada Geodetic Laboratory, which has projects funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the United States Geological Survey. Blewitt received the 1987 American Astrophysical Society’s Bruno Rossi Prize and the 2015 European Geosciences Union’s Vening Medal. He was also recognized as the 1991 Fellow of the International Association of Geodesy and the 2005 Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.
Kimberly Bonnenfant, marketing and publicity outreach coordinator for the University’s Honors College, has worked in numerous roles during her 27 years at the University, including Receiving, the Department of Training and Development, Library Administration and the Office for Prospective Students. In her current role, Bonnenfant leads honors recruitment by reaching out to prospective students via email, text and special events. Bonnenfant says she couldn’t do her work without the amazing staff in numerous departments campuswide.
Innovative Impact Award
Carlos Cardillo, director of the Nevada Center for Applied Research, facilitates entrepreneurship among academics and community members and has created local initiatives and established international collaborations. Before joining the University, Cardillo implemented large research programs sponsored by the Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation. He received a Ph.D. from Trident at American InterContinental University, a master’s from New York Medical College and a bachelor’s from National University of the Northeast in Argentina.
F. Donald Tibbitts
Distinguished Teacher Award
Amy Fitch is a senior lecturer in the School of Community Health Sciences. She has taught since 2008 and is both the lead faculty for the Introduction to Community Health Sciences course and director of undergraduate studies. Fitch’s research, program and policy interests are in the areas of built environment and active transportation. She earned her master’s in public health from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Mozart Fonseca, who earned his Ph.D. and master’s in animal science-applied statistical modeling and his bachelor’s in agronomic engineering, is an assistant professor of beef cattle production and applied modeling in the Department of Agriculture, Veterinary & Rangeland Sciences. Since joining the University, Fonseca has given 49 invited presentations around the globe, completed 15 conference abstracts and helped the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources publish 19 peer-reviewed papers.
Global Engagement Award
Zeb Hogan, a research assistant professor and host of Nat Geo Wild’s “Monster Fish,” studies large freshwater fish and their native ecosystems. The 2011 National Geographic Fellow is part of the biology department’s Aquatic Ecosystems Analysis Laboratory and is a member of the University’s Global Water Center. Hogan received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis and a bachelor’s from The University of Arizona.
Distinguished Faculty Award
Kenneth Hunter is a microbiology and immunology professor in the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine. Members of Hunter’s laboratory perform research in the areas of immunology, microbiology and biomedical engineering — supporting advancements in the treatment of cancer and infectious and autoimmune diseases. Hunter earned his doctorate in immunology and pathology from Johns Hopkins University and has worked at UNR Med for more than 30 years.
Regents’ Academic Advisor Award, Undergraduate
Grace Leal, academic advisor and coordinator of pre-professional advancement, joined the University in 2014 with nearly 20 years of higher education experience. At the Exploratory and Pre-Professional Advising Center, she supports pre-health and pre-law students with academic and application preparation. Helping students realize their dreams, Leal honors each new acceptance with a celebratory bell ringing. Before coming to the University, Leal served in director positions at Saint Mary’s College and California State University, Monterey Bay.
Regents’ Academic Advisor Award, Graduate
Anne Leonard is an associate professor in the College of Science’s Department of Biology. Leonard has received grants from the National Science Foundation and Department of Agriculture to support her research on bumblebee behavior and health. Leonard was awarded postdoctoral fellowships at The University of Arizona and University of Massachusetts Amherst and received her Ph.D. and master’s in animal behavior from the University of California, Davis, and her bachelor’s from Brown University.
University Foundation Outstanding Supervisor Award
Carrie Murphey is the director of Advising, Recruitment and Retention in the College of Education. Before joining the University in January 2019, Murphey welcomed and mentored students through various leadership roles at Bates College in Maine and The University of Chicago in Illinois. She received her master’s from Northwestern University and her bachelor’s from Bates College.
Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Leadership Award
Eleni Oikonomidoy is the associate dean of Academics and Undergraduate Programs and professor of multicultural education in the College of Education. She received a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Washington, Seattle and joined the University of Nevada in 2006. Oikonomidoy co-founded the College of Education’s Equity and Diversity in Education graduate program. She received the college’s 2015 Outstanding Outreach Award, the 2016 Outstanding Researcher Award, and the 2019 Judith S. Bible Teaching Excellence in Education Award.
F. Donald Tibbitts Distinguished Teacher Award
Elena Pravosudova is a teaching professor of biology in the College of Science. Originally from Russia, Pravosudova earned her bachelor’s and master’s in zoology from Saint Petersburg State University. She moved to the United States in 1991, where she completed her doctorate in evolution, ecology, and organismal biology from The Ohio State University. Pravosudova is passionately committed to undergraduate education and teaches Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology, Fundamentals of Life Science, Principles of Biological Investigations, and Peer Leadership in Biology.
Distinguished Service Award
Chuck Price, who recently retired, was the director of the Joe Crowley Student Union. Price joined the University in 1994 and served on numerous committees, including as the 2014-15 chair of the Faculty Senate. He helped plan and open the Joe Crowley Student Union. Price received his MBA with an emphasis in finance and strategic planning from Columbia University and a master’s in higher education and bachelor’s in business administration from The College at Brockport, State University of New York.
Stephen Rock is a special education professor in the College of Education and director of the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities. As NCED director, he has conducted or supervised more than $50 million in funded projects. Rock has served as Faculty Senate chair, College of Education acting dean, and Department of Curriculum and Instruction chair. He received the 2019 University Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Leadership Award and 1999 College of Education’s Senior Scholar Mentor Award.
Researcher of the Year Award
Kenton Sanders is professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine. He received the state’s first Program Project Grant in 1989 that was renewed repetitively for 30 years, earning $40 million from the National Institutes of Health. His research made extensive contributions to understanding what drives gastrointestinal motility. Sanders earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles and a bachelor’s from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Foundation Early Career
Yftah Tal-Gan is an assistant professor who leads the Tal-Gan Research Group in the College of Science. The lab’s research focuses on the development of chemical-based tools to study bacterial communication mechanisms. In January, the team’s results detailed a breakthrough that may aid treatment or prevention of deadly bacterial diseases like Streptococcus pneumoniae. Tal-Gan received his Ph.D., master’s, MBA and bachelor’s from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Ann-Marie Vollstedt ’02, ’05 M.S., ’10 Ph.D.
Paul and Judy Bible University Teaching Excellence Award
Ann-Marie Vollstedt is a senior lecturer in the College of Engineering where she teaches courses in engineering design, statics and computer methods. Vollstedt’s research focuses on engineering education. She recently received the 2019 F. Donald Tibbitts Distinguished Teacher Award and the 2019 Nevada Women’s Fund Woman of Achievement award. Foundation Trustee Emeritus and Distinguished Nevadan Paul Bible ‘62 (economics), ‘09 (Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters) and his late wife, Judy ‘65 (elementary education), have been longtime supporters of the University and established this endowed award to build morale and enthusiasm among University faculty.