College of Science celebrates 2021 distinguished alumni

Alumni from the College of Science and the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering were commended at last night's annual event.

Students on the quad in autumn.

College of Science celebrates 2021 distinguished alumni

Alumni from the College of Science and the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering were commended at last night's annual event.

Students on the quad in autumn.

Every year, the College of Science and the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering honor some of their accomplished graduates. At the annual Distinguished Alumni of the Year event nine alums were honored. These alums have a wide range of accomplishments, including performing outreach in their communities, producing hundreds of publications, winning NIH grants and lifelong learning. The achievements of these alumni cannot be understated. The event was held last night, and the following are the honored alumni.

College of Science Alumnus of the Year

Rick Gardner: Psychology (M.A., 1968; Ph.D., 1969)

Rick M. Gardner received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University in 1969. While attending graduate school he met his future wife, a fellow graduate student in the clinical psychology program. Their union, which lasted for 50+ years and produced two children, was a source of everlasting happiness for Gardner. He spent his entire professional career in academia, initially as a professor at the University of Southern Colorado and most recently as psychology department chair at the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver). His research specialty is in body image perception; specifically, how accurately people perceive their body size and how satisfied they are with that perception. His research laboratory was supported by a series of grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Publications include nearly 100 articles in peer reviewed journals and book chapters. He has given invited addresses at numerous universities worldwide. Gardner’s research is internationally recognized for the methodological innovations he introduced. He is currently professor emeritus of psychology at CU Denver and is a trustee for the University of Colorado Foundation. Gardner also remains active in several other committees at CU. He has a passion for playing bridge and struggles to master the intricacies of the game. Gardner is a widower and is the author of the book “Journey Through Alzheimer’s” that details the struggles he and his wife experienced with her disease during her final years. He is very grateful to the University and the University faculty for the unequivocal support offered to him during his transformative years there. As an expression of that gratitude, Gardner has established an endowment to support current and future College of Science doctoral students in psychology.

Mackay School Alumnus of the Year

Mark Svoboda: Geology (M.S., 1988)

Mark Svoboda attended Southern Utah University and Weber State, earning his bachelor’s degree, before attending the Mackay School of Mines. He started at Mackay when he needed field camp for graduation for his B.S. in geology and “maybe a lead for an advanced degree sometime in the future.” He spoke shortly over the phone with Joseph Lintz Jr. (who was the field camp leader and who would later become Mark’s thesis advisor) and was able to secure the last spot in the 1981 Mackay School field camp. Mark finished his semester at the other university three weeks early to make it to Ruth, Nevada for a six-week session with Professors Hibbard, Larsen and Lintz. After working for five years as a petroleum geologist, Svoboda applied to the Mackay School for his M.S. and graduated in 1988, completing his thesis under Lintz. Lintz and Svoboda kept in contact until Lintz's passing. Svoboda worked in the oil and gas exploration industry in Oklahoma, and later became an independent geologist. He is a frequent visitor to campus, collaborating with geological sciences faculty and students in the Mackay School. He is passionate about the future of the Geological Field Camp and has worked tirelessly in recent years on ideas that will enable the Field Camp to continue to be an integral part of the education experience for Mackay students. Svoboda enjoys supporting Mackay School student travel and field trips and has generously established a planned gift that will benefit the Mackay School. Svoboda currently lives in Glenbrook, Nevada and is focused on mineral exploration in central Nevada.

College of Science Professional Achievement Award

April Carman: Chemistry (Ph.D., 2002)

April Carman received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University under advisor Sean Casey. She was a graduate student working to wrap up her dissertation on September 11 when the attacks on US soil occurred. This event changed the trajectory of her career when her plans to graduate in the coming months and work in the technology industry were suddenly halted, as jobs in that industry evaporated post 9-11. This sudden shift in the job landscape presented an opportunity to examine a different career pathway in national security. Carman took a post-doctoral position at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in the National Security Directorate in 2002. She started as a post-doc working in Nuclear Explosion Monitoring with the team that fields systems internationally, monitoring for releases of radioactive xenon as indicators for underground nuclear explosions under the direction of another former College of Science chemist alum. Shortly thereafter she was hired as a scientist where she has worked on several projects funded through the Defense and Nuclear Nonproliferation program within the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) as well as other government and private entities including the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Department of Defense (DoD) and others. Her work has focused on trace detection and analysis, gas systems, instrument design, and post-detonation nuclear forensics and more broadly in technology transfer and research and development integration with end users. Carman has managed multiple projects and her work managing a program with the DoD earned a 2012 Federal Laboratory Consortium, Interagency Partnership Award – a joint award with the US Navy, a private industrial company (Steward Advanced Materials) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the Advanced CO2 Removal Unit. This work was also awarded a 2012 R&D100 Award and the 2013 American Chemical Society Award for Team Innovation. Carman and her husband, Hans, were married at Lake Tahoe while she was in graduate school at the University. They continue to enjoy the outdoors with their three children in Washington state, but never stop talking about the beauty of the Reno-Tahoe and Sierra Nevada regions and how they treasured their time in Reno.

Mackay School Professional Achievement Award

William Haworth: Geology (M.S., 1980)

William (“Bill”) D. Haworth was born and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and attended the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. His interest in geology was sparked by a historical geology class taught by the late K.O. Stanley. He majored in geology and graduated with a B.S. in 1977. Haworth’s interest in Nevada geology began in 1976 when he attended the U. of Nebraska field camp, based in Eureka, Nevada. The field camp offered a great introduction to Nevada geology via projects at Lone Mountain and the Sulphur Springs Range. In 1977, he accepted a teaching fellowship at the Mackay School of Mines and enrolled in the fall of 1977. At Mackay he had the honor of studying under the late E.R. and L.T. Larson, and Joe Lintz, and graduated in late 1979 after completing a mapping thesis on the Northern portion of the Diamond Range, Eureka County, Nevada. He began his career with Chevron in New Orleans as a Gulf of Mexico petroleum geologist in January of 1980. The majority of his career focused on development geology in Bay Marchand and other giant oil fields, where he developed the skills of finding and mapping oil and gas prospects. Haworth was responsible for the drilling of over 40 successful wells over the span of his career and co-authored several published papers on the geology and geophysics of Bay Marchand Field. Throughout his career at Chevron, Haworth actively promoted the sharing of lessons learned and best practices within the earth science community, a practice dating back to his days at Mackay where he facilitated the Tuesday afternoon Geology Colloquium. Haworth retired as a Senior Staff Geologist in 2015. Since retiring, he has served on the boards of the Northshore (La.) Food Bank and New Orleans Geological Society and has pursued other volunteer activities. Haworth joined the Geological Society of Nevada in 2015 and remains a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Geological Society of America, and other societies. He enjoys golf, traveling, mineral collecting, spending time with his wife and family and sharing his enjoyment of rocks and minerals with his four grandchildren.

2021 Young Alumni Awardees

Robert Espinoza: Biology/EECB (Ph.D., 2002)

Robert (“Bobby”) E. Espinoza developed an early and strong attachment to nature. His specific passion for amphibians and reptiles began in kindergarten, and after acquiring many pets of that kind, he eventually sought to turn his hobby into a career. He received a B.S. in Biology from San Diego State University and started in the Biology Ph.D. program at Colorado State University. After two years, he followed his advisor, C. Richard (“Dick”) Tracy to the University of Nevada, Reno where Tracy was hired as a biology professor and director of the Biological Resources Research Center. Espinoza joined the interdisciplinary program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (EECB), where he developed life-long friendships with several grads and met his life partner, Cynthia (“Cindy”) J. Hitchcock (M.S. student in Biology). Espinoza also taught a herpetology course and devoted considerable time to curating and creating a digital catalog of the historically invaluable fish, amphibian, and reptile collections (now housed in the Museum of Natural History). Before defending his Ph.D., he was hired as an assistant professor of biology at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). He postponed acceptance of that position to take a postdoctoral fellowship at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. After 20 years at CSUN, Espinoza is now a professor of biology and associate dean for CSUN’s College of Science and Mathematics. He has taught and mentored hundreds of students, studied his favorite animals in nine countries, published over 50 papers, and received numerous grants, awards, and honors over the course of his career. He and Hitchcock have two teenage children (Max and Olivia) who have been involved in their studies as well.

Frances Gonzalez: Psychology (M.A., 2017; Ph.D., 2020)

Frances R. Gonzalez received her M.A. in Psychology in 2017 and graduated with her Ph.D. in 2020 from the College of Science. Since graduating, Gonzalez completed a postdoc residency at Kaiser Permanente in California and has been hired on as a staff therapist. Gonzalez serves on the Latino Patient Advisory Board, which aims to provide equitable health care services to Latinx and Spanish-speaking patients at Kaiser. Gonzalez also guest lectures for the Santa Rosa Family Medical Residency program, teaching about diversity, equity, inclusion, and interventions for structural violence. Additionally, during her medical residency, she has also served as mentor for the Futures Faces of Family Medicine, a pathways program for high school students from minority, lower socioeconomic and first-generation college backgrounds. The program addresses healthcare disparities along racial and socioeconomic lines by mentoring underrepresented minority high school students and providing avenues to careers in medicine. Gonzalez has written multiple grants, published a book and written around a dozen peer-reviewed manuscripts in various stages. She continues to work on what she started at the University as a graduate student with associate professor of clinical psychology Lorraine Benuto, educating the community about mental health stigma and bridging the gap between the Latinx community with mental health problems and access to care.

Rachel Micander: Geology (B.S., 2010)

Rachel Micander received her bachelor’s degree in Geology at the Mackay School in May of 2010. Following graduation, she began working for the Nevada Division of Minerals as a Geologist and Geographic Information System (GIS) Specialist on the Abandoned Mine Lands program. During her time with the Division of Minerals she visited many remote locations throughout Nevada, fostering her love for the Great Basin and drive to share the unique geologic wonders of the state. Micander worked with contractors, claimants, federal, tribal, state, and local agencies and five groups of summer interns to catalog and secure abandoned mine features statewide. She also served as the main GIS contact for agency-wide data and helped facilitate the transition to digital data collection for abandoned mine features. In 2014, she transitioned into a position with the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG) at the University. She currently works as an analyst in GIS and Cartography and is pursuing a master’s degree in geology at the University. She focuses on developing web maps and story maps to educate the public about geologic hazards, mineral resources, geology, and the vast amount of digital information that NBMG has available. She is also involved in the cartographic production of geologic maps and is very active with education and outreach in the geosciences for K-12 teachers and students and NBMG Earth Science Week field trips. Micander has been a member of the Nevada Mining Association’s Education Committee since 2010, teaching geologic concepts at workshops in both northern and southern Nevada. Since coming to NBMG, she has been actively involved in updating the State Hazard Mitigation plan with the Division of Emergency Management. Micander is also the Nevada State Representative for the National States Geographic Information Council, a nationwide group focused on the advancement of GIS.

Taisuke Nagayama: Physics (B.S., 2002; M.S., 2006; Ph.D., 2011)

Taisuke Nagayama received dual bachelor’s degrees at the University in Computer Science and Physics in 2002 and proceeded to complete his M.S. in Physics in 2006. He continued in the physics graduate program and graduated in 2011 with his Ph.D. For his dissertation, he was the first to analyze and extract 3-dimensional temperature and density distributions of hot, dense plasma. In addition to his thesis and dissertation manuscripts, his graduate research work produced eight peer-reviewed publications as first author and nine as co-author. Outreach was always important to Nagayama and while he was a graduate student he worked as a volunteer with local community programs focused on education. Upon completion of his Ph.D., he accepted an offer as a postdoc at Sandia National Laboratories where his hard work has helped to reveal our insufficient understanding of atomic behaviors in the sun. This work led to recognition for him and his team with the Lockheed Martin NOVA Award and the NNSA Defense Program Award for Excellence. Currently, Nagayama is engaged in multiple fundamental science projects and leading the modeling and data analysis of stellar opacity experiments. He has authored or co-authored 28 publications in peer-reviewed journals and given multiple invited talks at national and international meetings. He has continued his outreach with participation in summer internship programs for undergraduates and mentoring graduate students by helping young scientists to improve the clarity and integrity of their work. 

Fares Qeadan: Mathematics (B.S., 2006; M.S., 2008)

Fares Qeadan received dual bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science at the University in 2006 and then proceeded to complete an M.S. in Mathematics in 2008. After graduation, he went to Michigan State University where he received an M.S. in Statistics. In 2014, Qeadan completed his Ph.D. in Statistics at the University of New Mexico. He then started a seven-year journey as an assistant and associate professor of biostatistics working for the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNMHSC) from 2015-2019 and then transferred to the University of Utah Department of Family and Preventative Medicine from 2019-2021. During his journey as a faculty member, he also completed a two-year program in Medical Education Scholarship. Qeadan has just recently accepted a new appointment as a tenured associate professor of biostatistics at Loyola University Chicago Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health where he will be assisting in building their new DrPH program and creating a new graduate program in biostatistics – something he has always wanted to do. Over the course of his career, he has contributed substantially to research, teaching, and service. He has developed a nationally recognized line of research, externally funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Indian Health Service (IHS) that focuses on tribal health and substance use employing Big Data. He has worked on developing new statistical methods for immunology data and deriving new methods in linear mixed effects modeling and distribution theory. Qeadan has authored or co-authored more than 90 published peer-reviewed manuscripts and successfully secured six NIH and IHS grants. He has taught and created more than ten courses in biostatistics and mentored and graduated more than 50 students at the B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. level.

University to recognize awardees from the College of Science

The University will be hosting an event recognizing its supporters and celebrate it alumni tonight during Homecoming week. Among those being recognized are Mike and Barbara Heffner with the University Service award for their continued support of the University and its students as well as another partner of the University of Kappes, Cassiday and Associates with the Silver & Blue Appreciation award. Finally, Keith Lee, a physics student (B.S., 1965) will be recognized as the University’s Alumnus of the Year. Keith was recognized by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents as a Distinguished Nevadan in 2014 and was previously named a Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in the College of Science. He was inducted into the Nevada Legislature James A. Joyce Lobbying Hall of Fame in 2019.

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