The Penn State Eberly College of Science has selected three alumni to be honored with the Outstanding Science Alumni Award for 2023. The Board of Directors of the Eberly College of Science Alumni Society established this award to recognize alumni who have a record of significant professional achievements in their field and who are outstanding role models for students in the college. The winners were presented with an award during an event held on the University Park campus on April 6, 2023.
Recipients of this year’s award are:
- Trevor S. Brown, 2005 Ph.D. Integrative Bioscience
- Sara C. Gallagher, 2002 Ph.D. Astronomy
- Kristen Ries, 1962 B.S. Secondary Education and 1963 M.S. Biological Science
Brown is a senior scientist within the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense's (JPEO-CBRND) Joint Project Management Office for CBRN Medical (JPM CBRN Med). He was previously involved in clinical research in the field of immunology, including directing clinical research staff at the Naval Medical Research Center where he initiated a biomarker identification program for translational medicine within the Regenerative Medicine Department. He joined the advanced development and acquisition team at JPM CBRN Medical as a science and technology manager supporting the Joint Product Lead for Diagnostics (JPdL DX) to shepherd the technology transition of an early prototype for a nerve agent exposure diagnostic with the potential for point-of-need use that was invented at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense. Now, as a civilian employee, Brown carries the responsibility of overseeing the technological aspects of DX’s advanced development portfolio, to include chemical, biological, and radiological medical defense.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown received several awards and recognition for embracing the “all hands on deck” mentality that was required to successfully respond to this unprecedented public health challenge. Brown’s efforts significantly contributed to new capacity for millions of diagnostic tests per week dedicated for back-to-school testing. Additionally, the JPM CBRN Med team supported three Emergency Use Authorizations for diagnostic systems and tests to enable diagnosis and treatment of the Joint Force that reduce mission stoppage.
Gallagher is the director of the Interdisciplinary Research Institute for Earth and Space Exploration and a professor of physics and astronomy at Western University in London, Canada. Her astrophysics research focuses on the powerful light-driven winds that emanate from supermassive black holes. She uses both ground and space-based observatories that span the electromagnetic spectrum to reveal the mechanisms that link the growth of the black hole found in the center of every massive galaxy to the galaxy itself. She is engaged in planning and advocating for next generation observatories to enable an ambitious science program to use time domain astrophysics—exploring how cosmic objects change over time, especially on relative short time scales—to map black holes’ inner regions.
As the first science advisor to the president of the Canadian Space Agency, Gallagher advised the agency’s Executive Committee on issues related to science investments and capacity development. She served as a liaison to the academic space science community and other government departments via the Departmental Science Advisor Network of Canada’s Chief Science Advisor. During her two terms, she advised on Open Science policies and co-founded Can COVID, the pan-Canadian pandemic research network. She teaches physics and astronomy and regularly communicates to the public about the value of space science and exploration.
Ries is a professor emerita of internal medicine at the University of Utah and a retired infectious diseases physician known for her work to provide patient-centered care during the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Ries grew up on a farm in Bucks County, PA, and began her education at Sunnyside one room school. She then attended Penn State, where she initially struggled but found support as a member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Penn State, she graduated with honors from Drexel School of Medicine, where she also completed her residency and served as a faculty member in infectious diseases.
She then served in the Lakota Sioux Indian Health Services in Rosebud, South Dakota, and the National Health Services Corp in Vermillion, South Dakota. Longing to work in infectious diseases, she moved to Salt Lake City, just as the illness that was later called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was described. Although most health care physicians, clinics, and hospitals refused care to AIDS patients at the time, she built a sizable AIDS clinic and was later recruited to bring her patient-centered clinic to the University of Utah. The clinic thrived there and received many awards for its model of care and education of health care providers.
After retirement, an Emmy Award winning movie called “Quiet Heroes” was made about Ries and her physician assistant and partner, Maggie Snyder.