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University of Washington School of Public Health

Annual SPH Awards

The SPH Awards recognize exemplary staff, faculty, students, and community partners for their dedication, service, and many contributions they make to our School.

2013 SPH Award Recipients

Gilbert S. Omenn Award for Academic Excellence

Claire AllenMaster’s – Claire Allen, Health Services
Claire’s research projects, aided by her fluency in Spanish, encompasses work with focus groups, clinics, translation, and work sites.  While many second-year MPH students are worried about completing their theses, she has already written a manuscript based on her thesis for journal submission. Claire’s commitment to public health extends beyond her research – she began a student organization to improve the experiences of grad students in her department, spearheaded the publication of a student guide,  volunteers with homeless adolescents, and is associate director of Salud Juntos, an NGO focused on improving health in Nicaragua and Honduras.

Vanessa GalavizPhD – Vanessa Galaviz, DEOHS
Besides her doctoral research into human exposures to chemical and physical agents in the environment, especially diesel exhaust, Vanessa has a strong interest in protecting the environmental health of minority and underserved communities and a passion for mentoring undergraduate and high school students.  In fact, her study combines her passions, because diesel exhaust exposure disproportionately affects poor and minority communities.  Vanessa is also the first member of her immediate family to enter graduate school, and is a role model for Chicano men and women considering environmental health studies.  She embodies academic achievement, service, and commitment to bringing others to her field.


Anderson-O’Connell award for Outstanding Staff Service

Merry ThachMerry Thach, Epidemiology
Exceptional resourcefulness, integrity, collegiality and competence are just some of the qualities cited by the many faculty, staff, and students who benefit from Merry’s work as Administrative Coordinator in Epidemiology, where she skillfully juggles hundreds of demands from folks within and beyond the department.  Her professionalism and grace under pressure also make her an excellent role model for the students with whom she works.


Community Partners Service Award

Alicia EmsleyAlicia Emsley, Teacher at Highline Health Sciences and Human Services (HS3) High School
The School of Public Health, Public Health -  Seattle & King County, and Highline’s HS3 School collaborated on a pilot project to engage high school freshmen in an examination of the social determinants of health. Six undergraduate Public Health majors have been leading the discussions in Alicia’s classroom. Alicia has taken risks in testing the undergraduates’ health education skills, accommodated their schedules, and worked with the School to ensure the curriculum works for her students.   She has been an outstanding partner for the School of Public Health, and an inspiration to its and her students.


Outstanding Staff
Biostatistics – Gitana Garofalo
DEOHS – Terumi Capeling
Epidemiology – Merry Thach
Global Health – Josh Apfel
Health Services – Alex Tu
Office of the Dean – Ashlee Harty

Staff Community Service
Adrienne Hidy, DEOHS

Faculty Community Service
Peter House, Health Services

Student Community Service
Libby Brockman

Outstanding TA
Anjuli Wagner, Epidemiology

Outstanding Faculty Teaching
Helene Starks, Health Services

Outstanding Faculty Mentor
Jared Baeten

Outstanding Undergraduate Students
Ryan Markert
Momoka Nakamura
Nicole Rover

Outstanding Master’s Students
Biostatistics – Amanda Gassett
DEOHS – Lyndsey Banks
Epidemiology – Alfred Osoti
Global Health – Sam Masters
Health Services – Libby Brockman
Interdisciplinary Programs – Carrie Dennett (Public Health Nutrition)

Outstanding PhD Students
Biostatistics – Zheyu Wang
DEOHS – Pamela Roque
Epidemiology – Kristen Upson
Global Health – Leslie Goo
Health Services – Joseph Unger
Interdisciplinary Programs – Elizabeth Dorfman (IPHG)


Past Recipients:

2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 & 2010