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Accolade Corner

Back to Vestigo Issue 3

By Wendy Bindeman

The hard work of our faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Basic Sciences continues to be recognized on the local and national level. Here we list a few of the researchers whose work has been recognized so far in 2021.

Group shot taken in the courtyard between MCN and MRBIII. From left to right: Mary Chalkley, Jennifer Zachry, Cody Heiser, Gabriella Robertson, Catherine Shelton, Kritika Singh, Ivette Perez, Melissa Wolf, Wendy Bindeman, Elaine Chen, Patrick Melugin.
From left to right: Mary Chalkley, Jennifer Zachry, Cody Heiser, Gabriella Robertson, Catherine Shelton, Kritika Singh, Ivette Perez, Melissa Wolf, Wendy Bindeman, Elaine Chen, and Patrick Melugin.

The Dean’s Award for Exceptional Achievement for Advanced Students is awarded each year
to Ph.D. students and recognizes them for the originality, rigor, and significance of their dissertation research. This year’s recipients (above, from left to right) are as follows:

  • Mary Chalkley, Cell and Developmental Biology. Advised by Rebecca Ihrie and Dr. Kevin Ess.
  • Jennifer Zachry, Pharmacology. Advised by Erin Calipari.
  • Cody Heiser, Chemical and Physical Biology. Advised by Ken Lau.
  • Gabriella Robertson, Cell and Developmental Biology. Advised by Vivian Gama.
  • Catherine Shelton, Microbe-Host Interactions. Advised by Mariana Byndloss.
  • Kritika Singh, Human Genetics. Advised by Lea Davis.
  • Ivette Perez, Biochemistry. Advised by Tina Iverson.
  • Melissa Wolf, Cancer Biology. Advised by Dr. Kimryn Rathmell.
  • Wendy Bindeman, Cancer Biology. Advised by Barbara Fingleton.
  • Elaine Chen, Microbe-Host Interactions. Advised by Dr. James Crowe.
  • Patrick Melugin, Neuroscience. Advised by Cody Siciliano.

Headshot of Alyssa Hasty, who is wearing a blue top and a white and silver necklace.

Alyssa Hasty, associate dean for faculty and Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair and professor of molecular physiology and biophysics, recently received the Veterans Affairs Research Career Scientist Award. This award provides established, independent, nonclinician researchers with five years of funding.


Headshot of Nicolas Shealy. He is wearing a plaid, dark blue shirt.

Nicolas Shealy, a graduate student in the Microbe-Host Interactions program who works in the lab of Mariana Byndloss, was one of 50 students nationwide to receive the 2021 Gilliam Fellowship Grant for Advanced Studies from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Through its Gilliam Fellows program, HHMI aims to support graduate trainees from underrepresented backgrounds with the goal of equipping them to become leaders in biomedical research.

Headshot of Valeria Reyes Ruiz. She is wearing a white, floral shirt and a black blazer.

In February 2021, Valeria Reyes Ruiz, a postdoc in the lab of Eric Skaar, was named a 2020 Hanna H. Gray Fellow by HHMI. The Hanna H. Gray Fellows Program supports exceptional early-career scientists with the goal of increasing the diversity of the biomedical research community.



Headshot of Catie Shelton. She is wearing a black top and is posing in her lab.

Catherine Shelton, a graduate student in the Microbe-Host Interactions program who is mentored by Mariana Byndloss, was one of two students nationally to receive the Gut Microbiome, Yogurt and Probiotics Fellowship grant from Danone North America. Established in 2010, this program provides research grants to support graduate students conducting novel research in yogurt, probiotics, and the gut microbiome.


Headshot of Marija Zanic. She is wearing a white top with thin, black stripes and a wooden necklace.

Marija Žanić, associate professor of cell and developmental biology, received the 2020 Early Career Award from the Motility & Cytoskeleton subgroup of the Biophysical Society. She accepted the award and presented at the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society in February of this year.



Headshot of Bruce Carter. He is wearing a light-colored, striped, collared shirt.

Bruce Carter, professor of biochemistry, has been appointed to the scientific advisory board of the CMT Research Foundation. As a member, he will help guide funding and research strategies for treatment of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, one of a type of disorder that causes damage to peripheral nerves.


Side-by-side images of Sam Centanni and Danny Winder. On the left, Centanni is wearing a blue collared shirt. On the right, a close-up of Danny Winder, who is wearing a white collared shirt and a brown jacket and is holding a microphone.
Samuel Centanni (left) and Danny Winder (right).

Samuel Centanni, a postdoc, and his mentor, Professor of Molecular Physiology
and Biophysics Danny Winder, received the 2020 Neuropsychopharmacology Editors’ Award for a Transformative Original Report for their research on negative affect behavior associated with alcohol abstinence.

Headshot of Stephen Fesik, who is wearing a blue collared shirt and a gray jacket.

Professor of Biochemistry Stephen Fesik received the C. Chester Stock Award Lectureship from the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Fesik presented at the Stock Award ceremony in May 2021.



Side-by-side images of Ebony Hargrove Wiley, Kathleen McClanahan, and McKenzie Windham. Left: headshot of Ebony Hargrove Wiley, who is wearing a gray top and a gold necklace. Middle: Headshot of McClanahan, who is wearinga black top. Right: Headshot of Windham, who is wearing a sleeveless, striped turtleneck shirt and denim suspenders.
From left to right: Ebony Hargrove Wiley, Kathleen McClanahan, and McKenzie Windham.

Three biomedical Ph.D. students received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program award. The NSF GRFP is a nationally competitive program that provides three years of funding for exceptional graduate students. This year’s Basic Sciences awardees were Ebony Hargrove-Wiley (Cancer Biology, Barbara Fingleton lab), Kathleen McClanahan (Molecular Pathology and Immunology, Danyvid Olivares-Villagómez and Hendrik Weitkamp labs), and McKenzie Windham (first-year Quantitative & Chemical Biology student).

Headshot of James Hutchison, who is wearing a Hawaiian shirt patterened with jungle animals and palm trees.

Recent graduate James Hutchison (Chemical and Physical Biology program, Chuck Sanders lab) received the 2021 Karpay Award. This honor, sponsored by the Center for Structural Biology, recognizes a senior graduate student for excellence in both research and collaboration in the field of structural biology. Hutchison presented his research “We’re All in This Together: Choosing the Right RAFTing Partners” at an award ceremony in early 2021.

Side-by-side images of Fred Guengerich and Heidi Hamm. On the left, Guengerich is wearing a blue collared shirt, a red tie, and a gray jacket. On the right, Heidi Hamm is wearing a black top and a gray dress scarf.
Fred Guengerich (left) and Heidi Hamm (right).

Fred Guengerich, professor of biochemistry, and Heidi Hamm, professor of pharmacology, were among those inducted into the inaugural class of American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology fellows. This newly established award recognizes the most accomplished members of ASBMB.

Headshot of Manuel Ascano, who is wearing a black collared shirt.

Manuel Ascano, assistant professor of biochemistry, received the Richard M. Caprioli Award at the 2021 Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Faculty Awards. This award recognizes faculty who have developed, implemented, or created technology that has elevated the work of multiple researchers.


Side-by-side headshots of Petria Thomspon and Andrew Hale. On the left, Thompson is wearing a black top. On the right, Hale is wearing a checkered, collared shirt, a purple tie, and a black jacket.
Petria Thompson (left) and Andrew Hale (right).

Recent Medical Scientist Training Program graduates Petria Thompson (Biochemistry, David Cortez lab) and Andrew Hale (Biochemistry, John York lab) were recognized with the John G. Coniglio Prize for Excellence in Biochemistry, which is awarded each year to exceptional biochemistry graduate students.

Headshot of Rebecca Ihrie, who's wearing a tan/black, flowy top, a black jacket, and a gold necklace.

Rebecca Ihrie, associate professor of cell and developmental biology, received the Ivy Foundation’s Emerging Leader Grant Award 2021. This grant supports early- or mid-career researchers conducting highly impactful translational research in glioblastoma, an aggressive type of cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord.


Headshot of Craig Lindsley, who is wearing a white collared shirt and a dark gray jacket.

Craig Lindsley, professor of pharmacology, was inducted in 2021 as a member of the Medicinal Chemistry division of the American Chemical Society Hall of Fame for his work in medicinal chemistry. He is the youngest-ever inductee to the Hall of Fame.



Side-by-side headshots of Alberto J. López and Antenton Hinton Jr. Lopez is wearing a striped white and green collared shirt, a gray vest, and a black jacket. Hinton is wearing a blue collared shirt, a yellow/red/blue bow tie, and a white jacket.
Alberto J. López (left) and Antentor Hinton Jr. (right).

Two Vanderbilt researchers have been recently recognized by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund: postdoc Alberto J. López (Erin Calipari lab) and Assistant Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics Antentor Othrell Hinton Jr. Lopez received the 2021 Postdoctoral Enrichment Program Fellows grant and Hinton was one of the recipients of the 2021 Career Awards at the Scientific Interface, a “bridge award” that supports researchers during the postdoctoral fellow-to-faculty transition.

Headshot of Kendra Oliver, who's wearing a purple turtleness and a black jacket.

Kendra H. Oliver, assistant professor of pharmacology and director and founder of ArtLab and Drug Discovery Online, was recently inducted into the Academy for Excellence in Education. The academy is a collective of outstanding faculty at the School of Medicine who have made significant contributions to education.