Several University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine students and one faculty member were honored recently at a reception hosted by the Chief Diversity Office. Receiving honors at the 2018 graduation reception were:
Distinguished Educator Award
Antentor Hinton Jr., PhD, is a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Scholar in the UI Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology. He works and teaches in the laboratory of E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, chair and DEO, Internal Medicine, and director of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center. Under the co-mentorship of Abel and Renata Pereira, PhD, he studies how insulin stimulation increases OPA-1 oligomerization and how this mechanism contributes to OPA-1 dependent activation of mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle cells. Hinton has mentored 29 students who have achieved or are currently pursuing a post baccalaureate certificate, a master’s degree, a PhD, or an MD. He is a 2016 graduate of the Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences PhD Program (IMBS) at Baylor College of Medicine. Before that, he graduated from the National Institutes of Health SMART Post Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at Baylor College of Medicine in 2010, where he finished first in the class. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Winston-Salem State University while participating in the Tri-Beta Biological Honors Society, STEM Scholars Program, and MARC U*STAR Scholars Program.
Dean’s Achievement Award
Deans of each of the 11 colleges at the University of Iowa select, for this award, outstanding underrepresented students who have exemplified, promoted, or contributed to diversity at the university.
Dean’s Achievement Award (UI Carver College of Medicine)
Marissa Robinson, MD, is originally from Jamaica, and received an undergraduate degree from Grinnell College. Robinson served as co-president of the Carver College of Medicine chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) in 2015–2016. SNMA is the oldest and largest independent, student-run organization focused on the needs and concerns of black medical students. She was elected to serve a two-year term on the Medical School Admissions Committee, and in 2017, joined other medical students in opposing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In July, Robinson will begin a family medicine residency at Tacoma Family Medicine in Tacoma, Washington.
Dean’s Achievement Award (Graduate College)
Jessica Thomas, PhD, grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and is the first of 36 grandchildren in her family to finish college. Her research has relevance for novel therapeutic approaches to treating neuropathic pain and migraine, and her first paper on this topic was published in the most prestigious journal in the field—the Journal of General Physiology. She has also been actively committed to the advancement of under-represented minorities in STEM fields locally and nationally through various recruiting efforts and volunteering for numerous organizations, including the Iowa Biosciences Academy, UI Minority Association of Pre-Med Students, Iowa College Tour, Upward Bound, Eastern Iowa Brain Bee, and Black Girls Can Do Science. Jessica is pursuing postdoctoral training at Vanderbilt University.
Student Leadership Awards
This award recognizes individuals who have made meaningful and significant contributions to the University of Iowa or surrounding communities through their vision and action; their sense of responsibility, devotion, and diligence; and through their inspiration, good judgment, and will.
Reinaldo Franqui Machin is from Juncos, Puerto Rico. He is earning a doctor of philosophy in molecular and cellular biology and is co-president of the Latino Graduate Student Association and the Association of Multicultural Scientists. He co-created the annual gala “Uniendo Lazos,” which includes expert speakers on topics important for graduate student success, like the impostor syndrome and the value of mentorship. He has implemented coffee breaks for students with invited scientists who work in a range of fields to have an informal opportunity to discuss alternate career opportunities for scientists. After Hurricane Maria struck his home in Puerto Rico, he leveraged his leadership skills to create fundraisers like “Iowa City Dances for Puerto Rico,” which raised more than $3,000 for the United for Puerto Rico Fund for Hurricane Maria Relief efforts. Currently, he is trying to establish an Iowa Chapter for the organization Action 314, which helps scientists obtain government positions to promote evidence-based decision making within government.
Dana Van Der Heide, MD, is from Niwot, Colorado. As a first year medical student in 2014, she pursued opportunities to become a leader with the Carver College of Medicine LGBTQ and allies student group MEDIQS (MED Iowa’s Queer Students, renamed EQUAL Meds). She served on the executive board, including the role of president. She represented the organization at multiple state and national conferences including One Iowa’s Annual LGBTQ Health Conference and the GLMA’s National Conference (Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality). Additionally, she has spent a total of 11 weeks in Haiti since 2012 with the Community Health Initiative Haiti, including two trips to conduct research on childhood malnutrition. She will be doing a surgery residency at UI Hospitals and Clinics.