Eight alumni of the University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, including two with ties to the School of Molecular & Cellular Biology, will receive recognition during the college’s 2024 alumni awards at a celebration in April. They are researchers and entrepreneurs who have made incredible impacts in their fields and communities.

LAS Alumni Achievement Award

Lisa Monteggia (BS, ‘89, microbiology; MS, ’91, biology)
Lisa Monteggia is an internationally recognized leader in the field of neurobiology and psychiatry and serves as the director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute and professor of pharmacology at Vanderbilt University. Her research focus is understanding psychiatric disorders and their treatments with an emphasis in the field of depression and antidepressant action. She has an extensive track record of service to national and international neuroscience and mental health organizations.

Ruben Mesa (BS, ’91, physiology and nuclear engineering)
Ruben Mesa is the director of the University of Texas Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center and an international expert on myeloproliferative neoplasms, a group of bone marrow disorders that often lead to leukemia. He led the development of the first U.S. guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of bone-marrow malignancies. Mesa has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator of more than 70 clinical trials and is currently leading the investigation of several other drugs.

John Anderson (MS, ’69; PhD, ’71, chemical engineering)
While his research program was active, John Anderson was one of the world’s leading experts in understanding how small colloidal particles in liquids interact with membranes in the presence of liquid flow and electric fields. Today he serves as the president of the National Academy of Engineering following his retirement from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2015 and his service on the National Science Board from 2014-2019, which sets policy for the U.S. National Science Foundation. Anderson has been a member of the faculties of Cornell University, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, and ITT.

LAS Alumni Humanitarian Award

Eboo Patel (BA, ’96, sociology)
Eboo Patel in 2002 founded the organization Interfaith Youth Core followed in 2022 by the founding of Interfaith America, which is based on the idea “that religion should be a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division.” Since then, Patel has partnered with governments, non-profit organizations, college campuses, and other groups to promote dialogue and cooperation between different faiths and communities. In recent years, Patel and the organization have launched initiatives in the areas of public health, technology, media, policy, and racial equity.

LAS Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Ernest Crim III (BA, ’09, history)
Ernest Crim III is the founder of Crim’s Cultural Consulting. Crim uses his experience with fighting a hate crime that went viral to teach the important role Black history plays in becoming culturally competent and equitable in the workplace, school, and broader community.

Dan Heller (PhD, ’10, chemistry)
Dan Heller is the head of the Cancer Nanomedicine Laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he has rapidly become one of the preeminent young scientists in cancer science. In 2023, Heller and colleagues reported a new nanotherapeutic approach targeting blood vessels to deliver medicines to brain cancers. This work could open the doors to new treatments for brain cancer.

LAS Dean's Quadrangle Award

Susan Morisato (BS, ’75, mathematics and education; MS, ’77, mathematics) and Tom Remec (BS, ’74, chemistry; MS ’83, metallurgical engineering)
Susan Morisato and Tom Remec have found many avenues to give back to the College of LAS and university since graduating. Susan Morisato retired as the president of the Medicare Supplement Business for United Healthcare and AARP, and Tom retired as the president of Beta Instruments and Display Process Consulting. They have served on advisory boards and leadership councils for various departments around campus and provide funding for the Susan C. Morisato Mathematics Scholarship and the Thomas Remec and Susan Morisato Fund for Data Science in the Chemical Sciences.


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