Alumni Awards

Congratulations to the 2023 School of Public Health Alumni Award Recipients
Kiri Ness

Gaylord Anderson Leadership Award

The Gaylord W. Anderson Leadership Award is the highest award given to SPH alumni. It recognizes well-rounded, exceptional leaders in public health with a commitment to the advancement and future of the field.

Kiri Ness is a physical therapist and clinical epidemiologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where she tests interventions designed to prevent physical disability and restore physical health to childhood cancer survivors. Her research also focuses on identifying, describing, and remediating both physical and psychological impairments for childhood cancer survivors.

Ryan Newkirk

Alumni Award of Merit

The Alumni Award of Merit honors exceptional service in public health.

Ryan Newkirk has worked in public health and emergency response for more than 20 years, with a focus on food safety and food defense. He is a senior advisor at the Food and Drug Administration where he co-led efforts to fix infant formula supply chain issues, worked on policy to strengthen the resiliency of the US food supply, wrote industry guidelines for the Food Safety Modernization Act, and served on the FDA Incident Management Group for COVID.

Sean McEligot

Alumni Innovator Award

The Alumni Innovator Award recognizes a graduate who has made, developed, or implemented innovative ideas, approaches, or solutions to public health problems.

Sean McEligot is the head of engineering at the Mayo Clinic. He directs the Mayo Clinic Division of Engineering Additive Manufacturing Facility and oversees the Division of Engineering Microfabrication Facility. He has a background in mechanical engineering and healthcare administration, which he leverages to oversee medical device research and development used in critical healthcare support, including cardiac and cancer care.

Debashree Ray

Emerging Leader Award

The Emerging Leader Award is presented to an alum who has made a significant impact in their profession or community at large within 10 years of graduating from SPH. 

Debashree Ray is a biostatistician and a genetic epidemiologist. Her research primarily focuses on developing new statistical methods and open-access tools to analyze the genetic basis of common human diseases, including chronic adult diseases and pediatric health outcomes. Apart from her multidisciplinary research contributions spanning statistics, epidemiology, and human genetics fields, She has made significant contributions in teaching and mentoring students in these areas of expertise.

Outstanding Mentor Award

Donald Buckley

The SPH Alumni Board awarded two Outstanding Mentor Awards in 2023, recognizing individuals who made exceptional contributions to the career and professional development of multiple students through the SPH Mentor Program.

Donald Buckley founded and operated the Chesapeake General Hospital and Chesapeake Health (now known as Chesapeake Regional Medical Center) in Virginia for 33 years. During this time, he mentored 25 residents in health administration and taught classes in health administration at numerous universities. During his career, he held positions in national, state, and local healthcare organizations including regent for the American College of Health Executives, delegate to the American Hospital Association, and Chairman of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. He also volunteered for 12 years with Physicians for Peace and participated in medical missions to support developing nations’ health administration and delivery of healthcare and medical services.

Alice Burns Spaulding

Alicen Burns Spaulding works in public health research and infectious disease epidemiology. She is currently the senior advisor and team lead for PREMISE, a new pandemic preparedness program at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center. Before that, she served as a scientific investigator at Children’s Minnesota and an epidemiologist and Presidential Management Fellow at NIAID. She leads the mentoring committee for the SPH alumni board.

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