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UC San Diego Alumni Association
Announces Top Award Recipients

Author Khaled Hosseini, biophysicist Gunars Valkirs, emergency room physician Anthony Jackson, professor emeritus David Jordan and students Sapna Iyer and Jeffrey Mounzer to be recognized at June 7 Awards for Excellence campus event

April 2, 2008

By Judy Piercey

An internationally acclaimed novelist and physician, an entrepreneurial biotech leader driving to advance diagnosis, a champion of undergraduate diversity, a charismatic professor and administrator, and two outstanding students have all been named by the UCSD Alumni Association as top recipients of the 30th Annual Awards for Excellence distinctions.  The prestigious awards will be presented on Saturday, June 7, in the Grand Ballroom of the newly expanded Price Center of the University of California, San Diego campus.  Funds generated from the event will benefit the UCSD Alumni Association endowed scholarship programs.

Winners include Afghan-American Khaled Hosseini, M.D. ’93, author of The Kite Runner; Gunars Valkirs ’74, Ph.D.’82, a biophysicist who was instrumental in San Diego’s biotechnology boom; Anthony Jackson ’74, a dedicated emergency room physician; David Jordan, professor emeritus, Anthropology, and provost emeritus, Warren College; and students Sapna Iyer and Jeffrey Mounzer.

These accomplished alumni and students will join the distinguished company of former award recipients including J. Craig Venter ’72, David E. Shaw ’72, Roger Revelle ’36 and Nobel Prize in Medicine recipient Susumu Tonegawa ’69—all international figures who have brought distinction and prestige to UC San Diego.

About the 2008 Alumni Association Awards for Excellence recipients:

Outstanding Photo of Khaled HosseiniAlumnus of the Year Award
Afghan-American author and physician Khaled Hosseini, M.D. ’93 began writing The Kite Runner while in medical practice.  Born in Kabul, Afghanistan to a Dari-speaking family, Hosseini’s memories of peaceful pre-Soviet era Afghanistan, as well as his personal experience with Afghan Hazaras, led to the writing of this first novel.  In 2003, the Kite Runner was published and became an international bestseller in 38 countries; in 2007, the novel was made into an Academy Award-nominated movie.  In 2006 he was named a goodwill envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency.  His second critically-acclaimed novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns was published in May of 2007.

Professional Achievement Award
Photo of Gunars ValkirsBiophysicist Gunars Valkirs ’74, Ph.D.’82 co-founded Biosite with the goal of using monoclonal antibodies to develop and manufacture cheaper, faster and more accurate diagnostic devices to determine conditions ranging from drug abuse to the presence of myocardial infarction.  One of Valkirs’ early successes was in the field of pregnancy testing.  The ICON test, which Valkirs invented, was the predecessor that led the way to the modern color/yes-no home pregnancy test. While at Biosite, Valkirs helped develop the BNP test for the diagnosis of congestive heart failure, the first blood-based test for this application.

Distinguished Service to the University
Photo of Anthony JacksonEmergency room physician Anthony Jackson ’74 has worked for several years with organizations like the South Central Gifted Scholars Fund and others to mentor and offer high achieving but under-represented middle and high school students from Los Angeles an inside look into higher education, specifically UC San Diego.  In December of 2007, Jackson, in partnership with the 100 Black Men of Los Angeles, Inc. and Young Black Scholars Program, rented vehicles to transport students from the LA area to attend “A Day at UCSD,” a program that he developed and personally funded.  He is credited for recruiting over 25 underrepresented scholars to UC San Diego.

Distinguished Teaching
Photo of David JordanDavid Jordan is known to thousands of students for his service as professor in Anthropology, and as former provost of Warren College.  His charisma, humor and teaching dynamism transcends a typical college classroom through his use of imaginative extracurricular and virtual learning activities.  Jordan’s dedication to the educational enrichment, advancement and learning of students, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, has made a significant impact on generations of students. In addition to his classroom success, the distinguished scholar has been instrumental in course development, co-curricular programming and the mentoring of countless teaching assistants and new faculty instructors.

Outstanding Senior Award

Photo of Sapna Iyer
Photo of Sapna Iyer

The selection of Sapna Iyer and Jeffrey Mounzer for this award is based on scholarly achievement, leadership and campus service.  Iyer is a Marshall College student leader majoring in Biochemistry and Cell Biology.  She has been admitted to UC San Diego’s School of Medicine in the fall.  Mounzer, president of the Triton Engineering Student Council, is a Warren College student graduating with a double major in Electrical Engineering and Economics.  He accepted a fellowship to attend Stanford University in the fall for graduate study in Electrical Engineering.

The cocktail-attire event, which will benefit student scholarships, is open to the public. Tickets are $150 per person or $1,500 for a table of 10 and can be purchased at www.alumni.ucsd.edu/awards, or call (858) 534-3900 for more information.

 

Media Contacts:
Judy Piercey, University Communications, 858-534-6128
Mary Johnson, Alumni Relations, 858-534-390


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