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The Elaine Miye Otani Memorial Award

The Otani Award commemorates Elaine Miye Otani. She was a student who stood for hard work and perseverance with a particular interest in the mechanisms of cellular differentiation and carcinogenesis, yet still found time to spread her friendship and goodwill among those around her, trying at the same time to inspire them in their studies. Her family established this award as a living memorial and tribute to her and her aspirations.

This award is given annually to a graduate student of outstanding character who demonstrates superior academic performance and shows outstanding promise to develop into a resourceful independent investigator.

The student must have a consistent record of service and support to the overall goals of GPILS by stimulating interest in and attempting to improve the quality of academic studies among fellow students in GPILS. The recipient of this award must show evidence of a good working relationship with peers and GPILS faculty and have earned the esteem of others.

Nominees for this award must have successfully passed their Program's Qualifying Examination.

The following items are required by the committee:

  • A nomination letter from the Program Director or Track Leader
  • A letter from the nominee's faculty mentor or another appropriate faculty member
  • A curriculum vitae including the student’s GPA
Dr. Mark Gladwin, a white man wearing a black suit, white dress shirt, and red tie is standing and smiling next to Daniela Franco, a Latina woman with curly hair wearing a black sweater and black pants smiling and holding her award, and Dr. Mary Kay Lobo, a Latina woman with brown curly hair, an olive cardigan and black shirt.

Fall 2022: Daniela Franco, Program in Neuroscience

Fall 2021: Nivedita Hegdekar, Program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Lace Riggs wearing a black sweater in front of a blue background

Fall 2020: Lace Riggs, Program in Neuroscience

Robert Ernst, Courtney Chandler, and Margaret McCarthy

Fall 2019: Courtney Chandler, Program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Fall 2018: Amber Mueller, Program in Molecular Medicine


Fall 2017: Jeffrey Freiberg, PhD, Program in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Fall 2016: Sarah Metzbower, Program in Neuroscience

Fall 2015: T. Francis Chase, Program in Neuroscience

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Fall 2014: Rasheeda Johnson, Program in Gerontology

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Fall 2013: Kristen Stafford, M.P.H. Program in Epidemiology & Human Genetics


Fall 2012: Jennifer Lloyd, Program in Gerontology

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Fall 2011: Gwendolyn Calhoon, Program in Neuroscience


Fall 2010: Brian Peters, Program in Molecular Microbiology & Immunology


Fall 2009: Greg Bissonette, Program in Neuroscience


Fall 2008: John Teijaro, Program in Molecular Microbiology & Immunology


Fall 2007: Rebecca Brady, Program in Molecular Microbiology & Immunology