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Alumni & Friends

College Honors Outstanding Alumni and Student Achievements With 2021 Awards

NC State gateway at sunset

The College of Sciences has recognized three alumni and one student with its annual awards for outstanding achievements and contributions. The awards were given out September 30 at a small dinner and ceremony in Downtown Raleigh.

Meet this year’s recipients.

Distinguished Alumnus Award

This award honors alumni whose exceptional achievements in business, education, research or public service have brought honor and distinction to the college. Recipients of the award are also recognized at a universitywide awards ceremony, The Evening of Stars, that is held each fall.

This year’s recipient, Bob Starbuck, has been an exemplary leader and supporter of the college for many years. Starbuck received his B.S. in mathematics from Miami University and his master’s and Ph.D. in statistics from NC State.

Dean Chris McGahan and Bob Starbuck
Dean Chris McGahan and Bob Starbuck

Starbuck spent 31 years in clinical research developing new medicine before retiring as an assistant vice president of special projects at the pharmaceutical company Wyeth. He has also been a leader in the American Statistical Association (ASA), including serving as chair of its Biopharmaceutical Section and various ASA committees. He is an ASA Fellow and a recipient of the prestigious ASA Founders Award.

Starbuck currently serves as the chair of the College of Sciences Foundation Board and previously served two terms on the Foundation Board for the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. He was instrumental in establishing the Alumni Distinguished Professorship in Statistics, an effort to which more than 50 alumni and friends contributed. He and his wife, Mimi, are longtime members of the college’s Dean’s Circle leadership giving society and established the Robert R. and Mary W. Starbuck Scholarship Endowment, which is part of the college’s signature Solomon Scholarship program.

He also led the effort to establish the college’s student/alumni mentoring program, which introduces students to career prospects and gives them opportunities to network with professionals who may share their interests and experiences. To date, more than 225 students have participated and received career advice from successful College of Sciences alumni as part of this program.

Zenith Medal for Service

This award honors alumni or friends for distinguished contributions or advocacy that significantly advance the college’s ability to make powerful impacts on science, the economy, the environment and the quality of human life.

This year’s recipient is Joe Bridger. He received his B.S. in applied mathematics from NC State in 1965.

Joe Bridger holds his award plaque with Dean Chris McGahan
Joe Bridger and Dean Chris McGahan

Bridger established the Sciences Corridor Support Fund in 2016. This fund has supported the creation of a mural outside of the Dean’s Suite in Broughton Hall, the Crossroads Series talks, the 2017 solar eclipse celebration in the Brickyard, and most recently the Leading Strand collaboration with the College of Design. In 2018, the fund was renamed the Spirit of Science Illumination Fund, and the purpose was redirected to support initiatives related to interdisciplinary studies and public science engagement.

Bridger’s generosity also funds the college’s signature event celebrating scientific discovery, State of the Sciences. He has been instrumental in bringing creative, world-renowned speakers to NC State for this series.

In addition to his support of the college, Bridger also contributes his time and resources to other areas at NC State, including the NC State Libraries and the J.R. Raulston Arboretum.

Outstanding Young Alumnus

This award recognizes accomplished early-to-mid-career graduates who have excelled in their chosen professions or through public service. The NC State Alumni Association defines young alumni as any NC State graduate 42 or younger.

This year’s recipient is Alex McCall, who received B.S degrees in mathematics and secondary mathematics education in 2014 and an M.S. in analytics in 2015, all from NC State.

Dean Chris McGahan and Alex McCall

McCall has spent the past six years at SAS, where she has risen through the ranks and is currently a senior data visualization analyst. She is also an adjunct professor teaching business analytics at Wake Technical Community College.

In 2020, McCall became the college’s youngest alumnus to establish a named scholarship, the Cooper McCall Community Scholarship, which has already provided support to two deserving students.

She is also generous with her time as a dedicated volunteer. She has participated in multiple undergraduate student mentoring programs and served as a keynote speaker for last year’s Donor Recognition Event.

Student Excellence Award

The Office of Advancement’s Student Excellence Award honors a senior who is considered a student leader and actively pursues leadership roles within the college and across NC State through community service, philanthropy, campus involvement, research or in the classroom.

This year’s award was presented to Hayley Giordano, a senior majoring in biological sciences.

Hayley Giordano holds her award plaque with Dean Chris McGahan
Hayley Giordano and Dean Chris McGahan

Giordano has dedicated more than 160 hours in the Hess Lab, where she contributes to developing immunotherapy for lymphoma, which is one of the most common cancers in the United States. She also takes on leadership roles on campus and serves as a mentor and tutor to her peers through the TRIO Programs STEM Peer Tutoring program.

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