College of Sciences Honors Outstanding Alumni, Student Achievements With 2023 Awards
The College of Sciences has recognized two alumni, two students and a faculty member for their outstanding achievements and contributions.
The College of Sciences hosted its annual awards dinner on Sept. 28 at The Terrace at Lonnie Poole Golf Course, where two alumni, two students and a faculty member were recognized for their outstanding achievements and contributions.
Meet this year’s award recipients.
Distinguished Alumnus Award
The Distinguished Alumnus Award honors an alumnus who has brought honor and distinction to the college through their exceptional achievements and service. Recipients of this award are also recognized at a university-wide awards dinner, the Evening of the Stars, which is held each year during Red & White Week.
This year’s recipient, Ashley Hink, earned dual bachelor’s degrees in microbiology and science, technology and society in 2005. She attended medical school at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and completed her general surgery residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. She went on to obtain a Master of Public Health at Emory University. She also completed a trauma and surgical critical care fellowship at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.
Hink is now a nationally renowned trauma surgeon at the Medical University of South Carolina. She cares for trauma, burn and critically ill patients, and focuses her work and research on expanding trauma-informed care and violence prevention strategies in our healthcare system.
After completing her fellowship in Seattle in 2019, Hink returned to the South to establish the first hospital violence-intervention program in South Carolina, called Turning the Tide. The program strives to provide both immediate support and long-term wraparound services to victims of violence, including employment opportunities, mental health care and mentorship. Turning the Tide has helped dozens of gun violence victims since the summer of 2021. It has served over 100 patients and their families, and enrolled more than 40 victims in its long-term care program.
Outstanding Young Alumnus Award
The Outstanding Young Alumnus Award recognizes accomplished early-career graduate students who have excelled in their professions or through public service. This year’s recipient is Logan Dawson, who attended NC State as a Park Scholar and earned bachelor’s degrees in meteorology and marine science in 2012. He also earned a doctorate in atmospheric science from Purdue University in 2017.
Dawson works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where he recently took on the role of science and operations officer at the National Weather Service Ocean Prediction Center. In this position, he will be responsible for training staff and integrating scientific advancements into weather forecasting. His previous work at NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center focused on verification and validation of numerical weather prediction models, which are used by meteorologists worldwide.
Dawson was also part of a NOAA team that won a Department of Commerce Silver Medal in 2022 for its efforts in developing and implementing the current operational version of NOAA’s Air Quality Model. He has served on multiple boards and committees for NC State and the American Meteorological Society. Currently, Dawson serves as the commissioner of the DC Gay Flag Football League. This nonprofit organization runs recreational flag football games and works to foster a safe, positive environment and community for its participants. Each year, Dawson generously participates in NC State’s Day of Giving event.
Zenith Medal for Service
The Zenith Medal for Service recognizes those who demonstrate distinguished contributions or advocacy that advance the college’s ability to make powerful impacts on science. This year’s winner is Brand Fortner, a teaching professor in the Department of Physics. Fortner earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in physics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
After a successful career in developing scientific visualization software tools, Fortner joined the college’s faculty. He teaches astronomy and senior design courses, where he instills leadership and teamwork skills in students, preparing them for successful careers. He is also actively engaged with our alumni outreach efforts, going above and beyond to connect students and alumni through mentorship opportunities. Fortner also leads PhysicsPhest, an annual family-friendly event to inspire curiosity and exploration of physics among people from all walks of life.
Fortner has also partnered with the Advancement Office to assist with the college’s fundraising efforts as a donor and faculty representative. He generously supports the Department of Physics’ activities, including the growth of its senior design course, which will leave a lasting legacy at the college and the department.
Student Excellence Awards
The Student Excellence Awards honor one senior and one graduate student who actively pursue leadership roles within the college and across NC State in the classroom or through community service, philanthropy or campus involvement. Prior to 2022, the award solely recognized seniors, but has now expanded to recognize the leadership of the college’s graduate students. This year’s winners are Etienne Phillips for the undergraduate senior award and Ashley Deutsch for the graduate award.
Phillips, a mathematics major, has taken demanding courses in his undergraduate career, including three master’s level courses and two doctorate level courses. Earlier this year, Phillips was one of only two NC State students to receive a Goldwater Scholarship, one of the nation’s most prestigious scholarships in the fields of natural sciences, engineering and mathematics. Beyond his coursework, Phillips spends his time promoting the college’s mathematics program to prospective students, co-organizing the NC State Integration Bee Math Contest and leading weekly preparatory problem-solving sessions for the Putnam Mathematical Competition. He also advocates for unhoused students and serves as the president of the Society for the Undergraduate Mathematics club.
Deutsch is a graduate student in the biology program, where she serves as a lead mentor to new graduate students and undergraduates. Previously, she helped lead a National Science Foundation-funded grant program centered on providing research experiences to underrepresented students. Her leadership involved facilitating a campus visit for students from historically black colleges and universities and other universities around the state. During these visits, Deutsch trained the students in research methods and built lasting mentoring relationships. She also volunteers with the Carolina Tiger Rescue, where she teaches young campers about the anatomy of animals and the way they are studied. Through these activities, she inspires students to consider a career in science.
As winners of the Student Excellence Award, Phillips and Deutsch will each receive $500 toward professional development or learning opportunities of their choice.
Student Excellence Award: Undergraduate Honorable Mentions
Jordan Birkner, Interdisciplinary Studies, Self Design
Michael Brown, Meteorology
Kiran Soma, Chemistry and Communication
Student Excellence Award: Graduate Honorable Mentions
Obtin Alkhamis, Chemistry
Cole Butler, Biomathematics
Xiaoxia Champon, Statistics
Christopher Norcross, Earth Sciences
Hannah Starnes, Toxicology