International Awards highlight Emory’s global impact

By Mary Lynn Dalton | Emory Report | Jan. 23, 2020

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Recipients of Emory’s 2019-2020 International Awards were honored Jan. 22. Shown are chemistry professor Dennis Liotta; Philip Wainwright, vice provost of global strategy and initiatives; Emory PhD alumna Mabel Magowe; and Frank Gaertner, associate director of undergraduate advising. Emory Photo/Video

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With roots in Atlanta and branches that extend to every continent, Emory University’s global impact is a distinguishing factor in its reputation as a leading research institution. The scope of the university’s international work is strengthened by the efforts of faculty, staff and alumni who extend Emory’s reach well beyond its campus.

“International work is part of the fabric of Emory University,” says Philip Wainwright, vice provost of global strategy and initiatives. “Our world-class faculty, internationally engaged staff and community of highly talented international students, scholars and alumni develop initiatives and collaborations that have global scope, and the International Awards were established to celebrate these exemplary people as they further Emory’s impact around the world.”

Every year, the Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives recognizes three members of the Emory community whose work has expanded the university’s global engagement. The International Awards celebrate the extraordinary work of a faculty member, an international alumnus and a staff member. The 2019-20 International Award recipients are: 

  • Dennis Liotta, Marion V. Creekmore Award for Internationalization
  • Mabel Magowe, Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award
  • Frank Gaertner, International Outreach Award

Creekmore Award for Internationalization

Dennis Liotta, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Chemistry in Emory College of Arts and Sciences and executive director of the Emory Institute for Drug Development, has been named the winner of the 2019-20 Marion V. Creekmore Award for Internationalization. The award celebrates the achievements of an Emory faculty member whose work contributes to the advancement of the university’s commitment to internationalization.

In the 43 years that he has worked at Emory, Liotta has made discoveries in drug development that have helped transform HIV/AIDS from a death sentence to a chronic infection in which many patients are able to live active, near-normal lives. Additionally, his contributions to the development of life-saving drugs are felt by hundreds of millions of people worldwide affected by a variety of viral infections and Hepatitis B and C.

Following these significant contributions in drug development, Liotta recognized that his drug discoveries were not universally available around the globe. 

As a result, Liotta established joint efforts with academic, research and government institutions in South Africa to spearhead initiatives that would address challenges in the region’s supply of life-saving drugs and to rejuvenate the local scientific community through partnerships and collaborations.

Most recently, Liotta fostered collaborations with university and medical research institutions in Australia to create avenues for faculty partnerships and scholarly exchange and collaboration, particularly in the areas of brain health, cancer and infectious diseases research.

Liotta’s contributions in public health exemplify faculty excellence that transcends borders and extends the reach of Emory’s impact to people all over the world. 

Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award 

Mabel Magowe, who earned her PhD at Emory in 2008, is the winner of the 2019-20 Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award. The honor recognizes international alumni who are highly distinguished in their field and have made outstanding contributions to humanity, science, art or human welfare.

Magowe, who studied in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, now serves as the deputy dean in the faculty of health sciences at the University of Botswana, where she teaches courses on HIV/AIDS education and midwifery.

Her research focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention and improving women’s health has manifested in collaborative projects in coordination with colleagues in both Botswana and the U.S. She applies her expertise to the mentorship and development of nursing students pursuing advanced degrees in institutions in Botswana and throughout the region.

Marcia McDonnel Holstad, Marcia Stanhope Professor of Public Health in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, described up Magowe’s contribution to Emory’s global work in her nomination letter: Magowe “is dedicated to producing the next generation of nursing and health researchers ... (She) is an inspiration for both Emory students interested in international research as well as students in Botswana who want to extend their reach and scope of research and practice.”

Holstad went on to add that Magowe “embodies the principles of national and international collaboration.” 

Magowe’s work reflects the innovation that is possible through scholarship and exemplifies the vast international reach of the research and training that happens on the Emory campus every day. 

International Outreach Award 

Frank Gaertner, associate director of undergraduate advising in the Office for Undergraduate Education in Emory College, has been selected as winner of the 2019-20 International Outreach Award. The award recognizes professional staff who have made significant contributions to Emory’s internationalization through the programs, schools and units in which they serve.

Gaertner’s work at Emory has spanned 25 years. He currently serves as academic adviser to the international students in Emory College. Along with advising, he manages the Academic Fellows program and developed the international student orientation known as International Student Welcome (ISW).

His comprehensive approach to international student advising supports the unique needs of the 1,000 international students who make Emory their home away from home. He has prioritized programmatic support for students in transition including first-year students, transfer students, Oxford College continuees and Korean men returning to Emory after their compulsory two-year military service. Most recently, Gaertner participated in a new initiative called Passport to Emory that provides pre-departure orientations on-site for international students in locations that are home to the largest student populations. 

Jaewon Jeong, an Emory College student, wrote a letter as part of Gaertner’s nomination that summed up the ways his advising and support are critical factors in the Emory experience for international students: “Frank made Emory feel like home.” 

Gaertner’s work with international students cultivates a thriving campus and a compelling student experience, and demonstrates one of the reasons Emory is the academic community of choice for students from all over the world.