August 20, 2008

George Happ biomedical scholarship announced


In Honor of Dr. George Happ’s outstanding contribution as a leader in research, the External Advisory Committee for Alaska INBRE (IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence, Alaska) announces the “George Happ Biomedical Scholarship.”  Graduate students majoring in biomedical fields will be eligible for the annual scholarship.

The scholarship was announced during a surprise event at University of Alaska Fairbanks Interim Chancellor Brian Rogers’ home on Aug. 19, 2008, where 80 people attended to congratulate and support Dr. Happ.  UA President Mark Hamilton welcomed guests and noted that INBRE didn’t exist at the university 10 years ago. He said it’s significant to witness how much the program has grown under Happ’s leadership.

Dr. Jasper Rine, of University of California Berkeley, who announced the scholarship, said, “George's bold vision, with the timely and courageous support of the University leadership, has now materialized in the form of a cadre of young scientists at the campuses of the University of Alaska that are making good on George's dream, bringing cutting edge research coupled with teaching and training in the most modern methods, to the citizens of Alaska.”

Those who were not able to make the event sent in heartfelt congratulations. Joseph Danek, executive director for the EPSCoR/IDeA Foundation in Washington, D.C., described Happ as “a teacher to all he came in contact with—a positive force and a dedicated leader.” He also credited Happ for single handedly helping to build two successful national programs: EPSCoR and INBRE. Danek said his days with Happ remain an inspiration to him and many others in the scientific community.

Happ has dedicated his entire life to science. As a boy, he wandered the fields and wooded ravines of southwestern Illinois. He attended first through eighth grade in a two-room school in a small village on the Mississippi river. His high school years were spent as a boarder in St. Louis. He attended Principia College, where he studied natural history and ecology. At Cornell University, he was introduced to evolution, behavior and physiology.

After faculty appointments in Washington, D.C., New York, Fort Collins, Colo., and Burlington, Vt., Happ became affiliated with the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1994. Since then, he has led the University of Alaska into a renewed era of biomedical research with his leadership, dedication, perseverance and humor.

Dr. Paul Black, a student and friend who considers Happ his mentor, describes him as having a “passion for science and this passion continues to open doors for his students and colleagues.” Black thanked Happ and said he and his wife, Dr. Concetta DiRusso, were honored to make a donation to the scholarship.

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