Four members of the College of Science are among the 24 Texas A&M University faculty and staff set to be honored by the university and The Association of Former Students with 2016 Distinguished Achievement Awards.

The awards and their respective recipients from Texas A&M Science (which merited a record six such honorees in both 2012 and 2005) are as follows:

Research (6 given university-wide)

Staff (2 given university-wide)

  • Minnette Bilbo, physics and astronomy

  • Camilla Sturdivant '86, biology

The university-level Distinguished Achievement Awards were first presented in 1955 and have since been awarded to more than 1,000 professionals who have exhibited the highest standards of excellence at Texas A&M.

The 2016 Distinguished Achievement Awards will be formally presented at 1:30 p.m. April 25 during a ceremony in Rudder Theater. In recognition of their achievements, each recipient will receive a cash gift, an engraved watch and a commemorative plaque.

For more information about the awards, contact Kelli Hutka '97 at The Association of Former Students at (979) 845-7514.

The Association of Former Students was established in 1879 and is the official alumni organization of Texas A&M University. The Association connects hundreds of thousands of members of the worldwide Aggie Network with one another and the university, and provides more than $11.2 million a year in impact toward university scholarships, awards, activities and enrichment for students, faculty, staff and former students.

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Brief biographies on each recipient as included in the official event program appear below:

Richard H. Gomer
Richard Gomer, holder of a Thomas W. Powell '62 Chair in Science, received a B.A. in physics from Pomona College and Ph.D. in biology from Caltech. After doing postdoctoral work at the University of California at San Diego, he served as a member of the faculty at Rice University. While there, he was also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and an adjunct faculty member at Baylor College of Medicine. He moved his lab to Texas A&M when joined the Department of Biology in 2010. Until 2003, Dr. Gomer split his research between astronomy focused on mass transfer in close binary stars and developmental biology focused on the formation of tissues of defined size and composition. In 2003, he and a postdoctoral researcher in his lab found a potential therapeutic for fibrosing diseases, such as congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, end-stage kidney disease and pulmonary fibrosis. After this discovery, he stopped his astronomy work to focus on developmental biology and fibrosis, co-founding a company to pursue the potential therapeutic. In clinical trials, the therapeutic is showing good efficacy at reversing disease in patients with pulmonary fibrosis and patients with myelofibrosis, a bone marrow fibrosis. At Texas A&M, in addition to doing basic research, his lab has identified a potential therapeutic for a lung disease called acute respiratory distress syndrome, as well as two second-generation therapeutics for fibrosis. He has authored more than 160 high impact publications, serves on the editorial boards of four journals and holds 13 patents. His recent awards include being named Inventor of the Year by the State Bar of Texas and a National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences.

Karen L. Wooley
Karen Wooley is a University Distinguished Professor and holder of the W. T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry, with joint appointments in the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering. She earned her Ph.D. in polymer/organic chemistry from Cornell University. Before joining the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry faculty in 2009, she served on the faculty of Washington University in St. Louis. Her research interests include degradable polymers derived from natural products, unique macromolecular architectures and complex polymer assemblies, and the design and development of well-defined nanostructured materials. The development of novel synthetic strategies, fundamental study of the materials' properties, and their functional performance in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, as non-toxic anti-biofouling or antiicing coatings for the marine environment as materials for microelectronics device applications and as pollutant remediation systems are particular foci of her research activities. Her recent awards include the American Chemical Society Award in Polymer Chemistry, Royal Society of Chemistry Centenary Prize, Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Honorary Fellow of the Chinese Chemical Society, Oesper Award, and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Wooley served as an editor for the Journal of Polymer Science, Part A: Polymer Chemistry from 2003-2014, and she currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of the American Chemical Society. She directs a National Heart Lung and Blood Institute-supported Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology and serves on advisory boards for several journals, universities, companies and programs within the broader international scientific community. She is regarded as one of the most internationally influential and innovative organic polymer chemists in the world.

Minnette Bilbo
Minnette Bilbo is the business administrator in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. She joined the Texas A&M University staff in 1975 and has held progressively responsible positions throughout her 41 years with the university. Her nominator wrote that there are many ways in which her service and ability exceed the usual duties of her job and emphasized that one of her most valuable assets is "her nearly encyclopedic knowledge" of all aspects of business in the department. "There are hundreds of accounts and sub-accounts under the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and she knows what all of them are and to whom they are assigned." In addition, she is known as "a master of all Texas A&M's various procedures: Concur, Aggie Buy and now BAM." But the hallmark of Ms. Bilbo's service to the department is her willingness and ability to work with principal investigators. The department has 72 faculty members, so the number of PIs is large. She works with each one to carefully organize their array of funding streams to maximize productivity. Ms. Bilbo is also the supervisor for other staff members who coordinate purchasing, travel and payroll. But she is no ordinary supervisor. She is a master of all the functions that report to her and gladly steps in to fill the gap if a member of her team is out. Ms. Bilbo's management makes the most difficult staffing days appear to be "business as usual." In addition, she is very involved in the department's primary outreach program, the Physics and Engineering Festival. During the festival, the department hosts about 4,000 visitors for a full day of hands-on demonstrations and talks. Such a program works only because of the large number of student, faculty and staff volunteers. Ms. Bilbo organizes food for the volunteers and handles countless other logistical details. In sum, her supporters agree that "Ms. Bilbo has a profound dedication to Aggieland."

Camilla Sturdivant '86
Camilla "Camy" Sturdivant is the associate director of the Department of Biology's Lower Division Instruction Program (BLDP). She joined the Texas A&M staff in 1989 and Texas A&M Biology in 2005, earning a B.S. in animal science from Texas A&M University. As associate director of the BLDP, she has primary responsibility for all aspects of the direct administration, coordination and functioning of the five different 100-level and two 200-level biology courses. She directly supervises the BLDP technical and office staff and has administrative responsibility for more than 100 teaching staff, ranging from teaching assistants to full professors. The expectations of the associate director cover every aspect of a laboratory science teaching program that accommodates more than 5,000 students per year. Her nominators -- the officers of the College of Science Dean's Student Advisory Panel -- wrote that no one epitomizes Texas A&M's core values more than Ms. Sturdivant. They describe her as having a "kind and supportive demeanor and can-do attitude" and as being "positive, thorough, fair, respectful and selfless." Her supervisor concurs and praised her ability to respond to and make accommodations for emergencies, including hurricanes (twice) and bomb threats (building closure and cancelled sections), as well as always doing her job with "personal dedication to the program," "tireless efforts to improve all aspects of the program," "sincere concern for the quality of instruction in our freshman and sophomore-level courses" and "commitment to making the program efficient, effective and congenial for all students, faculty and staff." Ms. Sturdivant's previous honors include the Department of Biology Outstanding Staff Award, the College of Science Outstanding Staff Award, and the President's Meritorious Staff Award.


Contact: Shana Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu

Cannon Stephanie

  • Richard H. Gomer

  • Karen L. Wooley

  • Minnette Bilbo

  • Camilla Sturdivant '86

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