The Distinguished Alumnus Awards
UWSP is home to thousands of amazing students each year that graduate to become leaders of tomorrow. Our alumni change the world, raise the next generation of leaders, and instill in those around them what it means to be a Pointer. The Distinguished Alumnus Award was created to recognize these truly outstanding alumni. We are honored to be able to recognize graduates as they work to create a better life for everyone through their actions.
2011 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient for the College of Letters and Science
Robert Summerelt, UWSP Biology, 1957
B.S., Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 1957
Ph.D., Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, 1964
• Taught over 40 courses at 7 universities
• Edited 2 books and 15 chapters that he contributed to UWSP’s library
• Co-authored 166 articles with 93 in peer-reviewed journals
• Distinguished Fellow Award, Iowa Academy of Science
• Fisheries Excellence Award, American Fisheries Society
• Iowa Regent’s Faculty Excellence Award
• Sport Fish Restoration Award
• Fish Culture Hall of Fame, Fish Administrator’s Section of American Fisheries Society
• Three special achievement awards, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife
• Winter Commencement speaker in 2003
Research focus from Iowa State University Website:
Dr. Summerfelt's has diverse research interests in fish biology (telemetry, age and growth, physiology, diet, reproductive biology, parasites), aquaculture, aquatic toxicology, water quality, aquacultural effluents, ecology and management of winterkill lakes, lake aeration, and fishery management. Before retirement he participated in the interdepartmental programs in Toxicology and Water Resources. His speciality is represented by more than 40 articles authored by he and his students on culture of walleye.
2011 Lifetime Achievement Award Receipient - UWSP
Thomas Nikolai, UWSP Chemistry, 1952
2010 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient for the College of Letters and Science
Ron Breaker, UWSP Biology, 1987
Dr. Breaker holds the Henry Ford II Professorship in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University, is jointly appointed as a professor in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, and is an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Breaker received his B.S. degree with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
He conducted undergraduate research on hibernation with Dr. Kent Hall and chromosome arrangements with Dr. William LeGrande. His Ph.D. thesis research was carried out with Dr. Peter Gilham at Purdue University and focused on the synthesis of RNA and the catalytic properties of nucleic acids. As a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Gerald Joyce at The Scripps Research Institute, Dr. Breaker pioneered a variety of "test-tube evolution" strategies to isolate novel RNA enzymes and was the first to discover catalytic DNAs or "deoxyribozymes" using this technology. Since establishing his laboratory at Yale in 1995, Dr. Breaker has continued to conduct research on the advanced functions of nucleic acids, including ribozyme reaction mechanisms, molecular switch technology, next-generation biosensors, and catalytic DNA engineering. Most recently, his laboratory has established the first proofs that metabolites are directly bound by messenger RNA elements called riboswitches. Dr. Breaker's research findings have been published in more than 100 scientific papers, book chapters, and patent applications, and his research has been funded by grants from the NIH, NSF, DARPA, the Hereditary Disease Foundation, and from several biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
He is the recipient of fellowships from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Hellman Family Trust. In recognition of his outstanding research accomplishments at Yale, Dr. Breaker received the Arthur Greer Memorial Prize (1997), the Eli Lilly Award in Microbiology (2005) and the Molecular Biology Award from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2006). In 2001, Dr. Breaker co-founded Archemix, a Cambridge, MA biotechnology company developing engineered aptamers as therapeutic agents. In 2005, Dr. Breaker co-founded BioRelix, a New Haven, CT biotechnology company developing antibiotics that target bacterial riboswitches. He participates on several scientific advisory boards including the JASON Defense Advisory Group, and serves on the editorial boards for the scientific journals RNA Biology, RNA, and Chemistry & Biology.
For a complete listing of past recipients or recipients from other colleges, please visit the Alumni Association website.