Robert Logan Nugent Award

The Nugent Award was established by the Alumni Association and named in memory of Robert Logan Nugent who was the University of Arizona Executive Vice President when he died in June 1963.
Candidates should have a record of accomplishments that exemplify the high ideals of Dr. Nugent, such as active and enthusiastic participation and service in community and University endeavors.
2021 Outstanding Senior Award Recipients:

Akshay Nathan

Akshay Nathan is graduating magna cum laude from the Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry. Akshay was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, by immigrant parents from India, who aspired to help their children achieve the American dream. Akshay hopes to rise to their parent’s hopes and desires.

Akshay has been a member of the Mobile Medicats since their freshman year of college. They later became the director of volunteering, vice president, and as president of the club during their senior year. They oversee community and statewide efforts to alleviate the struggles experienced by individuals experiencing homelessness. Additionally, Akshay volunteers at Z-Mansion, providing medical care and support to medically underserved populations. They currently serve as a certified community health specialist, providing additional scope to treat and perform risk assessments for diverse health conditions.

Akshay has been a research and education intern with the UA Debate Series since the program’s inception their freshman year. They helped facilitate internal and external debate events, elevating the University’s status as a hub for free discourse. They have also participated in the inaugural Regents Cup, earning a scholarship.

Akshay currently conducts public health research under Dr. Purnima Madhivanan at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. They are interested in health disparities concerning underserved populations living in the slums of India. They have also spent a summer studying bacteria metabolism under Dr. Sujata Chaudhari at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Akshay has been nominated and selected for several awards while at the University of Arizona, including being nominated for the Chemistry and Biochemistry Outstanding Senior Award and receiving the Wildcat Excellence Award, an International Baccalaureate scholarship, and a National Scholar Award which is awarded in partnership with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Akshay is planning on pursuing a Master of Public Health at Boston University, with certificates in human rights and social justice as well as sex, sexuality and gender. They then plan to attend medical school and eventually pursue psychiatry as a career path.


Alyssa Jean Peterson

Alyssa Jean Peterson will be graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in molecular and cellular biology, and a Bachelor of Arts in both biochemistry and religious studies. Alyssa is from Safford, Arizona. She has two wonderful parents, Michael and Caryn Peterson, and four younger sisters, Charlotte, Ella, Madison and Rachel.

In 2016, Alyssa had the opportunity to serve the community of Rusinga, Kenya. This experience piqued her interest in mosquito vector disease research. Following her return, Alyssa applied to Dr. Roger Miesfeld’s lab in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, where Dr. Jun Isoe mentored, taught and supported her as she pursued her passion for science and interest in mosquito research. In April 2020, their paper, "Characterization of Essential Eggshell Proteins from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes," was published by bioRxiv.

A love of cultures moved Alyssa to add a religious studies major in 2020. She aspires to help people live healthier lives by combining cultural understanding with groundbreaking scientific discoveries to be the best public health professional possible.

Alyssa is involved in several campus leadership positions, including serving as president of the Molecular and Cellular Biology Club, vice president of Women in Medicine and Science, College of Science Health ambassador, Chemistry and Biochemistry ambassador, peer mentor and a member at the COVID Ambassadors Team, which operated a hotline to provide public health information and assistance. She was awarded the Microscopy Society of America Undergraduate Research Scholarship in 2020 and an American Chemical Society Hach Land-Grant scholarship. She was recognized as Biochemistry Student of the Month in September 2019 and August 2020, and received a Fred and Barbara Borga Award, which supports outstanding undergraduate students who are majoring in religious studies with a concentration in religious studies for health professionals.

After graduation, Alyssa will take a gap year to work and save for graduate school. She plans to pursue a doctorate in infectious disease research and work on bringing vaccines, interventions and health education to underserved communities around the world.