UNMC College of Public Health honors State Sen. Nordquist

May 01, 2014

Nebraska State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist has received the Chancellor Robert D. Sparks, M.D., Award in Public Health and Preventive Medicine from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health.

The Sparks Award recognizes an individual who has shown outstanding innovation, excellence, collaboration and impact on health promotion, disease prevention and advancement of effective public health. Dr. Sparks, who was UNMC’s second chancellor (1972-1976), established the award through the University of Nebraska Foundation.

Jane Meza, Ph.D., interim dean of UNMC's College of Public Health, said, “Sen. Nordquist exemplifies excellence in innovation, collaboration and impact in public health by being a strong proponent of public health issues including access to quality affordable health care, telehealth, school-based health centers and his support for the Fred & Pamela Buffet Cancer Center.”

Sen. Nordquist’s interest in health care extends beyond his legislative work. He serves on the board of directors for One World Community Health Center in South Omaha and is now completing a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in health care administration, at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Outside of his duties as an elected official, Sen. Nordquist works for the Holland Children’s Movement.

His legislative duties include serving as chairman of the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, the State-Tribal Relations Committee and the Children’s Behavioral Health Oversight Committee. He also is chairman of the Health Committee for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Adi Pour, Ph.D., director of the Douglas County Health Department and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Panel for the College of Public Health, said Sen. Nordquist is very deserving of the award.

“He is a true advocate who works every day to ensure access to health care and prevention services are available for all to make Nebraska the healthiest state and keep health care costs low,” she said.

The following College of Public Health faculty members and students also were honored at the college’s annual awards banquet: 

  • Chandran Achutan, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental, agricultural and occupational health, received the Excellence in Teaching Award.
  • Shireen Rajaram, Ph.D., associate professor of health promotion, received the Carruth J. Wagner, M.D. Faculty Prize in Public Health, for her work in health disparities pertaining to domestic violence and sex trafficking, breast and cervical cancer, diabetes, childhood lead poisoning and healthy aging.
  • Monirul Islam, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology, received the Faculty Research Award for his work in defining treatment success and preferences for stage IV lung cancer patients through the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
  • Kathleen Brandert, director, Great Plains Public Health Leadership Institute, and manager of the Workforce Development and Leadership Programs, Office of Public Health Practice, received the Alumni Spirit of Service Award for her dedication to, and support of, the alumni of the College of Public Health.
  • The Carruth J. Wagner, M.D., Scholarship in Public Health was presented to students Sarbinaz Bekmuratova, health services research, administration and policy; Jeri Brittin, health services research, administration, and policy; Guangming Han, M.D., Ph.D., epidemiology; Molly McCarthy, health promotion and disease prevention research; Samuel Opoku, health services research administration and policy; Ketki Patel, M.D., epidemiology; Muna Sapkota, environmental health, occupational health and toxicology; and Raees Shaikh, health promotion and disease prevention research.
  • Olivia Sonderman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, global studies and pre-medicine, received the Chancellor Robert D. Sparks, M.D., Pre-professional/Undergraduate Student Scholarship in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
  • Jonathan Ali, a doctoral student in environmental health, occupational health and toxicology, received the Chancellor Robert D. Sparks, M.D., Public Health Student Research Award.

In addition to specific awards, 51 graduates of the doctoral, masters and certificate in public health programs were recognized, as well as this year’s inductees into the Gamma Omicron Chapter of Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health. 

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu and follow us on social media.

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