University of Nebraska Medical Center

Current Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumnus - Clinical Perfusion

Rachael Saniuk

Rachael Saniuk MPS, LP, CCP

Master of Perfusion Science - 2010

Rachael has been a Clinical Perfusionist for 12 years. She has been exposed to a variety of procedures and hospitals in Nebraska and considers herself well-versed in the perfusion world. She is employed at Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, and in addition to being a Clinical Perfusionist, is the Anesthesia and Perfusion Department Manager. She strives to provide high-quality and safe patient care and has consistently been rewarded for her hard work with increased responsibilities. She is always looking for ways to improve her skills and knowledge base and the rewards she has received have been a direct result of her expertise, commitment to personal and professional excellence, and her daily drive to go above and beyond expected patient care standards.

During her time at Bryan, she has been able to successfully integrate into a well-rounded, highly trained team of perfusionists, surgeons and nurses. As the manager, she leads and coaches the team, maintains supplies and equipment for both perfusion and the more than 75 anesthesia providers, and hires, orients, and teaches perfusionists and perfusion specialists. She also leads monthly competencies with employees on high risk/low volume procedures and encourages best practices with quarterly reviews of quality markers and outcomes for each perfusionist in her department. This is on top of her clinical role as a perfusionist.

Her primary focus in her managerial role has been on expanding the future generation’s professional attitude and leadership. She does this by participating in a variety of leadership activities. A few examples are the annual leadership symposium hosted by Creighton University, the perfusion directed leadership symposium held by the American Society of Extracorporeal Technology, and Bryan Medical Center’s Emerging Leader program and New Leader Cohort program. This allows her to develop relationships with her peers and current leaders and administrators.

Even now, she continues to challenge herself with building and leading an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) team at Bryan. ECMO, is a life-saving treatment and device utilized in the most critically ill patients in hopes of survival and recovery. Starting this program allows her to make an impact on the Lincoln and rural Nebraska community by providing them an option of treatment they may not have available in their hometown. The resources that go into an ECMO team are high, and it requires much coordination and cooperation of many individuals. A short list of the persons involved include perfusionists, critical care register nurses, ventricular assist device (VAD) team, cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, medical professionals and patients and their families. The time and commitment to this team is both exhausting and rewarding. 

Through the years, she has worked hard to integrate herself into the perfusion community and has done so by volunteering her time as the secretary of the Nebraska Perfusion Society, teaching UNMC students during their clinical perfusion rotations, and joining Team Heart Rwanda. Going to Rwanda accomplished yet another life goal by meeting her desire to better humanity. While there, she taught a local perfusionist how to run the heart-lung machine and how to properly function as part of the cardiac team. She also gets to collaborate with clinicians and educators outside of Nebraska that she would not otherwise have exposure to. Everyone works together to help Rwandans that are not able to afford healthcare and teach the locals how to provide safe healthcare. The aspect of community education is what makes Team Heart superior. She is proud to be part of this team.

On a more personal note, her desire to help others stems from her own experience with heart surgery. At the age of 14, she had open heart surgery to repair her atrial septal defect. The compassion and love she experienced during her time in the hospital has laid the foundation of who she is today. She wants to give back to the world that has given her so much. The education she received at UNMC, and her resulting perfusion career was the first step to achieving this objective. As she continues to grow, the more people she hopes to positively influence in the world. She feels blessed and honored to be a part of a great society of professionals and peers.

Distinguished Alumnus - Cytotechnology

Troy Matthias

Troy D. Matthias, CT. (ASCP)

Cytotechnology - 2000

Troy is a native of Hastings, Nebraska and he serves as the lead Cytotechnologist at the Nebraska Medicine/UNMC Department of Pathology and Microbiology. He completed his biological sciences degree at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and his Cytotechnology certification at UNMC in 2000. He is board certified in Cytotechnology by the American Society of Clinical Pathology.

In 2017, the Cytology Department validated and implemented the first Telecytology program in the state of Nebraska. This technology uses an iPad Pro mounted on a double head microscope with a customized adapter for remote rapid on-site evaluation (ROSE) of fine needle aspiration (FNA) procedures. To date, the division has performed over 700 rapid on-site evaluations using this technology. He is responsible for quality control and assurance of this program.

Troy volunteers for the College of American Pathologists (CAP) See, Test & Treat event. He is the CAP Lead Cytotechnologist for the Nebraska event. Nebraska Medicine/UNMC pathologists and cytotechnologists collaborate with Charles Drew Health Center, Inc., and Methodist Health System to provide free, same-day cancer screenings for women in the community without insurance.

He also serves as a clinical preceptor for the Cytology program in UNMC’s College of Allied Health Professions. He enjoys teaching and tries to inspire the students to do their best. Troy enjoys sharing his knowledge with the students and watching them gain confidence in their own abilities. He is committed to working hard to motivate his team of colleagues and the students he teaches, because the best lessons in the world will not get students or staff excited if they are not motivated.

Distinguished Alumnus - Medical Laboratory Science

Jan Tompkins

Jan Tompkins, MPH, MT(ASCP)

Master of Public Health - 2004
Medical Technology - 1972

Ms. Jan Tompkins decided in high school that she wanted a career in laboratory medicine after attending a presentation by Dr. Arden Engstrom Larson about the profession, at the old Conkling Hall. Soon after graduating from the Medical Technology program (now the Medical Laboratory Science program), she began teaching students in the clinical chemistry department. A few years later, she moved to Grand Island where she worked at Saint Francis Medical Center and helped establish the medical laboratory technician program at Southeast Community College.

In 1992, the UNMC program expanded to five sites across Nebraska and Tompkins was the coordinator from UNMC to those sites. She also helped to pilot the degree advancement option in the medical laboratory science program.

Tompkins earned a Master of Public Health degree from UNMC, studying ten immigrant populations in Central Nebraska, and developed a cultural competency curriculum that is still being taught in the College of Allied Health Professions (CAHP).

She helped pioneer distance learning for the CAHP and became the Director of Distance Education for the college and eventually the Director of Distance Education for the UNMC Campus. She has also served as the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs and the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the college. She was the co-director for the development of the Master of Health Professions Teaching and Technology program and the program’s inaugural director.

In addition, Tompkins has served as a consultant to the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). In this capacity, she helped laboratory professionals in Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Ukraine learn about instrumentation for the diagnosis and monitoring of treatment for AIDS and later helped these professionals upgrade the curriculum and curriculum delivery in their laboratory science training programs.

Early Career Achievement - Medical Nutrition

Mariah Kay Jackson

Mariah Kay Jackson, MMN, RDN, LMNT

Master of Medical Nutrition - 2019

Mariah is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an instructor of Medical Nutrition Education in the College of Allied Health Professions (CAHP). She completed her Master of Medical Nutrition degree in 2019 from the CAHP and is currently seeking her PhD through UNMC’s Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area (MSIA) program.

As an early-career investigator, she is very interested in the effects of dietary patterns on disease development and prevention, primarily in cancer. She has achieved initial research success at both a regional and national level. This includes receiving a grant awarded from the University of Nebraska Collaboration Initiative; publishing multiple first-author, peer-reviewed abstracts; and having the distinguished honor of presenting an oral abstract at the American Society for Nutrition National Conference. Additionally, in her faculty role, she has led the development and implementation of two new professional graduate degree courses and one undergraduate course. Through her research, teaching, and service, she is excited to grow as a leader in nutrition research and represent UNMC as a premier university.

Distinguished Alumnus - Physician Assistant

Peter Hunt

Peter W. Hunt MPA-C

Physician Assistant - 1987, 2000

Peter is a Chief Physician Assistant at Omaha Children’s Hospital and Medical Center and works with a pediatric cardiac surgical group. He graduated from PA School at UNMC in 1987 and later received his master’s degree from UNMC in 2000.

Prior to PA school, he was a respiratory therapist. He has served the Nebraska Academy of Physician Assistants as a house of delegates representative, board member at large and on the continuing medical education committee. He also is presently a board member for the Society of Army Physician Assistants. He has served on multiple committees at Children’s Hospital and helped update the bylaws for mid-level providers. 

He was the keynote speaker at the 2019 PA commencement ceremony and was the Nebraska Academy of Physician Assistants (NAPA) PA of the year in 2013. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the PA program at UNMC, and has lectured for many years. He has served as a green sheet proctor and is still a preceptor for PA students. He has spoken to high school and college students about the PA profession on multiple occasions.

He is a Colonel in the United States Army, with deployments as a medical officer for a combat unit in Afghanistan, and he has also been to Honduras and Nicaragua. His assessments include Executive Officer for the Medical Detachment in Nebraska and being Battalion Commander twice. He is presently mobilized to Ft. Hood serving as a medical provider with the deployment readiness center.

Early Career Achievement - Physician Assistant

Mark Aksamit

Mark Aksamit, MPAS, PA-C, CAQ-Psych

Physician Assistant - 2013

Mark was born in Lincoln, Nebraska and lived there until his family moved to Omaha when he was 7. Shortly after the move, he was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes Mellitus and this diagnosis led Mark to pursue a career in medicine.

This life-altering diagnosis at age 7 led to multiple interactions with many different care providers but one of these providers, Jennifer Moeller PA, served as Mark’s first introduction to the Physician Assistant profession. The care she provided inspired Mark to explore the profession as a potential career.

During Mark’s undergraduate education, he was accepted into the UNMC Summer Medical Dental Education Program (SMDEP) now Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) where he was able to work closely with the late Dr. Reuben Pamies. The SMDEP at UNMC and Dr. Pamies helped Mark further solidify his desire to care for underserved and underrepresented populations. Mark went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 2011. He then attended PA school at UNMC, graduating in 2013.

Upon graduation, Mark was hired by Dr. Mary Jo Hanigan owner of Meridian Mental Health. He had previously completed a clinical rotation with her in psychiatry as a PA student and she remained critical to his development and maturation in the profession. She mentored Mark for the first 5 years of his career, teaching him the intricacies and nuance of psychiatric practice, as well as helping him refine his leadership skills. During his time at Meridian, he regularly served as a psychiatry preceptor for UNMC PA students, following in the footsteps of his mentor.  

Dr. Hanigan fostered Mark’s passion for education, which ultimately lead to him accepting a role as an assistant professor in UNMC’s College of Allied Health Professions, Division of Physician Assistant Education in 2018. At that time, he also assumed a clinical role in the Department of Psychiatry where he sees patients with Nebraska Medicine.

Mark obtained his certificate of added qualifications (CAQ) in psychiatry from National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) in 2019 further establishing himself as an expert in the field of psychiatry. In his time at Nebraska Medicine, Mark has transitioned from PA to clinical lead, and then to Advance Practice Provider (APP) Supervisor where he directly leads a team of 12 APPs and indirectly supports multiple others in various roles. He found new mentors and support including Dr. David Cates, Maggie Milner and Risa Zimmerman who have all played a crucial role in his on-going development.

Currently, Mark’s primary clinical focus is transplant psychiatry and co-directing the UNMC Department of Psychiatry Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD) Clinic with Dr. Stephen Salzbrenner.  Mark continues to precept nurse practitioner and physician assistant students while providing lectures in areas of expertise to the UNMC psychiatry residents. He has dedicated himself to educating and improving the skillsets of those he directly and indirectly leads.

In his current role as APP Supervisor, he has fostered an environment of inclusivity, compassion, and mentorship. Under his guidance, Kelly Gassman, PA was nominated for and won the prestigious national award, 2022 American Academy of Physician Assistants “Preceptor of the Year”. Mark and Kelly have developed a robust psychiatric rotation for the 2-4 APP learners they support each month, providing them with valuable experiential and didactic experiences in a multitude of psychiatric subspecialties with an emphasis on addiction. Mark is an advocate and champion for the APPs that he leads and the various learners that he interacts with on a daily basis.

Mark has given multiple lectures on various psychiatric topics at the regional level and in the process, he has developed a passion for and become an expert on improving APP well-being and enhancing provider professional fulfillment. He has been invited to participate as a content expert in a national symposium hosted by the American Academy of PAs on clinician and clinical student well-being within a team-based environment.

Mark is the chair of the APP Council at Nebraska Medicine and leads the wellness subcommittee to ensure all APPs have a voice. Mark has regularly participated in advocacy for his profession at various levels and continues to provide support for all aspects of provider well-being. He champions the cause of interprofessional education and co-authored a poster with Dr. Alena Balasanova called “Interprofessional Training in Addiction Psychiatry: The Time is Now,” for the 3rd Annual Heartland Interprofessional Education Conference. Further, he co-authored a chapter on Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder in “Clinical Medicine for Physician Assistants” and regularly participates in Psychiatric CAQ standard settings for the NCCPA.  

Mark has won multiple awards from his department for his work in education, citizenship, and leadership. He was named “PA of the Year” in 2022 by the Nebraska Academy of Physician Assistants. His future goals include starting an APP psychiatry fellowship and continuing to support, advocate for and enhance the well-being of the APP workforce.

Distinguished Alumnus - Physical Therapy

Lisa Black

Lisa L. Black, PT, DPT

Physical Therapy - 1982 (DPT Creighton University - 2006)

A native Nebraskan, Lisa graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy in 1982. She moved to North Platte to begin her career as a staff physical therapist in the hospital and in a private clinic. After 5 years in North Platte she traveled for a year as a Chief Physical Therapist. She worked for a private practice for 12 years in a management position. Additional practice experience included working in Home Health and in a Skilled Nursing facility.

Currently she is a Professor at Creighton University in the Department of Physical Therapy and has been at Creighton since 2004. Her teaching responsibilities include Professional Formation for the entry-level program and multiple topics for residency education. Dr. Black has scholarly interests in novice physical therapist development, clinical education, clinical reasoning and competency-based assessment across professional and post-professional education.

She has been an active member of the Nebraska Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association (NPTA) and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) since 1980.

Early Career Achievement - Physical Therapy

Kellie Gossman

Kellie S. Gossman PT, DPT, PCS

Physical Therapy - 2012

Kellie is a 2012 UNMC graduate of the College of Allied Health Professions Division of Physical Therapy Education with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Since graduation, she practiced both in Lincoln and in Northeast Nebraska in physical therapy practice areas of pediatrics and adults with chronic health conditions. In 2017, she returned to UNMC in the capacity of Assistant Professor within the Division of Physical Therapy Education at the UNMC-Kearney campus. As faculty, she provides instruction in her clinical areas of expertise. Dr. Gossman quickly received recognition regionally for her expertise in the use of innovative teaching methods including e-learning technology and interprofessional education.

Dr. Gossman became a Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Pediatric Physical Therapy in 2018 and is one of only 2 physical therapists in the central and western parts of Nebraska with this certification. In addition to her teaching at UNMC, Dr. Gossman provides free developmental assessments for children in the Nebraska Tracking Infant Progress Statewide (TIPS) program in Kearney at TreeTop Family Physical Therapy since June of 2018.  Dr. Gossman led efforts to bring the national recognized GoBabyGo! Program to central Nebraska in cooperation with the Munroe-Meyer Institute Guild. This annual program involves students from physical and occupational therapy and engineering. The goal of the GoBabyGo! program is to provide modified ride-on toy cars for children with developmental disabilities, with the goal to help the children attain early independent mobility. Her service record includes the provision of medical screening for athletes in Special Olympics Nebraska, in collaboration with an interprofessional team of faculty and students. Other service includes Dr. Gossman’s involvement with  the Kearney Area Children’s Museum, the University of Nebraska-Kearney career days, Special Olympics Young Athletes and Embrace Park fundraising for an all-inclusive playground in Norfolk, NE.

Dr. Gossman is an active member, both locally and nationally, of the American Physical Therapy Association, the national professional organization representing physical therapy.  At the national level, Dr. Gossman’s participation includes prestigious appointments as an item writer for the Pediatric Specialty Council for the American Board of Physical Therapist Specialties and as a developer of national board questions for the Committee of Content Experts (CCE) for the Pediatric Specialty Council. 

Distinguished Alumnus - Imaging Sciences

Randy Wobig

Randy Wobig, BS

Radiography - 1987
Sonography - 1988

Randy is Chief Information Officer for CQuence Health Group, an Omaha-based collective of top healthcare organizations working to change healthcare for the better, and its partner company, Cassling, a diagnostic medical equipment and services company. In his role, Randy oversees all corporate information technology, security, and facility planning and management for the organization.

Randy joined Cassling in 1999 as a Clinical Network Specialist. He was promoted to Director, Clinical Applications, and later to Vice President of Services, where he managed Cassling’s applications support, picture archiving and communication system (PACS) service support, and project managers. Randy transitioned to the role of Chief Information Officer in January of 2010.

Before joining the Cassling team, Randy spent 14 years gaining hands-on diagnostic imaging (radiography and sonography) and digital imaging systems management experience at Nebraska Medicine (formerly Nebraska Health Systems). He had eight years of experience working with the Hospital and Radiology Information Systems (HIS/RIS), teleradiology, PACS, and medical imaging device networking. Randy also held a courtesy faculty appointment for teaching in the UNMC College of Allied Health Professions where he worked with sonography students and professionals completing their radiology residency and fellowship programs.

Randy is a graduate of UNMC’s College of Allied Health Professions with an associate degree in radiography (1987) and a bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography (1988). He held certifications in Radiologic Technology and Diagnostic Medical Sonography in Abdomen, Neuro, OB/GYN and Vascular disciplines. He also served as a founding member and Vice President of the UNMC Radiation Science Technology Education Alumni Chapter.

From the rural sandhills of Cody, Nebraska, Randy and his wife, Helen, have two daughters, a granddaughter, and identical twin grandsons on the way. Helen also graduated from UNMC’s College of Allied Health Professions nuclear medicine program.