University of Louisville names Alumna of the Year

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    Penny Heaton
    Penny Heaton

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The CEO of a world-renowned medical research institute is the latest to be awarded the highest of honors by the University of Louisville Alumni Association.

    Penny Heaton, chief executive officer of The Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute, is the 2018 Alumna of the Year. Heaton will be honored at the annual University of Louisville Alumni Awards ceremony in October.

    The Alumni Awards are bestowed upon some of the brilliant minds that make the University of Louisville proud. In addition to Heaton, 13 Alumni Fellows are selected to represent all the UofL schools, colleges, as well as University Libraries and Student Affairs.

    “This year’s alumni awardees are true examples of leadership and excellence both at UofL and in their respective fields,” said Josh Hawkins, assistant vice president of alumni relations and annual giving. “We are overjoyed to celebrate Penny and our 13 alumni fellows because of their significant contributions to their communities, the university and the world.”

    As the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute, Heaton is the driving force behind an organization focused on developing life-saving vaccines and medicines for diseases that disproportionately affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations. She strives to ensure that the latest in cutting-edge technology is being used to save lives indiscriminately.

    “The University of Louisville helped turn a young woman’s passion for science into a career focused on reducing global health inequities,” Heaton said. “It’s truly an honor to receive the Alumna of the Year award from my alma mater. I’m grateful for my time at this incredible institution, and I’m proud to be recognized alongside such an impressive group of Alumni Fellows.”

    Heaton has a long history in medical research for vaccines including her work at Novavax, Novartis, and Merck &Co. She started her career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, traveling to Kenya to understand the mortality of enteric diseases, such as Rotavirus, in a low-income region. Heaton graduated from UofL with both her undergraduate degree from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1986 and her Doctor of Medicine in 1990. She went on to complete her medical residency though UofL’s School of Medicine.

    Heaton and the Alumni Fellows will be honored at the University of Louisville Alumni Awards Oct. 25, at the Henry Clay Building downtown. Attendees may register here. The 2018 Alumni Fellows are:

    • Ernest A. Brooks, III, College of Arts and Sciences, 1996
    • Lisa Carter-Harris, School of Nursing, 2004, 2013
    • Avonne Connor, School of Public Health and Information Sciences, 2005, 2007, 2011
    • Lottie Cook, Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work, 1985
    • Sundeep Dronawat, J.B. Speed School of Engineering, 1996, 2001
    • Jonathan Helfat, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, 1971
    • George Marriner Maull, School of Music, 1970, 1972
    • Michael Saag, School of Medicine, 1981
    • Mark Schulte, School of Dentistry, 1977
    • Jeanine Triplett, Student Affairs Legacy Award, 1982, 1985
    • Lowry Watkins, College of Business, 1968
    • Eddie Whitehead, College of Education and Human Development, 1967
    • Richard “Dick” Wilson, University of Louisville Libraries, 1974

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    Erica Walsh
    Erica Walsh is the senior marketing manager in the Office of Communications and Marketing where she manages the UofL Magazine and the President’s Report and contributes to the university’s branding and advertising efforts. Walsh joined UofL in 2014 after previously serving as the public relations specialist at Indiana University Southeast for seven years. Prior to her career in higher education communications, she was a reporter at The News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown, Ky.