By Wendy Sarubbi | November 18, 2021 3:05 pm

The College of Medicine recognized faculty, staff, students and community members for their achievements and contributions during the annual Awards Ceremony Nov. 16.

The virtual event featured the college’s inaugural awards recognizing individual’s commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“You are the heart and soul of this medical school, this university and this community,” said Dr. Deborah German, vice president for health affairs and dean of the medical school as she welcomed attendees. “Thank you for everything you do every day to teach our students, care for our patients and discover tomorrow’s medical treatments and cures. And for doing it with an incredible energy and persistence this year in the midst of a global pandemic.”

The Dean’s Award, given to the person who exemplifies outstanding support of the College of Medicine, went to Wendy Brandon, leader of UCF Lake Nona Medical Center, the new partnership hospital created by UCF and HCA Healthcare. Dr. German said Brandon had “worked tirelessly to create a new hospital that is already a leader in quality care,” noting that UCF Lake Nona Medical Center was recently ranked #1 for Care Excellence in HCA’s entire North Florida Division, and #11 in all of HCA Healthcare — out of 188 hospitals nationwide. This summer, its Emergency Department was rated #1 for Patient Experience in the entire HCA Healthcare enterprise. “Thanks to her partnership spirit, we are joining forces for research and discovery – especially in the area of cancer — and UCF medical students and nursing students have already begun training at their very own hospital,” Dr. German said.

Dr. Tracy McIntosh, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, presented awards to three staff members, a student and a faculty member for their efforts to create a more inclusive medical school culture committed to “recruiting and training a more diverse and inclusive generation of scientists and physicians to solve our healthcare challenges and deliver equitable healthcare to all people.” Honorees were staff members Laura Patterson, Katherine Newsom and Cynthia Contreras, M.D. student Melodie Noel and faculty member Olga Karasik.

M.D. students created an inaugural award of their own. The Richard D. Peppler Student Advocacy Award is named in honor of Dr. Peppler, who retired this year after 14 years as associate dean of academic and faculty affairs and gave so much of himself to students through advising, teaching and advocacy. The first award was given to Dr. Peppler.

Here are the rest of the awards:


  • Innovative Teaching: Jorge Restrepo, Colleen Moran-Bano, Julia Soulakova, Kyle Riding
  • Early Career Educator: Melissa Worley, Joshua Shultz
  • Educational Leadership: Michelle Ozcan, Nyla Dil
  • Community Service: Anuja Mehta
  • Outstanding Faculty Member: Georgine Lamvu
  • Excellence in Librarianship: Terri Gotschall
  • GME Clinical Teaching & Mentorship: Johanna Kielbasa
  • Clinical Achievement: Jessica Feranec
  • Early Career Investigator for Achievement in Research: Lindsay Taliaferro
  • M1 Golden Apple: Jeffrey LaRochelle
  • M2 Golden Apple: Heidi Hoopingarner
  • M3 Resident Golden Apple: Hannah Lewis
  • M3 Educator Golden Apple: Alan Thurman
  • Clerkship Director Golden Apple: Donna Boucher
  • Practice of Medicine Golden Apple: Mariana Dangiolo
  • Undergraduate Educator: Jessica Wilson
  • Graduate Educator: Stephen King
  • Contributions to the FIRE Module: Raj Sawh-Martinez, James Solomon
  • Contributions to Clinical Skills: Patrick Hunter, Shiva Kalidindi
  • Contributions to Admissions: Gobi Balaji, Richard Gammon
  • Contributions to Medical Laboratory Sciences Program: Janet Kaufman
  • Contributions to the Anatomy Lab: The late John Langdon
  • Excellence in Teaching, Surgery Clerkship: Educator: Alan Thurman, Resident: Robert Ringersen
  • Excellence in Teaching Psychiatry Clerkship: Educator: Reeyaz Esack,
    Residents: Monica Arias Garcia, Marisa Taddeo, Katrina Kesterson
  • Excellence in Teaching, Internal Medicine Clerkship: Educator: Matthew Calestino, Resident: Zekarias Asnake
  • Excellence in Teaching, Family Medicine Clerkship: Educator: Scott Lang, Cindy Gleit,Resident: Jordan Phelps
  • Excellence in Teaching, Pediatric Clerkship: Educator: Nicole Armstrong, Resident: Brandon Trandai
  • Excellence in Teaching, Neurology Clerkship: Educator: Umesh Sharma, Resident: Amna Imran
  • Excellence in Teaching, Obstetrics and Gynecology Clerkship: Educator: Deborah Spiers, Resident: Hannah Lewis
  • Preceptor Excellence: Allison Ferrara, Joyce Paulson, Yanisa Del Toro
  • Richard B. Hornick Award: Peter Edelstein


  • USPS Medical Education and Overall USPS Employee of the Year: Heather Hargreave
  • A and P Employee of the Year: Lacy Stallings 
  • Team Award: Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library team


  • Academic Excellence: Jeremy Adamson, Shaye Busse, John Driggers, Carla Gonzalez, Caridad Infante, Katelyn Lewis, John Mathias, Max Mccall, Rachel Nyenhuis, Helena Quach, Allison Richey, Neel Shah, Daniel Stirt, April Taniguchi, Lindsey Webb, Nathan Whitley, John Wilhelm
  • Excellence in Clinical Skills: Carla Gonzalez, Vashti Shiwmangal
  • Faculty Choice: Lake Lindo
  • Distinguished Service: Krisandra Hardy
  • International Medical Service: Gustavo Marino
  • Service and Humanity in Medicine: Brenden Maag
  • U.S. Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health: Lily Chen, David Gittess.

Focused Inquiry and Research Experience (FIRE)

  • Faculty Choice for Oral Presentation:
    • First place – Andrew Collins
    • Second place – Daniel Stirt
    • Third place –Elliott Cheung
  • Peer Choice for Oral Presentation:
    • First place – Katelyn Lewis
    • Second place – Kharina Guruvadoo
    • Third place – Daniel Stirt
  • Faculty Choice for Poster Presentation:
    • First place – Megan Maag
    • Second place – Ramapaada Medam
    • Third place — Sabah Ali
  • Peer Choice for Poster Presentation:
    • First place — Ashley Su
    • Second place — Linda Ren
    • Third place – Andy Huang
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