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Alumni and Donor News

Congratulations to the Recipients of the 2023 Alumni Achievement Awards

The College of Arts and Sciences recognized these alumni for their contributions during the 2023 Homecoming celebration in October.

A photo of Brian Keating

Brian Gregory Keating | Photo courtesy of University of California, San Diego; photographer: Erik Jepsen

Distinguished Undergraduate Alumnus Award

Brian Gregory Keating, PhD (CWR ’93, physics), is the Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Physics at University of California, San Diego. He also is an inventor, author, public speaker, podcaster and an expert in the universe’s oldest detectable light, the cosmic microwave background, using it to learn about the origin and evolution of the universe. 

CWRU’s impact: “I came from an economically disadvantaged background. Luckily, I received a lot of financial aid in scholarships and loans. If I hadn’t, I either would have not been able to attend or been forced to withdraw in my sophomore year. I went on to be a graduate student at Brown, a postdoc at Caltech and then a professor.”


Photo of Michael Jirousek

Michael Robert Jirousek

Distinguished Graduate Alumnus Award 

Michael Robert Jirousek, PhD (GRS ’89, chemistry), was the founding chief operating officer at Frequency Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company in the Boston area focused on restoring function by developing therapeutics that activate a person’s innate regenerative potential. He has a long track record in research and development for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. His drug- discovery projects and co-inventions have focused on conditions such as muscular dystrophy, cancer and a variety of metabolic diseases. He’s currently an adjunct instructor in chemistry at CWRU. 

CWRU’s impact: “Many life lessons [CWRU provided include] how to be a good scientist, how to approach problems applying the scientific method to solve important problems. [I also gained] a critical strong grounding in the sciences and life sciences.”


Photo of Mark Chao

Mark P. Chao | Photo courtesy of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine

Distinguished Professional Achievement


Mark P. Chao, MD, PhD (CWR ’04), is a venture partner at San Francisco-based Foresite Labs, which incubates healthcare startups. He was the founding CEO of TenSixteen Bio, a precision therapeutics company and co-founder of Forty Seven, an oncology company acquired by Gilead Sciences for $4.9 billion. 

CWRU’s impact: “It profoundly shaped my career development plans and fostered a passion for leadership I did not previously know existed. I developed an interest in cancer and Alzheimer’s disease research and pursued a new interest in health advocacy working with Cleveland’s youth.” 

Lessons learned: “My college experiences taught me to be bold in taking risks and showed me the power of uniting people around a common cause to accomplish as a group far more than the individual.”


Headshot of Sandra Kops

Sandra Kraeuter Kops

Distinguished Service Award 

Sandra Kraeuter Kops, PhD (FSM ’72), is the founder and science director of Nutrition Security Solutions Inc. (NSS), a nonprofit working to reduce food insecurity in Greater New Haven, Connecticut. People who are impoverished and elderly or disabled use NSS’s food-pantry online ordering and delivery systems to obtain nutritious food they select. Kops also is a consultant integrating nutrition into comprehensive healthcare and previously conducted biomedical research at Yale University’s School of Medicine. 

CWRU’s impact: “Having excelled in my studies and having the support of many faculty members at CWRU, I laid the groundwork for advancement to graduate studies at Cornell University with fellowship support. I am very proud I [did that] at CWRU, a highly regarded school for excellence in science.”


Photo of Shikha Tandon speaking

Shikha Tandon | Photo by TEDxBITSHyderabad

Distinguished Young Alumna Award

Shikha Tandon (GRS ’12, biology) is the chief resilience and partnerships officer at svexa, which combines expertise in physiology and data science to optimize human performance. It works with technology companies and teams across the sports, health and fitness industries. A swimmer, she began competing internationally at 11 and represented her native India in two freestyle events at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. 

CWRU’s impact: “One of the most valuable lessons I learned during my time at CWRU was the importance of remaining open to new ideas and opportunities. This mindset played a crucial role in kick-starting my professional career, which, in turn, led to a series of subsequent opportunities that have helped shape my current path in sports tech.”


Photo of Irina Yakubenko

Irina V. Yakubenko

Distinguished Young Alumna Award

Irina V. Yakubenko (CWR ’14) is senior manager of strategic planning at Cartier, guiding the vision and brand strategy for North America. She previously headed brand and social at IBM across 70 countries. 

CWRU’s impact: “I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t attend CWRU. The professors fueled my growth and helped me discover my passion for marketing and business outside of my political science degree. I met my future husband, [Scho Wolers (CWR ’14)], on our first day of class (we even got engaged on campus in 2022!) … IBM recruited me on campus, thanks to their relationship with the university, which is how I got my foot in the door and climbed the career ladder the last nine years.”

For more information on nominating alumni for future award consideration, please contact Development and External Relations at or 216-368-0097.



“Developments” highlights recent philanthropic support for the College of Arts and Sciences from alumni, friends, corporations and other constituents.

Kent Cartwright, PhD (GRS ’79, English), the 2022 College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Graduate Alumnus Award recipient and a professor emeritus of English at University of Maryland, committed a six-figure gift to create the Kent and Pamela Cartwright Fund, which will support the Department of English. The fund honors the late Professor Robert Ornstein, PhD, Cartwright’s dissertation director, a former English department chair and one of the great Renaissance scholars of his generation. 

Leonard J. Andrews, PhD (GRS ’71, chemistry), and Judith M. Andrews, PhD (GRS ’71, chemistry), made a $100,000 commitment to establish The Judith and Leonard Andrews Fund for Chemistry Graduate Student Support. They were members of the 2022 Department of Chemistry reunion committee. 

Janet Anderson, PhD (FSM ’49, GRS ’71, biology), made an estate commitment to create the Janet A. Anderson Fund for Biology Graduate Student Support. Janet and her husband, Vic Van Lint, PhD, were members of the 2022 Department of Biology reunion committee. 

For more information on these funds or to make your own gift, contact or 216.368.0097

Page last modified: January 16, 2024