UTMB professor named a 2016 Piper Award winner
A University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston professor was one of 10 professors in Texas to be selected by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation as a 2016 Piper Professor. Joan Nichols, a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UTMB and associate director for research and operations for the Galveston National Laboratory, was honored with the prestigious award and received a $5,000 grant from the foundation. The Piper Professor Awards were first introduced in 1958 and honor effective and dedicated professors from two- and four-year colleges and universities in Texas.
Nichols said she was honored to be named a Piper Professor.
“We don’t do our jobs to get awards,” Nichols said. “We do them because we care about the students we teach and the research that we do. But, every once in a while, it is nice to know that others notice what you are doing and to be recognized.”
Nichols, who has been with UTMB since 1994, said she went back to graduate school for her doctorate degree because she wanted to teach and work with medical and graduate students.
Dr. David L. Callender, president of UTMB, said the award was a great honor but should not come as a surprise.
“Dr. Nichols’ passion for her students, for her research and for sharing her love of science is easy to see,” Callender said. “She exemplifies the dedication that so many of our faculty have. We are fortunate to have her here at UTMB teaching future doctors and medical researchers.”
In letters of recommendation sent to the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation, Nichols was described as a hardworking, dedicated and inspiring professor and researcher who was just as comfortable in her lab as she is in front of a classroom or speaking to members of the community.
“Anyone who knows Dr. Nichols, the first thing they tell you is that she is an intelligent, caring and giving individual,” stated one of the letters. “She is someone who will go the ‘extra mile’ for students.”
Nichols is involved in groundbreaking research, and the letters of recommendation praised her ability to bring her students into the research process.
“As a teacher, Joan does an excellent job balancing the teaching of basic curriculum with hands-on experience in areas that help students choose among the variety of focus areas in medicine and medical research,” stated another letter.
Nichols was honored at a reception hosted by Callender, Danny Jacobs, provost and dean of the School of Medicine, and David Niesel, chief research officer and dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.