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Kathleen Iles, Heather Nelson honored with Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence

Hundreds of award and honors will be highlighted Commencement Weekend, but one stands out as recognizing the best students from all across the State University of New York (SUNY). Upstate’s Kathleen Iles and Heather Nelson made the short list of students from across the SUNY Systemn who are being honored with the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.

The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, created in 1997, recognizes students who have best demonstrated, and have been recognized for, the integration of academic excellence with accomplishments in the areas of leadership, athletics, community service, creative and performing arts, campus involvement, or career achievement.

“I am immensely proud of these students, who have demonstrated academic excellence and dedication to enriching their campuses and communities,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “From research publications in industry journals to volunteering in hospitals and local clinics to holding leadership roles at their institutions, I am inspired by each student.”

Iles, of Skaneateles, has excelled academically and is a committed leader serving as president of Upstate’s AOA chapter. She was elected by her peers to the Gold Humanism Honor Society for dedication to humanistic patient care. Iles has served as clinic coordinator for the Refugee Clinic; was elected to the Learning Community Advisory Council; and volunteered in “Peds Pals,” supporting children with cancer. She also served as special events chair for the Campus Activities Governing Board.

Her favorite moment at Upstate? “Sharing in the frenzy and excitement of Match Day with my classmates.”

Iles made her successful match with the University of North Carolina, where she will begin her residency in general surgery. She will receive her MD on Sunday.

Nelson, of Northville, joined the Biomedical Sciences PhD program at Upstate, and is completing her doctoral research in Cell and Developmental Biology with Michael Roe, PhD. Her research is focused on molecular mechanisms that regulate intracellular calcium signal transduction. Nelson discussed her work, which has implications for the treatment of diabetes and other diseases, at a SUNY Research Conference last year. When not working in the lab, Nelson is busy giving back to the community, by serving as a mentor for the 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures program, an initiative of the Global STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Alliance of the New York Academy of Sciences. A leader in student government, Nelson enjoys long-distance running, soccer, and triathlons.

Her favorite moment at Upstate? “I can’t pick just one! My experience at Upstate has been all-around fantastic and it is so hard to narrow it down to one particular experience. The community and culture here are amazing.”

After graduation, Nelson will take a post-doctoral position at Vanderbilt University, where she will continue to conduct diabetes-related research. She will receive her PhD at Commencement Sunday.

Caption: Heather Nelson, left, and Kathleen Iles, in front of the Setnor Academic Building, are recipients of the SUNY Chancellor Student Excellence award.

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