Knight Campus Recognition Awards - 2023

Knight Campus Recognition Awards

The Knight Campus Awards recognize those around us who have made remarkable contributions to the our community. By going above and beyond, they inspire us all to do the same, which ultimately helps further our mission!

Above and Beyond

A special award for 2023 in honor of excellence under unique conditions and Knight Campus needs. We reserve the Above and Beyond Award for individuals who step into exceptional circumstances and shine.

Three adults pose in front of a green background
Parisa Hosseinzadeh, Cas Gonzalez, Bob Guldberg

Cassandra "Cas" Gonzalez    
Lab Manager, Hosseinzadeh Lab

Cas received a tidal wave of nominations, in several categories, as colleagues expressed their appreciation for all they have done this year. She has been a mentor, a cheerleader, a supervisor, a nurturer, a troubleshooter, and a sounding board to lab-mates; an outstanding colleague to lab manager peers; a communicator, an administrator, an advocate, and an inspiration. Cas has done this with good humor, compassion, and common sense and has grown as a researcher and a teacher.

Diversity and Inclusion Award

Four adults posing with awards
Bob Guldberg, Jenni Van Wyk, Khaila Carlstrom, and Callie Johnston


This year the award goes to a group who individually and collaboratively have been recognized by their colleagues as directly promoting a welcoming and supportive environment through inclusive measures in programming and individual interactions. Nathan Jacobs, Khaila Carlstrom and Jenni Van Wyk’s efforts are supporting our shared goal of growing as a diverse and inclusive working environment of trainees and professionals as we possibly can. Nominators noted in their comments that these actions gave them confidence and inspiration to take part and engage fully in the activities around them. Because they take time to listen and engage at group and individual level, nominators said they felt seen, heard, and empowered.

Exceptional Service Award

Awarded to an individual or team who establishes and maintains positive and effective working relationships with fellow faculty, staff, students and internal/external customers. Recipients are dedicated to continuously improving, exceeding expectations and reacting appropriately to ensure best outcomes.

A group of adults posing for a photo with awards
Members of the Facilities Team at the End of Year Party

Facilities Team      

The award this year goes to a group who touches all of us: they fix things, they test things, they solve problems, and they keep the place looking spic and span. They respond to our calls for help quickly, they support our ambitions by making structures and equipment work, they maintain the beautiful building and take great pride in the work they do for all of us – and always quick with a smile. Nominations for the custodial and facilities crew flooded our nomination portal. This award honors team members - Ana Rodriquez, Judy Haines, Leo Ferrera, Wade Owens, Albert Aragon, Andre Aghazarian, Julien Haven, and Aurora Austin.

Innovation and Impact Award

Awarded to an individual or team who has generated novel and valuable ideas, and translated these ideas into new or improved products, methods, processes or systems that have led to substantial social and/or economic impact.

A group of adults holding award certificates
Members of Plesa Lab

Plesa Lab  

This year’s award goes to the members of the Plesa Lab, who as a group span a wide range of disciplines, which Calin Plesa artfully harnesses to move forward with innovation research projects and translational objectives. The Plesa laboratory has not only achieved research excellence supported by highly competitive external funding but has also developed a profound technology stack that serves as a robust foundation for translational ventures. These ventures as they come to maturity will be proudly touted as "Oregon Made," representing the best of what our region has to offer – exactly what the Knight Campus aspires to generate. As a PI and mentor, Calin has been dedicated to pushing the boundaries of knowledge with an ability to translate that knowledge into practical applications. He has been a driving force in support of the successful iGem teams, he is noted for his instructional skill at breaking down difficult concepts, and his research program is decidedly creative and innovative.

Research Collaboration Award

The Research Collaboration Award is to be awarded to an individual or team who has successfully catalyzed impactful convergent research collaborations that integrate diverse capabilities, technologies, and ideas. This award is for those individuals who proactively work between groups, energizing innovation and creativity in spaces that weren’t bridged before.

Adults pose holding award certificates
Justin Svendsen, Danielle Benoit, Eyerusalem Gabreyesus, Jarod Forer, and Bob Guldberg

We are very happy this year to award three PhD students in this category and that their colleagues observed and nominated them for the interdisciplinary scientists they are. Justin Svendsen is an innovator and a natural collaborator who is enthusiastic about his work in biochemistry, cross-over work into bioengineering, and working with his Business School mentors on entrepreneurship. Eyerusalem Gebreyesus and Jarod Forer have been noted for their collaboration on a non-invasive fluidic device to accelerate the healing outcomes for tendinopathy. At an early stage in their research careers, their interest in pooling expertise and driving forward together on projects set an example for successful collegial work.

Training and Teaching Award

Awarded to an individual or team who has creatively implemented a training strategy that is interdisciplinary, experiential, applied, and/or entrepreneurial that prepares students to identify and solve problems of societal and commercial relevance.

Three adults posing in front of a green background
Bob Guldberg, Tayler Hebner, Danielle Benoit

Tayler Hebner   
Lab Manager, Benoit Lab

Post Doctoral Scholar Tayler Hebner is recognized for her exceptional contributions to science education in the lab, in the Knight Campus Graduate Internship Program, and across this community. Her dedication to fostering the next generation of scientists is evident in her outstanding teaching and outreach efforts. Notably, Tayler organized and hosted a Kindergarten through eighth grade outreach event that showcased her ability to engage and inspire young minds. Tayler's teaching excellence extends beyond traditional settings, as she skillfully connects with diverse audiences, making science accessible and captivating. Her commitment to outreach exemplifies her passion for instilling a desire for learning in the next generation.

Communication Award

To be awarded to an individual or team who has gone above and beyond to widely and creatively communicate about our work in a way that effectively demonstrates our impact to both the scientific community and the public.

Four adults pose in front of a green background
Bob Guldberg, Moira Kiltie, Courtne Huffman, and Callie Johnston

Courtne Huffman   
Executive Assistant to Callie Johnston

Courtne provides graphic artistry expertise and creative thought to communicating ideas, both complex and simple, in varied ways. She puts together intelligent and eye-catching graphics and text used in presentations, communications materials, printed materials, and on the hallway video screens throughout the building. Courtne is our go-to person when we need to convey thoughts into graphics and images and has impressive intuition for how to engage with varied audiences on complicated ideas. Knight Campus relies on her expertise for everything from the annual report, to materials developed by researchers in presentations to philanthropists and government officials, to one-time posters and documents required for events and activities throughout the year.