University honors alumni for exceptional professional achievements

The University of Chicago Alumni Association has announced honors for six distinguished alumni who have influenced both the University of Chicago and the global community.

The Alumni Medal recognizes achievement of an exceptional nature in any field, vocational or voluntary, covering an entire career. The Professional Achievement Awards, which the Public Service Award was merged into in 2016, recognize outstanding achievement in any professional field. The new Early Career Achievement Award recognizes alumni aged 40 or younger who have made an impact in their chosen career path.

The recipients of the Alumni Medal, Professional Achievement Awards and Early Career Achievement Award are the first to be announced in the academic year, with the recipients of the Alumni Service, Young Alumni Service and Norman Maclean Faculty Awards announced in the spring. Nominations for all alumni awards are accepted year-round.

Alumni Medal

Rochus “Robbie” Vogt, SM’57, PhD’61, is the R. Stanton Avery Distinguished Service Professor and Professor of Physics Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology. Since 1962, he has served as chair of the faculty, vice president, provost and other positions at Caltech. His research has focused on astrophysical aspects of cosmic radiation, gamma-ray astronomy and gravitational wave astronomy.

Vogt received the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his work as a principal investigator on the Voyager mission, and was chief scientist at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1977–78. He led the construction of Caltech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory’s mm-wave interferometer, had a lead role in bringing about the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and served as vice chair of the board of directors of the California Association for Research in Astronomy. From 1987 to 1994 he served as the director and principal investigator of the Caltech-MIT Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory project, becoming a co-recipient of the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.

Professional Achievement Award

Mikel Arriola, LLM’06, was appointed general director of the Mexican Institute of Social Security in February 2016 by the president of Mexico, a position he currently holds. His professional career developed mainly in the public sector.

In 2002 he was appointed litigation coordinator at Banrural. From 2003 to 2005, he held several positions at Financiera Rural, including regulatory compliance manager and deputy corporate director to the general director. In 2007 he joined the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, where he served as adviser to the minister; income planning general director of the undersecretary of revenue; and, since 2009, head of the tax legislation unit of the undersecretary of revenue. In March 2011 he was appointed federal commissioner for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks of the Ministry of Health, a position in which he was ratified in December 2012.

Herminio Blanco, AM’75, PhD’78, is the president of IQOM Inteligencia Comercial, a foreign trade intelligence company, and its subsidiary, IQOM Strategic Advisors. He is also the president of the board of Arcelor-Mittal Mexico and a member of the board of directors for Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior, CYDSA and Fibra Uno, as well as a member of the Trilateral Commission.

Blanco served as secretary of trade and industry of Mexico, undersecretary for international trade and negotiations, and chief negotiator of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He was also responsible for the negotiation of a free trade agreement with the European Union, the European Free Trade Area, various Latin American countries and Israel. Blanco also launched the process that lead to the negotiation of a free trade agreement with Japan.

Charis Eng, AB’82, PhD’86, MD’88, is the founding chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute, founding director of the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor and the Hardis Endowed Chair of Cancer Genomic Medicine in the Cleveland Clinic, among other positions.

As a physician-scientist for more than 20 years, Eng has dedicated her life to patient-oriented research in genetics and genomic medicine. As founding chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute and founding director and staff physician in the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, she implements evidence-based genetic- and genomics-enabled personalized health care, improving care for patients at genetic risk of disease nationally and globally. Eng is passionate about training and mentoring the next generation of physician-scientists, PhD clinical researchers and health care leaders and has founded a unique fellowship training program in cancer genomic medicine. She advocates for women and minorities in medicine and science and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Santa J. Ono, AB’84, is the president and vice chancellor of the University of British Columbia. As a professor of medicine and biology, Ono has worked at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, University College London and Emory University. He was inducted into Johns Hopkins’ Society of Scholars, which honors former faculty who have gained distinction in their fields, in 2015, and into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences as a fellow in 2017. Ono’s research encompasses the immune system, eye inflammation and age-related macular degeneration—a leading cause of blindness.

As a university administrator, Ono is known for his vision beyond the laboratory. He was the first Asian-American president of the University of Cincinnati when he was appointed in 2012, having previously served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. Prior to that, he was senior vice provost and deputy to the provost at Emory University.

Early Career Achievement Award

Megan Driscoll, AB’02, is a strategic media and communications professional with nearly 16 years of experience in health care, aesthetics and dermatology. Driscoll has cultivated relationships with physicians, consumers, key opinion leaders and tastemakers to achieve national recognition for her clients.

Driscoll has worked with Medicis, Rita Hazan, IT Cosmetics, Tria Beauty, Clarisonic, Viviscal, AstraZeneca and Roche. Previously, she served as president of Behrman Communications and held senior roles at Emanate, Lippe Taylor, FleishmanHillard and Euro RSCG Life. As founder and CEO of EvolveMKD, her public relations agency, Driscoll provides day-to-day client counsel, strategic direction and insights.