UC Irvine’s most prestigious honor, the Medal, which annually confers lifelong recognition on those who have made exceptional contributions to the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service will be given to three individuals and one couple this fall.

“UCI’s ability to shape a bright future for our campus, our community and our world comes from the contributions of people deeply committed to this campus,” said Chancellor Michael Drake. “This year’s Medal recipients exemplify this commitment, and their extraordinary loyalty, service and generosity to our university make them most deserving of this exceptional tribute.”

This year’s honorees:

Internationally acclaimed scientist Susan V. Bryant is vice chancellor for research at UCI and will retire in June. Her longtime service as a teacher, researcher, administrator and leader has been a driving force on a wide range of important initiatives, from stem cell research to advancing gender diversity in the sciences. Most recently, in her four years as vice chancellor, she guided the campus through significant increases in government and private support for research and scholarship; streamlined and reorganized the Office of Research to better meet the campus’s changing needs; strengthened campus research centers; and oversaw initiatives designed to facilitate technology transfer.

Bryant served as dean of biological sciences from 2000 to 2006. Since joining the UCI faculty in 1969, she also has held numerous other administrative positions, including interim dean of biological sciences, assistant vice chancellor for plans and programs, chair of developmental and cell biology, and program director of the National Science Foundation developmental biology program. Her honors include being an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and of the Association for Women in Science. She serves as a member of the Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and of the California Council on Science and Technology.

Bryant is a leading expert in the study of limb regeneration. Her research, which has resulted in more than 100 publications, has focused on the fundamental rules of regeneration and may one day lead to new approaches and therapies for replacing and repairing lost, damaged or diseased parts of the human body.

Longtime campus advocates Salma and Hazem Chehabi have been instrumental in helping to grow many campus areas through their commitments of time, service and financial support since first becoming involved at UCI in the mid-1990s.

A board-certified physician in nuclear medicine who has been practicing in Orange County since 1989, Hazem Chehabi is a former president of the Medical Board of California and member of numerous medical societies who has been published in the major specialty journals. He started working with UCI doctors early on, offering his facilities at Newport Diagnostics for training, and he began serving as a volunteer faculty member in the Department of Radiological Sciences in 1994.

Salma is a philanthropist and community leader who earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at UCI in 1999 and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and social behavior at the university last year.

Today they are UC Irvine Foundation trustees, and Hazem chairs the Foundation strategic planning committee. Their steadfast support of “A Celebration of Stars – The Medal Awards” includes the largest-gift ever to the event, which they co-chaired in 2008.

At UCI, they are lifetime members of the Chancellor’s Club and Health Science Partners, and their generosity continues to elevate the university and inspire others. From the School of Medicine to scholarships and athletics, from the Child Development Center to the Center for Unconventional Security Affairs, and from the School of Social Sciences to the Urban Water Research Center, the couple’s philanthropy is matched only by their campus volunteer commitments and leadership.

An influential and dynamic leader, David Pyott is Chairman of the Board and CEO of Allergan Inc., a global multi-specialty healthcare company that develops and commercializes innovative pharmaceuticals, biologics and medical devices. Pyott joined Allergan in 1998, and brought with him more than 20 years of international experience in nutrition and healthcare and a vision for expanding the company into medical specialties with high unmet needs.

Through his personal gifts to UCI and by directing contributions from Allergan and the Allergan Foundation, Pyott has influenced many campus areas, including The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, The Paul Merage School of Business, the schools of biological and physical sciences and the Medal Awards. More recently, Allergan underwrote dermatology fellowships to support the next generation of dermatologists and accelerate medical innovations. Additionally, Allergan’s executives and employees frequently work together with UCI faculty to enhance research that will benefit the community and advance the science of medicine.

At UCI, Pyott has an extensive record of leadership and service to the campus. Along with his wife, Julianna, Pyott chaired the 2003 Medal Awards, and he currently is on the dean’s advisory board of The Paul Merage School of Business. He is also a past chair and current board member of the Chief Executive Roundtable. Pyott serves on numerous healthcare and community boards, and he is committed to continuing Allergan’s longstanding partnership with UCI.

Renowned energy researcher Scott Samuelsen is professor of mechanical, aerospace, and environmental engineering in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and is a leading expert on combustion, fuel cell, and renewable technologies. He founded the mechanical engineering program at UCI that today is the mechanical and aerospace engineering department, served as the chair for more than 15 years, and is dedicated to teaching at undergraduate and graduate levels.

The internationally acclaimed UCI programs in combustion were initiated by Samuelsen in 1970, and the National Fuel Cell Research Center, which he directs, was commissioned under his leadership by the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission in 1998.

He oversaw the development of UCI’s hydrogen fueling station – the most technologically advanced, publicly accessible station in the world, and launched into the public domain the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in the country in 2002. Samuelsen also directs the Advanced Power and Energy Program, and the Pacific Rim Consortium on Energy, Combustion and the Environment. His research focuses on energy generation, distribution and utilization, including the production of electricity, motive power and propulsive power from fuel cells, gas turbines and hybrids of both. At the heart of this endeavor is the creation and sharing of new knowledge brought about through fundamental and applied research, education and outreach.

Samuelsen’s work also explores the environmental impact of energy systems, the dynamic between energy generation, atmospheric quality, and water resources, and the development of environmentally preferred, high-efficiency energy generation integrated into buildings and building complexes.

Hosted by the UC Irvine Foundation, “A Celebration of Stars – The Medal Awards” is the campus’s largest fundraiser and one of Orange County’s premier events. This year’s gala will be held 5-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Bren Events Center, chaired by Rick Keller, CEO of First Foundation Advisors, and his wife, Anne. It will feature a reception and formal dinner, medalist tributes and entertainment from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Past medalists, who include Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and industry leaders, also will be highlighted. Event proceeds support key programs, including Regents’ Scholarships and graduate fellowships.

For information on tickets or sponsorships, call 949-824-9801.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. The top employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.9 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

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