Early Achievement Award
Presented to an alumnus who has graduated within the past 15 years in recognition of their outstanding community or College service, scientific, or academic achievement.
2017 Early Achievement Award Recipients
Joseph Dayan, M.D. ’02
Plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NYC
Director MSK Facial Reanimation Program
Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery – MSKCC
Dr. Dayan's work in transplanting lymph nodes represents the state of the art, and Dr. Dayan has lead the field to refine and standardize the techniques and protocols involved. Dr. Dayan also maintains positions of leadership in numerous microsurgery societies, and founded the American Society of Lymphatic Surgery. His drive and research continue a legacy of surgical innovation stemming from the College's students, faculty, and researchers.
Kristen K. Pierce, M.D. ’02
Infectious Disease Specialist
Associate Professor, Larner College of Medicine
Dr. Pierce is Associate Professor of Medicine in the division of Infectious Diseases at the Larner College of Medicine. She is the Program Director of the Infectious Diseases fellowship, and a Principal Investigator in the UVM Vaccine Testing Center on all dengue vaccine clinical trials under the VTC’s award from the National Institutes of Health. Through this work, she will also be the PI for Zika vaccine clinical trials at the UVM site for the NIH. She is a sought-after speaker both nationwide and internationally.
Mitchell Hon-Bing Tsai, M.D. ’02
Anesthesiologist, Department of Anesthesia, UVM Medical Center
Associate Professor, Larner College of Medicine
Integrating his dual interests in business and medicine, Dr. Tsai has published in numerous scientific and medical journals and has written book chapters on operating room management. Dr. Tsai’s extensive knowledge in perioperative management and leadership is well sought-after. His cross-disciplinary approach has been well received and in addition to teaching locally, he has presented nationally on numerous occasions. His popular lecture, “The Jazz of OR Leadership” creatively incorporates a jazz band to illustrate the various ways that leadership works in the operating room setting. Dr. Tsai has developed, and continues to grow, a medical student reading elective, entitled “Medical Management and Leadership,” which is now available for medical students at several medical institutions.
2016 Early Achievement Award Recipients
Adam S. Kanter, M.D. '01
Chief, Division of Spine Surgery
Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery Director, Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Program Director, Neurosurgical Spine Fellowship Department of Neurological Surgery University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian, Pittsburgh, PA
Dr. Kanter has garnered national recognition for his expertise in the field of neurological surgery. He has worked with UPMC and industry supporters to deliver novel tools that advance the field of minimally invasive spine surgery, including an innovative retractor now being used nationwide that allows surgeons lateral access to the spine with minimal destruction. He has served as primary investigator in several industry sponsored studies, and has had grant support totaling more than $300,000 since 2008. Dr. Kanter was named one of the Best Doctors in America from 2009-2013, and garnered Pittsburgh’s Most Compassionate Doctor Award in December 2012.
Ann P. Murchison, M.D. '01, M.P.H.
Oculoplastic and Orbital surgeon, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Thomas Jefferson University and Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, PA
A dedicated teacher and researcher, Dr. Murchison’s work reflects her passion for improving public health as it relates to eye disease. In 2009, she founded the International Scholar program at Wills Eye Institute, which annually hosts roughly 40 physicians from over 22 countries to observe surgeries and participate in research with world leaders in ophthalmology. She’s also a founding member of Children’s Vision Care Coalition, a group that offers a day of free eye examinations and free glasses for Philadelphia children through the annual ‘Give Kids Sight Day,’ and co-founded a program that created an observational fellowship at Wills for Oculoplastic and Orbital Surgery fellows from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Bobbi S. Pritt, M.D. '01
Director, Clinical Parasitology and
Microbiology Initial Processing and Media laboratories
Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Division of Clinical Microbiology
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
Dr. Pritt’s research has led to several important discoveries in the fields of microbiology and parasitology. Her work has resulted in the implementation of rapid and highly sensitive molecular tests for important human pathogens, including malaria, influenza and microsporidiosis. Dr. Pritt has directed multiple research efforts to characterize a novel Ehrlichia muris-like bacterium that infects humans in Wisconsin and Minnesota. She also played a key role in discovering and describing the new, yet-to-be-named bacterium in Ixodes scapularis (deer) ticks and white-footed mice, the vector and reservoir host of Lyme disease, respectively.
2015 Early Achievement Award Recipients
Felicia A. Smith, M.D. '00
Dr. Smith is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Program Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Adult Psychiatry Residency. She received her undergraduate degree from Middlebury College before earning her M.D. at the College of Medicine. She completed her residency at MGH/McLean Hospital followed by fellowship training in Psychosomatic Medicine at MGH. Dr. Smith is deeply committed to the care of those with comorbid psychiatric and medical illness and has served as Attending on the MGH Consultation-Liaison Service as well as Director of Behavioral Medicine at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. She also has a strong interest in improving emergency care of the mentally ill and, as Director of the MGH Acute Psychiatry Service, was privileged to direct one of the busiest psychiatric emergency services in New England before transitioning to her current role with residency education. As Director of the MGH/McLean Adult Psychiatry Residency Program, Dr. Smith leads one of the largest psychiatry residency programs in the country. Since starting this role in 2012, she has led curriculum redesign, revamped the evaluation and feedback process for both residents and faculty, and overseen the creation of a medical education track for residents. As an active teacher, Dr. Smith is the recipient of the MGH Philip Isenberg Teaching Award.
2014 Early Achievement Award Recipients
Rachel DiSanto, M.D. '04
Celebrating her 10th reunion, Dr. Rachel DiSanto practices family medicine at North Country Primary Care in Newport, which is affiliated with North Country Hospital in Newport, Vermont. Her practice includes all ages from newborn to geriatrics, including ICU and nursing home settings. The practice is involved in the Vermont Blueprint for Health and has been certified by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a medical home. She is an active preceptor of UVM medical students in the third year clerkship and teaches family medicine residents at her practice. Dr. DiSanto has a strong interest and involvement in global health. For several years she has been on the board of the Kenya Children's Fund and has traveled to Kenya multiple times to provide medical care. She is currently working with KCF to establish a community-based feeding program for malnourished infants and children. She traveled to Haiti in 2012 for another medical mission and to Nicaragua in January 2014 to work with women and child victims of human trafficking in Managua. In her own community, Dr. DiSanto volunteers in her church doing community service with her husband and their two children. She is also active at her children’s school with various health and science programs. class” years later, writes one of her nominators.
Christa M. Zehle, M.D. '99
Celebrating her 15th reunion, Dr. Christa Zehle successfully launched the Pediatric Hospitalist Program at The University of Vermont Medical Center in 2003 and continues in her clinical role at Vermont Children’s Hospital along with her responsibilities as Associate Dean. She is a sought-after mentor by medical students and residents, and has received numerous awards for teaching. Dr. Zehle has been honored twice by residents as Clinical Attending of the Year and was nominated for the award five more times, garnering runner-up honors in her first year at UVM/The University of Vermont Medical Center. In 2012 she received the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine faculty award for demonstrating ‘outstanding compassion in the delivery of care, respect for patients, their families, and healthcare colleagues, as well as demonstrated clinical excellence’. She advises a number of senior medical students pursuing a career in pediatrics, as well as pediatric residents, and is involved with medical student and pediatric resident medical education. She has been a physician mentor for the Public Health Projects, the UVM Pre-medical Enhancement Program, the AHEC MedQuest program, and Community Rounds. Before accepting the position as Associate Dean for Students, she was a full member of the Admissions Committee and co-director for the Pediatric Student Interest Group. At Vermont Children’s Hospital, she serves on the Residency Education Committee, and is a member of the The University of Vermont Medical Center Child Abuse Task Force. As the Associate Dean for Students at the University of Vermont College of Medicine she is responsible for the Academic Success, Personal Wellness, and Career Advising for all enrolled medical students. She is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and the Gold Humanism in Medicine Honor Society, a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a member of the Academic Pediatric Association (APA) and the American Medical Association, and is active in the AAMC Group on Student Affairs.