Suyog Shrestha ’06

Born and raised in Nepal, Suyog Shrestha ’06 knew early on that he wanted to study physics in the United States; and in the summer of 2002, he came to Grinnell. Now a particle physicist, he’s been working at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), just outside Geneva, Switzerland, for the past decade.

“CERN’s like a big Grinnell but dedicated to physics,” says Shrestha. “It’s a Disneyland for physicists, very diverse and international.”

Shrestha describes his research as “finding new laws of nature.” The overarching goal of his research is to understand the fundamental constituents of the universe. His work has practical applications in data science, supercomputing, nuclear medicine, medical imaging, and radiation therapy for cancer.

Shrestha was also part of a team that convinced Nepal government officials to invest more in basic science. He helped form a partnership between CERN and Nepal to provide an exchange of technology and knowledge — including the donation of 200 extremely powerful computer servers to a university in Nepal.

“We do a kind of on-the-road program in Nepal for villages, schools, colleges, and cities, to bring a flavor of the research we do,” he says. —

Neil Matin ’99

When racing was shut down by the pandemic, Neil Martin ’99 didn’t stop. He did dozens of 26.2-mile training runs, the equivalent of 57 marathons in a row. That’s one every weekend.

Martin is clinical director of radiation oncology and co-director of the Prostate Cancer Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in Boston. Running was a stress reliever at an incredibly stressful time.

“All of a sudden we had to figure out how to keep seeing patients and keep the staff safe,” he says. “In the early days, it was really emotionally fraught.”

And so began the streak. The first April weekend, Martin took on the Boston Marathon course a bit slower than he wanted, so he decided to aim faster for the next weekend. He would run with a friend or two and soon running 26.2 miles on an early Saturday morning felt normal.

“That state of really concentrating and pushing and working at something is really appealing to me,” explains Martin. “There are periods where you are sort of in flow and it feels effortless, and there are long periods where it’s hard, and you’re telling your body to keep going.”

Kyle Parker ’17

During his Grinnell student days, Kyle Parker ’17 found himself either asking basketball teammates to cut his hair or trying to navigate his full schedule and find transportation to get to a barbershop in Des Moines.

Eventually, he reached out to his Des Moines barber and asked if he would come to Grinnell to provide haircuts. The result was overwhelmingly positive — the clients were multiple, and the barber’s travel and time were well-compensated.

Parker knew he was onto something. That year, he founded ClipDart, an on-demand mobile barber service for people who do not have reliable access to barbershop services that focus on their specific hair care needs.

“For Black and Latino people, part of our culture is our hair. Our barbers can be therapists. They provide safe havens in the community,” he explains. “Some people know their barbers as well as they know their parents. When you go away from that, you feel like a part of yourself is missing.”

After the pandemic halted his professional basketball career in Germany last year, Parker returned to the United States and launched an app for ClipDart. The service has resulted in a new way to do business for barbers and a boost in positive self-esteem for clients, he says.

Josh Blue ’01

As he worked to adjust his everyday life to the new realities created by COVID-19, Josh Blue ’01 faced one of the tougher challenges posed by the pandemic: how to ensure young students continue to learn amid drastically altered learning environments. And for an added layer of difficulty, he did it in a city that has no shortage of educational expectations.

“Hong Kong is fast-paced and highly driven, and expectations are incredibly high,” Blue says. “Trying to find a system that would work for us, that was manageable, and that would appease parents was the real challenge.”

Blue, head of primary at Discovery College Hong Kong, says international schools in Hong Kong operate much like U.S. schools, and the language of instruction is English. A major difference comes in the diversity of the student body in Hong Kong, with many students’ families coming from abroad, creating a greater mix of language backgrounds.

“I definitely think that Grinnell helped encourage a global mindset,” he says, “and instilled the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice — the heart of being international-minded

2021 Alumni Awards

Frances Gray

Frances Gray ’71

Serving as a pediatrician in an Indianapolis urban clinic for 33 years, Dr. Gray provided care to immigrant, refugee, and Native Hoosier families facing language, cultural, and financial barriers. She also participated in a national project to coordinate community services to improve care of abused children and regularly mentors girls who are interested in medicine as a career.

Sheena Thomas

Sheena Brown Thomas ’71

Thomas is known as an artist and a community organizer. A goldsmith who co-owned Elements Ltd. in Des Moines, Iowa, for 25 years, she has made more than 100 individual medals for Grinnell students, faculty honored with endowed chairs, and winners of the Grinnell Prize. She has led numerous civic and social justice initiatives, including organizing nonpartisan Get Out the Vote walks in low-voter-turnout areas in Des Moines and collecting food and supplies for homeless immigrants in Cedar Rapids following the 2020 derecho.

Sally Campbell GalmanSally Campbell Galman ’96

A professor of child and family studies at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, Campbell Galman is a scholar and activist committed to improving the lives of children and their caregivers. She combines art and social science to capture a nuanced understanding of children’s diverse gendered lives across school, home, family, and community contexts and uses visual research as a vehicle for outreach and advocacy. She is the principal investigator of the Gender Moxie Project, a research group studying gender diversity in childhood.

Sabrina EaganSabrina Eagan ’96

Eagan has made remarkable contributions to public health through her work on HIV and tuberculosis projects around the globe. In her 18 years as a public health nurse, she has helped develop health networks in 15 countries. As a senior technical adviser at the JSI Research and Training Institute, she works to improve service delivery and patient management.

Jake JosephRev. Jake Joseph ’11

A minister at First Congregational Church of Guilford, Connecticut, Joseph is creating change through a focus on equity. A specialist in leadership, fundraising, teaching, and community organizing, he helped write a national framework for inclusion of people with disabilities in affordable housing, advocated for Habitat for Humanity initiatives, and helped plan one of the largest LGBTQ conferences in the world. His Grinnell volunteerism includes serving as co-chair of Grinnell-on-the-Front Range and co-founding the Grinnell-in-South­ern New England regional network.

View the 2021 Alumni Assembly ceremony.

Ron Stanford ’71 and Fay Hazelcorn Stanford ’72

During his years at Grinnell, Ron Stanford ’71 was one of the students in charge of booking concerts for the College. He helped bring Jackson Browne, Steve Miller, John Prine, Bill Monroe, and other marquee name acts to campus.

But it was another band that ended up being the most influential to Stanford and his wife, Fay Hazelcorn Stanford ’72. The Balfa Brothers, a Cajun family that hailed from Basile, Louisiana, told Stanford that if he ever wanted to visit, he was welcome in Basile.

After graduation, the Stanfords received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant; for the next two years, they documented music and culture in and around Basile, taking hundreds of black-and-white photos. The couple also produced a Cajun and zydeco album, J’étais au Bal (I Went to the Dance), complete with a 30-page liner notes booklet. The groundbreaking recording showcased Black and white musicians together at a time when races in southwest Louisiana rarely mixed.

In 2016, Ron rediscovered a huge box of photos from the Basile days. He assembled a batch for an art exhibit in Philadelphia and then compiled 100 of the best shots for a book titled Big French Dance: Cajun & Zydeco Music, 1972–74.

“Before people were aware of how distinct Cajun culture was, they were just living their lives,” Fay says. “Music was part of their lives, family gatherings, and festivals, and they let us go along with it.”

Amanda Hodo ’14

As an aquarium biologist, Amanda Hodo ’14 makes sure the animals at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida, are getting everything they need to have healthy and fulfilling lives.

Hodo has wholeheartedly embraced roles that educate and inform aquarium visitors about marine life. The latest example came in April when she was featured on CBS’s Mission Unstoppable.

“I was really excited with the way that they highlighted the shark training, because that’s something that our guests really enjoy; and people who haven’t been to Mote may not have realized sharks can be trained in such a way,” Hodo says. “I also was excited to be shown in such a magnificent setting on TV in scuba gear because of the visibility implications.

“Visibility and trying to represent minority women in a career that normally doesn’t have very many of them is a really amazing thing to be a part of,” Hodo adds. “It can also be really stressful. I put a lot of pressure on myself sometimes, but it is ultimately a really great opportunity to showcase marine science and hopefully inspire the next generation to consider this as a career.”

Mansir Petrie '99

Mansir Petrie ’99, right, pictured with Peace Corps colleagues in Panama in February 2020.

When Mansir Petrie '99 studied abroad in Kenya as a Grinnell College student, the experience sparked his lifelong desire to travel the world.

For the past two decades, Petrie’s work in international development has taken him to Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Kenya, Mozambique, Russia, and, most recently, Panama. No matter how far away he was from Grinnell, Petrie remained attached to his alma mater.

“It’s hard to imagine anything about my life without Grinnell,” he says.

Petrie and Graham Gelling ’99, class co-agents, crafted a class letter during the early stages of the pandemic that combined alumni updates with ideas for future Grinnell encounters as well as quarantine media recommendations (the TV show Scrubs led the list).

“It was a communication that emphasized we are all in this together,” Petrie says. “We want to have a sense of community. With our busy adult lives and now COVID, I know our class is not at the same level of communication as we used to be, but the letter is something to join us together.”

Mala Adiga ’93

Mala Adiga ’93When Mala Adiga ’93 was a law student at the University of Chicago, she was taught by Barack Obama.

It would not be the last time Adiga crossed paths with a future president of the United States. In November Adiga was appointed by then President-elect Joe Biden to be policy director for Jill Biden. Adiga previously served as a senior adviser to Jill Biden and was a senior policy adviser for Biden’s 2020 campaign.

An educator by profession, Jill Biden has said that as first lady, she intends to prioritize education and military families. Adiga previously worked for the Biden Foundation as director for higher education and military families.

Adiga, whose family emigrated from India’s state of Karnataka, graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in Spanish language and literature. She later worked for a Chicago law firm and clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Philip Simon before joining Obama’s campaign in 2008. She went on to hold several positions in the Obama administration, including deputy assistant secretary of state for academic programs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and chief of staff and senior adviser to the ambassador-at-large in the State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues.

Dave Dale ’78

Over his 35-year information technology career, Dave Dale ’78 has seen campus technology grow from the mid-1980s era, when students had access to a handful of computer terminals near huge mainframes, to today’s wireless campus, where students, faculty, and staff can go nearly anywhere in the world with a laptop to work.

Dale originally wanted to be a guidance counselor, but after taking Introduction to Computing with Professor Gene Herman his senior year, plans changed.

In 1985, Dale started his Grinnell College career as manager of operations in Information Technology Services (ITS), doing everything from managing hardware systems to installing and repairing personal computers. The job evolved into project management for infrastructure. He retired from the College this summer to focus on a farm that’s been in his family for five generations.

“The consistent thing was that I enjoyed helping people,” Dale said. “You can provide the campus with a service that helps students learn, faculty teach, and staff do their jobs. It was never boring.”