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School of Pharmacy’s 2023 Graduate Awards

Dean’s Award winner Tyler Wagner with his adviser, Teresa Salgado.

The School of Pharmacy’s annual Graduate Awards presentation took place at a celebratory luncheon at the Omni Hotel in downtown Richmond before a packed room of honorees, faculty, donors and alums. A keynote speech by alum Kamlesh Thakker traced his path from India to the School of Pharmacy and onward to tremendous success in the pharmaceutical field. 

Following remarks by Dean K.C. Ogbonna, the awards were presented by Aron Lichtman, associate dean for research and graduate studies — a full list of awardees is below.

The capstone Charles T. Rector and Thomas W. Rorrer Jr. Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Study was presented to Tyler Wagner, shown above with his adviser, Teresa Salgado.

Photos: Dean K.C. Ogbonna opens the event; Aron Lichtman presents awards; Kamlesh Thakker offers a keynote and life lessons;  Celsey St. Onge, winner of the William H. Barr Graduate Student Scholar Award, with members of the Barr family. More photos of the awards ceremony.


  • Excellence in Pharmaceutical Engineering Award: Nadia Ahmed 
  • Best Medicinal Chemistry TA Award: Rawan Fayyad and Tamim Chiba
  • Best Medicinal Chemistry Service Award: Mohammed A. AlAwadh and Connor P. O’Hara
  • Best Publication Award for Graduate Students and Postdocs: John Chittum (graduate student) and Piyusha Pagare (postdoctoral fellow)
  • Richard A. Glennon Medicinal Chemistry Research Award: Akua Donkor
  • J. Doyle Smith Award: Celsey St. Onge
  • Thakker Award: Sagun Poudel and Raneem Aldaqqa
  • Schwartz Award: Sagun Poudel and Matthew Fernandez 
  • Pharmaceutics Leading for Innovation Award: Nimish Panse
  • John Wood Award:  Renjie Zhan
  • V.A. Yanchick Award: Rotana Radwan
  • Excellence in Professionalism Award for Graduate Students Serving as a Teaching Assistant: Silas Contaifer
  • Lowenthal Award for Graduate Research in Genetically Based Neurological Disease: Dalia Al Saeedy
  • Saraswathi Scholarship for Excellence in Pharmaceutical Sciences: Sara Abudahab
  • William H. Barr Graduate Student Scholar Award: Celsey St. Onge Onge (adviser: Yan Zhang)
  • Charles T. Rector and Thomas W. Rorrer Jr. Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Study: Tyler Wagner (adviser: Teresa Salgado)
    • Runners-up: Connor O’Hara (adviser: Umesh Desai) and Celsey St. Onge (adviser: Yan Zhang)
Categories Graduate students, Research, Student research