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Outstanding Alumni Awards

The CALS Alumni Association and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences honor alumni who have achieved recognized success in their businesses, professions, or other avocational endeavors; have been actively involved in, worked for, and demonstrated leadership on behalf of the College and Cornell University; and have made significant contributions to the betterment of society through humanitarian and charitable endeavors.

Outstanding faculty and staff are also recognized for significant contributions in teaching, research, extension, or administration.

More information about the Outstanding Alumni Awards can be obtained from (607) 255-8711 or A list of past recipients is also available.

Nominations for these awards can be made through the nomination site.

2017 Outstanding Alumni Awards

Scott BraunsteinScott Braunstein ’86

Through three major career changes, Scott Braunstein, M.D., has remained focused on one major goal: helping patients. 

Braunstein’s first, decade-long career as a practicing physician included roles as an assistant clinical professor for Columbia University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. 

Brad and Mary Maxon GraingerBrad Grainger ’79 and Mary Maxon Grainger ’79

Mary Maxon Grainger’s advice to incoming students has not changed since she gave her first tour as an undergraduate CALS ambassador: Take advantage of the full Cornell experience. Meet people, take courses across the university and experience the diverse academic, cultural and social opportunities available throughout Cornell and Ithaca. 

Catherine "Kitty" MackeyCatherine “Kitty” Mackey ’77, Ph.D. ’83

Throughout her extraordinary career, Catherine “Kitty” Mackey has translated leading-edge science into solutions for real-world problems.

Mackey’s career began in agricultural biotechnology with Pfizer and then DEKALB Genetics, where she invented and applied new genetic technologies to create plant varieties with increased yields while lowering use of harmful herbicides and pesticides.


2017 Young Alumni Achievement Awardees

Harriet Pimm Wegmeyer Harriet Pimm Wegmeyer ’99

Harriet Pimm Wegmeyer has dedicated herself to helping good things grow — through the foundation she directs, the family farm she co-manages and the service she’s given to Cornell.  

Wegmeyer is executive director of the Nutrients for Life Foundation, a not-for-profit focused on educating the agriculture industry, the media and the public on the importance of fertilizers in plant growth.

2017 Outstanding Faculty Award

Olga I. Padilla-Zakour Olga I. Padilla-Zakour M.S. ’88, Ph.D. ’91

Olga Padilla-Zakour, professor and chair of the Department of Food Science, is described by her colleagues and students as understanding yet fair, well-liked and highly respected, and compassionate but insistent on high standards.

Padilla-Zakour has proven excellence in teaching, research and extension, with a focus on enhancing the safety and quality of plant-based food products.


2017 Rising Star Faculty Award

Brian LazzaroBrian Lazzaro

Why do some individuals in a population succumb to bacterial infection while others resist it? Brian Lazzaro, a Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor appointed in the Departments of Entomology and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, was one of the first scientists to use insects to study immunity from the combined perspectives of evolutionary and functional genetics.