For Your Health
For Your Health

News from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences

UND to honor School of Medicine & Health Sciences several faculty and staff at annual Founders Day banquet

Several faculty and staff of the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) will be recognized at UND’s 2023 Founders Day Banquet, to be held Thursday, Feb. 16, in the UND Memorial Union. Three representatives of the School will be given major teaching and research awards; one will take home an award for academic advising; and six will be honored for 25 years-of-service to the University while another five retirees will be recognized.

Grace Karikari, Ph.D., assistant professor in the SMHS Department of Indigenous Health, has been named winner of the UND Excellence in Course Development and Innovative Teaching Strategies Award for the novel approach she has taken in her graduate level Public Health 573 course “Grant Writing and Management.”

Karikari is receiving the award for her skill in promoting student engagement, diversity and inclusion, and accessibility for all learners in the asynchronous online course. In their letter of notification, UND officials highlighted Karikari’s use of high impact practices and alternative assessment strategies in the course, which have resulted in multiple glowing comments from students. So well-built is the class, said one former student, that a project he developed first in the PH 573 course in 2021 ultimately won the graduate and new public health professional a pair of federal grants.

“Dr. Karikari, I wanted to reach out to you to share the good news I received this week,” the student wrote Karikari. “Both federal infrastructure grants that I was working on last semester for PH 573 were funded! One is for $610,000 worth of pedestrian safety improvements, the other for $850,000 to improve a challenging intersection in the same area. Your instruction and the peer reviews conducted in class were a huge help. Now the hard work begins!”

“The course fostered accessibility by diversifying the learning materials to include both video and text-based content. I recorded video lectures weekly and supplemented the required readings with other accessible audio-visual materials, such as YouTube videos with captions, where appropriate,” said Karikari. “Furthermore, I maintained appreciable flexibility with assignment submissions. I feel very honored and grateful to be selected as the recipient of the Excellence in Course Development and Innovative Teaching Strategies Award.”

Likewise, Alexei Tulin, Ph.D., professor in the SMHS Department of Biomedical Sciences, has been named winner of the UND Foundation/McDermott Faculty Award for Excellence in Research and/or Creative Activity. Tulin operates a lab in UND’s Columbia Hall that studies epigenetics, focusing on an enzyme in the cell’s nucleus – poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 [PARP1] – and a complex of DNA and protein called chromatin to better understand the processes involved in DNA repair, transcription, and apoptosis (cell death).

Joining Karikari and Tulin will be Ashley Bayne, M.P.H., assistant director of the SMHS Public Health Program in the Department of Population Health. Bayne is one of several UND faculty, staff, and students from across several colleges at UND to be named winners of the UND Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Research and Creative Activity Award for their pandemic-based research project.

Over the past several years, Bayne and her project partners collaborated with local government, local and state public health officials, and local businesses to explore a variety of COVID-related issues in North Dakota, including quarantine policy, mask use, and vaccine rollout and hesitancy in communities across the state. The project accomplished all of this while securing viable field placements for UND students engaged in applied public health research projects.

“Our work began as a result of the pandemic,” Bayne said of the project that took a multi-professional approach to helping local officials and public agencies of all types respond to COVID-19 in real time. “As a team, we were stronger and accomplished more than anyone of us could have done on our own. Each member brought unique strengths, which meant we were able to have a vast impact on pandemic response and future preparation locally, including providing student learning experiences, advocating policy and behavior change, and contributing to the literature and the scientific community.”

In addition to these faculty winners, Katie Kucera, education specialist with the SMHS Department of Medical Laboratory Science, was among several academic advisors to be given the VPAA Award for Outstanding Professional Academic Advising.

Finally, six SMHS employees were honored for their service to the University:

25 Year Honorees

  • Cynthia Flom-Meland, Physical Therapy
  • Melissa Gardner, Family & Community Medicine
  • Donita Johnson, Bismarck Center for Family Medicine
  • Mark Poolman, Sports Medicine
  • Linda Ray, Medical Laboratory Science
  • Christine Wiese, Bismarck Center for Family Medicine
Retiring/Retired Honorees

  • Susan Jeno, Physical Therapy
  • James Roerig, Psychiatry & Behavioral Science
  • Margaret Smith, Biomedical Sciences
  • Stephen Tinguely, Pediatrics
  • Min Wu, Biomedical Sciences


This year’s Founders Day marked the 140th anniversary of the signing of the Dakota Territory legislation establishing the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. The first celebration of Founders Day was held in 1904.