Three alumni honored with Penn State's Outstanding Science Alumni Award

October 24, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Eberly College of Science has selected three alumni to be honored with the 2016 Outstanding Science Alumni Award. The board of directors of the Eberly College of Science Alumni Society established the award to recognize alumni who have a record of significant professional achievements in their field and who are outstanding role models for students in the college.

This year's Outstanding Science Alumni Award recipients are:

Christa Hasenkopf

Hasenkopf is an atmospheric scientist who is passionate about fighting air inequality across the world. Her work involves starting up environmental open-data projects that give the public the data and insights that allow them to have a voice in the conversation about air quality that they previously did not have. She is convinced doing so will have a transformative effect on public health and the environment.

Hasenkopf is co-founder and CEO of OpenAQ, the world's first real-time, open, air-quality data platform, created by an open-source community of scientists, software developers, journalists, and promoters of open data. She is also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University in the Environmental Science and Policy Program, part of the Advanced Academic Program.

Previously, Hasenkopf was the chief air pollution adviser to the medical director and an American Association for the Advancement of Science and American Institute of Physics Science and Technology Fellow at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to this work, she was a fellow in the Global Development Lab at U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Hasenkopf also conducted postdoctoral research on air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. With colleagues, she launched the first air quality instrument in Mongolia that shared data via social media.

Hasenkopf received a doctoral degree in atmospheric and oceanic sciences from the University of Colorado after earning and a bachelor's degree in astronomy and astrophysics from Penn State in 2003. She is a current Echoing Green Fellow, as well as a former USAID/PEER Partner, National Science Foundation (NSF) International Research Fellow, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Fulbright Fellow, TEDxUlaanbaatar speaker, and corps member in Teach for America.

Jayatri Das

Das is chief bioscientist at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. She led development of the institute’s two newest exhibitions — SportsZone and Your Brain, the nation’s largest permanent exhibit about the neuroscience and psychology of the human brain, as well as an upcoming traveling exhibition, Think Music. She also leads The Franklin Institute’s programming initiatives to advance informal science education about materials science, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and other areas of emerging science and their societal impact.

Prior to joining The Franklin Institute, Das received a Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, during which she conducted evaluation and developed programs for the Marian Koshland Science Museum in Washington, D.C. She was honored with the American Alliance of Museums’ Nancy Hanks Award for Professional Excellence. Das is also an invited Fellow of the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania.

Das earned bachelor's degrees in biology and in biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State in 1999. She earned a doctoral degree in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University and conducted postdoctoral research in biology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ronald A. Boxall

Rear Admiral Boxall is currently the director of surface warfare in the Pentagon. He has commanded an aircraft carrier strike group — Carrier Strike Group 3, and two Aegis ships — the cruiser USS Lake Erie and the destroyer USS Carney. He has also served as executive officer of USS Hue City, combat systems officer on USS Simpson and USS Ramage, and as a division officer on USS Merrill and USS Kinkaid. He has been Pacific Fleet Shiphandler of the Year, and has been associated with outstanding crews who have earned four Battle “E” Awards. Most recently, Boxall commanded the 8,500 men and women of the USS John C. Stennis Strike Group.

Boxall was assigned to the Naval Personnel Command and the Joint Staff, where he served as the deputy and chief of the Joint Staff Quadrennial Defense Review Office and was selected as Action Officer of the Year. He was the executive assistant to the director of Navy Warfare Integration and was the executive assistant to the deputy chief of naval operations for Integration of Capabilities and Resources. Boxall also served as the deputy director for surface warfare and as the deputy director for joint strategic planning in the Joint Staff.

Boxall's awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, as well as various campaign and unit awards. 

Boxall earned a bachelor's degree in science at Penn State in 1984. He was commissioned in 1984, attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where he earned a master's degree in information systems, and later attended the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, earning a master's degree in national security and strategic studies.

  • Jayatri Das

    Jayatri Das, '99 B.S. Biology, '99 B.S. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

    IMAGE: Jayatri Das
  • Ronald Boxall

    Ronald A. Boxall, '84 B.S. Science

    IMAGE: Ronald Boxall
  • Christa Hasenkopf

    Christa Hasenkopf, '03 B.S. Astronomy and Astrophysics

    IMAGE: Christa Hasenkopf
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Last Updated December 12, 2016