ASU Alumni Association honors health care heroes at Founders' Day event

Javier Cardenas

The Arizona State University Alumni Association will honor alumni, faculty and alumni supporters who are actively engaged in transforming health at its annual Founders’ Day Awards Dinner, slated for 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, 2400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix.

The award ceremony has been a signature event for the university for decades, and honors individuals who exemplify the spirit of the founders of the Territorial Normal School of Arizona, ASU’s predecessor institution, which received its charter from the Thirteenth Territorial Legislature on March 7, 1885. From educating health care practitioners to developing new vaccines, ASU is taking a transdisciplinary approach to health solutions. Founders’ Day award recipients serve as exemplars of how the ASU community actively addresses the most pressing challenges facing society today. As part of the celebration, ASU President Michael M. Crow will provide a university update.

The following individuals will be honored by the Alumni Association at the Founders’ Day event:

Alumni Achievement Awards

Young Alumni Achievement Award – Dr. Javier Cárdenas ’99 B.A.E.

Cárdenas majored in special education at ASU, and his experiences in the field with his pupils provided the motivation to attend medical school and specialize in pediatric neurology. As a pediatric neurologist the Barrow Institute, Cárdenas has become Arizona’s foremost expert in the diagnosis and treatment of concussion. He founded the Barrow Concussion Network, which provides mandatory concussion education for student athletes at all Arizona Interscholastic Association schools, and played a key role in helping to write concussion legislation in Arizona.

Cárdenas trains other physicians in the treatment of concussions through the Department of Child Neurology at the Barrow Neurological Institute. He also participates in advocacy training through the Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum of the American Academy of Neurology.

Alumni Achievement Award – Dr. Paul Larson ’90 B.S.

Paul Larson, M.D., is being honored for his work in developing novel surgical methods for deep-brain stimulator implantation. After graduating with a degree in zoology from ASU in 1990, Larson received his medical degree from the University of Arizona in 1995, and completed both a surgical internship (in 1996) and a neurosurgical residency (2001) at the University of Louisville.

Larson is currently an associate clinical professor, the vice chair of neurological surgery and the chief of neurosurgery service at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center associated with the University of California, San Francisco. He has published extensively in various scientific journals, and his research interests include neurostimulation and other neurorestorative therapies for a variety of diseases, including movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and psychiatric conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Larson has received several teaching awards from the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco and was honored in 2005 by being recognized in the reference publication Who’s Who in Medical Science Education.

Faculty Achievement Awards

Faculty Research Achievement Award
Dr. Roy Curtiss III, professor of life sciences, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; director of the Center for Microbial Genetic Engineering and the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, Biodesign Institute

Roy Curtiss III is being honored for his contributions to genetic engineering and his development of new vaccines that use neutralized modified salmonella no longer able to cause disease as a vector to deliver protective antigens. Such vaccines have proven to be safe and effective, and have the potential to greatly reduce the impact of diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and influenza, especially in developing nations.

Curtiss earned his bachelor's degree in agriculture from Cornell University and received his doctorate in microbiology from the University of Chicago. He has started guided bioscience departments to greater prominence at two schools – the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Washington University in St. Louis. He also started two biotech companies: MEGAN Health, Inc. and Molecular Engineering Associates, Inc.

Curtiss’ laboratory was among the first to introduce bacterial genetics and recombinant DNA techniques into the study of bacterial pathogenesis. He is considered one of the founders of the field of modern microbial pathophysiology and genetics and has more than 360 journal articles to his credit.

As a teacher and mentor, Dr. Curtiss has nurtured a large cadre of scientists over the past several generations, who have gone on to pursue successful careers in research, academia and government.

Faculty Teaching Achievement Award
Dr. Bertha Alvarez Manninen, associate professor of philosophy, School of Humanities, Arts & Cultural Studies, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

Bertha Alvarez Manninen is being honored for her work as a scholar and teacher in the field of philosophy, with a specialty in applied ethics and biomedical ethics.

She received bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and English literature from Florida International University in 1999 and a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in 2001. Shortly after receiving her doctorate in philosophy from Purdue University in 2006, she joined the faculty at ASU. She has become an extremely active scholar, with 25 articles, book chapters and invited refereed articles to her credit.

Some of the topics she has covered in her scholarly work include cloning and individuality, the ethics of euthanasia and a philosophical analysis of the over-prescription of psychoactive drugs. Her current projects include explorations of the intersection of bioethics and metaphysics in defining death and the importance of closing the divide between supporters of abortion rights and anti-abortion advocates in the American cultural political landscape.

Manninen won the New College Teaching Award in 2012. She currently serves as a peer referee for the Journal of Social Philosophy and the American Journal of Bioethics.

Faculty Service Achievement Award
Dr. Michael S. Shafer, professor, School of Social Work, College of Public Programs; director, Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy.

Michael Shafer is being honored for his service work related to behavioral health policy and practice. He is well known throughout the state and nationwide for his expertise in systems design and delivery of community mental health care, substance abuse treatment, child welfare and criminal justice programs for people with behavioral health disabilities, such mental illness and substance abuse.

His commitment to service was launched during his undergraduate studies at California Lutheran University. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Maryland and a doctorate from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Since joining ASU in 2006, he has served as an associate dean for academic affairs, and provided senior leadership in the development of the Doctor of Behavioral Health degree program while directing the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy – a research and training unit that has generated in excess of $15 million in external funding. Under his leadership, the center has partnered with multiple Arizona state and local agencies and organizations to serve as a stimulus for evaluation and capacity building of our state’s behavioral health, child welfare and criminal justice systems.

Shafer’s work was previously recognized by Arizona Gov. Jane Hull as a member of the Arizona Integrated Treatment Consensus Panel, which received the Governor’s Spirit of Excellence Award.

Faculty Service Achievement Award
Dr. Michael Dorman, professor, Department of Speech and Hearing Science, College of Health Solutions

Michael Dorman is being honored for his service related to his role as one of the country's leading experts in cochlear implants, which are surgically implanted electronic devices that provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.

He received his bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Washington and his master's degree in psychology from Hollins College. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Connecticut. He arrived at ASU in 1976.

As a researcher, Dorman's most significant finding has been the existence of a “window of opportunity” in children who receive a cochlear implant to experience rapid development of neurological pathways in response to sound, occurring before the age of three and a half. This research had a profound effect on the field, demonstrating the risks of delaying implantation on the brain's ability to process speech.  

At ASU, he has served on doctoral admission committees and promotion and tenure committees several times, as well as the Institutional Review Board and the new faculty hiring committee. He has served as an ad hoc reviewer for numerous publications, including Cochlear Implants International, Ear and Hearing, International Audiology and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Philanthropists of the Year Award, presented by the ASU Foundation For A New American University

Diane and Bruce Halle

Diane and Bruce Halle are being honored for their philanthropic endeavors, which focus on making a difference in the everyday lives of Arizonans. Bruce is the founder and chairman of Discount Tire and Diane serves as chairman and president of the Diane & Bruce Halle Foundation, which was founded in 2002 to champion educational initiatives, access to the underserved, women’s and children’s issues, medical research and the arts. Diane also serves as president of the Herbert K. Cummings Charitable Trust.

The Halles’ 15 years of engagement with Arizona State University includes funding for a five-year study to better understand and address Arizona’s high school dropout crisis, as well as support for the ASU Art Museum and Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Most recently, the Halles have invested in the Mayo Medical School –Arizona Campus, a collaboration between the Mayo Clinic and ASU. Students will complete a specialized master’s degree in the Science of Health Care Delivery, granted by ASU, concurrently with their medical degree from Mayo Medical School. The Halles’ visionary investment in this endeavor will have a transformational impact on the future of health care.

Tickets to the Founders’ Day event are $130 for Alumni Association members and $180 for nonmembers. Table and corporate sponsorship opportunities are available. For additional information about Founders’ Day, or to RSVP, visit