Posted 4:42 p.m. Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Anna Hatch, ’09, is the recipient of the 2021 Rada Distinguished Alumni Award. A renowned biomedical researcher, Hatch is working to improve the ways in which research is assessed — an effort that will boost equity in academia.

Alum provides alternative ways to evaluate research

High-impact. World-class.

Phrases like these are often used to describe success in academia. But how much credence should be given to those labels? And, are they just another way to maintain the status quo?

Anna Hatch, who graduated from UWL with a bachelor’s in biology and chemistry in 2009, is looking at the ways researchers are recognized and rewarded — and what needs to change.

Hatch was hired in 2017 to advance practical and robust approaches to research assessment for the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). She continues to promote the most effective ways.

“Most assessment guidelines permit sliding standards,” Hatch explains. “Instead of clearly defined terms, they give us feel-good slogans that lack any fixed meaning. Facing the problem will get us much of the way toward a solution.”

Through DORA, Hatch encourages researchers to avoid five common myths about evaluating research. Then, the organization offers design principles to help institutions experiment with and develop better research assessment practices.

Ruth Schmidt, an associate professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, has worked with Hatch on numerous projects. Schmidt says Hatch and DORA are dedicated to improving research and researcher assessment through redefining quality scholars.

Schmidt says this will help achieve more equitable representation of underrepresented and minoritized groups in academia. She says Hatch is guiding international efforts and conversations in shaping this more equitable assessment of research.

“This work is not only contributing to reducing system bias and encouraging increased diversity and inclusion in the U.S. academic research ecosystem,” Schmidt explains, “but also has the potential to fundamentally change how quality scholarship is measured and communicated on a global scale.”

Those who work with Hatch appreciate her open-minded approach in valuing alternative perspectives and problem-solving to craft effective solutions.

Anna Hatch, ’09

  • Renowned scientist in biomedical research, science diplomacy and science communication.
  • Recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship; P.E.O. Scholar Award.
  • Currently program director for the Declaration on Research Assessment Program Director at the American Society for Cell Biology in Rockville, Maryland.
  • Bachelor’s in biology and chemistry; doctorate in biochemistry, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.

(Will accept award in fall 2022)

Three are distinguished alumni

Alumni from the ’80s through 2009 have earned top awards bestowed by the UWL Alumni Association for 2021. They’re being honored for distinguished service and successful careers.

Distinguished alumni awarded in 2020 and 2021 will be honored virtually in fall 2021 or during an in-person ceremony in 2022, if possible. When recognized, the alumni will speak with students and take part in a panel discussion.

A virtual ceremony for some of the recipients is set for 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. Get details from the Alumni Association calendar.


The 2021 honorees include:

The Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumni Award

Recognizes outstanding achievement of alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the university. Long-time administrator Maurice O. Graff instituted the honor in 1977.

Margaret Van Bree, ’82

  • Revered health executive, educator; collaborator; mentor.
  • Recipient of Exemplary Leadership Award, Ronald McDonald House of Providence; Career Achievement Award, Providence Business News; Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women, others.
  • Retired president of Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
  • Bachelor’s in community health education; master’s in hospital administration, University of Minnesota; doctorate in public health, Tulane University.
    (Will accept award in fall 2022)

Rada Distinguished Alumni Award

Recognizes alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years, achieved professional distinction and taken part in humanitarian activities. Professor emeritus Ron Rada and his wife, Jane, created the award in 2002.

Anna Hatch, ’09

(see above)

Burt and Norma Altman Teacher Education Award

Honors and recognizes outstanding educators and the significant contributions they make to children and communities. Professor Emeritus Burt Altman and his wife, Norma, long-time supporters of teacher education, created the award in 2015.

Scott Noet, ’90

  • Dedicated and respected long-time educator.
  • Recipient of the Goethe Institute American Fellow of the Year; Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Minnesota Teacher of the Year; state and school Teacher of the Year; Transatlantic Outreach Program Fellow of the Year; others.
  • Currently a 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher at Owatonna, Minnesota, Public Schools.
  • Bachelor’s in history; master’s in education, Southwest State, Marshall, Minnesota.

2020 honorees include

The Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumni Award

Michael McGinley, ’82

James Burkhart, ’68


Rada Distinguished Alumni Award

Kara Pennoyer, ’06


Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award

Jennifer Miller, ’70


Burt and Norma Altman Teacher Education Award

Penny Kroening, ’85

Steven Olson, ’85