Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

Watch: 2021 Alumni Achievement Awards Ceremony

June 16, 2021

President Ron Liebowitz presented three esteemed alumni with the 2021 Alumni Achievement Awards, the university's highest form of alumni recognition, at a virtual ceremony on June 13 as part of Brandeis Alumni Weekend.

This year's recipients are at the forefront of issues facing the United States and the world: the coronavirus pandemic and racial injustice. Patricia Hill Collins ’69, PhD’84, is an eminent sociologist whose research explores the intersection of feminism, gender, race and social inequality; Susan Reich Weiss ’71 is a pioneer in the study of coronaviruses; and the research of Drew Weissman ’81, MA’81, P’15, is credited with laying the groundwork for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines.

zoom grid of alumni achievement award winners and President Ron Liebowitz
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Watch a Zoom recording of the June 13 awards presentation and fascinating conversation among the recipients.

About the Recipients

Patricia Hill Collins ’69, PhD’84, Distinguished University Professor Emerita at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies Emerita at the University of Cincinnati, is the author of 10 books, among them her award-winning “Black Feminist Thought” (1990, 2000) and “Black Sexual Politics” (2004). In 2008, she became the first African American woman to preside over the American Sociological Association. In 2013, she received Brandeis’ Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize for scholarly excellence and contribution to racial, ethnic and religious relations.

Susan Reich Weiss ’71, professor and vice-chair of microbiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, is a pioneer in the study of coronaviruses. Her scientific research as a coronavirologist over the past four decades has helped with the understanding of the 2002 SARS and 2012 MERS outbreaks, as well as COVID-19. She serves as co-director of the Penn Center for Research on Coronavirus and Other Emerging Pathogens, established in March. She recently was featured in the BBC program, “The Virus Hunters.”

Drew Weissman ’81, MA’81, P’15 is a professor of medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. His collaborative research with former colleague Katalin Karikó into the modification of nucleic acids for RNA therapeutics and vaccines is credited with laying the groundwork for the COVID-19 vaccines created by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech. Weissman and Karikó received the 50th Annual Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award in Basic Medical Research from Brandeis and the Rosenstiel Foundation.