By Ashley Reilly
Four alumni and a professor who made a lasting impression on the Rider community were added to the Stairway of Fame in the Science Building last summer.
The late Dr. Richard Alexander developed the hall of fame in 2006 as a way to honor successful alumni who have shown continual support to Rider as a whole and specifically the sciences. It acknowledges successes not only of alumni but of the University as well. The Stairway of Fame, a collection of photos and plaques, is located in a glass-enclosed stairwell between the second and third floors in Science Hall.
“The pictures of alumni from the sciences who have become successful will hopefully make our students think they can succeed in a big way as well,” said Assistant Dean of Sciences, Dr. Jonathan Yavelow.
Alexander, himself, is among those recently inducted as a way honor him after his unexpected death in December 2006. The four alumni are Dr. Michele Caggana, Dr. David Dupree, Dr. Eli Mordechai and Dr. Andrew Wunk.
Alexander served Rider for 25 years in positions ranging from associate professor to assistant dean of science. He was especially noted for his role in student research, sponsoring many independent projects. He also helped launch the careers of many students with his demanding and original teaching techniques.
“Alexander was recently inducted and was an inspiration to Rider science students for about 30 years,” said Yavelow. “All faculty aspire to engage students as Alex did in research projects.”
Caggana, a 1986 alumna, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and received her Doctorate of Science in cancer, cell and radiation biology from the Harvard School of Public Health. She now works for the New York State Department of Health as the deputy director for the division of Genetic Disorders. She is also the chief of the Laboratory of Newborn and Genetic Screening for the state.
Graduating in 1978, Dupree achieved a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and went on to the University of Illinois, where he attained his PhD. He is currently working for Shell Global Solutions, where he consults on a range of projects, from oil and gas discovery to hydrogen-based technology.
Mordechai graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry in 1990 and is the founder and chief scientist of Medical Diagnostics Laboratories, a DNA medical diagnostics-based company. He is a member of the Rider Science Advisory Board as well as a member of Rider’s Board of Trustees.
Wunk graduated in 1973 with a B.A. in chemistry and obtained his Master’s Degree and Ph.D at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1977. He had a hand in the development of some of today’s major brands such as, Pampers, Bounty and Press’ n Seal.
“Three of the [total] 11 inductees were former students of mine,” said Yavelow. “Seeing former students succeed in the world is one of the finest gifts a professor can ever receive.”