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The Steven Fadul Award
University of Colorado School of Medicine

Steve Fadul

Steven Fadul had a 30-year career as a researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, most of it in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.

The Steven Fadul Award is an annual prize of $1,500, awarded to an outstanding PRA or other member of the School's technical research staff.

Nominations for the 2023 Steven Fadul Award are being accepted now through November 30, 2023.

Biomedical research increasingly relies on teamwork among students, postdocs, faculty, and PRAs and other members of our technical staff. Of these, it is the technical staff who, over a period of years, log the most time in the lab and acquire unique knowledge, insight, and wisdom. They become the foundation for an efficient, productive, and collegial research atmosphere. Their ​contributions, however, are not recognized to the extent that they deserve. We seek to reward them, and in doing so to honor Steve Fadul's memory and strengthen the research enterprise at the School of Medicine.



Department of Physiology and Biophysics

Telephone: (303) 724-4500​


Any Professional Research Assistant (PRA) or staff in a comparable position in the University of Colorado School of Medicine is eligible to apply or be nominated.

Selection criteria

The Steven Fadul PRA award is intended to recognize professional research associates who demonstrate the dedication, characteristics and quality of workmanship that Steven brought to laboratories in the School of Medicine during his 30-year career. We seek to honor contributions of PRAs whose primary responsibility is to conduct bench research in a basic, translational, or clinical laboratory. The winner of this award will have strengths in a number of areas in which Steven Fadul excelled. Nominees should be self-starting and taken the initiative to expand the scope of their work. This could include developing or pioneering new approaches that were critical to the labs success or managing instruments or research projects that were of critical importance to the group. In addition, the winner will have a strong record of mentoring and teaching trainees. Overall, nominees should be supportive of investigators and others with whom they work (e.g. students, peers), accessible & generous with assistance, effective as instructors with a love for the task (enablers), promoters of self-sufficiency & technical competence, and who broaden our capability to conduct research through teaching, training & support. It is not necessary that the nominee be a co-author on research publications.

Application process

Applicants may be nominated by a advisor, colleague, or self-nominate. Applications must include a nomination letter with a description of the nominee's job history and supporting letters from 1-3 references. The letters should focus on how the nominee excels in the criteria above. Details and examples of how the nominee reflects the qualities that made Steven Fadul an outstanding PRA are encouraged. Please limit the nominating letter to one page. Send the materials to​

2020 — Ong Moua

Dr. Kurt Beam presents Ong Moua with the 2020 Steven Fadul Award

Dr. Kurt Beam presents the 2020 Steven Fadul award to Ong Moua (in a safe and socially distanced manner, due to the COVID-19 pandemic)

The 2020 recipient of the Steven Fadul award is Ong Moua. Ong joined the Beam lab over ten years ago—a decision that Kurt Beam described as one of the best he has made in his career.

This first thing that all of her colleagues say about her is that she is a true joy to work with. That she is often the first person that made them feel welcome on the 7th floor. That she is the first person they go to if they need help navigating administrative lab work or if they need help finding resources for their experiment or if they need help troubleshooting their experiments. She is an irreplaceable part of what makes the 7th floor a productive, welcoming, and close-knit group.

Ong has played an active role in helping train the many students and postdocs who have passed through the Beam lab over the last 10 years in techniques like tissue culture, molecular biology, and Western blotting. She has helped train many PRA’s, students, and postdocs from other labs in the department as well. She also makes direct scientific contributions to the work of the lab and operates much like a postdoc with minimal oversight. She has provided years of high-level scientific technical support in an incredibly diverse array of techniques.

Many young faculty in the department describe Ong as their “go-to” person for helping them navigate the challenges of setting up a new lab. Ong is always generous with her time and willing to teach new faculty about how to navigate EH&S protocols, or the animal facilities, or the ins-and-outs of ordering supplies at Anschutz. Ong’s generosity and willingness to help everyone on the 7th floor was echoed by other PRAs, students, and postdocs as well. Many described that feeling of being nervous or lost starting a new job, only to have Ong spend time helping them navigate those tricky first days and weeks in a new lab. Sometimes that meant helping start new experiments, and sometimes it was something as simple as helping them find the deionized water on the floor. Ong shares this generous and welcoming nature with Steve Fadul and this, in part, is what makes her a perfect selection for this award.

In addition to her technical skill, many of Ong’s colleagues pointed out that she makes coming to work at Anschutz fun. This is an aspect of research that is often overlooked, but many scientists choose to do this work because it’s rewarding but also because it is fun. And Ong reminds us of that every day. Sometimes that means just a chat in the hallway, sometimes that means organizing a going-away dinner for a postdoc moving on to a new position, and sometimes that means painting people’s faces for Halloween.

Her work ethic, joy in doing science, thoroughness, humility, and support for her colleagues have earned her the scientific respect of all members of the Beam lab and the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. The word that kept coming up in colleagues' description of Ong was "irreplaceable."

These attributes, her professionalism, generosity, skill, and integrity have made her the clear choice for this award.

2019 — Erin Smith

Erin Smith receiving the Steven Fadul Award (edited)

The 2019 recipient of the Steven Fadul award is Erin Smith. Erin first came to the University in October of 2004. After eight years of exemplary service as a PRA, she was promoted, in 2012, to direct the Research Histology Lab, a lab that she developed from the ground up, as well as the histology portion of the Histology Shared Resource for the Colorado Cancer Research Center.

Erin’s colleagues describe Erin as dedicated, hardworking, organized, and passionate. Erin handles all of the administrative responsibilities of the two core facilities she runs. This includes hiring and training an outstanding team of histotechnologists that is responsible for handling an ever-growing number of clients—over 500 clients as of right now. In addition to training technicians within the cores she runs, Erin has trained countless faculty, students, postdocs, and staff with the Department of Pathology and the University as a whole. Her trainees laud her mentoring skills. Erin has helped innumerable labs establish new protocols for immunohistochemical staining with antibodies. Steve Anderson, the director of the Protein Production Core, described Erin’s images as “textbook quality”. A number of researchers described Erin as the “go-to” person for histology on this campus as well as across much of the state of Colorado. She has played an especially important role in the development of new techniques including novel processing and imaging protocols, digital 3D imaging, bookmarking and quantitation, and prostate cancer mapping.

Erin supervises the department’s Histology Subspecialty Lab, a CLIA-certified lab where all whole-mount prostates are processed as well as other high-complexity histology procedures such as prostate mapping biopsies and rapid bronchial lavage specimen processing. She worked to develop and improve techniques for processing human prostates in a wholemount fashion. This included the design and manufacture of a cutting jig to improve sectioning of samples. Her approach has become the standard for processing prostates. Her work is so outstanding that two other regional hospitals, the Denver VA Medical Center and the Boulder Community hospital, send their samples here for processing. Erin also serves as a consultant for outside institutions to establish wholemount processing techniques at their centers. The Chair of Pathology, Ann Thor, described Erin as “literally the face of Pathology at Colorado to the outside world, from a research and clinical research perspective.” Erin has helped design and equip a number of other sites associated with the UCHealth system.

These are just some of Erin’s accomplishments and contributions. Her work ethic, determination, thoroughness, humility, and support for her colleagues have earned her the scientific respect of all members of the lab, the department, and the hundreds of labs she helps on a yearly basis. The word that kept coming up in colleagues’ descriptions of Erin was “irreplaceable.” These attributes, together with her professionalism and integrity, have made her the clear choice for this award.

2018 — Nova Fong

Nova Fong

This year’s recipient of the Steven Fadul award is Nova Fong. She has served as a senior PRA with David Bentley for 24 years and has worked with him here in the Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics department for the past 20 years. Her hiring was, in his words, “the best strategic decision I have ever made in my scientific career” and how, not coincidentally, the Bentley lab’s most productive years have been since she joined the group.

Your colleagues have described the qualities that made you the committee’s unanimous choice for this year’s award.

They cite the great pride and care she takes in conducting experiments and how her thorough approach to experimentation has led to important discoveries that have broadened and redirected work in the Bentley lab and in many others outside of this university.

Her love of pioneering new methodologies and her fundamental molecular biology expertise have led to the development of unique tools that have resulted in grant support and the opening of new research directions for the lab. She is recognized as one of the most authoritative voices in the department on methods, procedures and best practices.

Her willingness to share her knowledge and expertise and the generosity of her assistance was clear. Nova is a wonderful teacher and has trained every student and PRA who has come to the lab in numerous core methods. Her students learn to successfully perform complicated molecular biology techniques with which many seasoned researchers struggle. Everyone—students, postdocs, PRAs and faculty—come to her for advice and help. Nova sets the standard of quality and care for her pupils.

Her work ethic, determination, thoroughness, humility and support for her colleagues have earned her the scientific respect of all members of the lab and the department, from her fellow PRAs to the chairman. In her quiet and reliable way, she always assists colleagues and facilitates their research. Nova is a real team player who enriches the entire department.

These attributes, her professionalism & integrity have made her the clear choice for this award.

 Video: Professor Angeles Ribera presents the 2018 Steven Fadul Award to Nova Fong

2017 — Greg Glazner

Greg Glazner receiving the Steven Fadul Award

Greg Glazner (pictured, holding plaque) is the recipient of the 8th Annual Steven Fadul Award for Outstanding Service to the School of Medicine by a Professional Research Associate.

Greg has served as Senior PRA in the Advanced Light Microsopy Core for the past 7+ years. He came to this position after retiring from a career as a statistician and then earning a Master of Engineering with an emphasis in optics. A typical retirement was not of interest to him to his colleagues delight. They describe Greg as:

  • "having a high level of technical skill, creativity, dedication & passion for his roll. He's a great guy, constructively & successfully guiding over 900 core users over these years."
  • "Having a love of teaching and excellence and being very generous with assistance teaching even uninitiated users with a warm and caring approach on the most sophisticated of imagine systems. He emphasizes understanding of the science and technology at the foundation of the imagining systems. His instructional guides and patient instruction have enabled students through faculty to conduct their research activities with more ease. 
  • He is credited with large efforts in the creation of new and novel instrumentation that led to the ability to image real-time living cell movements and the imaging of lipid-rick structures within cells without use of dyes or antibody labelling. 
  • Greg has the ability to provide customized solutions for specific imaging problems for microscopy users, which is another example of his knowledge, problem-solving skills and willingness to serve the research community.
  • His welcoming and enthusiastic nature and commitment to quality user support has made him a favorite among users.

These Attributes, along with his professionalism and integrity make Greg the clear choice for this award.

Congratulations, Gred Glazner, as the 2017 recipient of the Steven Fadul Award!

2016 — Becky de la Houssay

Becky de la Houssay receiving the Steven Fadul Award

Becky de La Houssay, PRA in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics is the recipient of the 2016 Steven Fadul Award. Angeles Ribera, PhD, Chair of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, provided an introduction and background. The award was presented by School of Medicine Dean John Reilly, M.D. Becky's colleagues cited her dedication, technical expertise, passion for basic science research, self-directedness, ability to work independently, love of learning, and especially her commitment to her colleagues. She has provided over 40 years of service to the University and has touched the lives of 2 generations of scientists.

Here are a few examples:

  • "Becky is indefatigable and prodigiously gifted with an infectious work ethic and I use her as an example to all of my post-docs and PRAs for going the extra mile."
  • "There is an essential lifeblood coursing through her veins for science that is compelling and enviable."
  • "She has piloted and trouble-shot every assay we could throw at her with superb skill and excellence."
  • "her technical competence and thorough understanding of the chemistry or biochemistry underlying every assay is based on 40 years of experience and is unmatched."
  • Your love of teaching and excellence at it was noted by all, as was your generosity with your assistance.
  • "Becky has dedicated her professional life to being the kind of PRA who makes impactful research possible by continually seeking to improve methodologies, problem-solve set-backs, and to doing whatever is humanly possible to advance every single student's, post-doc's, or experienced investigator's research so that they can be successful--with little need for self-recognition."​

 Video: Becky de la Houssay receives the 2016 Steven Fadoul Award

2015 — Kelley Brodsky

Kelley Brodsky receiving the Steven Fadul Award

Dean John Reilly presented the 2015 Steven Fadul Award to Kelley Brodsky, PRA in the Department of Anesthesiology. Kelley's colleagues cited her dedication, technical expertise, passion for basic science research, self-directedness, ability to work independently, love of learning, and especially her commitment to her colleagues.

Here are some examples:

  • "In more than 20 years in research labs, I have never witnessed a PRA who takes her job as seriously, nor who is as committed. She takes initiative on projects in a manner I have not seen even in driven post-doctoral fellows"
  • "She is an expert in a huge number of sophisticated molecular biology techniques, but always willing to acquire and establish new techniques in the lab."
  • "A brilliant PRA, a passionate basic science researcher, Kelly without a question ranks in the top 1% of PRAs I have encountered."
  • "She is extremely knowledgeable and an outstanding teacher in the laboratory setting."
  • "Kelley has offered her time and energy to teaching several of my trainees, fueled only by her own joy in the growth of others."
  • "Her wonderful comprehensive thinking in basic mechanistic research and her broad technical expertise enables her to support the activities of many investigators within the laboratory and throughout the Medical School."

2014 — Leslie Knaub

Leslie Knaub receiving the Steven Fadul Award

Each year many well-qualified and well-supported professional research associates are nominated to receive the Steven Fadul Award for PRA excellence. This year Leslie Knaub was the selection committee's unanimous choice as the outstanding representative of our PRA population. 

Leslie has served in the Department of Medicine's Endocrinology, Metabolism & Diabetes Division & the VA community in the laboratories of Drs. Robert Eckel & Jane Reusch as a PRA & senior PRA for over 14 years.

Early in her career she quickly demonstrated her skill, technical competence and mastery of bench work and was given the challenging responsibility of the phenotypic characterization, maintenance & management of a sophisticated mouse colony developed uniquely for use in cardiovascular and diabetes research in the Eckel lab. Despite the difficulty of the task she mastered it with ease. She conducted all of the training of lab staff & ensured the laboratory ran smoothly in every capacity for 7 years.

Leslie broadens the scope of the research endeavors of her labs through independently investigating & learning new techniques & bringing them to the bench. She was a key collaborator in the development of the VA mitochondrial respirometry core, travelling locally & internationally to learn the use & care of the instrumentation. She now runs the core facility, the equipment and trains others in its use.​​

2013 — Nicole Spoelstra

Nicole Spoelstra receiving the Steven Fadul Award

Presented by Bill Betz

Nicole possesses a wide range of laboratory skills, including those in molecular biology, histology, immunohistochemistry & microscopy, which she employs in Jennifer Richer's laboratory in the Department of Pathology. In addition, Nicole manages the Cancer Center's Laser Capture Microdissection facility. Her expertise is sought by researchers both within and without the School of Medicine. One investigator from Yale wrote, "In my 40 years as a P.I. in the Yale Medical School, I have never had a Research Associate as thoroughly proficient as Nicole. She has the unique qualities of at once being completely knowledgeable of the tasks, skilled and meticulous in her work, patient and determined to do her best for a successful outcome."

In addition to this professional expertise, Nicole received unanimous high praise for her personal qualities. She is always willing to share her knowledge and she has instructed more than one- hundred clinical fellows, graduate students, post-docs, faculty and high school summer students over the years.

One colleague noted that Nicole could easily have pursued work as a hospital histotechnologist for a much higher salary, but "Luckily she enjoys the diversity & challenge of basic research and the rewards of training others." It is indeed lucky for the UC Denver research community in general and the Department of Pathology in particular that she has remained with us. We offer warmest congratulations to Nicole Spoelstra, the 2013 recipient of the Steven Fadul Award.

2012 — Joy Folkvord

Joy Folkvord receiving the Steven Fadul Award

Presented by Dean Richard Krugman

Joy, your background is so diverse and interesting, I would like to share a bit of it with the people here tonight. You graduated magna cum laude from Gustavus Adolphus College with a BA in biology, then worked as a research tech at National Jewish before returning to school, earning a masters degree in Bioengineering from Boulder. Work followed, first in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in Boulder, then at NREL, the National Renewable Energy Lab, in Golden. In 1993 you joined us, working first in the Department of Pathology, and for the past 15 years, studying HIV immunopathogenesis in the lab of Elizabeth Connick, Professor of Medicine, in the Infectious Disease Division.

Here are some things that your colleagues say about you (and I quote):

  • "Joy's remarkable competence became quickly apparent, and within a year she was managing the entire laboratory."
  • "She is a constant technical innovator. She wrote computer programs to perform sophisticated image analyses."
  • "Her understanding of the physics by which flow cytometry works has allowed us to adapt that technology in novel ways."
  • "She is an author or co-author on 22 published manuscripts including 4 first author papers."

So much for the technical side of things. Your talents do not stop there, Joy. Again, to quote your colleagues:

  • "She is an extraordinary teacher.She has trained more than 20 undergraduate students, medical students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, as well as visitors from other laboratories within and outside the university."
  • "She designed and led an immunohistochemistry workshop for researchers in Zimbabwe first in 2007 and again in 2008."
  • ​"She volunteers annually as a judge for the Denver Metro Regional Science and Engineering Fair."
  • "She applies herself with devotion and focus to her work. She is invariably here when I arrive early in the morning and most often when I leave late afternoon early evening."
  • "She has helped virtually every graduate student and technician in our lab over the years, and always with calm, caring and professional support that she gives graciously and without hesitation."
  • "She has tremendous curiosity, is incredibly persistent and possesses a natural instinct to troubleshoot and pinpoint the source of problems in laboratory techniques." ​

2011 — Morgan Valley

Morgan Valley

Morgan, your contributions to the research programs in the Department of Emergency Medicine extend far beyond your skills in data management, qualitative research, survey design and statistics. Your energy, scientific integrity, mentorship and standards of productivity and excellence inspire everyone with whom you work. You are known for your irrepressible commitment to lifelong learning, enrolling in courses and earning an MPH degree even while shouldering a large workload as a Senior PRA.

Despite your modesty, your quiet leadership in research projects are evident to everyone, whether the study is about skiers and helmets, disaster preparedness in vulnerable communities, clinical trials, or the recent study, which you led, on different patient sampling methods in emergency departments.

Here are some examples of what people have said about you:

  • You have an amazing ability to navigate among people with diverse interests and communication styles, without ever losing your own voice.
  • You provide the kind of data analysis, review and consultation that one would expect from a well-trained researcher. You are a team player, an independent self-starter and an absolute joy to work with.
  • A colleague remembers that when she arrived as a new PRA in emergency medicine, Morgan's incredible knowledge, work ethic, creativity, and contagious laugh make me strive to become a better PRA. Truly, words fall short when trying to describe the great collaboration and trust one gains from working with Morgan.
  • Her reputation is a mosaic of industry, collaboration, professionalism, and integrity. She has helped 65 students, residents, fellows and faculty members fulfill their research goals, while strengthening the research productivity and national standing of our department. She is passionate about her work, kind to patients and respected by all.​

2010 — Mary Wellish, Jim Dover, and Andrea Lewellyn

In the inaugural year of the Steven Fadul Award, the high number of qualified nominees nearly overwhelmed the selection committee. With support from Dean Krugman, three awardees were chosen in this first year, a further testimonial to the broad and deep support for the award to our vital PRA colleagues.

The three awardees in 2010 were Mary Wellish, Jim Dover, and Andrea Lewellyn. The citations by Dean Krugman, who presented the awards, are below.

Mary Wellish

Mary Wellish receiving the Steven Fadul Award

"Since 1973, when you joined Don Gilden's lab, you have made major contributions to his research. There is a general saying in the lab: Any time you have a question, scientific or otherwise, the standard answer is, "Ask Mary." In any situation, if an experiment needs to be executed with due diligence, you will get it done, quickly and properly. You take initiative in designing of experiments and interpretation of results. Your superb technical skills, generous spirit, and long experience have made you indispensable to all in the lab."


Jim Dover

Jim Dover receiving the Steven Fadul Award

"Jim, you have been with Mark Johnston since his lab was founded nearly 30 years ago. Your contributions go well beyond the 12 papers that you have co-authored. You have played a major role in training the students and postdocs who have passed through Mark's lab, as well as many others from other labs. In fact, it was rare to attend a student or postdoc research presentation or read a student thesis that did not acknowledge Jim Dover's assistance and support. You have brought this expertise and generosity of spirit with you from St. Louis, and already more than 25 investigators have availed themselves of your help with Next Generation DNA sequencing. It is no wonder that, at Mark's going away party at Wash. U., the list of the top 10 reasons why people there were sad to see Mark go was topped by this: 'Jim Dover is going with him.' "


Andrea Lewellyn

Andrea Lewellyn receiving the Steven Fadul Award

"Andrea, you are an expert embryologist, but so much more. Beginning with your work in Barry Pierce's lab, and continuing for the past 20 years with Jim Maller, you have trained a generation of scientists with your adept touch in manipulating both Xenopus oocytes and dilatory graduate students. Generous with your time, stern when you need to be, you have kept Jim's Howard Hughes lab operating in a coherent and efficient manner. And for the really heroic experiments, such as injecting 600 oocytes at a rate of 12 per minute, you pulled it off with grace and style, as you did everything else."

Steve FadulThe Steven Fadul PRA award is intended to recognize professional research associates who demonstrate the dedication, characteristics and quality of workmanship that Steven brought to laboratories in the School of Medicine during his 30-year career.

Steve's career began in the Department of Clinical Pharmacology in 1979 and, three years later, he moved to the Betz laboratory in the Department of Physiology. This laboratory and the department proved to be such a good fit with Steve that he remained there for the rest of his career. 

Steve's responsibilities were extensive and reflected his dedication to his job and his interest in learning new skills and techniques. They ranged from maintaining basic operations within a busy lab to managing and operating a sophisticated microscopy facility that serves the research community campus-wide. Throughout his career he taught and mentored PRAs, graduate students, potential future graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. He loved that part of his work. 

Steve was a quick learner, dependable, careful and accurate in his work, self-directed and professional. He was a very technically competent PRA and because of his abilities and these qualities he became an essential part of several educational and research activities that are signature elements of the Department of Physiology.

Steve made people feel comfortable and welcome and he was very generous with his time and his help. He was a natural s a teacher and he especially enjoyed this role. Over the years, he enabled so many, and at several professional levels, to broaden their abilities to conduct research and to increase their own self-sufficiency. His thorough understanding of the technologies that he worked with enabled him to support the activities of many investigators and to help them properly identify and achieve their research goals. Simply reading the acknowledgements in the many publications for which he provided technical support shows the value of Steve's work and the respect that his collaborators had for him. Steve was always regarded by student and faculty alike as a colleague and friend.

— Michael Hall, PhD

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