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Alumni Awards



President and CEO, Iconic Group, Inc. | Political Science

Distinguished Alumni Award: DENISE CONROY

The oldest of four children, Denise Conroy jokes that her family didn’t have much, but they always had cable television. For her, television was an escape, a window to the world — it gave her permission to dream big. She still recalls MTV’s debut in 1981, and was a witness to an era in entertainment that moved her, having no idea that she would one day be part of that world. 

The WVU class that was the turning point for Conroy’s future was empirical political analysis. A datahead with a love of uncovering what motivates people, she didn’t realize how that one course would launch her career. After earning a master’s degree in social and public policy, she parlayed her love of research into a marketing career.

In 2004, Conroy was named director of research for the Outdoor Channel. A West Virginia girl at heart, she was no stranger to the outdoor lifestyle. Within less than a year, she became the channel’s vice president of marketing. 

Conroy moved to HGTV and the DIY Network in 2011, as the senior vice president of marketing and creative. By that point, she was known as a data-driven marketer and pioneer of programmatic research. She created groundbreaking campaigns for shows such as Property Brothers, Flip or Flop and House Hunters that propelled HGTV from no. 17 to no. 9 for adults ages 25-54, lowering the median viewer age by three years. 

Ten years after her big break in the television industry, Conroy did the unthinkable: she quit her job at HGTV and the DIY Network to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a CEO. Against the admonitions of everyone she knew, she pursued her dream without a safety net. Later that year, she landed her first CEO role with Iconic Group, Inc., a $100 million digital solutions company that specializes in education, endurance sport and retail photography. Her team photographs seven million consumers annually at more than 3,000 life events, such as graduation ceremonies, endurance running races and experiential retail. 



Environmental, Health and Safety Manager, PPG Industries | Psychology


Alexis Marzullo is the environmental, health and safety manager for PPG Industries in Westlake, La. There, she facilitates the implementation of safety regulations and PPG requirements through program creation and trainings for 220 employees. In 2015, she received the Environmental, Health and Safety CEO Excellence Award. As a member of the Global Industrial Hygiene Council, Marzullo leads the subcommittee for industrial hygiene recognition, sampling and engagement, and is helping to implement new regulations and standards for PPG. Previously, Marzullo worked as an environmental, health and safety specialist for PPG Industries’ Oak Creek, Wis., office. In that position, she started a Why I Work Safe campaign, where employees wrote the reasons they worked safely on a whiteboard and were photographed next to them. Recognizing the joy the employees expressed while sharing their reasons to work safe helped Marzullo realize she had chosen the right career path. 

She values having the ability to send these individuals home to their families each day and create opportunities for people to work safer. 

Outstanding Alumni Awards


Biology and Environmental Science Teacher at Bayonne High School, Bayonne Public School District

Alexander Kuziola is an academic and honors biology teacher at Bayonne High School Academy for Fine Arts and Academics in Bayonne, N.J. During his 10-year tenure, Kuziola conceptualized a facility for the high school’s STEM Academy and developed a biology track for students interested in the life sciences. The school’s Biological Discovery Center was built from this idea, and Kuziola designed the physical animal habitats and selected individual species for hundreds of organisms living in the Center. The Center’s popularity quickly spawned several extracurricular activities, including Gateways to STEM, a Saturday morning program for seventh and eighth graders, and Passport to Biology, a weeklong summer camp introducing incoming freshmen to the life sciences. While Kuziola originally intended to pursue a career in medicine, he has found his true calling to be in the classroom.  


Chief Executive Officer, Epigenomics, Inc.

Noel Doheny is the CEO of Epigenomics, Inc., a molecular diagnostics company that detects blood-based cancers using proprietary DNA methylation technology. As the leader of Epigenomics, Inc.’s American business operations, Doheny executes product launches and customer support for screening colon and lung cancer. Doheny has also served as CEO for OpGen, where he created a clinical and life sciences strategy for genome mapping technology and a prototype system for whole genome analysis for the U.S. intelligence community. Under his leadership, OpGen was named the 2008 Incubator Company of the Year. Doheny has also served as senior vice president of molecular diagnostics for Affymetrix, where he negotiated a major collaboration with a large Japanese diagnostic partner to serve Asian markets, and vice president of pre-analytical solutions for QIAGEN, a worldwide molecular diagnostic business. He has built several operating teams from the ground up, including the commercial teams to launch novel products at companies such as Ciba Corning, ThermoBiostar and OpGen. Doheny has 30-plus years of experience in the field of diagnostics, with over 20 years in senior management. 

Communication Studies     

Deputy Executive Director, New York City Office of the Mayor 

Ifeoma Ike is a first-generation Nigerian-American with government, corporate, nonprofit and grassroots expertise. She is the deputy executive director of the New York City Young Men’s Initiative within the Office of the Mayor, where she addresses inequities faced by young people of color and their families. Ike is also an adjunct assistant professor at Lehman College, where she teaches courses in law, incarceration, policy, and race relations. Ike is a founding member of #SheWoke Committee, a project dedicated to global equity for black women and girls and their communities, and co-creator at Black and Brown People Vote, a civic engagement and participation project aimed at elevating the vote and voice of people of color while pursuing equity in democracy. While working on Capitol Hill, Ike led domestic and international strategies, including Haiti’s earthquake recovery, the protection of women and girls and voter disenfranchisement. A co-laborer of two congressional caucuses, My Brother’s Keeper Caucus and the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, Ike is committed to effectuating social change through advocacy, research and policy.


Professor of Writing and Rhetoric, Syracuse University

Rebecca Moore Howard is a professor of writing and rhetoric at Syracuse University, where she is also the director of the writing and rhetoric major and minor. At Syracuse, Howard teaches undergraduate courses in argument, intellectual property, research and style, as well as graduate courses in composition history, composition pedagogy, theory and philosophy of composition, literacy studies, theory of authorship and research methods. Howard knew she was on the right career path when she started teaching as a WVU graduate student. However, she delayed the inevitable for two years, initially working as a graduate assistant in the Advising Center and tutor in the Writing Center. When she could no longer avoid the classroom, dreading her first teaching assignment, she discovered it was the most fascinating job she’d ever done. She has since taught English at Colgate University, Texas Christian University, Cornell University and Binghamton University. Howard has also written or edited seven books, and the latest edition of her book, “Writing Matters: A Handbook for Writing and Research,” will be released later this year. 

Geology and Geography    

Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Purdue University

Kenneth Ridgeway is a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Purdue University. He also leads Purdue’s Sloan Indigenous program, an initiative to increase the number of Alaskan Native, Native American and Native Hawaiian graduate students in STEM disciplines. Ridgeway regularly travels to tribal colleges and Native American communities to recruit students, and advises and mentors them after they enroll. The program regularly enrolls 13–15 graduate students, and 93 percent of the students have graduated or are currently enrolled, making Purdue one of the largest producers of Native American graduate students across the United States. Ridgeway is also a member of the American Geological Institute, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the Association of American Indian and Alaska Native Professors and the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, among other organizations. Prior to earning his graduate degrees, Ridgeway worked as a petroleum geologist for Chevron Oil. 


Professor of History, Moi University

Anne Nangulu is an economic historian in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya. She previously served Moi University in several administrative positions: acting deputy vice chancellor, director of quality assurance and dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. As dean, she led the development of curriculum and pedagogy for the graduate program in gender studies and undergraduate programs in correction and security studies, education, German and penology. Nangulu was also a visiting professor to the University of Bayreuth in Germany, where she taught in the International Graduate School of African Studies. She has published more than 25 articles in refereed journals and book chapters. Nangulu is also trained nationally and internationally in quality assurance, and she is a qualified quality assurance consultant, trainer and implementer for higher education. She is a founding member and president of the Kenya Universities Quality Assurance Network and chair of the University Education Services Technical Committee at the Kenya Bureau of Standards. 

International Studies    

Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State

Alison Behling is a foreign service officer in the U.S. Department of State. She is the second secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, where she is responsible for environment, science, technology and health policy. Behling covers innovation and entrepreneurship development in Poland as well as climate change policy and U.S.-Polish cooperative scientific research development. Behling has also served as third secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany. In this role, she covered issues such as climate change and renewable energy policies, wildlife trafficking, Arctic and ocean policy and outreach programming for World AIDS Day and Earth Day. In 2015, she received the Meritorious Honor Award for her work in facilitating the U.S.-German government coordination and response during the West African Ebola crisis. Behling was previously vice consul at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, where she served as a visa officer, performing thousands of non-immigrant and immigrant visa interviews. While in this role, she received the 2013 Franklin Award for her environmental outreach and engagement. 


Assistant Professor of Interventional Cardiology, WVU Medicine

Don Mishra is an assistant professor of interventional cardiology at WVU Medicine’s Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va. He received the Berkeley Medical Center Faculty Outstanding Teacher Award in 2015. Mishra has clinical affiliations with Helen Keller Hospital and Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in Alabama, as well as Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center, WVU Heart Institute and WVU Hospitals. Mishra has board certifications in internal medicine, nuclear cardiology, cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiology, and is a member of the American Heart Association, the American College Cardiology and the American College of Physicians. 

Physics and Astronomy    RATNA NAIK

Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs and Academic Personnel and Professor of Physics, Wayne State University 

Ratna Naik is an associate dean of faculty affairs and academic personnel and professor of physics at Wayne State University. Her research specialization is materials physics, and she is currently investigating cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries and magnetic nanoparticles for biomedical applications. Growing up in a small town in India with five siblings, 10 cousins and several other relatives all living together under one roof, she was often called the bookworm because of her studious nature and interest in mathematics. After earning a master’s degree in physics, she began teaching at an undergraduate college for women, which rekindled her inquiring mind and encouraged her to pursue a career in research. She has since taught at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the University of Wisconsin-Plattville. As chair of Wayne State’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, she oversaw 30 faculty members, five administrative staff, 17 research researchers, 60 graduate students, 100 undergraduate students and seven active emeritus professors. She is a member of the American Physical Society, the Material Research Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Vacuum Society and WVU’s chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma.

Political Science     

United States District Judge, Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division

In 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Carlos Mendoza to serve as a U.S. District Judge of the United States District Court in Orlando, Fla., a position he has held for nearly three years. After graduating from high school, Mendoza enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and participated in combat operations during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. He began his legal career as a judge advocate in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the United States Navy. Since then, he has served as an assistant state attorney in the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, an assistant city attorney for St. Augustine, Fla., and circuit court judge in the Seventh Judicial Circuit.


Professor of Counseling Psychology and Director, Center for Counseling, University of Georgia

Linda Campbell is a professor in the counseling psychology program at the University of Georgia and is director of the training clinic for doctoral students there. Her areas of expertise are ethics, professional issues, assessment, evaluation and clinical training, on which she has published several books, chapters and articles. Currently, Campbell is developing an integrated behavioral health training program at a non-profit clinic in Athens, Ga. The clinic serves 130 patients per day from rural north Georgia. The clinic only sees individuals who cannot pay and have no insurance. She is also a member of the American Psychological Association Board of Professional Affairs and is vice president of the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists in Georgia. She is past chair of the APA Board of Educational Affairs and past chair of the APA Ethics Committee. She is a past president of the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy and past president of the Division of State Psychological Associations. She was co-chair for the development of the Resolution on Psychotherapy Effectiveness and co-chair of the task force for the development of Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology. 

Public Administration     

Special Needs Assistance Programs Specialist, Housing and Urban Development

April Mitchell is the special needs assistance program specialist for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Maryland. There, she researches and collaborates with Partners in Health and multifamily subject matter experts related to Housing and Urban Development’s Title 24, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, and the HEARTH Act of 2009 to develop policy, acceptance and action questionnaire responses, and conclusions to support recommendations for management review. While working as the program administrator for the Democracy Lab program, Mitchell led approximately 100 WVU social work students in engaging in a national public dialogue program addressing topics such as racial and ethnic tensions in America. With 10 years of federal service, Mitchell’s view of public administration is that it allows citizens of the United States to professionally work on behalf of fellow citizens. She is interested in the dynamics of local community development verses implementation of federal policy via various federal funding streams, and she is passionate about the role the federal government plays in the lives of American citizens. 

Sociology and Anthropology     

Chief Data Scientist, Ninja Analytics, Inc.

Karen Carver is a statistical consultant and data architect with over 25 years of experience supporting government and commercial clients with statistical requirements on high-performance, mission-critical systems. Her work has focused on the development of statistical approaches to risk-assessment in security-related contexts, with services provided to the New York Stock Exchange, the Department of Homeland Security, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the United States Agency for International Development, the Naval Research Laboratory, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection and the Indian Health Service, among others. Carver is a demographer by training, completing a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development-funded post-doctoral research fellowship at the Carolina Population Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has also held academic positions at Washington State University and the Population Research Institute at the Pennsylvania State University. 


Attorney (Retired)

Clarksburg, W.Va., native William Peters is a retired attorney. His background in statistics has laid the groundwork for a versatile career path spanning several industries. Following graduation, Peters worked as a demographer for the Indian Health Service. He then went on to NIOSH where he conducted black lung research as an experimental statistician. He spent several years working as a consultant, focusing on anti-trust economics, and as an attorney until his retirement in 2000. He also served as an administrator for the Unitarian Universalist Church for 13 years.

Women’s and Gender Studies   

Lactation Consultant, Monongalia County Health Department WIC and WVU Cheat Lake Physicians

Lynne Ryan is an international board certified lactation consultant at the Monongalia County Health Department WIC program. She also provides clinical lactation services two evenings per week at WVU Cheat Lake Physicians. Ryan has been involved in domestic violence awareness and prevention for the past 15 years, working with the Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center in Morgantown and the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Ryan also has presented at schools, prisons, trainings and various events, including Silent Witness. She participated in a campaign video for United Way and the documentary “30,” which told the history of 30 years of domestic violence prevention in West Virginia.

World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics  

Foreign Service Officer and Consul General, U.S. Department of State

Daria Darnell is a foreign service officer in the U.S. Department of State and is currently serving as the consul general at the U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Darnell aspired to join the foreign service when she was still in high school, and knew it was the right career for her as a vice consul in Bogota, Columbia. In this role, she provided emergency and non-emergency services to American citizens and adjudicated visa applications. Everything about it fascinated her — applying the law, helping people in need and working as part of a greater team while living in different countries to serve the United States. Darnell has held other consular assignments in Slovakia, South Korea and the Visa Office in Washington, D.C. She also served as deputy director of the Provincial Reconstruction Team Office at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan and as the principal officer at the U.S. Consulate in Adana, Turkey. Prior to her current assignment in Ciudad Juarez, Darnell was the director of the Office of Domestic Operations in the Visa Office in the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

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