Faces & places

A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health’s Dr. George Blue Spruce Jr., assistant dean of American Indian affairs, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation Awards for Excellence in Social Mission in Health Professions Education.

He is being recognized as the first American Indian dentist in the U.S.

Blue Spruce, a member of Laguna and Ohkay-Owingeh pueblos, was born and raised at Santa Fe Indian School, where his parents were faculty members. He graduated as valedictorian of his 1949 class at St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe, received his doctor of dental surgery degree in 1956 from Creighton University School of Dentistry in Omaha, Neb., and received his master of public health degree in 1967 from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. In 1984, he received Creighton’s highest alumni award, the Alumni Achievement Citation.

Blue Spruce served two years in the U.S. Navy and provided dental care to the crew of the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine. He later joined and spent 28 years in the U.S. Public Health Service, with 21 of those years in the American Indian Health Service, where he attained the title of assistant surgeon general and director of the Indian Health Service Phoenix Area Office, serving the 42 tribes of Utah, Nevada and Arizona.

In 1990, he was instrumental in founding the Society of American Indian Dentists and served as its president for 16 years.

Blue Spruce was also the first male tennis player inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996.

His autobiography, Searching for My Destiny, was published in 2009 by University of Nebraska Press.

• • •

Two Los Alamos scientists, Miles Beaux and Matt Durham, are among 83 scientists who will receive a total of $100 million through the Department of Energy’s Early Career Awards Program, which supports critical research at universities and national laboratories.

“This recognition from the Department of Energy reflects Miles’ and Matt’s dedication and commitment to vital scientific questions,” Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Thom Mason said in a statement.

Beaux’s work has established plutonium capabilities for scanning probe microscopy.

Durham’s work with the Pioneering High Energy Nuclear Interaction Experiment has made him a key player in the Energy Department's Nuclear Physics Heavy Ion program. Now he leads the study of exotic tetra-quark particles in heavy ion collisions at the Large Hadron Collider.

• • •

Dr. Ruben Ayala, a United World Colleges USA alumnus who is chief medical officer of Operation Smile, has been selected as the winner of this year’s Giulio Regeni Alumni Impact Award.

Ayala is a public health physician from Panama with more than 25 years of experience in advocacy and humanitarian assistance. During his career with Operation Smile, he has planned, executed and overseen surgical programs in more than 40 countries.

Ayala also oversaw the establishment of Operation Smile foundations in low- and middle-income countries that offer year-round health services to patients and families affected by cleft conditions.

The Giulio Regeni Alumni Impact Award recognizes alumni of UWC-USA in Montezuma who have made substantial contributions.

Education standouts

Marilyn Upchurch of Edgewood has been selected for the Television Academy Foundation’s 2021 Summer Fellows program. She is one of 50 students chosen from across the country by Television Academy members to participate in the program.  

Upchurch will be a senior this fall at Eastern New Mexico University and is majoring in broadcast journalism and production. She will be a Broadcast News Fellow this summer through the Television Academy Foundation’s program.

While attending Moriarty High School, Upchurch was selected to travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Smithsonian Latino Center’s Young Ambassadors program.

• • •

The following local students at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City were named to the spring 2021 Dean's List:

  • William Hastings of Santa Fe, whose major is engineering.
  • Derek Kober of Los Alamos, whose major is biology.
  • Angelina Miller of Santa Fe, whose majors are atmospheric sciences and modern dance.
  • Jesse Prime of Los Alamos, whose major is mechanical engineering.
  • Ben Shelton of Santa Fe, whose major is psychology.
  • Isaac Shelton of Santa Fe, whose major is psychology.
  • Claire Ticknor of Los Alamos, whose major is mechanical engineering.

• • •

Leander Murphy of Los Alamos has been named to Eastern New Mexico University's Academic Honors List for the spring 2021 semester.

The following students have been named to ENMU's Dean's List for spring 2021:

  • Lily Johnson of Los Alamos.
  • Larissa Aragon of Santa Fe.
  • Lane Baldonado of Edgewood.
  • Elizabeth Chapman of Los Alamos.
  • Cameron Colson of Edgewood.
  • Chloe Fell of Española.
  • John Linzie of Las Vegas, N.M.
  • Nathaniel Minton of Edgewood.
  • Veronica Burrola of Santa Fe.
  • Judith Chavez Gonzales of Santa Fe.
  • Charles Christensen of Los Alamos.
  • Sean Collins of Los Alamos.
  • Marilyn Upchurch of Edgewood.
  • Kelsey Decker of Los Alamos.
  • Amanda Mcmillan of Los Alamos.
  • Sequoia Romero of Las Vegas, N.M.
  • Ryan Sheppard-Peery of Santa Fe.
  • Heaven Talachy of Santa Fe.

• • •

Hallie Hudson of Santa Fe has received a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

• • •

The following people recently were initiated into Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest collegiate honor society:

  • Joey Jimenez Jr. of Santa Fe, a student at New Mexico Highlands University.
  • Eric Romero of Las Vegas, a student at Highlands.
  • Nkechi Utomi-Obichie of Las Vegas, a student at Highlands.
  • Elisha Valdez of Los Alamos, a student at the University of New Mexico.
  • Leah Roark of Santa Fe, a student at Highlands.
  • Nicole Chung of Española, a student at San Jose State University.

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