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Meyerhoff Graduate Fellow recognized for excellence

Rasheeda Johnson, a UMBC alumna, is this year’s Otani Award recipient

Sarah Preis

Features Editor

Gerontology student Rasheeda Johnson was chosen to receive the 2014 Otani Award, which is given annually to one esteemed UMB graduate student with notable academic ability.

Rasheeda Johnson, a Meyerhoff Graduate Fellow, is the recipient of the 2014 Otani Award. On October 7, the winners of various GPILS awards were announced by the Graduate Program in Life Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The Otani Award is given to one GPILS graduate student each year who has outstanding investigative and academic skills, a background of service to the GPILS community and the respect and esteem of his or her peers and GPILS faculty members.

Recipients of the Otani Award receive a cash prize and an award trophy. Their names are also engraved on a plaque in the GPILS office. The Otani Award is given in honor of Elaine Miye Otani, a University of Maryland School of Medicine Ph.D. student who passed away in 1984 at the age of 26.

Rasheeda Johnson, a UMBC alumna, is studying gerontology in an interdisciplinary, intercampus doctoral program at the University of Maryland Baltimore and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research encompasses studying the effects of hip fractures and comparing treatment strategies.

She is advised in her research by Dr. Denise Orwig, an Assistant Professor for the Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Justine Johnson, the Associate Director of the Meyerhoff Graduate Program, said, “I knew her when she was an undergraduate Meyerhoff Scholar. She was a great student.” Justine Johnson, who is of no relation to Rasheeda Johnson, went on to say that the latter graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 2009 and a Bachelor of Arts in Aging Studies in 2010. Rasheeda Johnson also holds a master’s degree from UMBC.

Rasheeda Johnson has three siblings who have also excelled academically. She has two sisters involved in STEM, one of whom is in a combined MD/Ph.D. program, and a brother who studies music at Howard University. “She comes from a family who is very supportive,” said Justine Johnson.

Rasheeda Johnson and her fellow GPILS award winners will be honored on Oct. 30 at 3:30 p.m. at a ceremony in the Health Sciences Facility (HSF) II Auditorium on Penn St.