2023 Recipients of Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Support Announced

Two dedicated UW–Madison staff members have been awarded the Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Support. The award is a collaboration between the Graduate School and the Office of Undergraduate Advising. The awardees were recognized at a ceremony May 15.

Portrait of Kristin Cooper.

Kristin Cooper, Graduate Program Manager in the Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Program

Kristin is the Graduate Program Manager for the Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Training Program (MCP). She started as a graduate student in 2009 in the SMPH Population Health Sciences M.S. program, then worked in the Population Health Institute as an Assistant Researcher for 3 years. In 2014, she began working with the MCP program, where she enjoys supporting students and faculty and keeping the program running smoothly. She loves getting to know students and faculty, their interests in and outside of the lab, and helping them achieve their goals. She enjoys serving on committees and governance groups on campus, and mentoring fellow staff.

Kristin Cooper’s faculty nominator explained that because of Kristin “the program has flourished, and Kristin has developed a strong reputation within the School of Medicine and Public Health for her commitment to student advocacy, her strong collaborative nature, her ability to problem-solve, her efficacy as an administrator, and her talents and creativity in modern graduate training program development. Her emphasis on scholarship and her strong research contributions have positioned her uniquely to excel in her roles within the MCP program, where she thoroughly understands students’ training goals and their experiences in coursework and the laboratory. Accordingly, Kristin has been a consistent and tireless advocate for MCP students for nine years.”

A second faculty member wrote about the breadth of Kristin’s impact: “In addition to student support, Kristin’s responsibilities are many, invaluable and invariably impactful. She ably organizes program recruitment, coordinates admissions, oversees student orientation, and manages course listings and logistics each semester. She also oversees the outstanding MCP NIH T32 Program including budget management… I admire her tremendously, have greatly valued her advice and other contributions to SMPH graduate training, and feel strongly that she is deserving of this award.”


Portrait of Kate Ryan.

Catherine (Kate) Ryan, Graduate Program Manager in the Integrated Program in Biochemistry

Kate joined the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB) in 2012 following almost twenty years as an independent meeting planner serving the National Science Foundation and various not-for-profits around the country. She is genetically predisposed to organize things. Her educational background is in History and Russian, which is a fun connection with Xania Walter. Her son earned his PhD in Environmental Health Sciences from the University at Albany in May 2022 and is now a postdoc at the NIH. That experience has given her a renewed appreciation for what it’s like to be a graduate student or their parent. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, Jeopardy!, and growing as a homeowner.

Kate Ryan’s faculty nominator stated that “as soon as a student accepts a position in the program, Kate is responsible for helping them to find their way to Madison and get prepared for the first semester of graduate school… Students are introduced to our faculty and work their way through all of paperwork needed to get enrolled… Kate is an invaluable source of information and encouragement, but most importantly organizes the research rotations that help the students find a laboratory that fits their needs. Yes, faculty are involved, but the heavy lifting is done by Kate. The faculty in our program universally appreciate Kate’s efforts… Kate is by far the best graduate student administrator and coordinator I have encountered during my thirty-four years on campus. Her most visible and perhaps most important contribution to the IPiB program is her support of our graduate students.”

Kate’s nominator included several comments from graduate students, including one describing Kate as “…the heart and soul of the IPiB program… Her calm, relaxed approach has been an anchor against tumultuous times… Her door is always open for all of us, and we are all thankful for that, because without Kate, I don’t know how the program would go on.”