World-class achievement: UF pharmacy students earn international center awards

Each year, the University of Florida International Center hosts the International Student Achievement Awards to recognize outstanding international students. These were the UF College Of Pharmacy award winners and their nomination letters for 2023.

Outstanding Certificate of Merit Winners

Saikat Poddar:

A testament to Saikat’s commitment and pursuit of academic excellence is his transition from a comfortable lecturer position at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, to his current role as a Ph.D. candidate in a highly demanding medicinal chemistry program. His profound impact has been so resonant that he has inspired numerous applications from students at his alma mater to our Ph.D. program, setting a benchmark for aspirants from the University of Dhaka.

As a senior graduate student in the lab, he has established himself as a role model for other students. His team spirit, collaborative nature and unwavering readiness to assist others, whether it’s troubleshooting experiments, sharing his expertise or sharing advanced synthetic intermediates, have solidified his reputation as an invaluable asset. He has been involved in supervising junior graduate students, Pharm.D. students and undergraduates. He is extremely reliable and is always ready to offer help to others.

Nadine Alshakhshir:

Nadine is an outstanding student and has worked diligently in the lab to the point where she is running some of the most technically sophisticated types of experiments (combining whole-cell electrophysiology with quantitative subcellular calcium imaging). Being able to do that kind of work this early in graduate school is a significant accomplishment. She also presented her work at an international meeting in Washington, D.C. this fall and did a fantastic job. 

Asinamai Ndai:

Asinamai’s diverse educational background and experiences have equipped him with a unique perspective and interdisciplinary skills that are invaluable in our field but also have equipped him to be such a valuable member of his communities. Early in his pharmacy career, which coincided with the Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria, he spearheaded mobile antiretroviral treatment programs to provide essential health care services (screening, diagnosis, treatment initiation) to individuals at risk of HIV infection, who had been displaced by the crisis. He and his team screened nearly 30,000 individuals and helped start needed treatment in many, showcasing his dedication to improving the lives of the most vulnerable. This is a theme that has continued throughout his career in Nigeria, including working with USAID and other organizations to facilitate improved antiretroviral therapy use in Nigeria, as well as in the U.S. For example, during his time in the U.S., he has collaborated closely with the Urban Poverty and Business Initiative (UPBI) program (based at Notre Dame), working with disadvantaged individuals to help them start and grow their businesses. He began this work during his time at Notre Dame but has continued it here, helping to expand the program to Gainesville and surrounding areas. His impact extends further: to the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, where he volunteered with the local Department of Health, ensuring the safety and well-being of community members. Again, these efforts started in Indiana during his master’s degree but continued when he joined UF, working with the UF Health outpatient clinics to track COVID-19-related metrics (vaccination rates, treatments, etc..) as part of his graduate assistantship. In addition to these, Asinamai has and continues to, devote a significant amount of his time to supporting the Gainesville homeless population through various initiatives. This significant community service has all been done in the context of maintaining a rigorous academic workload, as well as other service commitments at UF, including serving as his department’s graduate student representative and working with the Center for African Studies to help new African students acclimate to UF and Gainesville.

Jieqiang Zhou:

Jieqiang Zhou has made exceptional original research contributions. His highly innovative bioanalytical approaches and tireless dedication to sample analyses and associated mathematical modeling work have moved the boundaries of what is possible in our research field forward and resulted in 12 published peer-reviewed papers since 2020, with the main first-author papers from Jieqiang’s Ph.D. to be submitted in late 2023 and early 2024. Jieqiang has always displayed a joyful and very helpful attitude to support junior and senior colleagues, and professors in discussing, training and moving our collaborative projects forward.

Outstanding Professional International Student Award Nominee

Ruth Adeyemi

Ruth Adeyemi has excelled academically and is a consummate professional. She is a member of the Rho Chi Pharmacy Honor Society which places her in the top 20% of her class. She has an impressive 3.7 GPA which is quite astounding given the various leadership roles she is involved with along with her work as a pharmacy intern. She uses her intellectual acumen to better the lives of her peers by doing one-on-one and group tutoring sessions. She exhibits her professionalism through her multiple leadership roles including the Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists (SSHP) Policy Advocacy Chair, the Student National Pharmacists Association (SNPhA)President., Vice President of the Rho Chi National Honor Society, The Christian Pharmacy Fellowship International (CPFI) Historian, Kappa Psi Southeast Province Webmaster. SNPhA is an organization devoted to programs that improve the health of minorities in the Jacksonville area. In addition to these roles, Ruth serves as a village leader mentoring first-year pharmacy students and represents the college as a student ambassador assisting with recruitment activities like interview days and creating relationships with pharmacy alumni. She has had a profoundly positive impact on her class, her campus and on the College of Pharmacy as a whole. In addition to these activities, Ruth is devoted to enhancing pharmacy practice in her home country of Nigeria. She has developed an organization called The Compassionate Pharmacy Practice Project. The goal of this organization is to educate how to elevate Good Pharmacy Practice. She has established panel sessions for Nigerian pharmacists and students. This is a creative and innovative project that has the potential to have a significant impact on pharmacy practice in that country in addition to strengthening the reputation and global influence of the University of Florida Gator Nation. To reiterate, Ruth Adeyemi has had an extraordinarily profound impact on her campus, her community, her college and internationally. She is a smart, emotionally intelligent, creative and positive force.

UF International Center Awards

Asinamai Ndai presented the Alec Courtelis Award

The highly competitive award is given annually to three outstanding international graduate students at UF.

Asinamai Ndai