Six VP&S Employees Receive Martha A. Hooven Awards for Excellence

Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) honored six employees with Martha A. Hooven Awards for Excellence at a virtual ceremony on Feb. 18. The awards are given annually to commend employee contributions to the medical school’s workplace and community. Read on for more information about each honoree.

Margaret Zhu

Margaret Lin Zhu 

Department Administrator, Center for Radiological Research

Recipient of the Vincent C. Santana Officer of Administration/Managerial Award

Margaret Zhu handles business, personnel, and compliance needs for the Center for Radiological Research, which has 17 grants totaling about $12 million. Colleagues laud her “extraordinary commitment to getting the job done” and note that her “genius in multitasking is an understatement.” One nominator acknowledges her “boundless dedication and fantastic attention to detail” in supporting the Pilot Project Core of the Centers for Medical Countermeasures Against Radiation Consortium, for which she managed administration of 64 pilot grants across 28 institutions and four foreign countries. Another nominator says: “She performs her tasks with grace, respectful interpersonal interactions, and from a strong knowledge base.”

Susan Muscatella

Administrative Assistant, Department of Anesthesiology

Recipient of the Officer of Administration/Administrative Professional Award

Susan Muscatella

For more than 15 years, Susan Muscatella has served as an administrative assistant for the Department of Anesthesiology. A nominator writes: “Sue is often the first point of contact for many individuals reaching out to Anesthesiology and she represents the department and institution admirably in a professional manner. She is well-spoken and focuses on patiently listening to requests and working to assist every individual.” Colleagues revere her finesse as “a departmental problem solver” and appreciate her comportment as a “consummately cheerful and helpful person.” Another nominator says: “Her dedication is matched only by her positive regard for her co-workers at every level.”

Dajiang “Kevin” Sun

Senior Staff Associate III, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Molecular Pathology Shared Resource

Recipient of the Officer of Research Award

Dajiang “Kevin” Sun

Colleagues commend Dajiang “Kevin” Sun for his contributions to the research community of the Molecular Pathology Shared Resource (MPSR). In his role, he oversees tissue banking and histology operations, manages the slide digitization service, and maintains lab equipment. During the pandemic, he established a COVID-19 lab for the capture and processing of frozen COVID-19 specimens. One nominator credits his expertise in IT, databases, and automation for the expansion of service offerings at highly competitive prices. Another nominator writes: “Mr. Sun is an outstanding colleague who is motivated, punctual, well-mannered, and professional. He is an asset for MPSR and for Columbia.”

Melvin Acevedo Jr.

Laboratory Technologist, Department of Pathology & Cell Biology

Recipient of the SSA Union Member/Clerical Technical Award

Melvin Acevedo Jr.

With 23 years of service at Columbia, Melvin Acevedo Jr. is regarded as a highly skilled technician, a dependable team member, and the caring colleague who will “always make time to provide an ear for listening.” He was first hired as a tech assistant in the surgical pathology histology laboratory and since then has “assumed a real leadership role among our support staff by setting an example and serving as a mentor.” A nominator writes: “Whether he is handling an extraordinary volume of work, working weekends, or coming in extra early to maintain specimen turnaround time, he does it all with a smile.”

Jean-Marie Alves-Bradford, MD

Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry

Recipient of the Diversity Award

Jean-Marie Alves-Bradford

Jean-Marie Alves-Bradford

Known by colleagues as an “incredibly talented, enthusiastic, and dedicated educator,” Jean-Marie Alves-Bradford, MD, has been a presence at Columbia since she was a psychiatry resident. A nominator writes: “She has been instrumental in creating spaces for anti-racism and social justice discussions and learning opportunities.” Most recently, she is co-leader of the new Anti-Racism Transformation in Medical Education initiative at VP&S and the inaugural director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the Department of Psychiatry. She also serves as director of the Washington Heights Community Service, which provides mental health services to more than 1,000 local patients.

Urmi Anand Desai, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine (in the Center for Family and Community Medicine) at CUMC

Recipient of the Community Service Award

Urmi Desai

Urmi Anand Desai, MD, serves as director of service learning at VP&S, educating students about community health needs while delivering services to the medical center’s neighbors. She also supervises students at the Columbia-Harlem Homeless Medical Partnership, a student-run clinic. A nominator writes: “She brings passion, vision and excellence in teaching and leadership to her work.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, she partnered with students to develop the Columbia Student Service Corps to provide vaccinations for the community, screen families for basic care needs, tutor local children, and more. 


About the Martha A. Hooven Awards for Excellence

The Awards for Excellence were initiated in 2008 and renamed in 2019 to recognize the late Martha A. Hooven, who joined Columbia in 2007 from UCSF and served as vice dean of administration at VP&S for 11 years. She died in 2020.