2016 Graduate Alumni Award Winners

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) and the School of Engineering (SOE) were thrilled and honored to present awards to six alumni this spring. These awards honor alumni who have gone above and beyond the already outstanding accomplishments characteristic of all Tufts alumni. This year’s alumni offered their thoughts on the impact Tufts has had on them, and on their continued relationship with the Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Tufts School of Engineering, and their own graduate degrees.

GSAS Outstanding Service and Career Achievement Award 

Harry “Hersh” Cohen, AG64, AG66 
Fern Cohen, AG74

Harry “Hersh” Cohen (left) and President Anthony P. Monaco.

On April 29, 2016, Harry “Hersh” Cohen returned to campus for the first time in many years to receive the GSAS Outstanding Service and Career Achievement Award as a recipient as well as on behalf of his wife, Fern Cohen. After receiving the awards Hersh had this to say about the experience, “It really made me reflect on a lot of things in my (our) life … crystallized my diffuse feelings about the various stages along the way. I mean it when I say that while I have been fortunate in my career, garnering many honors and achieving goals that I hadn’t even dreamt about in 1969; they have been much more ephemeral than achieving my Tufts doctorate.  It is a source of not only great knowledge and ways of thinking about problems, but of great pride.” 

GSAS Outstanding Career and Service Achievement Award

Sinaia Nathanson, AG86

GSAS Associate Dean Sinaia Nathanson (center) with Robert Cook, GSAS Dean, and Karen Panetta, SOE Associate Dean for Graduate Education.

Associate Dean Sinaia Nathanson has been an invaluable member of the Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Psychology, and the Tufts community as a whole for many years, further engaging in a faculty and leadership capacity after receiving her doctorate in psychology here. In her acceptance speech she noted, “Tufts has opened the gate for me to experiment with teaching, create and expand programs, and mentor undergrad and grad students. It is a privilege to be going through life feeling so energized about my work and to be recognized for doing something that I love. I had the opportunity to closely watch how an academic institution transforms into greatness. We have come a long way, and I’ve had the pleasure and fortune to witness this transformation.” In particular, Associate Dean Nathanson is thrilled to have seen impressive growth in graduate studies during her time here, especially in developing students’ skills with regards to teaching, research, and professional capacities.

SOE Outstanding Career Achievement Award

Yee Cho, J76, EG76, E16P

Yee Cho (center) with her family.

With a B.S. in Chemistry and Philosophy and M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Tufts, Yee Cho is a national pioneer in her field. Cho is the founding president of civil and environmental engineering firm CDW Consultants, Inc., and over the course of her career, has worked for the City of Boston and Massachusetts state environmental protection agencies. She spearheaded the development of programs to remediate sites contaminated by hazardous substances, including management and technical leadership for the New Bedford Harbor and Landfill Superfund Site in Massachusetts. She has also developed programs that allow experienced professionals to work toward their Professional Engineering registration. A leader within the American Society of Civil Engineers, Cho was part of the inaugural class of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Environmental and Water Resources Institute fellows.

In remarks at the awards ceremony, Cho said, “My master’s degree has me reaching milestones that I never knew I ever could. […] It gave me confidence to persevere, courage to try new things, and fortitude to confront challenges.”

SOE Outstanding Service Award

Jeffrey D’Amelia, E01, EG03

(From left) SOE Associate Dean for Graduate Education Karen Panetta, David Scher, Jeffrey D’Amelia, and Engineering Dean Jianmin Qu.

As the associate department head and principal engineer for Networking Systems at the MITRE Corporation, Jeffrey D’Amelia works with Tufts faculty and students to create programs that inspire and challenge students to solve complex problems. D’Amelia helped create the Embedded Capture the Flag competition at Tufts, where students work collaboratively alongside mentors from MITRE to develop algorithms and implement their concepts in software. Many Tufts students who took part in the competition are now participating in summer internships at MITRE.

In his remarks, D’Amelia thanked Tufts for providing the foundation for his career in computer networking and security, and said, “It’s been a privilege to work directly with my alma mater and to give back, in a small way, to this community.”

SOE Outstanding Service Award

David Scher, E01, EG02

MITRE Corporation department head David Scher spearheaded the effort to create an ongoing and sustainable relationship between MITRE and Tufts. His efforts have resulted in sponsorship for Tufts School of Engineering’s BS/MS combined program, where students earn a master’s degree during their fifth year at Tufts. This sponsorship provides graduate scholarships that allow talented students to pursue a graduate degree that might otherwise be beyond their reach.

In his remarks, Scher noted that when he first began his career at MITRE, it was with a recommendation from Professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Education Karen Panetta. “It gives me great joy to assist current and future students in realizing their full potential,” Scher said. “I hope this is just a start of a strong relationship between MITRE and Tufts University, and that we continue to demonstrate the benefits of innovative industry and academic endeavors.”

Photography by Shamit Sthankiya for Tufts University.