Left to Right: Dean Valery Forbes, Kipling Thacker, Aliredha Walji
The College of Biological Sciences awarded its inaugural Alumni Emerging Leader and Alumni Achievement Awards at the college's annual Recognition and Appreciation Dinner. The CBS Emerging Alumni Leader Award goes to an alum who graduated from a College of Biological Sciences undergraduate program within the past 10 years. The CBS Alumni Achievement Award goes to an alum who graduated with an undergraduate or graduate degree 10 or more years ago. The awards were created to recognize exceptional alumni doing great things in thei careers and in their community.
After graduating from CBS in 2009 with an undergraduate degree in biology, Aliredha Walji served with AmeriCorps, then went on to earn his MBA from Crown College. He worked in the mortgage industry prior to joining ShariaPortfolio, a boutique firm specializing in ethical investing, where he now serves as the advisor team manager.
In addition to his career accomplishments, Walji serves as the president of the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals and volunteers with the United Muslim Foundation. He also worked with local leaders and helped crowdfund support for victims of the Orlando shooting at the Pulse Nightclub. Recently, Walji donated his kidney to a recipient in need.
Dr. Kipling Thacker earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in microbiology at the U of M, completing his Ph.D in 1984. He currently serves as the Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President of Lifecore Biomedical, LLC, a medical product developer and manufacturer based in Chaska, Minnesota. Thacker is the co-inventor of the Lifecore hyaluronan fermentation and manufacturing process and his work helped lay the groundwork for the core business line of Lifecore Biomedical.
Lifecore Biomedical develops, manufactures, and markets hyaluronan-based materials and medical products for ophthalmic, orthopedic, and veterinary markets worldwide. It is used as a surgical aid during cataract extraction and intra-ocular lens implantation, as a carrier for allogeneic bone in spinal fusion surgery, as a treatment for pain of osteoarthritis, and as a component of several medical devices and drug delivery systems. Lifecore is also a contract manufacture of several devices and drugs for large and small pharmaceutical and device companies. Since 1986, more than 50 million patients worldwide have benefited from Lifecore's innovations in sodium hyaluronate products.