2018 Alumnae Achievement Awards

A photo of the gold oak-leaf pin presented to Achievement Award Winners, wrapped in a 2018 banner.

Wellesley’s highest honor is given annually to graduates of distinction, who through their achievements have brought honor to themselves and the College. On Friday, Oct. 12, the Wellesley College Alumnae Association will present this year’s Alumnae Achievement Award to:


Camara Jones ’76

Camara Jones is a past president of the American Public Health Association and a senior fellow at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute and the Cardiovascular Research Institute, Morehouse School of Medicine.

Jones is a family physician and epidemiologist whose work focuses on naming, measuring, and addressing the effects of racism on the health and well-being of the nation. She seeks to broaden the national health debate to include not only universal access to high-quality health care, but also the social determinants of health (including poverty) and the social determinants of equity (including racism).

Jones was an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health (1994–2000) before being recruited to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2000–2014), where she served as a medical officer and research director on social determinants of health and equity. She is currently an adjunct professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and an adjunct associate professor at the Morehouse School of Medicine. She is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards in the health field.


Nergis Mavalvala ’90

Nergis Mavalvala is an astrophysicist working on the detection of gravitational waves and quantum measurement science. Currently Marble Professor of Astrophysics and associate department head of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she is a longtime member of the scientific team that announced in 2016 the first direct detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). The team’s groundbreaking work on gravitational wave detection fulfilled the last prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

In the quest for ever greater sensitivity in the LIGO detectors, Mavalvala has conducted pioneering experiments on generation and application of exotic quantum states of light, and on laser cooling and trapping of macroscopic objects to enable observation of quantum phenomena that usually manifest at the atomic scale in human-scale systems.

The recipient of numerous honors, Mavalvala was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (also known as a “genius grant”) in 2010 and elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2017.

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