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Four recognized with top faculty awards

The UIC College of Nursing celebrated four members of the college community who have made outstanding contributions to the fields of scholarly practice, research, mentorship and equity and inclusion.

The 2022 award ceremony was held Wednesday at the Chicago campus.

Meet the 2022 award winners

Karen Cotler professional headshot

Judith Lloyd Storfjell Distinguished Practice Award

The college’s highest award for excellence in nursing practice, it was permanently endowed in 2022 with a gift from Storfjell.

Karen Cotler, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, centers her practice on treating underserved populations. She currently serves as lead provider at the UI Health Wellness Clinic at the Center on Halsted, where she focuses on HIV prevention services. She also practices with a primary care clinic at a needle exchange site of the Community Outreach Intervention Program and the UIC Nursing-run clinic at Mile Square Humboldt Park. In 2020, she volunteered with a COVID-19 surge clinic in Pilsen. In addition, she is program director for the Family Nurse Practitioner program, UIC’s largest DNP program.

Alana Steffen professional headshot

Distinguished Researcher Award

An annual award established to recognize a UIC college faculty member or alumnus who has made an outstanding contribution to nursing science and research.

Alana Steffen, research assistant professor in the Department of Population Health Nursing Science, currently serves as a co-investigator on 11 research projects at the college, with combined funding of more than $4 million.  She has served an essential role on more than 25 completed research projects, numerous grant applications, and as an author or co-author of more than 50 publications. Called “the epitome of a team-science scholar” by one nominator, Steffen also supports UIC Nursing by serving on committees and data safety and monitoring boards, holding seminars on data best practices, advising students, serving on PhD committees and supervising research specialists in the Office of Research Facilitation.

Phoenix Matthews professional headshot

Julie & Mark Zerwic Diversity Award

Established to recognize a UIC Nursing faculty member, student or staff member who has made a significant contribution to support diversity and foster equity and inclusion.

Phoenix Matthews, PhD, was a UIC Nursing professor and the college’s first associate dean for equity and inclusion before retiring in August. A clinical psychologist, Matthews’ research is focused on health inequities affecting vulnerable populations and minority groups. As associate dean, Matthews facilitated discussion and education for members of the college community on microaggressions and other diversity, equity and inclusion topics.

Crystal Patil professional headshot

Distinguished Mentor of Faculty Award

The award recognizes a UIC College of Nursing faculty member who has made an outstanding contribution to faculty mentorship.

Crystal L. Patil, PhD, is a professor and head of the Department of Human Development Nursing Science at the UIC College of Nursing. Patil, an anthropologist by training, has several active research projects that aim to reduce health disparities and strengthen health systems, but remains dedicated to fostering the productive careers of students and newer investigators. Patil leverages her own experience to help her mentees compete successfully for funding from NIH and other sources.

The annual college awards ceremony recognizes exceptional faculty, staff and alumni with a variety of honors.

Read more about the awards and how to nominate an exceptional colleague.