Honorary degrees to be awarded during NAU commencement

Two honorary degrees will be awarded during spring commencement ceremonies Friday, May 13, at Northern Arizona University.

Christine Marsh, the 2016 Arizona Teacher of the Year, will earn an honorary doctoral degree during the noon ceremony. At the 4 p.m. ceremony, David J. Mangelsdorf will be recognized with an honorary degree for his commitment to leadership and education.

Christine Marsh
Christine Marsh

For 23 years, Marsh has taught at the same school from which she graduated—Chaparral High School in Scottsdale. During that time, she has taught nearly every class that is available for English Language Arts students. The 11th and 12th grade Advanced Placement English teacher is often heard to say she has “the best job in the world” and is a tireless advocate for her students’ personal and academic success.

When Marsh is not teaching, she is spending time with her sons, running, reading, volunteering at her church or writing—specifically for the Arizona K12 Center, where she’s part of a blogging platform called “Stories from School.”

Marsh earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from UCLA and a master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration from Grand Canyon University.

Mangelsdorf, an NAU alum, has led research that uncovered the fundamental role of nuclear receptors in the pathways that control carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. His discoveries have prompted the development of new therapeutic strategies for treating diverse diseases such as atherosclerosis, fatty liver disease, cholestasis, obesity and even nematode parasitism.

David J. Mangelsdorf
David Mangelsdorf

As professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Mangelsdorf is actively involved in teaching and supervises one of the longest running NIH-funded graduate training programs in the pharmacological sciences. He also is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Mangelsdorf received his bachelor of science degree in biology and chemistry from NAU in 1981, and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Arizona in 1987. He received his postdoctoral training at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif. In 1993, he started his independent career at the medical center.

Mangelsdorf holds the Alfred G. Gilman Distinguished Chair in Pharmacology and the Raymond and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Molecular Neuropharmacology in Honor of Harold B. Crasilneck. He has received several honors including the John J. Abel Award in Pharmacology; the Adolf Windaus Prize for Bile Acid Research; the Heinrich-Wieland-Preis in Lipid Research; the Endocrine Society’s Gerald D. Aurbach Award; the Karolinska Institute’s Rolf Luft Award in Endocrinology and Diabetes; the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Medicine from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas; and he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.