2020 Rigel Humanitarian STAR Award Nominees


Jonathan B. Perlin, MD, Ph.D., MSHA, MACP, FACMI: President, Clinical Services and Chief Medical Officer, Nashville, Tennessee-based HCA (Hospital Corporation of America). “The Honorable Jonathan B. Perlin” was Under Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, led the nation’s largest integrated health system. Nominated for: Developed the Sepsis Protection and Optimization of Therapy (SPOT) program to serve as an early warning system for sepsis.

Sarkis Mazmanian, Ph.D.: Beta Kappa UCLA, Luis & Nelly Soux Professor of Microbiology, CalTech. was named by Discover Magazine as one of the “Best Brains in Science under 40”, “Life Science Superstar” by Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, and recently received the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” award. Nominated for: Discovery and Deployment of a Novel Probiotic Treatment for Autism by demonstrating the cause and effect relationship between microbes in the gut and the symptoms associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which affects three million Americans with a cost of $250 billion annually. Nominated for: Research into the human gut microbiome to understand the causes of various immunologic and neurologic disorders, with a specific focus on developing probiotic therapies for Crohn’s disease, autism spectrum disorder, and Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Mark J. Manary, MD: Helene B. Roberson Professor of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis. Since 1994, Dr. Manary has made it his life’s work to eradicate childhood malnutrition in Africa and has since become known as one of the world’s foremost experts in childhood malnutrition. Dr. Manary was at the forefront of the advent of ready-to-use-therapeutic food (RUTF), an energy-dense, peanut butter paste with proven efficacy treating children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) His work also includes the development and introduction of new food crops and integrating nutrition care in HIV treatment programs. Nominated for: Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic Food (RUTF) 

Heinz-Josef Lenz, MD., FACP: Professor of Medicine and Preventive Medicine, holds J Terrence Lanni Chair for Cancer Research and is the Associate Director for Clinical Sciences at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at the USC Keck School of Medicine. Head of GI Oncology in the Division of Medical Oncology and Co-Director of the Colorectal Center at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. https://keck.usc.edu/faculty-search/heinz-josef-lenz/. An active researcher, Dr. Lenz focuses on identification of predictive and prognostic biomarker and is an expert on early drug development. His findings highlight the possible clinical utility of CMSs and suggests that refinement of the CMS classification may provide a path toward identifying patients with metastatic CRC who are most likely to benefit from specific targeted therapy as part of the initial treatment for the management of metastatic disease, which would lead to improve the patient’s quality of life. Nominated for: Impact of Consensus Molecular Subtype (CMS) on Survival in Patients With Metastatic Colorectal Cancer.

Stephen Forman, MD & Christine Brown, Ph.D.: Nominated for: Leading the Cellular Immunotherapy Center at City of Hope; groundbreaking work in developing CAR T cell therapies for lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma, breast concert with brain metastasis, prostate cancer and glioblastoma, using the body’s own immune system to target cancer.

Robert A. Kloner, MD, Ph.D.: Chief Science Officer and Director of Cardiovascular Research at Huntington Medical Research Institutes (HMRI). He serves as Professor of Medicine (Clinical Scholar) at Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California (USC) and is an attending cardiologist at Los Angeles County/ USC Medical Center. Nominated for: Recognition and research of the No-reflow phenomenon; a deadly consequence of heart attacks and his research into the long-term effects of e-cigarettes on the cardiovascular system and heart attacks.


Dennis Deapen, Ph.D.:Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. He has been Director of the Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program (CSP), the population-based cancer registry for Los Angeles County since 1988.

George T. “Buck” Lewis, JD: Buck Lewis is the driving force behind Free Legal Answers. Over 71 percent of low-income households in the United States reported having a legal problem in the previous 12 months, and 86 percent of those had no legal help with those problems. Free Legal Answers is a web-based platform that meets that need by connecting licensed attorneys wanting to give their time to clients in need of free legal advice. Buck started the program in Tennessee, but because of the dire need for legal help nationwide, the platform has been adopted in 41 states and several countries across the world, including Australia and Great Britain. Since the advent of the program less than a decade ago, nearly 100,000 clients have received answers to their questions from a qualified attorney. Nominated for: Free Legal Answers. 

Pierre Mainguy & Romain Rak: The Community First farm school in Cambodia trains farmers in the use of hydroponic systems for farming before those farmers get hydroponic systems of their own. Northern Cambodia is notorious for only allowing a single crop of rice in a year, but by using hydroponic systems, farmers can produce three times the crops of a conventional soil system. This system allows farmers to increase their income while producing better and more nutritious crops. Nominated for: Village Aquaponics in Cambodia.

Stan Honey: Stan Honey is a professional offshore navigator with world sailing records. Born in Pasadena and grew up in San Marino. He is nominated for being the founder of the first computerized navigation system for your car. He was co-founder of ETAK. He also is founder of Sportvision He holds numerous patents for Navigational Systems. Nominated for: founding the first commercial automobile navigational system.

Manu Prakash, Ph.D.: Stanford assistant professor of bioengineering, M.S. MIT in Applied Physics, B. Tech from Indian Institute of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering. Contributions include, an electromagnetic patch that non-invasively detects live parasitic worms in infected patients, a fully functional paper microscope, which costs less than a dollar in materials, that can be used for diagnosing blood-borne diseases such as malaria, African sleeping sickness, schistosomiasis and Chagas and an ultra-low-cost oral cancer screening tool that attaches to a smartphone. He is also exploring how to use these tools generate jobs and build the infrastructure to provide these services locally. Nominated for: Leader in the frugal design movement, developing global health solutions, leveraging smartphone technology and emerging manufacturing techniques such as 3D printers, laser cutters and conductive ink printing.

Lucy Jones, Ph.D.: Geophysics, MIT, Science Advisor for Risk Reduction (USGS), founder of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, Research Associate at the Seismological Laboratory of Caltech,. From extensive research on approaches to earthquake prediction using earthquake clustering, statistical seismology and integrated disaster scenarios, Jones developed the Great ShakeOut​, the first American major earthquake drill, that has expanded to now encompass 55 million participants around the world along with the creation of a national science strategy for all the natural hazards studied by the USGS to promote the science that would better prepare the Nation for future natural hazards and the development of science products that would make the information more accessible to decision-makers. She is a prominent public voice for earthquake resilience, conducting thousands of interviews with all kinds of media and appeared on most major news programs and TV specials. She served on the California Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council from 2003 to 2015 and was appointed by the Governor of California to the California Seismic Safety Commission. Nominated for: developing the first American major earthquake drill. 

Dr. Jerry Schubel, Ph.D.: Oceanography, Johns Hopkins University. CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific, president and CEO Emeritus of the New England Aquarium, Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 1998. A leader throughout his professional life at the interfaces of science education, knowledge sharing, and technology-management-policy on ocean issues. He has published more than 225 scientific papers and has written extensively for general audiences. Dr. Schubel is a unique ambassador for the global ocean and environmental community, convening key leaders, scientists, and stakeholders on topics ranging from urban ocean planning and water use to extreme weather preparedness and sea-level rise. He has taken the lead in using technology to make ocean science engaging and relevant to the public. Nominated for: Understanding and stewardship of our oceans.


Brad Haydel: CSULA Campus Sustainability. Cal State LA’s Campus Sustainability Committee (CSC) in the adoption of best practices, policies, projects and technologies to improve the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of the campus community.  Cal State LA’s Campus Sustainability Committee actively collaborates with the City of Los Angeles in a Campus Resilience Challenge to ensure the University’s resilience planning efforts promote and encourage innovative actions that advance physical resilience and social cohesion. Cal State LA’s Campus Sustainability Committee is committed to improving campus operations, developing its community partnerships, and expanding its cutting-edge academic programs to create a more just, sustainable and resilient world. Nominated for: Signatory member of Second Nature’s Climate Commitment.

Sasha B Kramer, Ph.D.: Ecology, Stanford University, co-founder and executive director of Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL).  Kramer uses ecological principles to address the basic human rights issues of sanitation, food, and access to a healthy environment. Nominated for: SOIL: sustainable, dignified, safely managed sanitation system, which optimizes resource recovery and is accessible to all in Haiti, transforming human waste into compost for agriculture, reforestation and climate change mitigation efforts in Haiti.

Tsegaye Nega, Ph.D.: Professor of Conservation Biology and Landscape Ecology, Carleton College. Nominated for: Spearheading the development of a microgasifier pellet stove utilizing local biomass waste in Ethiopia to reduce deforestation, contribute to environmental and economic sustainability and women’s health.

UC Conservation Genomics Consortium: UC Conservation Genetics Consortium utilizes high-throughput genetic sequencing to assess biodiversity and community ecology to address questions in wildlife conservation. They are engaging with the public and citizen scientists through their California eDNA initiative. By sharing this knowledge and work with the public, they can support increasing awareness of biodiversity ecology, and how our management practices affect community ecology dynamics. Nominated for: The Cal eDNA program, establishing an open-source database of biodiversity and community ecology for varying ecosystems throughout California. 

Annmarie Eldering, Ph.D.: Environmental Engineering, CalTech, Project Scientist, NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory -3. Dr. Elderling plays a critical role in the implementation of these pioneering systems and is developing a new measurement system to provide more frequent coverage and retrieval of additional greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. Nominated for: NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory -3 (OCO-3), which watches the Earth breath from space by determining the sources emitting CO2 into the atmosphere and the natural processes that absorb it at the surface with precision and accuracy. 

Lauren Bon, Ph.D. candidate: UC Santa Cruz, Architect, Environmental Artist, LA, Founder of Metabolic Studios. Milli Macen-Moore, Certified master gardener, UC-certified Master Food Preserver, sustainable landscape expert, and a volunteer coordinator for Cooperative Extension’s Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative and Fresh from the Garden program. Specializes in bilingual workshops for children on organic, edible landscapes for self-sustainability. Has developed unique curricula for preschool, elementary and middle school students. Nominated for: Metabolic Studio, explores self-sustaining and self-diversifying systems of exchange that feed emergent properties that regenerate the life web, mitigating industrial pollution. Bon has led “Bending the River Back Into the City”, the monumental water project for Los Angeles.

Peter Kalmus, Ph.D.: Physics, Columbia University; Climate Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and an Associate Project Scientist at UCLA’s Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science & Engineering. His research, data and models illustrate how clouds and ecosystems are changing in a hotter world. He has authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications and is the author of the award-winning book Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution, and an organizer serving the international #FridaysForFuture movement and given over 100 lectures. Nominated for: Leadership in personal action to abate climate change.


Paul C. Jennings, Ph.D.:, Professor of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Emeritus, CalTech. Past president, Seismological Society of America.  Jennings is an internationally recognized expert in the design of earthquake-resistant structures, how the earth moves during a temblor and investigating earthquake damage in order to protect society by limiting seismic risk. Nominated for: Earthquake engineering science- building vulnerability – seismic design and retrofit.

HIAS, Inc.: Oldest refugee resettlement organization, providing services to any refugees, asylum seekers and other forcibly displaced populations who are in need of assistance, through a range of education, protection, livelihoods and capacity building programs, targeting the most vulnerable. Permagardening uses a small-scale agricultural technique that maximizes soil fertility and water management using local resources. HIAS adapted the perma-garden methodology for the climate and demographic conditions in Chad using a phased approach that considers agricultural skills and capacities, as well as rainy seasons/agricultural cycles. The highly innovative and cost-effective initiative has helped refugees grow food year-round. The food can be used to meet household food needs as well as to sell for commerce in local camp markets, providing a safer source of income. The project has also provided beneficiaries with a more diverse diet. Nominated for: Permagardening in Chad: Cultivating Refugees’ Self Reliance Permagardening methodology developed and tested by the TOPs program in dryland zones and Operational Performance {TOPS} under the purview of USAID/Food for Peace, is a solution to diversify nutrition and income sources for refugees.

 Eric James, Ph.D.: International Development, University of Manchester. Affiliated Expert, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. Co-founder/Exec. Dir. Field Ready. FIELD READY pioneers new approaches to manufacturing aid supplies where they are needed, bypassing huge portions of the regular supply chain by transforming logistics through technology, innovative design and engaging people in new ways and new partnerships. They support families to recover more quickly after crises, help aid workers to be more effective, generate local livelihoods and increase resilience capacities, saving time, money and lives. Nominated for: FIELD READY.

Denotes Winner