On Sunday, April 25th, McMurry’s academic program honored its stars during the annual Academic Awards luncheon. The following students were recognized for their academic achievement in the BIMS program:
Outstanding Freshman: Oluwatoyosi Adewunmi
Outstanding Sophomores: Elise Hager and Krissy Cobb
Outstanding Junior: Jonathan Urbanczyk
Outstanding Senior: Lauren Bump (pictured at left)
Danny Cooley Award for the Outstanding BIMS Student: Lauren Bump
This is the first year for the Danny Cooley Award, established to honor the memory of McMurry graduate James Danny Cooley. Danny was a Viet Nam veteran and Abilene firefighter approaching retirement when he returned to McMurry to complete his bachelor’s degree. Modest and humble, no one would have guessed he had been a hero in both of his prior lives. As a McMurry student, he excelled in math and science and pursued a BS in Natural Sciences degree. But during his junior year, a love for microbiology was birthed that resulted in his consideration, at age 48, of pursuit of a doctorate in Medical Microbiology at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Graduate School of Biomedical Science. His dissertation provided the first definitive proof of the fungal origins for sick building syndrome. He told me that the week his work became public he and mentor Dr. David Straus were contacted by over 200 news agencies from around the world. Later, the CBS show 48 Hours had a special episode featuring Dr. Straus’s lab.
Dr. Danny Cooley graduated from TTUHSC-GSBS and started an environmental testing firm in Corpus Christi. He and wife Sylvia (also one of my students at McMurry) made Corpus Christi their home until he was taken ill and died from multiple myeloma some years later. It is through this award that his memory is honored as a McMurry alumnus, world-changing scientist, and person.