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Rosa León Zayas wins Renjen Prize for Faculty Excellence

by Marketing and Communications,

rosa leon zayas headshot

Rosa León Zayas, assistant professor of biology, has been named the 2021 recipient of the Renjen Prize for Faculty Excellence. Established through a generous gift from Punit and Heather Renjen, the Renjen Prize provides support for scholarly and creative projects and is awarded annually to a faculty member from the College of Arts and Sciences or the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. The award recognizes the accomplishments of faculty members early in their careers, especially those whose work has been widely disseminated and garnered recognition in the public sphere.

A marine microbiologist whose research focuses on life forms in deep-sea trenches, León Zayas joined the Willamette faculty in 2017. Only six years out of graduate school, she has already shown remarkable promise and achievement as a scholar, with no fewer than five active lines of research underway. Her productive and innovative lab has published six research articles in top-tier peer-reviewed journals and has several manuscripts in preparation. León Zayas is the recipient of four significant federal grants or sub-awards supporting her work — one each from the NIH, NASA and NSF, as well as the DCO-CoDL sequencing grant. A Latinx scholar herself, León Zayas is particularly dedicated to advancing opportunities for underrepresented students in the sciences and has founded a Willamette chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). 

Born and raised in India, Punit Renjen is a 1987 graduate of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. Renjen is Deloitte Global CEO and, through a career spanning more than 30 years, has held numerous leadership roles within Deloitte. A former member of the Willamette University Board of Trustees, Renjen is active on a number of boards and currently serves as chair of The United Way Worldwide Board of Trustees. He was named among the 100 most influential business leaders who have graduated from schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. He is married to Heather, and they have a son.

About the College of Arts & Sciences

Based in Salem, Oregon, Willamette is the premier private university in the Pacific Northwest. Willamette’s beautiful, historic campus — located across the street from the Oregon State Capitol and co-located with Tokyo International University of America — features a residential undergraduate College of Liberal Arts and two professional graduate schools: the College of Law and the Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

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