Two members of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public received 2021 Academic Staff Excellence Awards. The campus-wide awards are one of the highest honors for academic staff and recognize outstanding leadership, public service, research, teaching, and career achievement.
Kim Beld, MS, MBA, department administrator for the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Leadership (Individual Unit Level). Pelin Cengiz, MD, associate professor (CHS) in the Department of Pediatrics, earned the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence (Independent Investigator).
The awards hold particular significance in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated rapid innovations and creative pivoting to virtual teaching, training, patient care, research, and administration.
Beld has been with the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation since 2008. She is responsible for directing the administrative operations that cover the department’s clinical, educational, research, and service areas. Her work impacts more than 200 faculty, staff, and clinical providers, as well as indirectly benefiting patients served by clinicians in the department.
Her nominators say she is a source of calm, guidance, and inspiration, qualities which shone brightly during the pandemic.
“Kim is integral to every aspect of departmental operations, working with faculty leadership to solve day-to-day issues, trouble shoot mid-range initiatives, and envision long-term plans and goals,” says Thomas Zdeblick, MD, chair of the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. “What makes her outstanding is her ability to remain optimistic and positive, openly communicative, and honest in her ownership of decisions made.”
The department has achieved several successes under her administrative leadership. It earned a top 25 ranking from U.S. News & World Report in its 2019-20 rankings, started a philanthropic program in 2010 that has raised more than $6 million, and increased the percentage of female orthopedic surgeons on the faculty to 24 percent — one of the highest in the nation.
In addition to her departmental role, she serves as a role model to others throughout SMPH. Beld is heavily involved in the clinical department administrator community, fostering collaboration and the sharing of best practices, providing insight into effective procedures, and assisting in onboarding new department administrators.
“Kim is a talented administrative leader who provides exceptional contributions that positively support the school’s mission while living our values,” says Hope Broadus, JD, associate dean for human resources. “Kim’s insights into what it takes to be a successful department administrator cannot be overstated. They are only equaled by the time and care she dedicates to helping others become successful members of our community.”
Cengiz is a physician scientist in the Department of Pediatrics. She joined the department in 2006. Through her research in pediatric critical care medicine, she hopes to develop ways to treat children who suffer brain injuries early in their lives.
Her research program is focused on sex differences in a specific type of pediatric brain injury for which there are limited treatment options. Discoveries in her lab have opened up new lines of research in pediatric brain injury and personalized medicine, her nominators say. She is also involved in developing guidelines for treating COVID-19 in children and is the UW principal investigator on a multi-site clinical study of COVID-19 in children.
Her success as an independent investigator is evidenced by high-impact publications and awards from the Society for Critical Care and the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences, among others. She received an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2019. Cengiz has also earned awards in the campus Cool Sciences Images contest twice in the last six years.
“Dr. Cengiz has demonstrated exceptional leadership and team-building skills, bringing together a multidisciplinary team of investigators to conduct her project,” says Peter Ferrazzano, MD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics. “She is constantly seeking new opportunities to amplify her research capabilities and extend her scientific reach through new collaborations and innovative lines of research.”
He adds she is a sought-after mentor for students, trainees, and junior faculty, and has created an externship program for internationally trained physicians and medical students. In the past five years, the program has trained more than two dozen physicians and students.
“Dr. Cengiz passionately supports learners as they start their research career, especially women,” says Nicole Kamps, MD, a Pediatric Critical Care Medicine fellow who works with Cengiz. “She frequently has international visiting scholars visit her lab just to learn from her. She is driven by her never-ending curiosity and the desire to advance our collective knowledge in the care of critically ill children.”