Balzer Receives Distinguished Young Alumna Award

Laura Balzer (at right)
with Alyssa Siefert Jarvi

June 13, 2019

Assistant Professor of Biostatistics Laura Balzer is the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Young Alumna Award from the Westover School, an independent high school for girls located in Middlebury, CT. Balzer received the award during Reunion Weekend on May 18.

The award, presented annually to an alumna between five to fifteen years out of Westover School, is given to alumnae inspired as intellectuals, artists, athletes, philosophers or entrepreneurs, and who demonstrate integrity, responsibility, and commitment to community in accordance with the Westover mission.

“Scientifically, Laura is making leaps by devising novel statistical methods for big data analysis, machine learning, and clinical trial design - which is pretty difficult to do in such well-established fields,” said Alyssa Siefert Jarvi, a Westover alumna and member of the school’s Board of Governors, in her presentation speech. “Additionally, as a professor, Laura is serving as a rare female academic role model for technically-oriented college students. Environmentally, she is working on a project that evaluates the effect of toxic exposures on our reproductive health by measuring changes to the human genome. And while she has too many humanitarian projects to summarize here, I’ll highlight a few. As primary statistician for 3 large studies in East Africa - the SEARCH study to prevent HIV and improve community health, the SATURN study to enhance care for HIV+ young people, and the SPIRIT study to prevent tuberculosis - her work has touched well over 100,000 people in communities of great need.”

In her acceptance speech, Balzer thanked former Westover faculty members who were pioneers for women in STEM and concluded by quoting the late Headmistress and Math teacher Ann Pollina, “The world should be better because you are in it. It’s that simple.”

Found in 1909, Westover School’s mission is to empower young women to lead lives of consequence.