May 16, 2024

Drs. Janet Southerland and Gary Koch received Carolina Alumni Awards for their exceptional contributions to their respective fields and profound impact on the lives of countless students and colleagues.  

Janet Southerland, DDS, PhD, MPH (‘94, health policy and administration), received the Distinguished Service Medal, presented by the Carolina Alumni board of directors. Southerland’s path to success has been paved with perseverance and an unwavering commitment to opening doors for others. She earned 5 degrees from Carolina: bachelor’s degrees in zoology and dental hygiene, a Doctor of Dental Surgery, a Master of Public Health and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in oral biology.  

Janet Southerland

Dr. Janet Southerland (Photographed by Ray Black III)

Today, she serves as the interim dean of Louisiana State University’s School of Dentistry. Previously, she was a professor and dean of the MeHarry Medical College School of Dentistry and the UNC Adams School of Dentistry’s chair of hospital dentistry, chief of oral medicine and director of the Hospital Dental Clinic. 

 Southerland’s career has been marked by a relentless pursuit of excellence, a commitment to mentoring the next generation of health care professionals and a deep-rooted desire to provide equitable access to health care for underserved communities. 

 She chairs the Black Alumni Reunion’s Light on the Hill Society scholarship program, ensuring that students from disadvantaged backgrounds can pursue their dreams. Her research focuses on addressing health care disparities in impoverished communities and she has volunteered her time and expertise on medical missions both domestically and internationally.  

Gary Koch, PhD (‘68, statistics), on the other hand, has left an indelible mark on the field of biostatistics and the lives of countless students through his unwavering dedication to teaching and mentorship. He received the Faculty Service Award.  

Gary Koch

Dr. Gary Koch (Photographed by Ray Black III)

For over half a century, Koch has been a pillar of the department of biostatistics at Carolina, mentoring generations of graduate students and shaping the trajectory of their careers. 

Renowned for his knowledge and ability to break down complex concepts, Koch’s reputation as an exceptional educator precedes him. He has a knack for finding creative ways to engage his students, whether it’s sketching out equations on napkins at the Carolina Inn or holding impromptu dissertation consultations during halftime at Kenan Stadium. 

Koch’s contributions extend far beyond the classroom. He has played a pivotal role in developing analytical methods for working with categorized data, which have had real-world applications in fields ranging from pharmaceutical research to public health. His co-authorship of the manual, “Categorical Data Analysis Using SAS,” – which has been widely used as a textbook – cemented his legacy as a pioneer in his field.  

He has served as a faculty member of the UNC Department of Biostatistics since 1967, shortly before his graduation in 1968, and is a professor of biostatistics and director of the Biometric Consulting Laboratory. He is also a member of the editorial boards for Statistics in Medicine and the Journal of Biopharmaceutical Statistics. 

In the 1970s, Koch collaborated with fellow statistician and UNC professor Dennis Gillings on what would become the contract research firm Quintiles, which grew into a multibillion-dollar company. But when he had to make a choice — stay in academia or devote his career to developing the business — he chose to continue his collaborations with other researchers and mentor future generations.

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