A. Oveta Fuller smiles outside
A. Oveta Fuller Award

The A. Oveta Fuller Award is a career development award for emerging leaders in the areas of microbiology and immunology, infectious disease, or health disparities whose goals and accomplishments benefit society in the spirit of Dr. A. Oveta Fuller. 

It honors the memory of Rev. Dr. Almira Oveta Fuller who, until her untimely death in 2022, was a virologist and scientific trailblazer on the faculty at the University of Michigan and an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Dr. Fuller was the first Black woman to be hired into the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan in 1988.

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About Dr. Fuller

Dr. Fuller started her career at the University of Michigan as a National Institutes of Health-funded scientist, defining the molecular machinery that allows Herpes Simplex virus to attach to and enter cells. However, unlike many researchers who perform their work out of public sight, Dr. Fuller pioneered innovative ways to apply her virology knowledge to the improvement of public health and the engagement of students in this service. For almost two decades, she worked with church leaders in Botswana, South Africa and Zambia to develop and test a prevention model designated the "Trusted Messenger Intervention". 

This method engages with clergy and faith leaders, who have substantial community access and influence, to effectively address the HIV/AIDS crisis in those areas. Notably, the value of her experiences and expertise was on full display during the greatest public health challenge of our lives—the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Fuller tirelessly lent her voice to educating and advocating for the public about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and served on the FDA panel that evaluated and eventually approved the emergency-use COVID-19 vaccines.

You can learn more about Dr. Fuller and her many contributions at the interface of science and society in these two tributes published after her passing: Tribute published in the Lancet and Tribute featured on American Society for Microbiology website.

We remember Dr. Fuller as:

  • An exemplary Black scientist at a time when historically underrepresented individuals remained unacceptably rare in academia
  • An inspiring mentor of Microbiology and Immunology-focused trainees and scientists, especially those from underrepresented groups
  • An accomplished Virologist whose Microbiology and Immunology research benefitted society
  • An innovator in the development of effective science-based community health interventions, both locally and globally
  • A strong advocate for scientific integrity and a respected communicator of science to the public
  • An effective teacher and treasured friend to many at the University of Michigan and beyond

In creating the A. Oveta Fuller Award, our goal is to each year honor and support an emerging scientist who embodies the spirit of Dr. Fuller, and whose scholarship has positive societal impacts. We also hope to recognize and advance the important ongoing work of diversifying the academy.

Application Instructions

Applications are welcomed from early career stage Microbiologists, Immunologists, Epidemiologists or Public Health professionals or others who embody the spirit of Dr. Oveta Fuller and her life’s work. You do not need to be associated with the University of Michigan. Applications are welcomed from scientists practicing in the United States as well as abroad.

There are no strict limits on who is eligible to apply. However, we anticipate that most successful applicants will be a senior postdoc, junior faculty member, or individual in a similar career position who completed their terminal degree less than 10 years prior to their application.

Winners of the A. Oveta Fuller Award will be recognized on this website.

Application Deadline

The application deadline is August 15th of each year. The Fuller Award Steering Committee will determine the winner by mid-September and the Award Seminar will take place at the university in November.

Application Materials
  • A cover letter introducing the candidate and describing their suitability for the Fuller Award (1 page)
  • The candidate’s curriculum vitae
  • Description of the candidate’s work and future directions (up to 2 pages)
  • A lay abstract introducing the applicants’ science and its societal impacts (up to 250 words)

These items should be assembled into a single pdf file and sent to [email protected].

Additionally, one to three supporting letters should be sent directly to [email protected].

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