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2013 Henry L. Bolley Academic Achievement Award:
Honors those who have attained noted achievements in the area of education.

Steven L. Kunkel, Ph.D.
Click to watch biography video
1973 B.S. biological sciences, NDSU
1974 M.S. bacteriology and biochemistry, NDSU
1978 Ph.D. microbiology, University of Kansas

Endowed Professor of Pathology Research, Head of the Immunology Program, and Senior Associate Dean for Research; University of Michigan Medical School

“He has the most incredible mind for science that I have ever encountered. Being a scientist isn’t what he does, it’s who Steven Kunkel is.”
– Jane Schuh, Ph.D.

Steve Kunkel, a native of Devils Lake, North Dakota, has always had an interest in science. Fortunately for all of us, it became his life’s work. Doctor Kunkel believes his North Dakota roots helped him develop his strong work ethic, a trait that has literally transformed medical science.

In 1971, after spending two years at Lake Region Community College, Steve decided to follow his brother’s footsteps and come to NDSU. He wanted to pursue an education in biology, plus he had an interest in Bison football. His fondest memories of NDSU were having his nose in a book studying, tinkering in a lab in Morrill Hall or cheering on the Bison at Dakotah Field. After earning his bachelor’s in 1973 and master’s degree in 1974 from NDSU, he moved on to the University of Kansas, where he earned his doctorate in microbiology in 1978. While there, he met his wife, Robin. They were married two days after Steve defended his thesis. For their honeymoon, they immediately headed to the University of Connecticut, where he did a two-year post-doc.

In 1980, Steve joined the University of Michigan Medical School faculty. He moved through the academic ranks, becoming a full professor in 1991 and an endowed professor in 1997.

His areas of research have centered on lung disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. His studies in cytokine and chemokine biology are internationally recognized and have helped in the understanding of the initiation, maintenance and resolution of acute and chronic lung diseases.

Doctor Kunkel has co-written more than 600 peer-reviewed manuscripts, has 12 patents, has been an invited presenter more than 196 times and is an associate editor for a number of professional scientific journals. Setting these impressive numbers aside, he finds the greatest joy in sharing his love for science with the students he mentors.

Doctor Kunkel has served in several capacities at the University of Michigan, including associate vice president for research and associate dean of graduate studies.

In 1998, Doctor Kunkel was named a Master of the NDSU College of Science and Mathematics and he received the University of Michigan Distinguished Faculty Award in 2001.

In 1996, he was the recipient of the prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) MERIT award. Awarded to only the top two percent of all research endeavors, the MERIT award has become a symbol of scientific achievement in the research community as it ensures 10 years of guaranteed funding instead of the typical 5 years. In fact, Doctor Kunkel has maintained continuous funding of NIH grants for nearly three decades—a level of success that clearly illustrates the importance of his research.

In his current administrative role, as the Senior Associate Dean for Research in the Medical School, he oversees over $500 million in research funding of both basic and clinical research in the Medical School. In addition, he is the former chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the NIAID-NIH, a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Steve and Robin have two sons, Matt and Christopher. They live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“Dr. Kunkel has achieved international distinction as a scholar, contributing to the greater good through his teaching and research.” – Kevin McCaul, Ph.D.

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