Outstanding MTSU Alumni for 2012-13 Includes Trio of Achievers

Numerous MTSU alumni bring the university prestige and recognition through their groundbreaking efforts and faithful support.

From 1960 to present, MTSU’s Alumni Association has recognized accomplished alumni with the association’s highest honor: the respective Distinguished Alumni and Young Alumni Achievement awards.

This year is no different. The 2012-13 recipients, who will be recognized during this weekend’s homecoming ceremonies and the spring commencement in 2013, include:

• The late Dr. Larry Needham (class of 1968), of Lilburn, Ga., a renowned chemist who spent 34 years working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, who will be receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement posthumously;

• Maria Salas (’85), of Nashville, a former MTSU Lady Raider basketball player who owns her own bankruptcy law firm, who will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to Community; and

•  Deanna Meador (’04), of Gallatin, Tenn., a noted research coordinator who has developed a money-saving, paperless data collection system at Vanderbilt’s Peabody Research Institute, who will be receiving the Young Alumni Achievement Award.

In the selection process, an anonymous committee reviews the nominees, and then a final slate is recommended to the Alumni Association Board of Directors to be voted on, said Michelle Stepp, Alumni Relations associate director.

Salas, Meador and Needham’s wife, Doris, are scheduled to ride in the Homecoming Parade that begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6. All will be honored during halftime of the Blue Raiders’ Sun Belt Conference game against visiting Louisiana-Monroe, which has a 2:30 p.m. kickoff in Floyd Stadium.

Dr. Larry Needham, Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement

Needham, who died in October 2010, earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He served as chief of the Organic Analytical Toxicology Branch of the CDC, making peoples’ lives safer. He devoted much of his time to the development of methods for assessing human exposure to a variety of environmental toxicants and was considered to be one of the preeminent human exposure assessment experts in the field.

Needham’s two most prominent works were demonstrating that leaded gasoline was a major contributor to blood lead, which prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to remove lead from gasoline and also he produced data that prompted the Food and Drug Administration to remove the reproductive toxicant bisphenol A, or BPA, from food-packaging containers, baby pacifiers and bottles. In his career, he produced more than 350 peer review publications and made more than 200 presentations internationally.

Maria Salas, Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to Community

In addition to owning her own law firm, Salas, who graduated with a bachelor’s in public relations from the College of Mass Communication, devotes a large part of her time to community service. She has been a practicing attorney for 20 years and, since 1995, her practice almost has exclusively been representing debtors in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. She frequently speaks to professional and community organizations on consumer bankruptcy issues.

Salas has served or is currently serving on the board of directors of Nashville Cares, Human Rights Campaign, Nashville Bar Association, a founding member of the Stonewall Bar Association, Mid-South Commercial Law Institute and the Tennessee Lawyer’s Association for Women. She is a recipient of many volunteer awards, being named “Best of the Bar” by the Nashville Business Journal and is an alumnus of Leadership Nashville. She has a daughter, Owen, 7.

Deanna Meador, Young Alumni Achievement Award

Meador, who graduated with a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies has been in the midst of coordinating two, multimillion dollar, grant-funded research projects at her work, focusing on self-regulation in children. One of her most recent accomplishments was developing a paperless data collection system that, on one research project alone, has saved more than 68,000 pieces of paper, months of data entry and thousands of dollars. The system is being piloted by Peabody Research Institute and she presented it to representatives of the Institute of Education Services.

Meador, a first-generation college student in her family, grew up in Lafayette, Tenn., in Macon County. She and her husband, Jason, have two children, Logan, 10, and Hayden, 3. During the past four years, Deanna Meador has volunteered with children in foster care in Tennessee.