Jerry and Nancy Jaax

Jerry Jaax and Nancy Dunn Jaax are the recipients of the K-State Alumni Association’s Alumni Excellence Award.

The K-State Alumni Association will honor Kansas State University alumni Jerry Jaax and Nancy Dunn Jaax as the recipients of the Alumni Excellence Award. They will receive the award at a banquet on Friday, Nov. 12, at the K-State Alumni Center.

University officials said the Alumni Excellence Award is an annual award recognizing an alumna or alumnus of K-State whose career, service and achievements exemplify the spirit, values and excellence of the university.

Amy Button Renz, president and CEO of the Alumni Association, said “Jerry and Nancy have made the world a better and much safer place because of their research, training and teaching of others and hard work in critical moments. We are thrilled to honor them.”

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Jerry Jaax earned a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine in 1970 and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1972. Nancy Jaax earned a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine in 1971 and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1973.

The Jaaxes have a long career in biosecurity, biosafety and high-hazard infectious disease research. As colonels in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, each was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Order of Military Medical Merit and numerous other recognitions, awards and commendations.

The Jaaxes assisted the military team that led the response to the Ebola virus outbreak in Reston, Virginia, in 1989. Their experience in Reston provided a blueprint on how to keep American responders and workers safe during the Ebola outbreak in 2014. The Reston incident inspired the New York Times No. 1 bestseller The Hot Zone by Richard Preston and a 2019 National Geographic limited miniseries of the same name.

Jerry Jaax served as K-State’s associate vice provost for research compliance and the university veterinarian. Nancy Jaax served as special projects officer in the Office of Sponsored Research Programs at K-State. Both were instrumental in winning the national competition for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, commonly referred to as NBAF, and in the development of the Biosecurity Research Institute, or BRI, at Pat Roberts Hall. Both are College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Fellows.