College of Science

Honoring Dr. Henrik Kibak, 2021 CSUMB President’s Award Recipient

Dr. Henrik Kibak, former College of Science Professor of Biology, was recently awarded the 2021 President's Award and honored during the Employee Appreciation Virtual Event.

Henrik holding a specimen in a lab
Henrik assisting a student in the lab

Dr. Henrik Kibak became an Assistant Professor at CSUMB in 1996 in the interdisciplinary degree: Earth Systems Science and Policy (ESSP). He was instrumental in developing this new major; and as the College and University grew, was the cornerstone of biology as a major, and later as a department. Over the past twenty five years, he has helped the science majors grow through various iterations including the ESSP major, Division of Science and Environmental Policy, the School of Natural Sciences, and now three full departments.

Since arriving at CSUMB he developed and taught a myriad of courses, from a science-focused First Year Seminar (FYS) course that discussed Guns, Germs, and Steel with students from all disciplines, an introductory service learning course, almost every core lower division Biology course (from cell and molecular biology to ecology, evolution, and biodiversity), Health Science Service Learning, Biology Internship, and Biochemistry I and II.

One of Dr. Kibak’s crowning achievements in teaching and learning is the Health Sciences Service Learning course that he developed and taught since 2014. To address health care disparities in the Salinas Valley, expose students to these disparities in meaningful ways, and support the professional preparation of many students, Dr. Kibak took students into the field every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon to conduct a community health needs assessment for Natividad Medical Center - Monterey County’s safety net hospital. He worked with physicians in the community, helped develop a foot washing clinic in Salinas, and the data he is collecting from student surveys is being compiled into a scientific analysis for publication.

In addition to teaching, he often took on numerous service oriented roles that strongly benefited students, such as serving as the Pre-Health Student Advisor. He also mentored many Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center ( UROC), and McNair scholars, provided mechanisms for students to obtain research positions at high level doctoral universities, and mentored student presentations at national and regional scientific conferences.

Dr. Kibak interacted with students at all levels, positively influencing them from first arrival on campus until graduation. During commencement he could be found in the back field mingling and taking selfies with students and hugging them after they came off the stage with their diplomas. Given the large number of students in the biology degree program and its role in serving a broad section of other degrees, he has likely made one of the largest impacts to students at CSUMB since its inception.

Dr. Kibak has devoted his career and life to CSUMB, its students, faculty, and external community. He will be greatly missed, but his impact will last far beyond his retirement. Congratulations on the 2021 President’s Award, Dr. Henrik Kibak!

A special thank you to Dr. Arlene Haffa and Dr. Aparna Sreenivasan for highlighting Dr. Henrik Kibak’s remarkable career at CSUMB.