Despite being extremely busy as an operational NASA flight surgeon for the past 10+ years, Dr. Alexander goes above and beyond when it comes to aerospace resident education & mentorship.
UTMB residents first meet Dr. Alexander when they take on the role of Medical Coordinator for the annual Wings Over Houston Airshow. Although I soon felt overwhelmed with the months of planning required, he was immediately approachable, always making himself available by phone, email, text, or in person over dinner. Dr. A had the rare ability to, by listening rather than directing, both lead from behind and let me lead in the spotlight. During a lull in this past year's airshow due to weather, he even found the time to quiz me on my Board review flashcards; he would often quiz myself and Dr. Pattarini on aerospace medical examiner cases, as well, always keeping our career goals in mind.
Perhaps the greatest testament to Dr. A's mentorship is that we find ourselves wanting to spend even more time with him after the work of the airshow is long over: this year, we started holding monthly airshow medical staff reunions ("Wings Wednesdays"), largely spurred by his request at our last airshow planning dinner of, "When are we doing this again?!"
At JSC, he is always actively seeking resident project questions that need answering. He displays a "servant leader" quality, in that he frequently comes to YOU when he is asked for help, which is a clear demonstration of his commitment to others.
Dr. A also makes the work environment fun: He stops by resident office and delivers food coupons to keep us fed (I'm not saying this is what it takes to win this award, but it doesn't go unnoticed...and the coupons don't go unused)! In addition, he possesses a dizzying array of military aircraft and Star Trek knowledge, which he can, and will, brandish upon unsuspecting residents at any time.
But perhaps most importantly amid his commitment, intelligence and good heart is his humility. I've often heard him say, "Nobody's perfect, and I'm a perfect example." This, combined with his leadership by example and commitment to helping residents do their best, makes him the perfect first recipient of this award.