Meet the 2022 Honorary Degree Recipients

Amy B. Heimberger, MD

Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa

May 2022

Amy B. Heimberger, MD, PhD, is the scientific director for the Malnati Brain Tumor Institute and interim associate director of translational research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Heimberger is an American neurosurgeon and physician-scientist. She is the Jean Malnati Miller Professor of Neurological Surgery, vice-chair for research in the department of neurological surgery at Feinberg School of Medicine and scientific director of The Malnati Brain Tumor Institute at Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Heimberger completed a B.A. at the University of Missouri in 1989. She earned an M.D. from Washington University School of Medicine in 1995. She finished her internship in surgery (1996) and residency in neurosurgery (1970) at Duke University Hospital. She won a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for her research on central nervous system immune biology while working at the University of Texas.


John A. Rogers

Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa

May 2022

Born in Rolla, Missouri, the son of University of Missouri alumni, John Rogers is one of the most accomplished biomedical engineers in the world, with an unmatched record of success in the development of advanced, low-cost technologies to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable patients, even in some of the most resource constrained areas of the globe. He is among less then roughly two dozen individuals in history to be elected to all three United States national academies — the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Medicine. He also is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Rogers, who is director of the Querrey-Simpson Institute for Bioelectronics at Northwestern University, is widely recognized as the father of the field of bio-integrated electronic technologies — soft, biocompatible devices that naturally interface with the human body to provide continuous, clinical-grade information on physiological status and/or to deliver therapies that accelerate rates of recovery from injury and disease. He focuses on technologies that address challenges in maternal, fetal, neonatal and pediatric health, with additional programs oriented toward patients with neurodegenerative disorders. Rogers has more than 80 patents and patent applications in these areas and is faculty advisor to more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and medical students and postdoctoral fellows.


Joe G. Dillard

Doctor of Science, Honors Causa

December 2022

Joe G. Dillard, who is among the most accomplished and celebrated fisheries research biologists in the world, will receive his honorary degree at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. He had a long and storied career as a fisheries research biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Dillard, who received his master’s degree in 1965 in fish and wildlife conservation from Mizzou, received the True Tiger Volunteer Award at CAFNR’s 2019 Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony, held Thursday, April 11.

After earning his master of arts in fish and wildlife conservation from MU, Dillard, Columbia, Missouri, began his professional career with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) as a fisheries research biologist. He held numerous positions during his time with MDC, retiring in 1988 and then working part-time from 2000-12. He has served as a volunteer for the School of Natural Resources (SNR) since leaving MDC in 2012.


Debbye Turner Bell, DVM

Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa

December 2022

Debbye Turner Bell, a veterinarian and former Miss America Pageant winner, will receive her honorary degree at the Missouri School of Journalism ceremony.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Turner Bell is a veterinarian, journalist, minister, advocate for animal health, Miss America Pageant winner, motivational speaker and a corporate trainer. Her knowledge, experience and compassion have touched the lives of many. Turner Bell has not only established herself as a public figure who is an inspiration to women, girls, students and people around the world, she also demonstrates the value of higher education. Turner Bell might be best known as the first Miss Missouri to be crowned Miss America, but it was her lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian that led her to the Miss America Pageant — and to the University of Missouri.


View past honorary degree recipients