William R. Johnston and Darren M. Williams will receive the 2012 Distinguished Alumnus Award during JCC’s Jamestown Campus commencement on May 19. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. in the Physical Education Complex.
Presented by the JCC Alumni Association, the award recognizes graduates who have distinguished themselves in their careers and/or in service to their communities.
Johnston, who received degrees from JCC in 1970 and 1989, retired earlier this year as a battalion chief after a 36-year career with the Jamestown Fire Department. He currently serves as deputy fire coordinator for training for the Chautauqua County Fire Service.
Named the Chautauqua County Fire Fighter of the Year in 1989, Johnston serves on the county’s Emergency Medical Service Council and the Southwestern Regional Emergency Medical Services Council. He is a member of the American Red Cross board of directors and served as chairman of the local chapter.
Johnston has been an active volunteer for the Jamestown High School music program and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Western New York. A U.S. Army veteran, Johnston served a tour of duty in Vietnam and holds several military awards and decorations. He is a member of several area fraternal, veterans’, and firemen’s organizations.
Dr. Williams, associate professor of physics and astronomy at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, graduated from JCC in 1990. His research on the origin and evolution of habitable planets has been featured in several professional journals and magazines.
He earned a B.S. in physics at the University of Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State in 1998. A NASA-funded graduate student fellow from 1995 to 1998, he was the 1996 winner of the Geophysical Society of America Stephen Dwornik award for planetary science. He received the Behrend College Council of Fellows Excellence in Research Award in 2005.
Dr. Williams has received NASA and National Science Foundation research grants to study the climate and habitability of Earth and Earth-like worlds, comet and asteroid impacts on Earth, and the characterization of extrasolar planets.