Graduate School

Horace Mann Medal

The Horace Mann Medal is given annually to a Brown Graduate School alumnus or alumna who has made significant contributions in his or her field, inside or outside of academia.

Any graduate of a Brown advanced-degree program is eligible for the Horace Mann Medal. The medal is awarded at Commencement exercises in May. 


A nomination should, at a minimum, include a strong supporting rationale for the nomination, expressed in a letter of nomination. Up to two additional supporting letters may also accompany the nomination. Only one nomination package per nominee will be accepted. All nominations should be made through Brown UFunds (select the Graduate School Academic Honors button). 


December 1, 2023.

Selection Process

The final selection process takes place in late fall, in conjunction with the University's selection of honorary-degree recipients. (Nominations received after the deadline will be considered in the next round of review.) Selection news is announced in May.

Note: Nominators/departments will be expected to assist the Graduate School in hosting the Medalist; guidelines will be provided if selected.


This award was created in 2003 and replaced the Distinguished Graduate School Alumni Award.  

Horace Mann, class of 1819
Father of American public school education

Horace MannBorn in 1796Horace Mann spent his youth in poverty on his family's farm. Although his schooling was limited to about three months a year, he supplemented his learning through religious studies and tutoring. He entered Brown University as a sophomore, graduated in 1819, and went on to earn a law degree. 

Mann served as a state representative and, later, as a senator in the Massachusetts legislature. He helped pass legislation to create the nation's first state board of education, and from 1837 to 1848, served as the board's first secretary, creating a system of public schools in Massachusetts that would become a model for public education across the country. Mann's statue and that of Daniel Webster still flank the entrance to the Massachusetts State House.

In 1848, Mann was elected to Congress, where he fought vigorously against slavery. In 1854, he was named president of Antioch College in Ohio, where he remained until 1859. A few weeks before his death, he urged Antioch's graduating class, "Be ashamed to die before you have won some battle for humanity." Mann is buried at North Burial Ground in Providence.

2023-2024 Medal Recipient

Fyodor Urnov image in front of a staircaseFyodor D. Urnov ‘96 Ph.D.

A trailblazer in the field of therapeutic genome editing, Fyodor D. Urnov’s research focuses on developing medicines for devastating genetic diseases.

Fyodor D. Urnov ‘96 Ph.D. is Professor of Molecular Therapeutics in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley and Director of Technology and Translation at the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI). He co-developed the toolbox for human genome and epigenome editing, co-named the term “genome editing”, and was on the team to advance the first-in-human applications in a clinic. 

Urnov also helped identify the genome editing target for the first medicine approved to treat sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia. A major goal for the field of genome editing and a key focus of Urnov's work is expanding access to CRISPR therapies (which modify genomes) for genetic diseases to those most in need. 

He will receive the Horace Mann Medal at the Doctoral Ceremony during Brown University’s Commencement weekend. 

Prior to attending Brown, Urnov completed his undergraduate studies in biology at Moscow State University in Russia. He then joined the Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry (MCB) department at Brown where he earned his doctoral degree. His dissertation work focused on the DNA structure and chromatin dynamics of one of the scarce origins of replication that are thoroughly understood, initiating DNA synthesis prior to cellular division. He worked in the lab of Susan Gerbi, the George Eggleston Professor of Biochemistry and founding chair of the MCB department. 

Read more about Dr. Urnov.