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Alumni to be Honored on Founders Day 2013

CONWAY, Ark. (October 16, 2013) – Hendrix will honor three outstanding Hendrix alumni with the Hendrix Odyssey Medal at Founders Day 2013 on Thursday, Oct. 24 at 11:10 a.m. in Staples Auditorium. 

The Odyssey Medal is awarded by the Hendrix College Board of Trustees to alumni whose personal and professional achievements exemplify the values of engaged liberal arts and sciences education.

The 2013-14 honorees include:

Liz Langston ’84 – Odyssey Medal for Artistic Creativity   

Charles H. “Chuck” Chalfant ’81 – Odyssey Medal for Professional and Leadership Development

Derek Lowe ’83 – Odyssey Medal for Research

Recipient Bios:

Liz Langston ’84

Liz Langston, a film writer and producer, is co-founder and executive director of the 48 Hour Film Project, the world’s oldest and largest timed filmmaking competition. Each year more than 58,000 people from 120 cities around the world compete to see who can make the best film in only 48 hours. In the 48 Hour Film Projectʼs 12 years, more than 21,000 films have been made by 330,000 people.  Before she reached the point where her creative endeavors allowed her to quit her “day job” she was a researcher at the Urban Institute and Pacific Institute for Research and Analysis in Washington, D.C. Langston earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Hendrix and a master’s degree in applied psychology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1988. She now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  

Charles H. “Chuck” Chalfant ’81

Chuck Chalfant is president and CEO of Space Photonics, Inc. (SPI), an Arkansas-based optical communications company. A native of Booneville, Ark., Chalfant earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Hendrix College and a master’s degree in laser physics from the University of Arkansas, before moving to California to work for Lockheed Space Systems. He later joined the R&D division of Optivision, a small high-tech company founded at Stanford, and in 1996 moved his family back to Arkansas, while continuing to work for the company. In 1997, he and several Optivision colleagues formed Optical Networks Inc. The company experience rapid growth and when the decision was made to take it public, Chuck started Space Photonics, Inc., an optical communications company. More than a decade later, Space Photonics remains a successful privately held company, and Chalfant is now leading the company’s pursuit of commercial laser communications solutions for the wireless information and rural broadband infrastructure. In his career, Chuck has led more than 20 optical product development efforts in his career, and authored more than twenty publications. SPI is now one of the world’s leading innovators in optical communications technologies. SPI’s patented LaserFire® laser communications systems were recently licensed and are now in production by world-renowned innovator and manufacturer SCHOTT for military and government markets. 

Derek Lowe ’83

Derek Lowe is a research fellow at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and writes the “In the Pipeline” weblog. A native of Harrisburg, Ark., Derek earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Duke University in 1988. He then landed a prestigious Humboldt Fellowship to study in Darmstadt, Germany, for a year. After returning to the U.S. in 1989, he worked at Schering-Plough in New Jersey doing research on schizophrenia and Alzheimer's. In 1997, Lowe began a decade of work for Bayer Pharmaceuticals in Connecticut, working on diabetes, metabolic disorders, and cancer. After Bayer closed its North American research operations, he moved to the Boston/Cambridge area to work for Vertex Pharmaceuticals. At Vertex, his work has focused on antibacterials, antivirals, and multiple sclerosis. He is currently part of a group investigating "undruggable" targets of all kinds. In 2002, Derek started a blog site about drug discovery, chemistry, and other scientific news that is now the oldest continuously-running science blog on the internet, garnering about 20,000 page views a day. He also writes a monthly column for Chemistry World, a magazine published by the Royal Society of Chemistry in Great Britain, and a monthly column for Contract Pharma, a U.S. trade publication. Lowe presents frequently at national and international conferences, and has an extensive list of scientific publications and more than 25 patents to his credit. 

The medal recipients and their guests will be honored later that evening at a reception at the Clinton Library in Little Rock. 

Nominations for the 2014 Odyssey Medals are due Dec. 31, 2013 and may be emailed to

For more information and a nomination form, visit

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit