Two CALS alumni win Forward under 40 awards

Two CALS alumni were among nine young graduates recognized with Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Forward under 40 Awards. These awards honor UW alumni under the age of 40 who are already making a significant impact on the world by upholding the Wisconsin Idea, the principle that the university community should positively impact the world beyond the borders of campus.

The honorees from CALS are Jason (Jay) Blasi ’00, of Los Gatos and Omai Garner ’01, of Los Angeles. They, along with the other recipients, will be honored through university and alumni programs throughout the year.

Jay BlasiAs a golf course architect, Jay Blasi doesn’t just have his eye on the ball. He has his eye on the green. Blasi became one of the youngest contributing golf architects to ever design a U.S. Open course when Chambers Bay, a Washington golf course he helped design, was chosen for the 2015 U.S. Open. His work on Chambers Bay was part of his dream job with Robert Trent Jones II, which he landed after graduation. In 2012 he started his own firm, Jay Blasi Design, and has been busy with projects in California, Wisconsin and Illinois ever since.

“In the years to come, I hope to make a positive impact on the game of golf, the environment, and the lives of others by designing timeless courses that capture the hearts and souls of all those who visit them,” Blasi says. “And I will do so wearing Badger red.”

Omai GarnerAs a scientist, Omai Garner specializes in medical microbiology, but what he’d really like to see go viral is academic success. Even during his undergraduate days as a Chancellor’s Scholar, Garner was passionate about helping underrepresented students reach their educational goals. Today he is a co-founder and board chair of the Social Justice Learning Institute, a nonprofit in Inglewood, California, that aims to empower young men of color to improve their lives by improving their communities. Garner says he wouldn’t be a scientist or have passion for outreach if it weren’t for UW-Madison. One of his mentors on campus was the late Paul Bertics, whose lab he worked in for four years.

“He fostered in me a love for scientific research and a passion for laboratory science that I pass on to my students to this day,” Garner says.

More details and insights from this year’s honorees are at