Teaching, service and research honored with 2010 LAS awards

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AMES, Iowa – The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University is honoring 34 faculty and staff with awards for their accomplishments. The recipients will be recognized at the Fall Liberal Arts & Sciences Faculty/Staff Convocation on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010, at 4 p.m. in the Sun Room, Memorial Union.

The event will also include a “State of the College” address by Dean Michael Whiteford; introductions of new faculty, chairs and directors; and recognition of promoted faculty, 2010-11 Master Teachers, and university award recipients.

The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences award recipients:

Early Achievement in Teaching Award – recognizes tenured or tenure-track faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding teaching performance unusually early in their professional careers.

David Bulla, assistant professor, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. Bulla’s research focuses on Civil War-era journalism and modern-day scholastic journalism. His first book, Lincoln’s Censor, explored press suppression in Indiana during the Civil War. A co-authored book, Journalism in the Civil War Era, is forthcoming from Peter Lange Publishers. Bulla earned a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Florida in 2004, an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University in 2001, and a B.A. in English from UNC-Greensboro in 1983. He worked for the Greensboro News & Record, Durham Sun, and Winston-Salem Chronicle. He also taught high school journalism and English in North Carolina in the 1990s. He was named Educator of the Year for the Newspaper Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in 2009. In 2007, he was the first professor to be selected by Greenlee students to win the “Harry Heath Advising Award.”

Early Achievement in Research Award – recognizes faculty who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in research and/or artistic creativity unusually early in their professional careers.

Nathaniel Wade, associate professor, department of psychology. Dr. Wade joined the ISU Psychology Department as an assistant professor in 2003, just after completing his PhD. In the last seven years he has developed an internationally-known research program that focuses on the processes and outcomes of psychotherapy, specifically in the areas of forgiveness, religion/spirituality, and help seeking. During his time at Iowa State, Dr. Wade has published 29 peer-reviewed articles and seven book chapters, secured external funding for his research, started a research-oriented group therapy clinic, and has been recognized by national and international organizations for the quality of his scholarship.

Hridesh Rajan, assistant professor, department of computer science. Dr. Rajan obtained his doctoral degree in computer science from the University of Virginia in 2005. His primary area of research is software engineering with specific focus on programming language design and implementation. Dr. Rajan has made significant contributions in the areas of Aspect Oriented Programming Languages, Information Security and Multi-threaded Program Verification. The impact of his work is widely recognized by the scientific community and research foundations like NSF from where he has obtained several grants including the prestigious CAREER award.

Gaya Amarasinghe, assistant professor, department of biochemistry, biophysics & molecular biology. Dr. Amarasinghe has in little more than two years established himself as a researcher of national impact in the area of viral pathogenesis. His work on the structure and mechanism of Ebola virus proteins has led directly to development of novel countermeasures already proven effective against disease in animal models. Dr. Amarasinghe’s work on Ebola virus has been funded by the National Institutes of Health in a grant ranked within the top 3% of proposals in viral research for the year, and he has contributed more to the understanding of Ebola virus structure than any other scientist.

Mid-Career Achievement in Research Award – recognizes faculty members who have a national or international reputation for outstanding contributions in research and/or artistic creativity at the mid-career stage.

Robert West, associate professor, department of psychology. Dr. West maintains a highly active and innovative research program that explores human cognition using behavioral measures, electrophysiological recordings and neuropsychological approaches. His research has led to significant advances in understanding learning and memory, improving memory for future intentions, the effects of aging on cognitive processes, and the effects of video games on cognitive control and emotion.

Edward W. Yu, associate professor, department of physics & astronomy and department chemistry. Professor Yu has carried out exceptional work to determine the structure and method of function, of important cellular entities called efflux transporters. These are pumps that exist in cell membranes, and serve to move unwanted substances across the membrane and out of the cell. Using X-ray crystallography, and by complexing the pump with targeted chemicals, he has gained important information about how such pumps work in bacteria that are responsible for food and water-borne illness, and also about the function of pumps that excrete heavy metals from living cells.

Diane C. Bassham, associate professor, department of genetics, development & cell biology. Dr. Bassham is honored for her extraordinary research accomplishments and for her dedication to innovative teaching of undergraduate students and mentoring of future scientists. She is a top international expert in the molecular biology of autophagy, an essential metabolic process in both plants and animals, and a significant factor in human neurodegenerative diseases. In 2005, Dr. Bassham received the prestigious National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences Award, in recognition of her excellence as a teacher, mentor, and exemplary role model for future research scientists.

Outstanding Career Achievement in Research Award – recognizes faculty members who have a national or international reputation for contributions in research and/or artistic creativity, and who have influenced the research activities of students.

Richard W. Mansbach, professor, department of political science. Dr. Mansbach is the author or editor of 15 books, numerous book chapters and refereed articles on the subject of international and global politics. His work sparked a radical shift in the field and he is widely seen as a founding father of one of the most important approaches in political science. “Path-breaking, prescient, a scholar of the first order, transformative,” and “innovative” are words colleagues use to describe Mansbach’s scholarship. Mansbach has received three Fulbright awards and has been invited to lecture, among other places, in Slovenia, Turkey, Mongolia, Singapore, Hungary, Israel and Austria.

David R. Russell, professor, department of English. Dr. Russell is an international authority on the history, theory and pedagogy of literacy. He has written the definitive history of writing across the disciplines, and has contributed agenda-setting work on sociocultural theory, the study of higher-level cognition and applied linguistics as they apply to writing. In work impressive for its scope, sophistication, quality, and consistency over time he has studied literacy as practiced not only in various academic fields and workplace settings but also in diverse cultures. Dr. Russell has played a key role in establishing the research agenda for the next generation of literacy studies scholars, including many for whom he has been an inspiring and generous mentor at Iowa State University.

Drena Leigh Dobbs, professor, department of genetics, development & cell biology. Dr. Dobbs is recognized for her early pioneering work in molecular biology and genetics dealing with replication mechanisms and telomere processing. She is internationally renowned for her more recent work to identify function of proteins and for detecting protein binding sites involved in formation of complexes with other proteins and nucleic acids that could lead to a novel therapy and/or vaccine against HIV-1 AIDS. Dr. Dobbs’ research has merged molecular biology with bioinformatics and computational biology, which positioned her to create the highly successful graduate program bioinformatics and computational biology at ISU.

Outstanding Achievement in Departmental Leadership Award – recognizes department chairs who have demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities in advancing the faculty, staff, students and programs in their departments.

Kenneth Koehler, professor & chair, department of statistics. During the past seven years, University Professor Koehler has proactively guided the statistics department through changes that have maintained the department’s national reputation, expanded research in bio-informatics, genetics, and data mining and visualization, and diversified the faculty and graduate student body. He successfully led the department through challenging organizational changes that accompanied the remodeling of Snedecor Hall and re-locating the Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology (CSSM) to the research park. His skill in accomplishing difficult changes further extends the university-wide respect he earned as a statistical consultant and university citizen.

Michael R. Golemo, professor & chair, department of music & theatre. Since his appointment as chair of the department of music and theatre in 2005, Dr. Golemo has distinguished himself as an outstanding leader. He excels in every aspect of his responsibilities, not only as an administrator, but also as a superior teacher and strong contributing scholar. He is a highly visible cultural leader not only at the university, but also in the Ames community and the wider world of professional music. Dr. Golemo is a superlative fund-raiser, an astute manager of financial resources, and an open and caring human being, able to elicit excellent relationships among members of the faculty and staff, and to charismatically interact with donors, alumni, students and friends of the department.

Ruth W. Swenson Award for Outstanding Advising – recognizes outstanding performance as an undergraduate academic adviser over an extended period of time.

Mark Hagley, advising coordinator, department of sociology. Hagley has been an adviser at Iowa State since 2000. He has been the advising coordinator in the sociology department since 2001. He is highly involved with his students. Besides individual advising, he teaches an orientation course, teaches a senior career development seminar and is the advisor for the Sociology Club. He also serves on the departmental undergraduate curriculum committee, meets with visiting students and families, leads departmental information sessions during June orientation and works with students who are on academic warning, probation or dismissal status.

Desiree Gunning, academic adviser and teaching laboratory coordinator, department of biochemistry, biophysics & molecular biology. Gunning is a cornerstone of the BBMB department and, without her, the department is unlikely to function at its current level of efficiency and productivity. She is responsible for developing an effective and responsive student-oriented undergraduate program. In the words of one student, “Desi is truly a champion looking out for students' interests. The students in BBMB are really fortunate to have Desi to support them with issues about classes!” In BBMB, Gunning meets the needs of existing and prospective students on top of carrying out her primary role as Teaching Lab Coordinator.

Early Achievement in Academic Advising – recognizes ISU faculty or staff who have demonstrated outstanding performance in advising undergraduate students early in their professional careers.

Emily Olson, academic adviser, LAS Student Academic Services. Olson embodies the goals and ideals of professional academic advising by fostering student success as well as by serving and leading in her office, the LAS College, at ISU, and in professional organizations. Olson’s impact on students is truly university-wide as she works not only with her own advisees but also with all pre-health profession (PHP) students from all majors. Her leadership roles include planning and carrying out new student and transfer orientation for the LAS College, serving on P&S Council, and participating actively in professional organizations as co-chair of one regional conference and as session moderator at another.

Professional & Scientific Research Award – recognizes professional and scientific staff members for excellence in research.

Christiana Langenberg, academic adviser, department of English. Langenberg’s bilingual short story collection, Half of What I Know/Meta' Di Quello Che So won the 2008 Paths of Culture Translation Prize and was published by IPOC Press in Milan, Italy, in 2009. Her stories have been published in prestigious journals such as Fourth River, Storyglossia, Dogwood, Chelsea, and Glimmer Train. Langenberg’s research dovetails with her work as a teacher and academic adviser in the department of English where she advises 125 English majors and teaches an impressive array of courses including first-year writing, literary studies, business writing, creative writing, feminist theory and women’s literature. Langenberg’s work has also received the 2006 Panliterary Award for Fiction, a So To Speak Fiction prize and the Chelsea Short Fiction Award.

Hongqing (Michelle) Guo, assistant scientist, department of genetics, development & cell biology. Guo is recognized for her scientific discoveries into the mechanisms regulating plant hormone signaling and plant growth. Guo’s internationally recognized research identified a new communication pathway in brassinosteroid signaling in plants involving receptor‐like kinase proteins. Guo’s scientific findings and their potential application to the design of improved agricultural products uphold ISU’s land grant mission and reputation as a global leader in agricultural research.

Michael W. Schmidt, associate scientist, chemistry and Ames Laboratory. Schmidt is an indispensable resource for information technology issues. He is extremely knowledgeable about both computer hardware and software, and he happily contributes large amounts of his time to counsel faculty, students and staff in chemical engineering, the biological sciences, physics, and materials science and engineering, as well as chemistry, about how to make the best use of the available resources. He spends many hours each week, not only explaining the use of software packages to students from all parts of the university, but also teaching these students the fundamentals of quantum mechanics and computational chemistry.

Professional & Scientific Excellence Award – recognizes and honors professional and scientific employees who have achieved excellence in their respective fields.

Judy Strand, program coordinator, department of economics. Strand has been a team player in the department of economics for eight years. She has actively sought ways to improve systems and processes for graduate students as well as planned activities for recruitment and professional development for the students. Web chats and visual computer communications are two of the newest projects she has undertaken. Strand enjoys interacting with faculty, students and staff in the department and all over campus.

Stephen Veysey, manager, chemical instrumentation services, department of chemistry. Veysey has significantly enhanced the scientific infrastructure of ISU through 20 years of effective leadership as the manager of the Chemical Instrumentation Facility. He is credited with spearheading and coordinating numerous successful grant applications to federal agencies to procure major research instruments, most notably high‐field NMR spectrometers, X‐ray diffractometers, and mass spectrometers. He played leading roles in vendor evaluations, bid preparation, purchase, installation, and final testing of the new instruments, and is responsible for designing efficient and fair usage and training guidelines for these instruments.

Professional & Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award – recognizes and honors new professional and scientific employees who quickly have achieved excellence in their respective fields.

Nick Van Berkum, communications specialist, department of sociology. Now that communication is global and instantaneous, budgets and operations demand that the type and quality of communication with potential students, faculty and the world be given attention by a multi-faceted talent. Without such a person for 50 years, the department of sociology hired Van Berkum. Moving seamlessly across specialties such as web design and maintenance, photography and organizing events, Van Berkum rescued the department web page by integrating information into easy-to-find places and made the public face of the organization bold and lively.

Kara Grupp, P&S research associate, department of ecology, evolution & organismal biology. Since joining the department in 2008, Grupp has pioneered the use of new laboratory techniques, overseen the living cotton collection and seed bank, established a complex breeding program to develop experimental lineages for study, mentored and trained undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral scientists, overseen laboratory purchases and upkeep, and served as ambassador to visiting scholars with remarkable efficiency and memorable friendliness, exceeding expectations at every step. Her skillful assistance frees those around her to excel even further.

Achievement in Intellectual Property – recognizes faculty and staff members for outstanding ISU-based achievements in producing intellectual property.

Victor Shang-Yi Lin, professor, department of chemistry. Dr. Lin created technology directly relevant to addressing the world’s energy and climate concerns. He exemplified Iowa State’s motto: “Science with Practice.” Lin created a technology that changes the production process for biodiesel, by developing a new catalyst that makes the process environmentally safer and more effective. And, he developed groundbreaking "nanofarming" technology that safely harvests oil from algae so the pond-based "crop" can keep on producing biofuels. These advances are significant for both their environmental and potential economic impacts.

Sadly, Dr. Lin passed away on May 4, 2010, after a brief illness. The award was presented to his family at his memorial service on May 14 at Iowa State University.

Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Lecturer – recognizes lecturers or senior lecturers for outstanding teaching performance over an extended period of time in undergraduate education.

Rhonda M. Bonett, senior lecturer, department of psychology. Dr. Bonett has been a lecturer at ISU since 1998, and a senior lecturer since 2002. In that time she has demonstrated exemplary teaching skills. She uses a highly interactive format in her classroom, enhancing her students’ abilities to think critically and deeply about the course content. Her students enjoy the collegial atmosphere where they learn to know their classmates and Dr. Bonett on a more personal level. Dr. Bonett has a deep commitment to her students and takes very seriously her role as a mentor and teacher. She communicates this each time she steps inside a classroom. She has, without a doubt, earned the title of “Outstanding Teacher.”

Cynthia Myers, adjunct instructor, department of English. Myers lives up to the Cadillac slogan, “quietly, doing things very well.” With her commitment to student-centered teaching, she has supported hundreds of students as they develop ownership of their own learning. Through her mentoring of novice TAs, she has indirectly impacted the education of thousands more. Myers works with both native and non-native speakers as they enter their first classrooms, helping them understand and apply learning theories and pedagogical techniques. But she primarily inspires young teachers by her personal example. As one of her students confessed: “As I watched her lead her class, I decided, I want to teach like that.”

Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching – recognizes the efforts of major professors who not only serve as effective mentors and who enrich the student-professor relationship by support and attention to detail which enables students to finish their work in a timely and scholarly manner, but also excel in graduate classroom instruction. Major professors considered for this award are expected to be supportive of their students beyond graduation.

Stephen B. Vardeman, professor, department of statistics. As an educator, Dr. Vardeman is exceptional and inspirational, his dedication and generosity toward students is only matched by his thoroughness and integrity. Dr. Vardeman is not only a talented teacher, an esteemed researcher and caring colleague, but also a selfless mentor who has been serving as role-model for many generations of graduate students and junior faculty. As one of his colleagues wrote, “His tireless contributions to the well-being and progress of the department are ceaseless, and it is unanimously agreed that much of the pride we hold in educating a very strong next generation of quantitative researchers owes immensely to Vardeman’s efforts.”

Gloria Jones-Johnson, professor, department of sociology. Dr. Jones-Johnson is former director of graduate education for the department. She was recently elected to the Graduate Council at ISU and serves on the council for minority student scholarships at ISU. She has taught graduate seminars and guided many independent readings courses in order to provide graduate students with opportunities to conduct in-depth readings in an area of their interest. In 2008, she received an Award of Excellence for Outstanding Service as Graduate Program Coordinator from the department. She received the Alpha Kappa Delta Emory Bogardus Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching, May of 1989 and May of 2003. She serves on POS committees for students in sociology and in several departments across campus.

John M. Levis, associate professor, department of English. Described by colleagues as a gifted communicator, Levis has become a major figure on second language speech scholarship. He leads his graduate students by example with a forthcoming book from University of Michigan Press, and numerous articles published in the top journals in his field. Dr. Levis is described as a rigorous, patient, and diplomatic mentor of graduate students. Since his arrival at ISU in 2000, he has served on 50 M.A. and Ph.D. committees – 20 of which were in the role of major professor. Under Dr. Levis’ nurturing guidance, graduate students have published scholarly articles, delivered papers at professional conferences, developed and implemented curricula in workplace settings, and collaborated on pedagogy grants. As one student attests, “His ability to communicate content in an interesting and relevant way is one of the biggest reasons he has such a strong reputation among students.”

Institutional Service Award – recognizes a member of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty for a history of exemplary institutional service that has benefited the department, college and/or the university.

Patricia Thiel, distinguished professor, department of chemistry. Dr. Thiel is recognized for exemplary service to and leadership of the department of chemistry, the Ames Lab, which benefits multiple departments in the college, and the university. Dr. Thiel initiated the plan to build a new chemistry building, secured funding for and guided the reorganization of the materials science program of the Ames Lab, which strengthened the physics and chemistry departments. Dr. Thiel served on search committees that recruited leading scientists and administrators to the university, and was responsible for the art design of the new Hach Hall and a book on the history of the chemistry department. She mentored many graduate students and assistant professors.

Professional & Scientific Award for Excellence in Information Technology – recognizes and honors P&S employees working in the filed of information technology who have demonstrated excellence in their position responsibilities.

Dwight D. Dake, systems support specialist, department of sociology. Taking over a large IT system, Dake not only rebuilt the system into a first-rate reliable and highly functional operation that has become a model for middle-sized and large departments, but provided rapid and responsive user services for both hardware and software. He has, as well, moved the department into the forefront of using advanced computer and Internet technologies in both teaching and research contexts as well as providing solid and measured judgments as to the planning and growth of IT services in a highly volatile and often unpredictable environment.

Charles Zaruba, systems support specialist, department of physics & astronomy and Ames Laboratory. Zaruba has provided invaluable service to two of the largest research programs (Condensed Matter Physics, Experimental High Energy Physics) within the department of physics and astronomy, through his outstanding performance as supervisor of all computational facilities. The successful research performance of these programs depends critically on achieving and maintaining world recognized leadership in computational science, by acquiring forefront computational expertise and facilities. His colleagues say his performance has been “outstanding” while serving as the system manager of over 20 computer clusters, being responsible for the operation of approximately 200 desktop computers, and providing guidance to individual investigators and research groups.

Merit Excellence Award – recognizes and honors Merit employees who have achieved excellence in their respective fields.

Melanie Erickson, graduate secretary, department of mathematics. Erickson has been the graduate secretary in the mathematics department since Fall 2003, and has worked in the university since 1988 in Graduate Admissions, Computer Science, ISU Extension and Psychology. Erickson is known as a “cornerstone” of the department. Her responsibilities in mathematics are to be the main contact for the graduate program, the secretary for faculty searches, and the local disability resource liaison, although her efforts often go beyond simple job descriptions. Among other things, she is recognized for her organizational abilities, and the special care taken in helping graduate students navigate through their years of study.

Marlene Tjernagel, account clerk, department of statistics. Tjernagel handles bookkeeping and accounts for the department of statistics, arranges travel for staff and visitors, manages purchases for the department, and carries out all of these responsibilities with great skill and care for the people with whom she works. An exceptionally generous and helpful colleague and friend, Marlene has provided many years of reliable assistance to faculty and has made critical contribution to external funding solicitations. Her colleagues say her contributions are “simply indispensible” to the success of the statistics department. She is the department’s human “yellow pages” to any question involving money and the university.

JoAnn McKinney, classification officer, LAS Student Academic Services. During her 23 years as a dedicated member of the LAS Student Academic Services team, McKinney distinguished herself with her professionalism, wealth of knowledge, problem-solving abilities and strong work ethic. As she oversaw the electronic degree audit system for the college and updated all degree programs and minors for each catalog, she exemplified extreme attention to detail, a masterful command of the computer, and the instincts of a sleuth. She was also a wonderful LAS College and university ambassador as she assisted students and worked with Cyclone Aides during new student orientation.
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NEWS RELEASE College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University

Contacts: David Oliver, Liberal Arts & Sciences Associate Dean, (515) 294-7740 (doliver@iastate.edu) Laura Engelson, Liberal Arts & Sciences Communications, (515) 294-7742 (lge@iastate.edu)