Byars, Colbert receive Cassling Family Faculty Awards for outstanding teaching

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Jana Byars

AMES, Iowa – Two faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University will receive Cassling Family Faculty Awards.

Jana Byars, assistant professor in the Department of History, and Jim Colbert, associate professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology (EEOB), will be recognized at the 2012 Fall Convocation, August 29. History and EEOB are academic departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The Cassling Family Faculty Awards recognize and reward outstanding faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The two faculty members will each receive a $5,000 award – one for outstanding teaching performance over an extended period of time (Colbert) at Iowa State and one for early achievement in teaching (Byars).

The awards were established by Randal and Lori Cassling of Omaha, Neb., in honor of Randal’s parents, Robert and Rita Lenore Dunn Cassling of Omaha, Neb. Robert Cassling is a 1956 graduate of Iowa State while Rita attended Iowa State and was a Homecoming queen.

Jim Colbert

Byars is a historian of early modern Europe (ca. 1400-1800 CE) and the Mediterranean region, with a particular research and teaching focus on the Venetian Republic. She has published two articles and her first research monograph is in press. A dedicated and passionate teacher, she excels at all levels, from introductory surveys to advanced undergraduate and graduate courses. Her students note in particular her exceptional energy and commitment to engaging them in course material. Her teaching style emphasizes critical thought, discussion, and writing. Many students have also benefited from her mentorship and guidance outside the classroom as well.

Colbert sets the standard for biology education at Iowa State. His instructional contributions both in and out of the classroom are exemplary, and have made a lasting impression on thousands of students. His award-winning ‘Skunk River Navy’ has engaged 1,700 biology students in experiential learning, and has removed over 62 tons of trash from the Skunk River along the way. He serves as coordinator of the Biology Program, advisor of the Biological Sciences Club, and organizes countless field trips for biology students. Students and colleagues laud his creative approaches to large-classroom teaching, and the positive environment he creates.


NEWS RELEASE College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University

Contacts: Beate Schmittmann, Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean, (515) 294-3220 ( Laura Wille, Liberal Arts & Sciences Communications, (515) 294-7742 (