Five from Liberal Arts and Sciences win ISU’s highest faculty awards

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Five professors from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences now have new titles after being awarded Iowa State University’s highest faculty honors.

Steve Rodermel, genetics, development and cell biology, was named a Distinguished Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Gloria Jones-Johnson, sociology, was named a University Professor. In addition, Cinzia Cervato, geological and atmospheric sciences, Donald Simonson, music and theatre, and Robert Stephenson, statistics, were named Morrill Professors.

The university announced that nine ISU faculty received the special promotions today.

“We’re absolutely delighted that so many of our LAS faculty have been recognized by Iowa State for their outstanding records of achievement,” Martin Spalding, associate dean for research and graduate programs, said. “These high honors acknowledge the quality of work that our faculty members put forth in research, teaching and service endeavors year after year.”

The five honored professors now give Liberal Arts and Sciences 57 Distinguished Professors, 41 University Professors and four Morrill Professors. The Morrill Professorship began in 2013.

Distinguished Professor The Distinguished Professorship is awarded at Iowa State University for exemplary performance in research and/or creative activities as reflected by a national or international reputation in the nominee’s discipline.

Steve Rodermel is a plant molecular biologist who has been on the Iowa State faculty since 1990. His entire academic career has been devoted to studying photosynthesis, the process by which sunlight is converted into usable forms of energy. His research has focused on using genetic techniques on two proteins, one that plays a role in photoprotection and in balancing light use with absorption, and the other crucial for balancing protein synthesis with degradation in the chloroplast of a plant cell.

Rodermel served two years as chair of ISU’s Interdepartmental Genetics Program and three years as Associate Dean for Research in the College of LAS. He was named a AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Fellow in 2011.

University Professor The University Professorship recognizes faculty members whose professional work has focused upon effecting positive, significant institutional change at Iowa State University.

Gloria Jones-Johnson came to Iowa State in 1986. Her research specializes in social psychology, social inequality and work, and occupations. Her recent research interests are self-employment and the contingent work force. Among her honors is the College of LAS’ Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching, and she served a three-year term on the Editorial Board of the American Sociological Review. Jones-Johnson is the director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program in the College of LAS and has served as director of graduate education for the Department of Sociology.

Morrill Professors The Morrill Professorship, first awarded in 2013, recognizes faculty members whose professional work has demonstrated outstanding success in teaching and learning in undergraduate, graduate and/or Extension/outreach programs that is reflected by a national or international reputation in the nominee’s discipline.

Cinzia Cervato has won numerous ISU and LAS teaching awards and accolades. A member of the ISU faculty since 2001, she has investigated better ways to educate students to become familiar with science and its role in society. She also has developed and implemented virtual reality and web-based learning activities with funding from the National Science Foundation. Cervato is ISU’s Faculty Fellow for Early Career Faculty Development for 2013-2015, and she is the former chair of the advisory board for ISU’s Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.

Don Simonson is professor of voice at ISU where he chairs the Voice Division and teaches voice, voice pedagogy, vocal literature and conducts musical theater. He regularly performs leading roles and appears as a soloist with opera companies, symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout in the United States and in other nations. In 2012 Simonson completed his two-year term as president of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Simonson started his faculty career at ISU in 1978.

Robert Stephenson came to the ISU faculty in 1979, and since that time he has championed statistics education at the university. He has won numerous teaching awards, including the Louis Thompson Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award from ISU and the Cassling Family Faculty Award for Undergraduate Teaching and the Master Teacher Award from the College of LAS. Stephenson won the Mu Sigma Rho (National Statistical Honor Society) Statistical Education Award in 2001 and was named a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 1995. Stephenson already holds the title of University Professor, which was bestowed upon him in 2000. He is the director of undergraduate education in Department of Statistics.