Teaching, research and service honored with 2014 awards

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The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University is honoring 40 faculty and staff with awards for their accomplishments. The recipients will be recognized at the Liberal Arts and Sciences Fall Convocation on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, at 3:30 p.m. in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union.

The event will also include a “State of the College” address by Dean Beate Schmittmann, introductions of new faculty and department chairs, and recognition of promoted faculty 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 and nomination information follows:

Outstanding Achievement in Teaching – recognizes faculty members for outstanding teaching performances over an extended period of time in undergraduate education.

Kevin Amidon, Associate Professor, Department of World Languages and Cultures. Since 2002, Amidon has distinguished himself as an exemplary scholar-teacher of German language and culture. His outstanding teaching portfolio includes 14 meticulously designed new courses and remarkably high evaluation averages across courses: 4.7 for overall instructor and 4.4 for overall course rating (with several superlative 5.0). His dedication to student-centered learning goes far beyond his classroom, as he works tirelessly on individualized undergraduate and graduate research projects, honors courses, and independent studies. He is also an internationally recognized scholar, whose research infuses his classes with interdisciplinary approaches, and whose curricular and extracurricular endeavors have been acknowledged nationally as a pedagogical model.

Dennis Chamberlin, Associate Professor, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. Chamberlin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and director of undergraduate studies, is a consummate educator. Previously he won the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Early Achievement in Teaching Award, the Cassling Family Faculty Award, and the LAS International Service Award. He reinvigorated the Greenlee School’s visual communication program. He is co-creator of the School’s first learning community. His students have won Hearst Awards and other national honors. He helped transform the School’s pedagogy to digital so that our graduates can report, shoot and write across media platforms. For this and so much more, he is outstanding.

Douglas Gentile, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology. Gentile raises teaching to new heights. Although he teaches 1,000 students a semester, he adapts his teaching to multiple learning styles. He uses active learning techniques, media, demonstrations, and achieves high student engagement in large lecture halls. His teaching extends well beyond the classroom, including online courses, podcasts, and a radio show. Other ISU Master Teachers note that he has “an extraordinary gift for teaching,” and that “he has all the characteristics of a great teacher in any setting.” To use the words of one of his students in Introductory Psychology, “He is an awesome asset to ISU.”

Dirk Deam, Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science. Deam’s teaching evaluations are unsurpassed, showing high marks for him as an instructor and for the amount learned in the class. Deam’s mean instructor rating nearly always far exceeds the mean for comparable courses; several of his mean scores are a perfect 5.00. He has an incredible memory for student names, and students are drawn to his classes. Many students plan their curriculum around taking his classes. Students are often lined up before 8:00 a.m. to visit with him during his office hours, and his office hours are very busy. The students also regard his classes as challenging.

Wendie Schneider, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of History. Schneider is a historian of Anglo-American law with additional expertise in Chinese history. She has published several articles on legal history and her prize-winning dissertation is under contract with Yale University Press. At Iowa State she teaches Chinese, British, and American history. Students rate her courses very highly and describe her as “an outstanding teacher” whose engaging lectures, interactive classroom, and creative assignments regularly inspire them. One commented that the “time she spends with students and the concern she takes in their personal well-being are distinguished among even the best professors I have had at Iowa State.”

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

Donald Heck, Lecturer, Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology. Heck received a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1998. He began a post-doctorate position in the Department of BBMB at ISU in the fall of 1997 and began lecturing for the department in spring 2000. He took a position with Iowa Central Community College in the summer of 2005 to develop curricula for biotech and biofuels training programs including the creation of a student teaching laboratory. Then, he created the Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory to provide fuel testing services for commercial biofuels producers as well as services for the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s fuel quality monitoring program. Currently, he is Director of the Laboratory and lecturer for the Department of BBMB.

Mark Looney, Senior Lecturer, Department of World Languages and Cultures. Looney, lecturer of German Studies and International Studies, has distinguished himself as a highly effective teacher, who consistently makes significant programmatic and pedagogical contributions to both programs. He excels in multiple dimensions of course and curriculum development, student outreach, and in the innovative use of instructional technology. Since Fall 2008, he has designed or re-designed over 10 courses (at the 100‐ , 200‐ , and 300‐ level, both in German and English, traditional and online), including a capstone course in International Studies and an LAS study abroad program in Berlin. Across all his courses, Looney exceeds departmental means with a 4.5 instructor average and a 4.2 course average.

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

Ben Crosby, Assistant Professor, Department of English. Crosby is an excellent teacher of rhetoric who is dedicated to improving student learning and sharing these experiences with the broader community. He sees the classroom as space in which students learn to grapple with real controversies in interactive ways that prepare them for life beyond the university. As one student wrote, “What makes Dr. Crosby stand out from the rest are three things: his passion for teaching, his ability to connect with his students, and his expertise in communication. He is an educator that truly believes in what he is teaching and it is his dedication to his practice that inspires young minds.”

Raluca Cozma, Assistant Professor, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. Cozma works in the summer at television stations and during the academic year does peer-reviewed research to inform her classroom instruction. Students get current newsroom practices with a theoretical base. She also has won the Harry Heath/Lou Thompson Advising Award, an honor bestowed by Greenlee students. She advises our award-winning ISUtv, is an officer in our Kappa Tau Alpha honorary, helped design our digital newsroom in Hamilton Hall, and chairs our diversity committee, promoting ethical standards and inclusivity in our shared learning environments.

Steve Butler, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics. Since arriving in Fall 2011, Butler has established himself as an outstanding teacher in the classroom. He receives outstanding student evaluations despite a reputation for giving hard tests. In addition, he has brought a high level of enthusiasm and engagement among math majors through weekly undergraduate teas, an undergraduate newsletter, and other activities. As one of his peers comments, “In his short time at ISU Steve has made a tremendous difference in the environment for our undergraduate majors and in the mathematical education of hundreds of students. I cannot think of a better candidate for a Teaching Excellence Award.”

Excellence in Undergraduate Introductory Teaching – recognizes outstanding performance in teaching undergraduate introductory classes (defined as entry-level courses in the discipline).

Cristina Pardo Ballester, Assistant Professor, Department of World Languages and Cultures. One of the nation’s leading experts in the field of computer-aided introductory Spanish language instruction, Pardo Ballester is a highly successful classroom teacher of Spanish courses at the 100- and 200-level. Since arriving at ISU in 2007, she has pioneered departmental efforts in online language pedagogy and has also designed two new introductory courses in Spanish. Additionally, Pardo Ballester is the coordinator of the Spanish Lower-Level Language Program, supervising and training lecturers and TAs for Spanish 97, 101, 102, 201, 202, 297 (averaging 600 students per academic year). Pardo Ballester is also the author of an introductory-level Spanish textbook.

Jane Dusselier, Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology. Since joining the faculty in 2008, Dusselier has taught 14 different courses in Anthropology and in Asian American Studies. She has consistently demonstrated creative teaching techniques in reaching students in her introductory course Anthropology 230 entitled Globalization and the Human Condition. Her pedagogical philosophy is rooted in three principles; (1) knowing her students, (2) having a clear vision of what she wants to accomplish and articulating this to the students and (3) challenging students about assumptions and ideas they hold. She strives to connect student experiences with broad macro-social and cultural trends. Five of her students initiated this nomination and their letters attest to her effectiveness in the classroom.

Terence Alexander, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics. For 20 years, Alexander has been engaged in teaching introductory macroeconomics and microeconomics at Iowa State University. Over that time he has influenced scores of Iowa State students to seek a major or minor in economics. He has demonstrated that high-quality instruction can excite interest without compromising scholarship. In both his classes and his advising, Alexander has influenced careers, enriched lives, opened doors, enflamed passions for learning, and embodied the Iowa State theme of academics as an adventure.

Outstanding Career Achievement in Research – 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.

Martin Spalding, Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Professor, Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology. Spalding has established an exemplary nationally and internationally recognized, well-funded research program that spans his entire ISU career. He is one of the leading world experts in developing a working knowledge of carbon metabolism dealing with the inorganic carbon concentrating mechanism in the green alga Chlamydomonas. This mechanism allows these microorganisms to capture carbon dioxide to carry out photosynthesis. His use of modern physiological, genetic and molecular techniques, along with his students and collaborators, have facilitated rapid progress in developing algal products potentially useful for biofuel and biorenewables, and the possibility of reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide to combat global warming.

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

Dean Adams, Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology. Adams is recognized for applying sophisticated analyses of shape (i.e., morphometrics) to the evolution and diversification of animals. He has published over 70 papers since beginning as an assistant professor and garnered over $1.5 million in external support, including a prestigious NSF CAREER award. Adams authored the standard software for morphometric analyses in R (geomorph) and also software for meta-analyses (MetaWin). He freely shares his statistical expertise with colleagues and has taught morphometric workshops all over the world. The graduate students and post-doctoral associates he has guided are contributing to evolutionary research and teaching at many academic institutions.

Jae-kwang Kim, Professor, Department of Statistics. Kim is a leader in the development of statistical methods for analysis of complex surveys. He specializes in discovery of new approaches for reducing bias and appropriately assessing uncertainty of estimators constructed from partially missing survey data. His work is highly influential and has proved important in the design and analysis of government surveys in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Korea, and the United Kingdom. Kim is a key contributor to Iowa State’s Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology and has served as principal or co-principal investigator on federal grants totaling over $18 million since 2008.

Matt DeLisi, Professor, Department of Sociology. DeLisi is the coordinator of Criminal Justice Studies and is an affiliate with the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Criminal Justice and the author of nearly 250 scholarly publications mostly in the areas of habitual criminality, psychopathy, self-control/self-regulation, inmate behavior, and the molecular/behavioral genetics of antisocial behavior. In 2012, DeLisi received the prestigious Fellow Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. DeLisi is also a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Psychological Science.

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

Jonathan Kelly, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology. Kelly is affiliated with the Human Computer Interaction Program. His research focuses on spatial cognition, particularly on what cues people use to remember the locations of objects in space. Kelly has 32 publications in edited journals, 60 conference presentations, and has submitted nine grant applications during the three years he has been at ISU. Kelly is particularly good at involving students in his research; during his brief time here, he has already published with seven different ISU students.

Christina Gish Hill, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology. Perhaps the only ISU faculty member who has studied and is certified in the Dakota language, Gish Hill displays the commitment and energy that is required to walk in the shoes of others. Learning the Dakota language enables her to understand the pain and angst of Native Americans who were displaced from their homeland as European settlement swept across the continent. Her scholarship attempts to document and showcase the enormous social and cultural loss resulting from the removal of American Indian tribes, and forced relocation.

Javier Vela, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry. Vela is rapidly becoming a world leader in developing new chemical strategies for the preparation and functionalization of colloidal semiconductor and metal nanocrystals, and “quantum dots” toward applications in biological imaging, energy conversion, and catalysis. He has pioneered novel strategies to control surface functionalization of nanocrystals that are used as fluorescent probes in biological imaging and tracking. Vela is also gaining tremendous insights into the formation of nanoscale materials. During his early research career, Vela has established numerous collaborations, and has been especially active at involving under-represented students in his research through Science-Bound and Project SEED.

International Service – recognizes faculty members for outstanding international service in terms of teaching, research or administration, within the United States or abroad.

Ellen Pirro, Lecturer, Department of Political Science. Pirro has provided outstanding international service in her teaching, research, and work with federal agencies for many years. Her outreach efforts are literally global in scope, as she is a frequent visitor to other countries at the request of the U.S. Department of State. A writer comments: “She has contributed immense time and effort in furthering women’s development in developing countries in the Caribbean and in Africa.” Wherever she goes and whatever she does, in other countries or in her classes at ISU, Pirro benefits all those who are in contact with her.

Barbara Schwarte, Associate Professor, Department of English. Schwarte has made profound and significant contributions to the internationalization of Iowa State University and the surrounding communities. Under her leadership, the Intensive English and Orientation Program (IEOP) has prepared more than 1,000 international students for life and studies at ISU. Moreover, IEOP has hosted several intensive teacher and student training programs for participants from China, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Kosovo. This, combined with her extensive service to the language teaching profession through her work with and leadership of the TESOL and MidTESOL associations, makes her an excellent candidate for the International Service Award.

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

Denise Vrchota, Assistant Professor, Department of English. Vrchota’s exceptional service contributions often focus on clarifying and solidifying the role of faculty in university governance. She played a significant role in developing university policies on such issues as faculty conduct and post-tenure review. One senate colleague described Vrchota’s contributions as “absolutely essential” noting her “calm, detailed analysis of issues and deft handling of complex language was truly remarkable.” She served on the ISUComm Steering Committee and later as a Communication Consultant to other departments. Vrchota helped champion the Communication Studies program into a strong and vital program with over 280 majors.

Dianne Bystrom, Director, Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics. Bystrom has had a unique and profound impact on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, courtesy faculty member in Political Science, and key player in providing leadership training and development opportunities for ISU faculty, staff, and students. She provides extensive media coverage for events at ISU and in the state of Iowa generally. A letter writer commented: “her job is to provide institutional service, but she goes so far beyond the basic demands of her position to bring true distinction to the college and the university.”

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

Terence Alexander, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics. For 20 years, Alexander has served as the primary adviser for students in Economics and Business Economics. More recently, he has been teaching the capstone course in managerial economics to students shortly before they graduate and enter the world of work. Alumni credit Alexander with helping them adjust to life at Iowa State and to the demands of a quantitatively rigorous major from their first days at Iowa State, to nurturing their confidence needed to excel in their careers by graduation, and to continuing to provide advice and inspiration long after they have left the university.

Graduate Mentoring – recognizes the effectiveness of major professors who serve as 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. Major professors considered for this award are expected to be supportive of their students beyond graduation.

Jacob Petrich, Professor, Department of Chemistry. Petrich has been an incredibly successful mentor of graduate students. He has mentored 15 successful Ph.D. students, six of whom hold faculty positions in universities. This is an exemplary record. Even more astounding is that four of his Ph.D. students (Feng Gai, Doug English, Pramit Chowdhury, and Ram Adhikary) have been awarded the Zaffarano Prize for graduate student research. This is an ISU record for the number of students from one group to receive the Zaffarano Prize. Equally impressive is the fact that since the prize was first awarded in 1988, 1/6 of the awardees have been in Petrich’s group.

Max Morris, Professor, Department of Statistics. Morris is a superior scholar, teacher, and mentor for graduate students of statistics. His combination of world class expertise in experimental design, approachable manner, reputation for patience and good advice, and proven ability to work effectively with students of varied backgrounds and interests has made him a popular and successful Ph.D. advisor for students entering academic, business, and government careers. These graduates are uniformly laudatory of Morris’ impact on their professional and personal lives, and his colleagues view his example as strong inspiration for excellence in their own work with ISU graduate students.

Joseph Shinar, Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Shinar joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at ISU in 1985 and is one of the most sought-after research advisors in the department, having graduated 29 Ph.D. students and nine M.S. students over the past 28 years. His students are involved in exciting research at the interface between pure and applied physics in a group internationally recognized for leadership in the study of organic light-emitting diodes. Their achievements in academia, national laboratories and industry after graduation are a testament to a mentor who trains them well and conveys the joy and satisfaction of experimental physics research.

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

Janet McMahon, Administrative Specialist, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology. McMahon demonstrates the accessibility, caring and professionalism that have earned her the praise of her colleagues. She has impressed the faculty, staff and students with her energy and helpfulness as she provides administrative support, office management and serves as the go-to person for handling a myriad of issues. She is a pleasure to work with, loves to figure out the intricacies of working within the university’s often complex system and has been the breath of fresh air that any office would love to have.

Melissa Gruhn, Program Coordinator, Department of Chemistry. Gruhn is a highly valued chemistry department staff member and colleague. She has worked in chemistry for six years while at ISU. Since becoming manager of Chemistry Stores in 2007, she has implemented many new conveniences, increased product selection, and provided new vendor services. Through improved efficiencies, she has increased sales and passed the earnings back to the customers by reducing markup fees. She serves an important role in supporting the research and teaching needs of research groups and students across the campus. She provides outstanding service to the university and is an important factor in the high-quality research and educational environment of ISU.

Lawrence P. Curry, Facilities and Technical Director, Department of Music and Theatre. Curry oversees the logistics and performance needs of over 100 programs in the Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall each semester. Ensemble and solo concerts, involving student musicians, professional touring ensembles, and faculty all count on Curry and his team of student stage managers. Ever a tireless worker, Curry puts in long days sometimes into the evening, and weekends. He cares for the welfare and success of the students during their time here at ISU and beyond. He is a valued staff member in the Department of Music and Theatre.

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

Abigail Andrews, Administrative Specialist, Department of Computer Science. Andrews has quickly become an indispensable key staff member since the beginning of her appointment in Computer Science in February 2012. She has effectively provided timely administrative support with high efficiency and precision. Her genuinely welcoming demeanor won her the reputation and appreciation both within and outside the department. She has superbly handled day-to-day tasks, and oftentimes impressed her supervisors and peers with innovative ideas resulting in greater job satisfaction as a team. Testimonials poured in to the department when both faculty and staff, witnessing Andrews’ remarkable performance, are compelled to express their gratitude for a highly productive work environment.

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

Ann Perera, Associate Scientist, Office of Biotechnology. Perera is an associate scientist and manager of the WM Keck Metabolomics Research Laboratory within the Office of Biotechnology. Perera provides scientific and technical support to experimental research programs across the ISU campus, and to off campus users, including private companies, and other university institutions. She has a strong record of mentorship to undergraduates, graduates students and post-docs in conducting research. Perera emphasizes the importance of outreach and research-based training. She is one of the “unsung heroes” that has ensured success of many research groups. Perera is a multi-talented individual who motivates young students in analytic research.

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

Carla Holbrook, Secretary, Department of Chemistry. Holbrook is an integral member of our staff who proves her dedication to the department and the university on a daily basis. She has worked in chemistry for 27 of her 40 years at ISU. She is skilled in using a wide variety of chemistry software, extremely courteous, and undaunted by new challenges. Her ability to readily adapt to change and her institutional knowledge of policies and procedures make her an outstanding departmental resource. Her efforts and expertise are vital to the research enterprise of the department and also to the educational mission of the department’s substantial undergraduate teaching load.

Susan Radke, Secretary, Department of Naval Science. A strong ambassador for Iowa State University and the Department of Naval Science for the past 12 years, Radke has served as the voice and face of the ISU NROTC. Her welcoming approach and can-do spirit are contagious. She leads daily operations and serves as the central conduit between the Navy and university. She is the corporate knowledge and cornerstone of consistency for effective and efficient unit operations in a department which turns over the entire Navy staff every 2-3 years. Her regular interaction with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Registrar’s Office, and many other campus and local community organizations illustrates her unwavering dedication to Iowa State.

Gloria Oberender, Secretary, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Oberender joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy as department secretary in 2003. Her responsibilities are manifold, including aiding the department chair in many ways, overseeing and helping the office staff, coordinating visitor schedules, keeping departmental records, and a multitude of others. She has performed superbly during her many years of service to the department, LAS and ISU. A former department chair said, “The smooth running of this department is a tribute to her talents and dedication. Ms. Oberender is an exemplar of superior service to the university and most especially to the Department of Physics and Astronomy.”

Learning Community Leadership – recognizes faculty and staff members for outstanding coordination and leadership of a learning community in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

David Flory, Senior Lecturer, Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences. Flory is an outstanding member of the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences and he shows an exceptional dedication to the department’s students and their learning. This is demonstrated by the active role he has played in the Earth, Wind & Fire learning community since its inception. Flory has also volunteered to co-coordinate the community of LAS learning community coordinators for the last couple of years. His energy and enthusiasm, combined with his exceptional advising skills, make him the ideal recipient for the LAS Learning Community Leadership Award.

In addition to these awards, two Cassling Family Faculty Awards and the Shakeshaft Master Teacher award are highlighted in separate news releases.

About Liberal Arts and Sciences
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a world-class learning and research community. Iowa State’s most academically diverse college, LAS educates students to become global citizens, providing rigorous academic programs in the sciences, humanities and social sciences within a supportive personalized learning environment. College faculty design new materials, unravel biological structures, care for the environment, and explore social and behavioral issues. From fundamental research to technology transfer and artistic expression, the college supports people in Iowa and around the world.

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College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University

Beate Schmittmann, Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean, (515) 294-3220 (schmittb@iastate.edu)
Laura Wille, Liberal Arts & Sciences Communications, (515) 294-7742 (lge@iastate.edu)