April 13 message from the dean

CATEGORIES: Announcements

Dear LAS faculty and staff,


Just as budding leaves and early blooms push through snow and ice outside my window, LAS faculty, staff and students are pushing through the challenges of our altered environment.

Thank you for your creativity as you modify your work for a home environment. And to the small group of people performing essential duties on campus, thank you for preserving the work of LAS. Although we have not had a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 on campus, unconfirmed and undetected cases are still a threat. If you are on campus, please approach your work with extreme care and caution. The Office of the Vice President of Research provides some guidance on practicing safety in research environments.

I urge everyone to continue to observe President Wintersteen’s message to minimize our presence on campus, and visit campus only if absolutely necessary. In the president’s most recent message, she confirmed the cancellation or transition to online of all university events through May 31, including Spring Commencement ceremonies. This was not an easy decision, and the weight of the impact should signal the importance of maintaining distance.

As we look through this altered lens, how do we move forward? With innovation and excellence, as we always have.


  • The United Way of Story County published a comprehensive list of resources in the community. Please share these resources with your staff, colleagues and students.
  • Please remind students the Thielen Student Health Center remains a resource to them, even if they are miles away.
  • Remember to be a resource to colleagues and students. Take advantage of technology, or a simple phone call, to discuss challenges, achievements, or just to check how they are doing. If you are teaching an online course, consider offering a time for simple interaction between students – during your scheduled course time.
  • If you need equipment or supplies from campus, communicate with your supervisor about making a trip to campus. However, practice extreme caution and safety, and spend only as much time as needed.


  • We understand the difficulties of moving courses online and transitioning to an off-campus, or reduced presence on-campus environment for research. I encourage you to explore assistance offered through the university’s grants hub and our LASERS team (lasers@iastate.edu) to seek out new funding and opportunities.
  • The college and the university have resources to help contingency planning for research. From simple documentation to extensive planning, check here for resources.

    I continue to draw inspiration from the good news I hear, so please keep sharing! Just last week assistant professor of theatre Cason Murphy performed as Nick Bottom in a quarantine-friendly production of Pyramus & Thisby: The Most Lamentable Comedy – an adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The live-stream event is proof that the arts still thrive. Hridesh Rajan, Kingland Professor of Data Science and interim chair of the Department of Computer Science, was interviewed by television and print media about data science research that pulls together more than 40,000 published papers about the coronavirus, making current treatment research on COVID-19 faster and more efficient.

    We have more exciting research emerging from the Departments of Psychology and Statistics, and I am reminded of the incredible collaboration and support we have in the college as I learn how our IT unit helped faculty build an online COVID-19 dashboard, with a mobile app forthcoming. To all faculty and staff, thank you for making us proud every day!

    This energy and commitment fuels our next endeavor – planning for the emergence of LAS from the COVID-19 environment. With a challenging economy and uncertainty still lingering, we will need to reimagine our path forward. I am confident in our future, and encourage you to share your ideas on how we may evolve and innovate.

    For now, look for opportunities to celebrate. We are currently planning a virtual Convocation event for graduating seniors – watch Around LAS for details on how you can contribute! And I encourage you to celebrate the successes, big and small, within your department every day.

    With my best wishes and gratitude,