March 1, 2019
Awards, Honors and Recognitions
George Burba, a global fellow with the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute and an adjunct professor in the School of Natural Resources, was named to the National Academy of Inventors’ inaugural class of senior members. The group includes active faculty, scientists and administrators at NAI member institutions who have succeeded in patents, licensing and commercialization, and who have produced technologies to improve society. Burba is a fellow in research and development at LI-COR Biosciences, a global manufacturer of scientific instrumentation. With a research focus on bio-atmospheric interactions, Burba’s work aims to develop new technologies for monitoring atmosphere-biosphere interactions, gas and energy exchange, and other environmental parameters.
Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, civil engineering, Maital Neta and Timothy Nelson, psychology, and Chi Zhang, biological sciences, received pilot awards from the Great Plains IDeA-Clinical and Translational Research Network. The program, part of a National Institutes of Health/National Institutes of General Medical Sciences grant, provides up to $50,000 to fund initial research efforts that demonstrate promise to advance health in the region. Bartelt-Hunt is investigating how to improve water testing for private wells. Neta is working to identify a reliable biological marker of sports-related concussions in adolescents and young adults. Nelson is studying the link between executive control, obesity risk and behavioral health problems. Zhang aims to improve outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients by developing a mathematical model that could better predict tumors’ response to treatment.
Judy Diamond, University of Nebraska State Museum, received the Outstanding Administrative Support Award from the National Science Education Leadership Association. The prestigious OASA award recognizes and honors an outstanding administrator who has demonstrated exemplary support for science education at the local, regional and national levels. Diamond will be recognized April 10 during the NSELA Leadership Summit luncheon in St. Louis.
Robert Diffendal, natural resources (emeritus) and curator of invertebrate paleontology with the University of Nebraska State Museum, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Sun Yat-Sen University. Diffendal has lectured at the Guangzhou, China-based university since 1985.
Aaron Holz, art, art history and design, and Francisco Souto, director of the School of Art, Art History and Design, were awarded Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowships. The program recognizes exemplary work by Nebraska artists through public recognition and monetary awards. Both Holz, who focuses on painting, and Souto, whose specialty is printmaking, will receive $4,000 as part of their fellowships.
Amit Jhala, agronomy and horticulture, and Nebraska Extension, received the Gamma Sigma Delta Extension Award for Merit at the organization’s Jan. 27 reception. The honor recognizes an individual who has demonstrated leadership in development and implementation of effective extension programs that show evidence of productivity, visibility and impact in Nebraska and beyond. Since beginning his career at Nebraska in 2012, Jhala has developed an outstanding weed science extension program that helps several thousand clientele each year solve weed-related problems in corn, soybean, sorghum and popcorn in Nebraska.
Katie Krcmarik and Adam Wagler, journalism and mass communications, were named Adobe Education Leaders for 2019. The program is an exclusive community of innovative thought leaders in education who effectively use Adobe tools to promote excellence and critical problem solving. Krcmarik and Wagler, along with Alan Eno, assistant professor of practice in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, wrote and published a visual communications textbook, “Communication Design.” They also collaborated with Adobe to establish the college’s resource center as the first campuswide Adobe lab.
James Schnable, agronomy and horticulture, received the first North American Plant Phenotyping Network Early Career Scientist Award at the Phenome 2019 conference in Tucson, Arizona, Feb. 6-9. The award was launched to recognize an early career scientist who is conducting novel research, increasing the visibility of plant phenotyping, supporting public-private research collaborations and engaging in transdisciplinary work. Schnable was honored for his work in high-throughput plant phenotyping, a process that allows researchers to monitor a single plant’s physical and biomechanical properties across its lifetime.
Marilyne Stains, chemistry, received a 2019 Rising Star Award from the American Chemical Society Women Chemists Committee. The national award recognizes exceptional early- to mid-career women chemists from all areas of chemistry and is aimed at promoting the retention of women in science. Stains will present her research at the ACS National Meeting and Expo, March 31-April 4 in Orlando.
Joe Starita, journalism and mass communications, was honored by the 1 Book 4 North Platte committee, which selected his book, “A Warrior of the People,” as its 2019 community book. Selected from more than 150 books, “A Warrior of the People” tells the story of Susan La Flesche Picotte, the first Native American woman to attend medical school and become a doctor. The 1 Book 4 North Platte program is an extension of the Seattle Public Library’s 1 Book program, aimed at encouraging everyone in the city to read the same book.
Jeffrey Day, architecture, was elected to the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture board of directors for a three-year term beginning July 1. Representing more than 200 schools and 5,000 architecture faculty members, the organization’s mission is to lead architectural education and research. Day will serve as an at-large director, liaising between the association and member schools, participating in committee work and advising the board on member issues and concerns.
Lisa Kort-Butler, sociology, was elected to serve as Nebraska state director for the Midwest Sociological Society, a 1,300-member professional association for sociologists and students across nine states in the Midwest. During her three-year term, she will serve on the board of directors, providing a voice for sociologists from Nebraska.
Kevin Ruser, law, was named a member of the Nebraska Supreme Court’s Civil Justice Reform Committee. The committee, housed within the Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission, will analyze Nebraska’s civil justice system and strategies for improving it. The group will consider recommendations from the national Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators, which are aimed at boosting innovation and cost-effectiveness within state judicial systems.
Chigozie Obioma, English, contributed an essay to “The Good Immigrant USA,” a collection of works by U.S.-based writers who are first- and second-generation immigrants. The book, focused on the immigrant experience in an increasingly divided America, is a follow-up to 2016’s “The Good Immigrant,” a crowd-funded, award-winning collection of essays on race and immigration published in Britain. The U.S. version has been selected by The Guardian as a must-read book of 2019. Obioma’s contribution focuses on how a proverb of the Igbo, an ethnic group living in southeastern Nigeria, helped guide his journey from Nigeria to America. Obioma delves further into the Igbo culture and worldview in his recently published second novel, “An Orchestra of Minorities,” which tells the story of a poultry farmer in Nigeria pursuing a woman from a wealthy family.
Mark Button was appointed dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. His term will begin July 1, pending Board of Regents approval. He comes from the University of Utah, where his leadership roles included department chair, associate chair and director of graduate studies. He has a strong track record of recruiting and retaining award-winning faculty, spurring new research and academic collaborations, and expanding the undergraduate curriculum and majors. Button, who will also serve as professor of political science, has a bachelor’s degree in political science, with a minor in peace studies, from the University of Oregon, and a doctorate in political science from Rutgers University.
Sherri Jones was named dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences. She will assume the position July 1, pending Board of Regents approval. Jones joined the university in 2012 as chair of the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders and director of the Barkley Memorial Center. During her seven-year tenure, Jones has built a collaborative culture that enhanced research, improved grant productivity, increased campus and community partnerships, expanded clinical services and bolstered opportunities for study abroad. Jones, professor of special education and communication disorders, focuses her research on the influence of genetic and environmental factors on auditory and vestibular development and aging. Her degrees are from UNL: a bachelor’s in speech pathology and audiology, a master’s in audiology and a doctorate in psychological and cultural studies, with an audiology and hearing science emphasis.
Moises “Moi” Padilla was named director of the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy, launched by the university in 2006 to help first-generation and low-income high school students achieve academic success and attend college. Selected after a national search, Padilla has worked at the university since July 2013, most recently as associate director of the Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services. He is an immigrant from Mexico and a first-generation college graduate. As NCPA director, he will be responsible for daily operations and developing a strategic plan to support the academic and social success of participating students.