Accolades, January 2024

Accolades News for Researchers

Posted February 2, 2024 by Tiffany Lee

Honors and Awards

Carrie Fitzwater, residence life, was elected to a three-year term for the Upper Midwest Region-Association of College and University Housing Officers, serving as president in 2025. The association is dedicated to education, research and service for member institutions, with a focus on housing education, research support and fostering a service-oriented community. During her term, Fitzwater aims to enrich professional development and networking, encourage resource sharing and offer inspirational mentorship.

Jason Hawkins, civil and environmental engineering, received the Eric Pas Dissertation Prize from the International Association for Travel Behaviour Research. The award is considered one of the most prestigious in the travel behavior field for a Ph.D. student. Hawkins was recognized for his doctoral dissertation, “Modelling Spatial Location Choice and Transition for a Changing Urban Landscape,” which he presented while he was a graduate student at the University of Toronto in 2021. The research develops a theoretical framework to model how home location choice and long-term transportation decisions affect each other.

Kathryn Holland, psychology and women’s and gender studies, received the Award for Distinguished Early Career Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest. The award, sponsored by the American Psychological Association, recognizes individuals who have advanced psychology as a science and/or profession by a single extraordinary achievement or a lifetime of outstanding contributions in the public interest. Holland was honored for her contributions to the psychological science of sexual violence, including publications focused on university mandatory reporting policies. She also disseminates her work through platforms like National Public Radio and The Conversation, making sexual violence scholarship accessible beyond the walls of academia.  

Amit Jhala, agronomy and horticulture and Nebraska Extension, received the Outstanding Mid-Career Extension Award from the Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association during its annual conference in Kearney on Nov. 15. The association is the statewide umbrella organization that connects local extension personnel to national organizations related to their field of work. Jhala was honored for the ability to translate his academic research focused on weed science into high-impact extension programs that address real-world problems faced by growers in Nebraska and other states.   

Elizabeth Lewis, teaching, learning and teacher education, was awarded the 2023 Catalyst Award from the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science. The award recognizes contributions to science education in Nebraska. The award is the highest honor that NATS bestows and is given annually at the fall conference. Lewis also serves as the secondary science education senior adviser in the university’s Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education.

Patrice McMahon, political science and director of the University Honors Program, was selected for an International Affairs Fellowship for Tenured International Relations Scholars. The program, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and part of the Council on Foreign Relations, enables tenured academics whose research and teaching are connected to international peace and security issues to gain practical experience in foreign policy through a 12-month placement at a U.S. federal government agency, in Congress, or with an international organization. McMahon’s research focuses on humanitarian affairs, peacebuilding, nongovernmental organizations and U.S. foreign policy.  

Robert Powers, chemistry and biological sciences, was elected to full membership of the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society. Membership is determined through nomination, invitation and voting by members. Sigma Xi is the international honor society of science and engineering and is one of the world’s oldest and largest scientific organizations.

Clarence Waters, Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, was named the 2024 Nebraska Engineering Champion by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Nebraska. The award recognizes outstanding individuals and teams who have collaborated with the council to contribute significantly to the engineering profession. Waters was honored during a surprise celebration that brought together his former students, faculty and staff at the Durham School and members of the ACEC Nebraska team.   

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln received a community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation, placing it among nearly 400 U.S. universities with the designation. Carnegie selects institutions for the classification only after they provide an extensive review and documentation of their civic engagement activities. Kathleen Lodl, associate dean of Nebraska Extension, led a team of faculty, staff and students in developing the university’s documentation, which highlighted UNL’s wide-ranging outreach efforts across the state.


Crystal Bock Thiessen, Programs in English as a Second Language, was an invited contributing author to the recently published book “Innovation in University-Based Intensive English Programs,” edited by Jason Litzenberg. She wrote the final chapter, “Where to From Here? Continuing to Innovate, Respond and Reform in IEPs,” which summarizes and critically evaluates the book’s chapters and examines the crucial support IEPs provide to multilingual international students.   

Joy Castro, English and ethnic studies, is author of a book, “One Brilliant Flame,” which was named the January Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. The historical thriller tells the stories of six young friends against the backdrop of Key West in 1886, a moment in time when the island is Florida’s most prosperous city because of the cigar industry, which is powered, in part, by the work of thousands of anti-colonial immigrants from Cuba. It’s also the year of Key West’s most devastating fire in history, which helps to drive the novel’s plot.    

Other News

Melanie Griffin, University Libraries, joined the university in August 2023 as chair of Archives and Special Collections. The chair is the educational and administrative leader of the unit, overseeing program initiatives and the building, preservation and accessibility of a strong collection representing the university’s history, Great Plains literary and cultural history, and other subject areas. Before joining Nebraska, Griffin was interim associate dean for special collections and director of special collections services at the University of Arkansas.

Carl Nelson, mechanical and materials engineering, was appointed the new associate dean for undergraduate programs in the College of Engineering. He succeeds Sohrab Asgarpoor, who has been in the role since 2018 and is returning to the faculty in electrical and computer engineering. Nelson, an expert in mechanical systems design and analysis and robotics, joined the mechanical engineering faculty in 2005 and has served as the department’s associate chair for undergraduate studies. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors, and has served as faculty adviser for student organizations, including teams that participate in NASA challenges.     

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