Accolades, May 2023

Accolades News for Researchers

Posted June 1, 2023 by Tiffany Lee

Awards, Honors and Recognitions

Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, George Hunt and Matthew Williamson, civil and environmental engineering, received the 2023 Nebraska Champion for Engineering Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies Nebraska. This award recognizes outstanding individuals and teams who have collaborated with the council to support the state’s engineering profession. The Husker trio was honored for its work to help ACEC NE launch the Let’s MEET – Mentoring Emerging Engineers Together program, which supports engineering students through their undergraduate years with mentoring and educational opportunities. Bartelt-Hunt, Hunt and Williamson liaised with Husker freshmen and sophomore engineering students and faculty and ACEC NE members to get MEET up and running.  

Nathan Conner, agricultural leadership, education and communication, received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award from the Council for International Exchange of Scholars. Conner will teach and conduct research at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education in Port Antonio, Portland, Jamaica. In addition to teaching college courses, Conner will help co-design a master’s degree in agricultural education for high school teachers.

Danielle Jefferis, law, and colleagues from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law received the 2023 Clinical Legal Education Association’s Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project. Jefferis, who previously taught at Denver, was a member of a team of clinic faculty and student attorneys who advocated for the rights of Seifullah Chapman. The team successfully challenged the constitutionality of Chapman’s convictions, leading to his release from prison in 2018. Read more about the case.

Frank Ordia, architecture, received the 2023 Great Commoner Award from the Preservation Association of Lincoln. The award recognizes outstanding efforts in preservation education. Ordia teaches a course in historic preservation in the College of Architecture’s Community and Regional Planning Program and encourages students to join and participate in PAL. Ordia was honored at the association’s annual meeting and awards ceremony on May 5.

Sophia Perdikaris, director of the School of Global Integrative Studies, received an Alumni Achievement Award from the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. The award recognizes alumni of exceptional distinction who have made exemplary contributions to their fields. Perdikaris, an environmental archaeologist with a specialty in animal bones from archeological sites, was recognized for her substantial contributions to our understanding of human-environment interactions.  

Lily Wang, architectural engineering and construction, was named one of the Society of Women Engineers’ “Women Engineers You Should Know.” The magazine confers this honor to women engineers who are nominated by SWE members. Wang, director of the Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, focuses her research on human perception and performance in noise, classroom acoustics, uncertainty in acoustic measurements and room acoustics computer modeling. She is also a leader on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Wang and the other honorees were recently featured in the SWE Magazine.  

Three Rural Prosperity Nebraska Extension educators received awards at the May 2 National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals conference.

Nebraska Public Media received three Prism awards for marketing excellence from the Lincoln Chapter of the American Marketing Association. The chapter gives the awards to the “best of the best” in the Lincoln marketing community and surrounding areas. The awards were announced during the 2023 Prism Awards Ceremony on May 4 in Lincoln.   

The university’s Office of Proposal Development, housed in the Office of Research and Economic Development, received a 2023 Innovation Award from the National Organization of Research Development Professionals. OPD was honored for its efforts to help Nebraska faculty become more competitive for external funding through participation in the National Science Foundation CAREER Club. Team members include Tisha Gilreath Mullen, Amanda Bohlin, Matthew Dwyer, Katie Pelland and Jaclyn Tan.    


Daniel Tannenbaum, economics, and his coauthors received a Best Paper Award from the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, which is published by the American Economic Association. The award, selected by the journal’s editorial board, highlights the best paper published in the journal over the last three years. The group was honored for “The Evolution of Work in the United States,” published in April 2020.

Professional Service

Kristen Blankley, law, joined the board of directors of the Community Justice Center in Lincoln. The center focuses on restorative justice, a response to crime that focuses on addressing the harm suffered by victims, holding offenders accountable and collectively dealing with crime’s consequences. Its members work to provide restorative justice to residents in Nebraska and Colorado, both in communities and in prisons. Blankley has extensive research and experience in restorative justice.

Lauren Bydalek, law, presented a continuing legal education webinar for the Nebraska State Bar Association on May 4. The presentation, “Space Law 101,” covered the basics of international and domestic space law, focusing primarily on the Outer Space Treaty and its principles of cooperation, peaceful purposes and international responsibility.  

Wesley Boyce, supply chain management and analytics, presented at the Online Learning Consortium Innovate Conference in Nashville in April. With co-presenters Brian Verdine and Paulita Brooker, Boyce discussed learning communities and how self-determination theory, which focuses on autonomy, competence and relatedness, can make them more effective. Read more about the presentation.

Jessica Shoemaker, law, was elected vice president of the Association of Law, Property and Society at the group’s annual meeting in May, hosted by the University of Southampton in England. The group unites researchers conducting interdisciplinary legal scholarship on all aspects of property law and policy. Shoemaker was also program chair for the meeting, which brought together 150 scholars from around the world. Earlier this month, Shoemaker delivered an invited presentation, “Property and Place: Calibrating Commodification,” at the annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers.

Other News

Ruben Behnke is the new manager of the Nebraska Mesonet, a network of weather stations that collects data widely used for agriculture, environmental and emergency management. Behnke worked for more than five years with the South Dakota Mesonet and is an expert in observational meteorology, including spatial statistics, machine learning and statistical methods. He previously taught climate risk management in the precision agriculture program at South Dakota State University. Behnke holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and field biology from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay; a master’s degree in atmospheric and oceanic science from UW-Madison; and a Ph.D. in forestry and conservation science from the University of Montana.

Kate Engel was named interim executive director of the Nebraska Innovation Campus Development Corporation, the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation owned by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. Engel has been with NICDC since 2001, when she was hired to help establish operations and marketing for the public/private research campus. Most recently, Engel was director of strategic partnerships and communications. Engel’s appointment is effective May 1, 2023, through Oct. 31, 2024, or until a permanent hire is made.  

Troy Fedderson was named interim chief communication and marketing officer for the university, effective June 1. Fedderson, a graduate of UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, is an award-winning reporter who has served with University Communication and Marketing for 18 years. He has covered faculty and staff news extensively and led internal communications for the university. The leadership transition was prompted by the departure of Deb Fiddelke, who returned to the private sector.

Laurie Richards was named the interim programmer at UNL’s Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center. She was previously state film officer with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and has extensive experience in the film industry, including collaboration with a variety of film projects in Nebraska and interactions with the Sundance, Telluride and Santa Fe film festivals. Richards started the role June 1.        

Deb VanOverbeke has been selected as the university’s next Animal Science Department head. She joins UNL from Oklahoma State University, where she serves as assistant dean for academic programs in the Ferguson College of Architecture and as a professor of animal and food sciences. VanOverbeke, an animal scientist who specializes in meat science, will assume the role on July 31. She has a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a minor in agricultural leadership from Nebraska and master’s and doctoral degrees in animal science, with a focus on meat science, from Colorado State University.     

Research News Accolades Submission Form

Accolades are compiled from faculty and staff nominations, weekly Achievement columns published by University Communication, and college, center and departmental websites. To submit yours or a colleague's, complete the form below.

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