Accolades, November 2023

Accolades News for Researchers

Posted December 1, 2023 by Tiffany Lee

Honors and Awards 

Katherine Ankerson, architecture and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, was named the University Technology Leader of the Year, one of the EdScoop 50 Awards sponsored by the Scoop News Group. The designation honors leaders who inspire change in the digital learning or university IT sphere with an emphasis on collaboration, student experience and/or innovation.     

Simanti Banerjee, agricultural economics, received the 2023 Senior Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association’s Committee on Women in Agricultural Economics. The award honors individuals who have actively worked to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the applied economics profession. Banerjee was honored for her sustained and intentional work in this area, which includes organizing a diverse speaker series in her department, serving on the DEI Advisory Board for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, surveying needs for childcare during AAEA meetings and more.   

Justin Evertson, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, received the NSA’s Jim Kluck Honor Award on Nov. 3. The award recognizes individuals or organizations that have made a significant contribution to NSA or to an affiliate site of the arboretum. Evertson was recognized for his 33 years of work for NSA and the Nebraska Forest Service. During this time, he’s made significant contributions to hundreds of NSA affiliate sites and community planting projects, in addition to the more than 400 hours of work each year that he dedicates to tree planting and garden making projects and schools and parks in his hometown of Waverly.  

Blaine French, animal science, was voted coach of the year by the Intercollegiate Livestock Judging Coaches Association. It is believed to be the first such award earned by a livestock judging coach at UNL. French has coached UNL’s team since 2019, helping to prepare Husker students for jobs in the livestock industry. 

Esma Gel, supply chain management and analytics, received the Wolfram Innovator Award from Wolfram, an American multinational company that creates computational technology. The award recognizes individuals and teams from across fields, disciplines and the world for their computational excellence in applying Wolfram technologies and computational intelligence in innovative ways. Gel was recognized for her use of Mathematica, a Wolfram software system, in her previous role at Arizona State University for a system dynamics model related to the spread of COVID-19.  

Christine Kelley, mathematics, was named a fellow of the Association for Women in Mathematics. The fellows program recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to the support and advancement of women in the mathematical sciences. Kelley was selected for her efforts to encourage young women to pursue mathematics, which include leadership in the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics and an extensive record of mentoring, advising and supervising women in mathematics.  

Jinku Kim, emerging media arts, is one of four artists whose work was selected for “Glow,” an exhibition of light, art and science at Omaha’s Kiewit Luminarium. “Glow” is on display through Jan. 11, 2024, and features light art and digital art experiences from local and national artists as well as specialized science programming. Kim’s work was selected for its aesthetic qualities and for the creative process behind it, which uses sound and visual elements. 

Emily Levine, who recently retired from UNL after more than 35 years of service in landscaping and arboretum care, received the President’s Citation from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum at the organization’s annual awards reception on Nov. 3. Levine was a key contributor to shaping the outdoor aesthetics of East Campus and, over the course of her career, helped thousands of people connect with the natural world through tree planting, pest management and education.  

Ryan Sullivan and Kala Mueller, law, along with law student Cassandra Kostal, were selected for the Association of American Law Schools Pro Bono Honor Roll. The achievement is an acknowledgement of the exceptional work of individuals engaging in, expanding and/or supporting their law school community in providing pro bono legal services. 

Ron Yoder, biological systems engineering (emeritus), was the inaugural recipient of a new award from the Nebraska State Arboretum that was established in his name. The Ron Yoder Service Award honors an individual who has generously committed time, talents and effort in support of the NSA mission. Yoder, who retired in September from his role as senior associate vice chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, served as an ex officio member of the NSA board of directors and was a longtime champion of NSA’s work and mission. 

The College of Law’s Children’s Justice Clinic received the Advocacy in Education Award from the Education Rights Counsel. The award honors a lawyer or legal entity that advances the education rights of children across Nebraska. The Children’s Justice Clinic, a partnership between the College of Law and the Center on Children, Families and the Law, was established in 2017 to equip students to function as effective advocates in settings that involve the legal needs of young children.   

The College of Law’s Muslim Law Students Association was one of three organizations to receive the Roger Baldwin Civil Libertarian of the Year Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska. The award honors partners that have worked with the ACLU of Nebraska to advance and protect civil liberties. The three recipients worked with ACLU of Nebraska and #FreeTheHair in co-authoring a report on school dress code and grooming policies, which was aimed at building support for legislative action to protect students’ natural hair, protective hairstyles, tribal regalia and headdresses. 

NUtech Ventures presented six Innovator Awards at its annual Innovator Celebration on Nov. 6. The awards recognize university personnel and companies that are developing and commercializing cutting-edge research in Nebraska.  


Aron Barbey, psychology and director of the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior, will serve as guest editor of a special collection to be published by the Journal of Nutrition. The collection will be composed of submissions – original research, reviews or perspectives – on how nutrition influences the cognition and health of the human brain.    

Jennifer Lather, Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, and Christine Wittich, civil and environmental engineering, along with Husker graduate students Yasaman Ahmade and Gabriela Gonzalez, received the Best Paper Award at the American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure Innovation and Adaptation for a Sustainable and Resilient World Conference. They were honored for the paper “Driving Factors of Rural Social Vulnerability for Communities at High Risk of Riverine Flooding in the United States,” which examines the differences in factors of social vulnerability and flooding risk between rural and urban areas in the U.S.    

Hans Sturm, Glenn Korff School of Music, is author of the book “75 Years on 4 Strings: The Life and Music of François Rabbath,” which won a certificate of merit in the 2023 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research in country, folk, roots or world music. The association’s awards program recognizes the finest work being published in the field of recorded sound research. The winners will be recognized during an awards ceremony at the association’s annual conference in May 2024 in St. Paul, Minnesota.    

Professional Service 

Simanti Banerjee, agricultural economics, is part of the editorial team for the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics for the publication years 2024-2026. The journal is the flagship publication of the Western Agricultural Economics Association, which has more than 600 members who work in the domain of agricultural and resource economics.   

Peter McCornick, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska, moderated a webinar on innovative water management solutions for sustainable agriculture in the context of climate change. The webinar was hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture International Climate Hub in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture. It showcased experts and vignettes on nature-based and unconventional approaches to water management.  

Jessica Shoemaker, law, was an invited speaker at the 2023 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference presented by the William & Mary Property Rights Project. Shoemaker participated in a panel, “The Scalability of Property Rights,” which focused on issues of land access, equity and inclusion. The aim of the conference is to bring together members of the bench, bar and academia to explore recent legal developments affecting property rights.  

Other News 

Liz Lorang was named permanent dean of University Libraries after a national search. She started in the role on Dec. 1. Lorang has been with University Libraries for a decade, including roles as a digital humanities project librarian, associate dean of research and learning and, since May, interim dean. She has completed the Association of Research Libraries’ Leadership Fellows program, as well as the Leading Change Institute and Harvard University’s Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians, and has contributed to numerous advisory boards and other collaborative efforts. Lorang holds a Bachelor of Science in English from Towson University, a Master of Arts in information science and learning technology from the University of Missouri, and a doctorate in English from UNL. 

Jake Messersmith is the new chair of the Department of Management in the College of Business. Messersmith, who joined UNL in 2015 and is associate professor of management, has significant administrative experience, having served as the executive director of the College of Business Graduate Programs. During his tenure in that role, graduate enrollment increased by more than 30% over three years. His research focuses on human capital management issues within the strategic human resource management domain. Messersmith succeeds Jonathan P. O’Brien, who passed away in October. 

Ashley Poust was selected as the inaugural Dr. Michael and Jane Voorhies Endowed Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Nebraska State Museum. The endowed curatorship was established through a $2 million gift from the Hubbard Family Foundation in recognition of the longtime service of Michael “Mike” Voorhies and his wife, Jane. Mike is a professor emeritus in UNL’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and curator emeritus at the University of Nebraska State Museum. Poust, who most recently was a postdoctoral researcher at the San Diego Natural History Museum, oversees management of the Nebraska State Museum’s extensive fossil collection, with a focus on Ashfall Fossil Beds. He also works with students and collaborates with public programs staff to ensure sound science for outreach efforts.    

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