Accolades, September 2023

Accolades News for Researchers

Posted September 28, 2023 by Tiffany Lee

Awards, Honors and Recognitions

Marianna Burks and Kristi Montooth, biological sciences, and Trish Wonch Hill, sociology, lead the STEM-POWER Research Program at UNL, which provides incoming first-year students from underrepresented populations summer research opportunities, community building and mentoring experiences. The program received an Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine. The award recognizes programs that are making a difference for all underrepresented groups in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  

Kwame Dawes, English, is author of the forthcoming poetry collection “Sturge Town,” which has been named the Poetry Book Society Choice for Winter 2023. The society selects the best new books for awards and recommendations every quarter; Dawes’ work was selected by poets Jo Clement and Roy McFarlane. “Sturge Town” was published by the international Peepal Tree Press, based in England, in 2023 and will appear in the U.S. in 2024 with Norton. The press describes the collection as connecting to the earliest days of Dawes’ work as a poet, from the roots of his childhood in Ghana to his reflections as he watches his children occupy the space he once considered his own.         

Marianne Lorensen, agricultural leadership, education and communication, received the Distinguished Leadership and Service Award from the Association of Leadership Educators. The award recognizes an experienced ALE member whose leadership and service upholds and embodies the association’s mission of strengthening and sustaining the expertise of professional leadership educators.   

Elsbeth Magilton, law, was named a Scowcroft National Security Fellow at the Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense in the U.S. Air Force Academy for the 2023-24 academic year. The center provides students and faculty the opportunity to engage in research and policy discussions on the future of American security through contact with experts from the military, civilian government and private sector. Magilton’s work as a fellow will focus on drawing analogies between space law and the international nuclear regime to develop concepts for innovative legal instruments that could bridge the gap for aging and weakening agreements. 

Jill Martin, journalism and mass communications, received the Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Each year, the award honors an outstanding journalism educator who has demonstrated exceptional teaching abilities and a commitment to upholding the profession’s highest standards. Martin was selected for her innovative efforts to connect students to practical real-world experiences, particularly through the 2021 launch of the Experience Lab and expansion of the Nebraska News Service.

The Nebraska Industrial Assessment Center was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as its 2023 Industrial Assessment Center of the Year. The NIAC, which is one of 39 IACs at colleges and universities across the U.S., has helped more than 80 small- and medium-sized manufacturers save more than $8.7 million on energy costs and provided engineering experience to nearly 100 students during its six years of operation. The center serves Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Kansas and Missouri. It is directed by Robert Williams and Karen Stelling, mechanical and materials engineering, and Bruce Dvorak, civil and environmental engineering.

Eleven Husker faculty were selected by the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor to attend two Big Ten Academic Alliance leadership programs this year. Six were selected for the Academic Leadership Program, which develops participants’ academic leadership and managerial skills. Five were selected for the Department Executive Officers Program, a leadership development program focused on a range of topics including conflict resolution, mentoring, faculty development, performance reviews and more. Husker faculty participating this year include:

Academic Leadership Program

Department Executive Officers Program


Shudipto Dishari, chemical and biomolecular engineering, along with Husker graduate students Oghenetega Obewhere, Karen Acurio Cerda, and Rajesh Keloth, earned first place in the full paper category at the American Society for Engineering Education Midwest Section Conference, held in September in Lincoln. The team’s paper, titled “Implementing a Virtual STEM Camp for Middle- and High Schoolers in a Post-COVID Climate Leveraging Prior Experience,” explored the researchers’ outreach efforts to children to improve STEM literacy.

Vinodchandran Variyam, computing, is author of a paper, “Model Counting Meets Distinct Elements,” that was included in the Research Highlights section of the September 2023 issue of Communications of the ACM, the flagship magazine of the Association of Computing Machinery. The Research Highlights section includes outstanding research articles selected from among a broad spectrum of computing research conferences. Articles are nominated by editorial board members or approved nominating organizations, then subject to final selection by the editorial board. 

Professional Service

Scott Fuess, economics, was named to a five-year term on the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Committee on Academics. The committee supports the NCAA’s academic mission through the management of Division I academic matters, including policy, eligibility standards and the NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program.  

Colleen Medill, law, presented at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Association of American Law Schools. Her talk focused on the integration of artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT into lawyering skills and professional identity formation for law students under ABA Standard 303. She will publish an article on this topic in a forthcoming special symposium issue of the St. Thomas University Law Review on Professional Identity Formation for Law Students Under ABA Standard 303.   

Michelle Paxton, law, presented at the National Association of Counsel for Children Conference. She delivered two presentations, “Reflective Practice: Leading from the Inside Out” and “Preventing Legal Deserts in Our Rural Communities: Insights from a Child Welfare Attorney Fellowship.” At Nebraska Law, Paxton directs the Children’s Justice Clinic and the Children’s Justice Attorney Education Program.      

Christal Sheppard, law, was named vice chair of the National Collegiate Athletics Association Research Review Board. The board is an independent committee that oversees NCAA research for compliance with federal regulations on human subjects research. Sheppard will contribute a background in athletics and a commitment to ethical research conduct. 

Brett Stohs, law, was selected to participate as a fellow in the 2023-24 Nebraska State Bar Association Leadership Academy. The academy aims to develop participants’ leadership skills, enabling them to make greater contributions to the legal profession and their community. Stohs, the Cline Williams director of the Weibling Entrepreneurship Clinic at the College of Law, focuses on corporate and general transactional law and intellectual property.  

Other News

Witawas (Witty) Srisa-an was appointed director of the School of Computing. He has served in leadership roles at UNL since 2018, when he became vice chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. He then served as interim department chair in 2019, then was named senior associate director when the department became the School of Computing in 2021. Srisa-an’s research interests include programming languages, runtime systems, software engineering and cybersecurity. He succeeds founding director Marilyn Wolf, who is now director for engineering and technology initiatives in the Office of Research and Economic Development. 

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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