Detweiler, Olson earn NU’s top faculty honors


Melissa Lee, May 28, 2024

Detweiler, Olson earn NU’s top faculty honors

Innovative research by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Carrick Detweiler and Kristen Olson have earned President’s Excellence Awards.

Announced May 23, the awards are the University of Nebraska system’s most prestigious honors that recognize faculty for work that has a strong impact on students, the university and state.

Detweiler, Susan J. Rosowski Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and co-director of the NIMBUS Lab, received the Faculty Intellectual Property Innovation and Commercialization Award for his work developing unmanned aerial vehicles for use with water, fire and crops. The FIPICA recognizes faculty who have developed and nurtured significant new intellectual property from concept to licensing and/or startup business.

Olson, Leland J. and Dorothy H. Olson Professor in the Department of Sociology and director of the Bureau of Sociological Research, received the Outstanding Research and Creative Activity award for research focused on survey methodology. The ORCA recognizes faculty for outstanding research or creative activity of national or international significance.

“Great faculty are at the heart of the University of Nebraska’s work and mission. We are fortunate that our classrooms and research labs are led by people who care deeply about creating a strong future for students and our state,” said Chris Kabourek, interim NU president. “I’m honored to have this opportunity to lift up the work of some of the University of Nebraska’s most outstanding faculty, and I thank them for all they do to change lives in Nebraska and around the world.”

Award recipients are selected by systemwide committees of faculty members and community members. Recipients each receive a $10,000 stipend. They will be honored at the Aug. 8 Board of Regents meeting.

Biographies for Detweiler and Olson are below.

Faculty IP Innovation and Commercialization Award

Carrick Detweiler

Detweiler’s research is focused on developing systems and software to enable interactions of unmanned aerial vehicles with water, fire and crops. As co-founder of Drone Amplified, he has successfully transferred his innovative and transdisciplinary work to the market and is helping to save lives and the environment.

The company’s signature product is IGNIS, a drone-based system that allows firefighters to remotely ignite backburns and prescribed burns while staying out of harm’s way. These burns effectively eliminate the fuel wildfires rely on to spread out of control and are critical tools for federal, state and local agencies charged with reducing fire danger. More than 150 IGNIS systems have been sold and used by public and private entities.

Drone Amplified is also growing the innovation economy, employing a number of university graduates including several who moved to Nebraska specifically to work for the company, and expanding high-wage, high-skill jobs in the Cornhusker State.

Detweiler is also a fellow of the Robert B. Daughterty Water for Food Institute and a faculty fellow with the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center.

Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award

Kristen Olson

Olson’s research focuses on survey methodology, a field with broad real-world impacts in academia, government, marketing, public policy, public health, program evaluation, and nonprofit and for-profit enterprises around the world.

Her work seeks to understand and improve survey data quality through the reduction of coverage, sampling, nonresponse, measurement and adjustment errors.

Olson is widely published, has been elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Society and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has served on a number of national task forces and panels related to survey methodology and public opinion research. Her work shapes data collection at the highest levels and has put the University of Nebraska–Lincoln on the map in the field.

Additional NU system awards

Other members of the NU system earning 2024 President’s Excellence Awards are:

Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award — Phani Tej Adidam, professor and chair in the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, University of Nebraska at Omaha;

Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award — Jonathan Vennerstrom, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Nebraska Medical Center; and

Innovation, Development and Engagement Award — Benson Edagwa, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience, UNMC.

University-wide Departmental Teaching Award — UNMC’s Department of Physical Therapy

Read more about the individual faculty and departmental awards.

Accolades Awards and Recognitions Computing Honors Sociology