NU announces President’s Excellence Awards; Bevins honored for research


Melissa Lee, April 19, 2023

NU announces President’s Excellence Awards; Bevins honored for research

Rick Bevins, associate vice chancellor for research and director of the Rural Drug Addiction Research Center, has received the University of Nebraska’s system-wide Outstanding Research and Creativity Award.

Bevins, Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Psychology,was one of several faculty honored with NU’s most prestigious faculty awards for teaching, research, engagement and commercialization.

Bevins’ research at Nebraska focuses on behavioral pharmacology, drug abuse and addiction science. His work in pinpointing how learning processes and memory influence behavior has been crucial to understanding the nature of drug abuse and the causes of relapse. Bevins’ research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and UNL. His team is responsible for more than 160 research papers.

After earning an undergraduate degree in psychology, Bevins entered the Neuroscience and Behavior Graduate Program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where his research focused on associative learning processes, especially Pavlovian fear conditioning. He became interested in pharmacology as a tool for understanding learning processes, and took a post-doctoral position at the University of Kentucky for further training in drug use, misuse and neuropharmacology. Bevins joined UNL’s faculty in 1996 and established the Behavioral Neuropharmacology Laboratory.

The system-wide President’s Excellence Awards honor faculty whose work has had a significant impact on students, the university and the state.

“Faculty are at the heart of any great university. We’re fortunate to have some of the world’s best serving across the University of Nebraska System,” said NU President Ted Carter. “The teaching, research and engagement that these faculty do every day has a transformational impact on students, our communities, and economic growth and well-being. I congratulate our faculty award recipients on this well-deserved honor, and thank them for all they do to change lives in Nebraska and around the world.”

Award recipients are selected by a system-wide committee of faculty members and, in the case of the engagement award, community members. Recipients each receive a $10,000 stipend. They will be honored at the Aug. 17 Board of Regents meeting.

Other honorees are:


Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA): Recognizes individual faculty members who have demonstrated meritorious and sustained records of excellence and creativity in teaching.

Geoffrey Talmon, M.D., professor and vice chair for medical education in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology and associate dean for medical education in the College of Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center. Talmon completed medical school and residency in pathology at UNMC, a fellowship in surgical pathology at the Mayo Clinic, and received a Master of Education from Johns Hopkins University. He was the first James Linder Distinguished Residency Director Chair, inaugural director of the UNMC Interprofessional Academy of Educators, and the 2021 Varner Educator Laureate. Talmon has more than 120 peer-reviewed publications to his credit, along with multiple book chapters and dozens of invited presentations. The book he co-edited, “Mind the Gap: Generational Differences in Medical Education,” is the first work dedicated to managing intergenerational conflict in medical education. He is past president of the Nebraska Association of Pathologists, and is a member of the American Society of Clinical Pathology Board of Certification and the National Board of Medical Examiners.

Betty Love, Ph.D., professor and Governing Committee chair, Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, University of Nebraska at Omaha. Love has been dedicated to teaching innovation throughout her 30-plus year career at UNO. Beginning with her early insights into the growing role of technology in learning, she obtained funding for the first high-tech classrooms at UNO. As technology advanced, she kept UNO ahead of the curve as an early developer of an asynchronous online course in mathematics, creating videos that have been viewed more than 400,000 times worldwide. As technology in the classroom became normalized, Love became a leader in the creation and implementation of classroom pedagogy, pioneering the use of methods such as flipped classrooms and inquiry-based learning. Recently she has focused on curriculum development, securing National Science Foundation funding to create new types of classes in which students learn critical mathematical reasoning skills as they create digital art or partner with local nonprofits to analyze and visualize their data. Her dedication to innovation has allowed UNO not only to keep up with an educational world that is constantly evolving, but to be a leader in it.


Innovation, Development and Engagement Award (IDEA): Recognizes faculty members who have extended their academic expertise beyond the boundaries of the university in ways that have enriched the broader community.

Dejun Su, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion, University of Nebraska Medical Center. Su’s research focuses on health disparities and social determinants of health, as indicated by more than 100 peer-reviewed publications. As principal investigator, Su has secured research grants totaling more than $5 million, including a recent federal grant that will allow Su and his team to train 240 community health workers and promote their integration into healthcare delivery for the provision of patient-centered, holistic care across Nebraska. As director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities from 2012 to 2022, Su doubled extramural funding support and increased the number of scholarly publications sixfold. Leveraging extensive partnerships between the center and community agencies, Su also led the effort to make UNMC’s College of Public Health the only public health school in the nation to receive the prestigious Harrison C. Spencer Award for Outstanding Community Service in 2020, issued by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.


Faculty IP Innovation and Commercialization Award (FIPICA): Recognizes faculty members who have developed and nurtured significant new intellectual property from concept to licensing/startup business.

Howard Gendelman, M.D., Margaret R. Larson Professor of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Gendelman is credited with discovering how brain immunity can be harnessed for therapeutic gain. His work demonstrated that control of the brain’s homeostasis can prevent neural cell damage in neurodegenerative and infectious diseases. This led to developmental therapeutics shown to prevent, slow or reverse cognitive, behavioral and motor impairments. Gendelman earned his bachelor’s degree in natural sciences and Russian studies with honors from Muhlenberg College and his M.D. from Penn State University, where he was the 1999 Distinguished Alumnus. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Montefiore Hospital, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and was a clinical and research fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. He has authored more than 580 peer-revised publications, edited 12 books, holds 138 patents, and is editor-in-chief of the Neuroimmune Pharmacology and Therapeutics. He is also the co-founder of Exavir Therapeutics. Gendelman is the recipient of the Henry L. Moses Award in Basic Science; the Carter-Wallace Fellow for Distinction in AIDS Research; and the Joseph Wybran Distinguished Scientist.

Awards Honors Psychology Rural Drug Addiction Research Center