UI staff, faculty honored for excellence

UI staff, faculty honored for excellence

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Fourteen staff members and six faculty members at the University of Iowa received awards for excellence in 2012. The staff were recognized with one of three annual staff awards for excellence presented by the UI Staff Council, including the Board of Regents Staff Excellence Awards; the honored faculty also received Excellence Awards from the Regents.

Board of Regents Staff Excellence Award

This award is given to staff members whose accomplishments have significantly benefited the university, brought honor or recognition to the university, and had a significant positive impact on the state of Iowa. Recipients are listed below.

lee friell

Lee A. Friell, State Hygienic Laboratory (Ankeny)

Friell led State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL) efforts to assist with emergency testing of drinking and other water during the floods in Iowa of 2011, 2010, 2008, and in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He also provided training and support to the Iowa Department of Natural Resource’s Environmental Laboratory Certification program, which ensures that high-quality environmental data is being collected on water quality and safety. Friell earned a master’s degree in analytical chemistry from the UI in 1971 and returned to the university in 1972 following military service in Vietnam. He has been with the SHL for 40 years, serving as a chemist, lab chief, technical manager, and laboratory manager; he has served as the SHL Des Moines/Ankeny lab manager for more than 20 years.

Larry Meyer, Human Resources

Meyer supervised the design of the UI’s Human Resources Information System, which includes the HR Self Service system, Jobs@Iowa, and University Workflow, and managed its exponential growth. This work yielded substantial cost savings from an outdated legacy system, and moved the university to the forefront of technology in the server environment. To date, approximately 3 million transactions have been processed via the workflow system, eliminating lost paperwork, data entry, copying, shadow systems, and creating instantaneous document retrieval and robust audit capacity. These systems are among the most impactful administrative improvements in the UI’s history and have been used as models for other universities.

jolene pickett

Jolene Pickett, Department of Physics and Astronomy

As one of the lead researchers on an important grant from NASA, Pickett oversees the collection of data from four spacecraft orbiting the earth that are designed to help understand how particles from the sun interact with the earth’s magnetic field. She’s internationally recognized as a leader in her field—her primary scientific interests are related to the aurora borealis, the regions where particles are accelerated, and other regions in which turbulence and nonlinear effects are observed. She played a pioneering role in the study of soliton waves in the context of space physics. She is the first author of 21 published papers, and a co-author on more than 110 publications.

penny rembolt

Penny Rembolt, Carver College of Medicine

Rembolt is the staff advisor and oversees coordination of the UI Mobile Clinic, which provides free health screening, prevention, education, and basic health services to populations in and around Iowa City. The Mobile Clinic offers monthly clinics across eastern Iowa, with sites in Cedar Rapids, Columbus Junction, West Liberty, and Iowa City, and an additional sister clinic at the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic and summer clinics added to support migrant farm workers. Clinic coordinators from the Mobile Clinic Board work with Rembolt to secure the necessary resources for the clinic and recruit 10 to 15 student volunteers to staff various positions. Rembolt is a wonderful role model and mentor in service to many Carver College of Medicine students, and she bolsters financial support for the clinic through her connections with the community and her reputation for stellar work.

gabriela rivera

Gabriela Rivera, UI Center for Diversity

Rivera is co-facilitator of a mentoring project for Latino, Asian, and first-generation students. Through her one-on-one interactions with students and their families, she serves as a role model for underrepresented students. She’s also vice-chair of the UI Latino Council. As a first-generation college student from a single-parent household, Rivera shares her story of educational success and accomplishment, inspiring and motivating students while also setting high expectations for them. She manages programming and support services, extending her day to tirelessly enrich the lives of faculty, staff, students, and those in the community.

richard see

Richard See, UI Business Process Improvement

See is a founding member of the Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC) and a leader on campus in implementing Lean processes, which utilize technology, eliminate waste, and make processes more efficient, consistent, accurate, and timely. See’s leadership took the consortium from a general concept to a dynamic organization. He has led more than 100 Lean events, and has provided outreach and education across campus, creating a network of campus quality/improvement engineers to collaborate and support the efforts of one another. See has worked with all types of businesses, nonprofits, health care organizations, state and local governments, and educational entities.

David J. Skorton Award for Staff Excellence in Service

This award is given to staff members who have made significant contributions and have shown exceptional imagination and dedication to improving the university. Recipients are listed below.

amber seaton

Amber Seaton, College of Pharmacy

As chief budget officer, Seaton plans and oversees an overall annual budget of $20 million for the UI College of Pharmacy. She has devoted years of service to campus shared governance. A UI Staff Council member since 2007, she served as president in 2010–11 during which time she spearheaded the new UI Staff Council representation model and election process. She’s also served on numerous shared governance committees and was on the most recent UI provost search committee.

billie townsend

Billie Townsend, Office of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Aside from her job duties supporting the associate deans in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Townsend is a recruitment ambassador encouraging young people, and especially minorities, to attend the UI. She is also a member of the Iowa Black Alumni Board of Directors, a Critical MASS mentor, and chair of the Juneteenth Celebration Committee.

University of Iowa Outstanding Staff Award

This award recognizes staff members who have made outstanding accomplishments and contributions that significantly benefited or brought honor or recognition to the university. Recipients are listed below.

michelle altmaier

Michelle Altmaier, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Altmaier served until July of this year as strategic communications manager for the Children’s Miracle Network in the UI Children’s Hospital. In that role she was the “face” of the university and Children’s Hospital to countless patients, families, and partners across Iowa. Through radiothons, merchandise sales, luncheons, and other fundraising initiatives, she led efforts to raise millions of dollars to improve patient care, support research into childhood cancers, and subsidize training of specialists in oncology care for children. Under her leadership, Dance Marathon events were established at 11 colleges and universities as well as numerous high schools and elementary schools across Iowa. She led, mentored, and motivated a team of Children’s Miracle Network staff who continue to serve as extraordinary ambassadors for the university in their work with families, corporate supporters, and college students alike.

david gould

David L. Gould, Department of Interdepartmental Studies

Gould is currently associate director of professional student development in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as well as a lecturer in the Leisure Studies program. From 2004 to 2011 he served as academic coordinator of Interdepartmental Studies. In that role, he was instrumental in working with colleges and departments to create viable pathways to graduation for interdepartmental studies students who might otherwise have fallen through the cracks. As an instructor, he created a highly successful undergraduate course designed to help students discover their passions. In his “aging and leisure” course, he has incorporated multigenerational engagement projects that bring undergraduate students together with local seniors, to the lasting benefit of both groups. Graduating seniors have recognized him in each of the past three years as one of the top faculty or staff members who have had a positive effect on their lives.

robert ramsey

Robert Ramsey, College of Law

As senior systems administrator and webmaster for the College of Law, Ramsey has crafted the college’s website into the campus model for accessibility for those with disabilities. His efforts to expand and enhance information and instructional technologies in the college have significantly fostered the college’s missions of teaching, scholarship, and service. One recent example of those efforts is his work to make possible a live webcast of a 13-week colloquium on aging-related issues, which enabled audience members from across Iowa to participate. Later, he made podcasts of the sessions available via the web, to further extend access to the material. He participates actively in efforts to improve information technology and instructional services university-wide, contributing his time and expertise to many university committees and community groups.

Dari Shirazi, State Hygienic Laboratory

Shirazi, IT director for the State Hygienic Laboratory, has directed and contributed to significant projects that have not only enhanced the lab’s capabilities, but have also placed the UI at the forefront of public health information technology systems throughout the nation. He was the principal architect of a comprehensive, integrated laboratory information management system that established the State Hygienic Lab as a pioneer in the development of this kind of system, which is now recognized as a critical need throughout the nation. His expertise has been essential to many state and national agencies working to improve disease surveillance and electronic laboratory messaging, and his accomplishments have significantly contributed to protecting the health of all Iowans.

paulette villhauer

Paulette Villhauer, Molecular and Cellular Biology and Immunology Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs

Villhauer is graduate program administrator for the interdisciplinary graduate programs in molecular and cellularbiology and immunology. She has served hundreds of graduate students in these two prestigious programs, as well as a diverse interdisciplinary faculty. She coordinates all activities related to graduate student recruitment, admissions, matriculation, and graduation; serves as an advisor for students and faculty alike; and has been responsible for the coordination of effort required to complete and submit National Institutes of Heath training grants. For an extended period of time, due to another individual’s medical leave, she agreed to provide the same services to two other biomedical interdisciplinary graduate programs—genetics and neuroscience—essentially doubling her workload. She has had a tremendous positive impact on the students, faculty, staff, and reputations of the programs she has supported.

brett wagner

Brett A. Wagner, Department of Radiation Oncology

Wagner, a research specialist in the Department of Radiation Oncology in the Carver College of Medicine, provides invaluable guidance to staff and students in successfully conducting experiments with the specialized instrumentation in the Electron Spin Resonance Facility. He has also made significant contributions to both basic science and translational research. He has authored or co-authored many peer-reviewed publications that are published in high-profile scientific journals, including a 2011 paper on the rate of oxygen utilization by cells that has received considerable attention nationally. In the past two years, he has been instrumental in a phase I clinical trial on the use of vitamin C to treat pancreatic cancer, perfecting the twice-weekly blood draw procedure for participants and personally running more than 800 samples.

Regents Award for Faculty Excellence

Six University of Iowa faculty members have won the 2012 Regents Award for Faculty Excellence. Given by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, the award honors faculty members for work representing a significant contribution to excellence in public education. Recipients are listed below.

Karim Abdel-Malek, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Karim Abdel-Malek portrait

Abdel-Malek is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in the field of digital human modeling and simulation. He founded and directs the Virtual Soldier Research (VSR) program, which conducts research on high-fidelity biomechanical simulation to address problems in human factors. The multi-million-dollar VSR program has produced the digital human model SANTOS, which is now being used by all branches of the U.S. military and by many industry partners such as Caterpillar, Deere, Ford, P&G, and Rockwell Collins. The VSR team has received international attention and continues to expand into applications in sports, medicine, and manufacturing. Abdel-Malek serves as director of the Center for Computer-Aided Design (CCAD), overseeing six major research programs, 12 laboratories, and the National Advanced Driving Simulator. During his tenure as director, CCAD has grown from 27 researchers to 150. He serves as the elected president of the International Society for Human Simulation, and is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Wallace Alward, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

wallace alward portrait

Alward, Frederick C. Blodi Chair in Ophthalmology, is an international leader in glaucoma research and education. He has been at the center of several landmark genetic discoveries that have shaped the direction of new research and the development of new therapies. The core curriculum he developed for UI ophthalmology residents ensures that graduates receive superior training in glaucoma. He has personally trained more than 100 resident physicians and 30 fellow physicians in glaucoma surgery and advanced medical care. His impact on glaucoma education extends worldwide through the website he created, www.gonioscopy.org, which shares photographs and movies of hundreds of rare and common examination findings and is an invaluable resource for ophthalmologists around the world. Alward has served on many surgical teams that have traveled to developing countries and taught local surgeons the latest techniques for advanced patient care. He has served as a leader for the most prestigious associations in ophthalmology and currently serves as chair of the American Board of Ophthalmology.

Donald W. Black, Department of Psychiatry

donald w. black portrait

Black is a prolific scholar, highly successful clinician, and generous contributor of service to the department, the Carver College of Medicine, and the university. He co-authored the best-selling Introductory Textbook of Psychiatry, and just completed writing a new edition of Bad Boys, Bad Men: Confronting Antisocial Personality Disorder. Black has more than 350 publications, and has earned an international reputation for his research and clinical expertise in personality disorders and impulsive behaviors. His work has led to appearances on national television programs including 20/20, Dateline NBC, and 48 Hours. In addition to his work as an attending physician at UIHC, Black directs the Psychiatry Residency Training Program and serves as his department's vice chair for education. He is president of the American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists, and edits their journal. With psychiatric colleagues, he has researched and helped disseminate a new program for patients with borderline personality disorder, providing hope to those with this challenging condition.

James McPherson, Writers’ Workshop

james mcpherson portrait

McPherson is an iconic American writer and a legendary teacher and mentor to students in the acclaimed UI Writers’ Workshop. Among the honors he has received for his two collections of short stories and three books of nonfiction are the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and the MacArthur “genius” Fellowship. In 1995 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A beloved mentor to three decades of gifted writers, he has nurtured countless literary careers. He has also served the American literary community through participation on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, and others; and as a judge for top literary awards including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Awards. Generous in service to the community as well as to the university, for years he taught a weekly writing class at an assisted living facility. On multiple occasions he has served as acting director of the workshop.

Jonathan Wilcox, Department of English

jonathan wilcox portrait

Wilcox, John C. Gerber Professor of English, has established a reputation as one of the world’s foremost scholars and teachers of Anglo-Saxon literature and culture. He has also established a reputation as an effective and generous leader who consistently steps forward to contribute to the success and well-being of students, colleagues, and programs. Wilcox served as chair of the large and diverse Department of English from 2005 to 2008. He was instrumental in helping the UI Center for the Book navigate challenging budgetary times and develop into the innovative and highly regarded program it is today. He co-created the successful interdisciplinary medieval studies certificate program. A strong advocate for medieval studies and the humanities in general, he contributes actively to the profession and also reaches out to the local community to share his knowledge of medieval culture. He has served on many important collegiate and university committees, including the Faculty Senate and Faculty Assembly and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Executive Committee.

Adrien Wing, College of Law

adrien wing portrait

Wing, Bessie Dutton Murray Professor of Law, is a renowned scholar of international human rights, constitutional law, feminist legal theory, and critical race theory. She has a profound commitment to global, national, and local service. Internationally, she assisted the drafters of three constitutions: South Africa, Palestine, and Rwanda. She has been deeply immersed in enriching global education as director of the college’s France summer study abroad program for the past 13 years, and more recently as director of the semester-long London Law Consortium. Nationally, Wing has been vice president of the American Society of International Law and on the Stanford Law School Board of Visitors. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Wing has been chair of the university’s Gender Equity Task Force as well as the College of Law’s associate dean for faculty development, and on the board of the UI Center for Human Rights. In 2007, she received the UI Distinguished Achievement Award.


Christopher Clair, University Communication and Marketing, 319-384-0900


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