Students, faculty, and staff honored
Wednesday, April 20, 2016

University of Iowa students, faculty, staff, and alumni received some of the institution’s highest honors on April 12 at the 99th Finkbine Dinner. Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin was emcee, and UI President Bruce Harreld presented the Hancher-Finkbine Medallions and Distinguished Student Leader certificates. 

Hancher-Finkbine Medallions recognizing leadership, learning, and loyalty went to students Jeffrey Ding, Nicole Jardine, Alexander Lodge, Elizabeth Mills, and Joshua Schoenfeld; biochemistry and internal medicine faculty member Paul Rubenstein; staff member Michael Fountain; and alumnus John W. Colloton.

Dexter Golinghorst, Sailahare Ponnaluri, and Shaun O’Neill received Distinguished Student Leader certificates. The Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Awards (which include a $1,500 award) went to Carter Yerkes and Crystal Pound.

Travis Perry and Samantha Wagner received the Robert F. Ray Faculty Representative Award, which honors outstanding student-athletes and gives $1,000 grants to recipients entering graduate or professional school at the UI.

Vicki Hesli Claypool received the M.L. Huit Faculty Award, and David Bradley (Brad) Wright received the James N. Murray Faculty Award.

In 1917, William Finkbine and Carl Kuhnle hosted the first awards dinner for UI men. In 1921, Finkbine’s daughter, Dorothy Finkbine Sauers, and her aunts introduced a similar dinner for women. The events were combined in 1972, and to this day are supported by an endowment established by W. Finkbine, as well as other alumni, friends, and the UI Foundation.

Read on to learn more about this year’s honorees.

Hancher-Finkbine Staff Medallion

Michael Fountain started at the University of Iowa in the Medical Instruments Shop as an apprentice machinist in January 1974. Throughout his 37-year tenure, Fountain has mastered the operation and maintenance of increasingly complex new machines. During his time, he led the modernization of the physics and astronomy shop from traditional hand-operated tools to modern CAD/CAM automated tools, resulting in a shop capable of building state-of-the-art equipment for interplanetary spacecraft, sub-orbital rockets, and high-energy physics experiments.

As lead machinist, he has been responsible for fabricating scientific instruments for over 40 spacecraft, many of which are still operating in the inner and outer solar system. Fountain has been a mentor to hundreds of students and staff, teaching them how to design and fabricate instruments for physics and astronomy research. In addition to his lab work, Fountain has served as team leader in numerous departmental and university-wide committees, including the Building Emergency Team and UI Protolabs. Described in his nomination as “a loyal, affable, and hard-working employee,” Fountain represents the best of Iowa values.

Hancher-Finkbine Faculty Medallion

Peter Rubenstein started the University of Iowa in 1977 and rose through the ranks to become a full professor in only 10 years. In each of his endeavors, he has provided the voice of reason, whether in the Faculty Senate or on the Carver College of Medicine Executive Committee. He is a dedicated scholar in his own right, having published over 100 peer-reviewed articles in his discipline.

Rubenstein has also demonstrated his leadership in the world of education, where he has assisted the Carver College of Medicine in two dramatic and successful curriculum renewals. His concern for the students always at the fore, he has helped design the most recent curriculum revision in a way that enhances student learning across the continuum of ability, ensuring that his discipline is relevant to the students he teaches. He is the recipient of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education Fellowship 2015, was named to the Association of Biochemical Educators Executive Board 2015–16, and was awarded the H.A. Myers Professorship 2012–15, which recognizes an outstanding basic-science educator who is directly responsible for medical students’ education.

Hancher-Finkbine Undergraduate Student Medallion

Jeffrey Ding is a triple major in economics, Chinese, and political science and is pursuing  a certificate in international business; he will also graduate with honors and Phi Beta Kappa designation. He has taken advantage of experimental-learning activities offered at the UI, including an internship at the Hong Kong Legislative Council during the height of the pro-democracy protests and an internship with the U.S. State Department that will take him to Senegal after graduation. He has served as vice-president of Pi Alpha Phi fraternity, co-president and founder of the Economics Forum, and is UISG’s sustainability liaison.

As a campus leader, Ding was an active participant in an event called “Global Leadership Starts Here,” which sought to bridge gaps between domestic and international students. He was also instrumental in promoting a new general-education category, “Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice.” He has co-presented with Professor Tom Keegan on the Iowa Narratives Project at a national honors conference, presented his essay on altruism at the Nelson Institute Undergraduate Conference on Global Affairs, and represented the 100K Strong Foundation at the University of Iowa at a national conference promoting U.S.–China educational exchanges.

Hancher-Finkbine Undergraduate Student Medallion

Elizabeth Mills is majoring in both political science and social work, and she is also pursuing a minor in Spanish. Mills served as president of the University of Iowa Student Government from 2015–16 and was elected after serving for three years as a UISG senator. During her time in the UISG Senate, she chaired the Governmental Relations Committee during the 2014–15 school year. As chair, she spearheaded the UISG's legislative-advocacy program and helped achieve an unprecedented tuition freeze in 2015.

As a researcher for the Iowa Policy Research Organization, Mills compiled legislative-policy reports on issues of homelessness and criminal justice, leveraging her intellectual and academic ability to create professional briefs and policy recommendations about how to address those social issues. A member of of the Chi Omega fraternity since 2013, Mills was named "Most Active on Campus" by her peers, thanks to her efforts on behalf of the chapter. In 2014, she was elected vice president of philanthropy and community service for the Panhellenic Council.

Hancher-Finkbine Graduate/Professional Student Medallion

Nicole Jardine earned a B.A. in cognitive science with honors from UC Irvine while working as an undergraduate researcher before moving to Vanderbilt University as a full-time research assistant studying in the Perception, Attention, and Control Lab. She matriculated into the University of Iowa Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences’ Ph.D. program in 2011, where she continues to study visual cognition and perception.

Jardine currently serves as president of the Graduate Student Senate and has spearheaded numerous initiatives to better the academic, financial, and personal well-being of her fellow graduate students. Specifically, Jardine has advocated for initiatives to increase the number of women in STEM fields, brought speakers to campus to educate stipend-receiving graduate students about financial literacy issues, and worked on a proposal for a Grad/Prof. Student Financial Retention Incentive. In addition to her role as president of GSS, she is a founding board member of the Iota Chi Chapter of Graduate Women in Science and led the planning of a free campus-wide workshop on professional communication for female scientists.

Hancher-Finkbine Graduate/Professional Student Medallion

Alexander Lodge grew up in a small town in rural Louisiana. He attended Grambling State University, graduating summa cum laude with a B.S. in chemistry and then completed a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Iowa. Now a third-year student in the UI College of Law, Lodge has pursued a challenging academic program, focusing much of his work in the area of intellectual property. In addition to courses related to patents and copyrights, he is competing on the Patent Moot Court team.

Lodge is currently serving as president of the Intellectual Property Law Society. He is co-developing a “Street Law” program for the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) that will teach area minority youth and college students about their Fourth Amendment rights. For almost five years, he has volunteered as the director for the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids Guide Right/Kappa Youth Development League, a youth-leadership program that serves primarily minority youth at Kirkwood Elementary, Northwest Junior High, and high schools in both the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids districts. Lodge is particularly proud of the eight students who have been in the leadership program, graduated from high school, and have gone on to college.

Hancher-Finkbine Graduate/Professional Student Medallion

Joshua Schoenfeld joined the Free Radical and Radiation Biology laboratory of Douglas Spitz and Bryan Allen after completing his first two pre-clinical years at Carver College of Medicine. Schoenfeld is an author of "Ketogenic diets as an adjuvant cancer therapy: History and potential mechanism," a paper published in Redox Biology in 2014. Schoenfeld has been recognized by the Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine with the Young Investigator Award in 2014 and 2015 and won the Trainee Poster Award at the 2015 Internal Medicine Research Day at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

During his tenure as co-mayor of the Boulware Learning Community, Schoenfeld created “Ride 4 Youth” a charity bike ride to support United Action for Youth. In addition, he served as the Carver College of Medicine delegate in the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG) for two years before being named president of the GPSG, where he works to advance the interests of University of Iowa students, ensuring that diverse voices are represented and heard.

Robert Ray Faculty Athletic Representative Award

Travis Perry, from Urbandale, Iowa, received a B.A. in communication studies, with a minor in business administration, in the spring of 2015. As a member of the University of Iowa’s football program, Perry earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for three straight years (2012, 2013, and 2014). In 2013, he saw action in all 13 of Iowa’s games, recording five solo tackles and five assists, and ended the season participating in the 2014 Outback Bowl. For the 2014 season, he earned the Reggie Roby Special Teams Award after seeing action in 10 games and ended the year by playing in the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl. In his last season, he was a valuable member of the 2015 Big Ten West Championship team and 2016 Rose Bowl team.

Perry has honorably served on the Iowa Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (ISAAC) as a representative for football. Through his participation, he has been recognized as a leader among his peers and has participated in numerous community-service events, including the annual Day of Caring and the Human Rights Bowling Social. Perry started his M.A. in leisure and recreational sport management at the University of Iowa this past fall and intends to complete his degree in the spring of 2017. Upon graduation, he is considering a career in college athletics, specifically in the realm of operations or finance.

Robert Ray Faculty Athletic Representative Award

Samantha Wagner, a senior member of the women’s diving team from Marion, Iowa, will graduate in December 2016 with a BSE in biomedical engineering. As a member of the Hawkeye diving team, Wagner is a three-time letter winner and member of the 2015 and 2016 Big Ten Championship teams. She posted personal-best scores in the 1-meter springboard (265.50) and 3-meter springboard (208.12) and registered a top-five finish during the 2013–14 season. She was named Academic All-Big Ten twice during her career and made the UI dean’s list for two consecutive semesters.

Wagner was service chair for the Iowa Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (ISAAC) during the 2015–16 academic year. She is a past participant of the Hawkeye HealthCARE program, where she gained valuable experience with and exposure to various health care fields. She has conducted research under the direction of UI faculty and volunteered in the emergency department at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Following graduation, she plans to attend medical school.

James N. Murray Award Recipient

David Bradley (Brad) Wright is an assistant professor of health management and policy in the College of Public Health. Wright received a Ph.D. in health policy & management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an M.S. in health policy from George Washington University, and a B.S. in biology from the University of Georgia. He also completed an AHRQ-funded postdoctoral fellowship in health services research at Brown University.

Wright joined the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Iowa in 2012 and received a secondary appointment in the UI Public Policy Center in 2013. His research interests include access to care for vulnerable populations, disparities in health and health care delivery, and health politics and policy. Within those areas, he focuses on safety-net and primary-care providers, health reform, Medicaid, Medicare, and patient participation in health care.

M.L. Huit Faculty Award

Vicki Hesli Claypool is a professor in the Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Hesli Claypool received both a Ph.D. and a B.A. in political science from the University of Minnesota. She has served as director of undergraduate studies and director of graduate studies in the department.

Hesli Claypool’s most significant service contributions to the University of Iowa have come from her role as chair of the Faculty Assembly and chair of the university’s Research Council. She was co-principle investigator on three National Science Foundation grants and principle investigator on two U.S. Department of State partnership program grants between the University of Iowa and Taras Shevchenko National University in Ukraine. She is currently a member of the editorial board of the American Political Science Review and previously served as chair of the Committee on the Status of Women in the American Political Science Association.

Hancher-Finkbine Alumni Medallion

John W. Colloton worked at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for 44 years, 22 of which as CEO. He earned a master’s degree from the graduate program in Hospital and Health Administration (now the Department of Health Management and Policy in the College of Public Health). Throughout his distinguished career, Colloton has been a pioneering leader in the education and training of future health care managers, researchers, public health professionals, and policy makers.

During his tenure as CEO, Colloton transformed UIHC into a state-of-the-art, comprehensive academic medical center. He conceived and led the effort to construct $500 million of new clinical facilities, all with private funding. His visionary leadership enabled UIHC to develop into one of America’s premier teaching hospitals and helped bring cutting-edge medical services to all Iowans. As a result of his vision and exceptional ability to make that vision a reality, the University of Iowa has clinical care and education facilities that are second to none in the nation. Colloton’s devotion and commitment to the UI have created an enduring legacy for the future of UIHC.

Phillip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award

Carter Yerkes is majoring in both finance and economics in the Tippie College of Business. Through his leadership on a variety of events, such as a vigil in solidarity with students at Mizzou, IC Red Week, and Human Rights Awareness Week, Yerkes has worked to foster understanding within the campus community about the differences and issues that lead to discrimination and also to promote human rights around the globe.

Yerkes created a support network called the Human Rights Student Collective (HRSC), which brings together leaders from ONE, UI Students for Human Rights, Amnesty International, and the University of Iowa United Nations Association to achieve a level of impact that the member organizations could not reach individually. He has also volunteered with the English as a Second Language program at Kirkwood Community College and with Table to Table Food Rescue. Additionally, he is on the executive board of UI Students for Human Rights and is the founder and director of the Human Rights Student Collective.

Phillip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award

Crystal Pound, a third-year graduate student in the College of Law, has made significant contributions to the University of Iowa Center for Human rights, including advocating for a database containing human-rights research materials. She has volunteered with Iowa Legal Aid to help protect the human rights of underprivileged groups and improved the organization’s website in order to increase its accessibility for the general public. Her work with Street Law helped create a curricular component that can be taught by future UI students.

As president of the Black Law Students Association, Pound has re-invigorated the group by revising its bylaws and expanding community involvement, including reaching out to Habitat for Humanity, cooking meals for the Ronald McDonald House, and working at the Crisis Center of Johnson County. Consistent with her desire for community engagement, Pound interned for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services and worked at the State Public Defender’s Office researching criminal law issues regarding sexual offenses.

Distinguished Student Leader Award

Dexter Golinghorst, who is majoring in both political science and economics, is also pursuing a certificate in public health. He will graduate in three years and was recently admitted into the University of Iowa College of Law. Golinghorst was a participant in the Iowa Policy Research Organization, an experiential-learning course created for honors political science students. During the summer of 2015, he had the honor of completing a constituent-services internship with Governor Branstad.

Golinghorst currently serves as the president of Hawkeye Caucus and organizes the largest student lobbying day at the Iowa State Capitol. As part of the caucus, he coordinates 150 students to attend and speak with their legislators about the importance of affordable tuition and appropriations for state education. Golinghorst also volunteers to work for fellow students by promoting student ideals on the University of Iowa Presidential Charter Committee on Financial Aid and the Honors Student Advisory Board. He is also the UISG governmental-relations liaison, in which capacity he collaborates on initiatives associated with the Iowa legislature and the Iowa Board of Regents.

Distinguished Student Leader Award

Sailahare Ponnaluri will graduate this spring with a degree in biomedical engineering, with honors, and with a special emphasis in cardiovascular biomechanics. Her current research project with Edward Sander, professor of biomedical engineering, uses state-of-the-art biological assay and imaging techniques to help limit scar formation in human tissues. This project led Ponnaluri to an experiential-learning opportunity as a software-development intern with IDx LLC, a company working on advanced optical-imaging methods for disease diagnosis and treatment.

Ponnaluri has held two elected positions for the professional engineering fraternity Theta Tau, served as the high school conference chair for the Society of Women Engineers, mentors for the Women in Science and Engineering program at the University of Iowa, and is lead tutor for the College of Engineering. Her volunteer work includes promoting the success of the FIRST Tech Challenge program as a judges’ assistant, community outreach chair, and coach; participating for the past three years at the University of Iowa Dance Marathon; and volunteering as a Veteran’s Hospital service escort.

Distinguished Student Leader Award

Shaun O’Neill is the 2016 recipient of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon William S. Kramer Award of Excellence for the UI College of Dentistry. He has the honor of being the first delegate of the UI American Student Dental Association, as well as being the first student on the advisory board for the Professional Protector Plan. He initiated and continues to chair the Pre-Dental Summer Academy, a four-day academy that provides pre-dental students the opportunity to obtain hands-on experience in a state-of-the-art clinical learning environment. He has served as the president elect/president of the Iowa American Student Dental Association (IASDA) and as an IASDA delegate to Graduate and Professional Student Government.

O’Neill has been involved in the Iowa Sealant Outreach, I-SMILE, Iowa Mission of Mercy, the Free Medical Clinic in Iowa City, and the Mouth Guard Program for Iowa City high schools. Recently, he worked with State Representative Rob Taylor to provide an alternative to human-subject use in licensure in Iowa, resulting in a bill to be debated in the House of Representatives during the spring session.