Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Eleven University of Iowa students, faculty, staff, and alumni received awards April 12 at the 105th Finkbine Awards dinner. UI President Barbara Wilson and Sara Sanders, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, presented the awards, including the Hancher-Finkbine Medallions and Distinguished Student Leader Certificates.

The Hancher-Finkbine Medallions represent leadership, learning, and loyalty and were presented to students Jason Gao, Amna Haider, Moala Bannavti, and Michaeljulius Idani, faculty member Karin Weber-Gasparoni, staff member Kathy Kurth, and alumni Stephen Corbeil.

Students Pareen Mhatre, Hieu Nguyen, Vijayvardhan Kamalumpndi, and Kody Waldstein were awarded with Distinguished Student Leader Certificates.

In 1917, William Finkbine and Carl Kuhnle hosted the first awards dinner for UI men. In 1921, Finkbine’s daughter, Dorothy Finkbine Souers, 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 the elder Finkbine, as well as other alumni, friends, and the UI Center for Advancement.

Read about all the award recipients here.

Hancher-Finkbine Medallion Recipients

Undergraduate students

Jason Gao, of Springfield, Illinois, is a third-year student majoring in biomedical science. He is a presidential scholar, has been named to the dean’s list each semester at Iowa, and is a learning assistant in the Department of Chemistry. Gao works as an undergraduate researcher for Dr. Dale Abel, serves as an emergency medical technician, and is a UI Hospitals & Clinics volunteer.

Amna Haider, from Carter Lake, Iowa, is fourth-year international relations and philosophy double major pursuing a certificate in human rights. As an undergraduate, Haider is a representative to the University Lecture Committee, honors writing fellow, peer mentor and research assistant within the Department of Political Science, an undergraduate representative to the UI Center for Human Rights Advisory Board, and a 2019 member of the President’s Leadership Class.

Graduate students

Moala Bannavti, of North Plainfield, New Jersey, is PhD candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Water, and the Environment. Her dissertation is titled “Emission Characterization and Criteria for Remediation of Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Low-Income Public Schools.” Bannavti’s research works to improve the air quality of low-income schools that lack access to updated facilities. She has published and presented her research in many areas, including the UI’s Three-Minute Thesis, where she won the grand prize and people’s choice award.

Michaeljulius Idani, from Atlanta, Georgia, is a graduate student studying creative writing. He has served as a role model and mentor for young men across campus, including being part of the Black Student Union, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and Hubbard Scholars. He has received a Stanley Grant for International Research to explore the concept of cultural resiliency in Sierra Leone and is currently a semi-finalist for a Fulbright Study and Research Award that he hopes to use in Sierra Leone to complete a novel and teach creative writing.

Faculty and Staff

Karin Weber-Gasparoni is a professor of pediatric dentistry in the UI College of Dentistry. She served as the director of the Division of Pediatric Dentistry within UI Health Care’s Center for Disabilities and Development from 2019-2021. She is a recipient of the 2012 James McLeran Faculty Award, the 2011 Field Training Special Recognition Award, and received the 2010 Collegiate Teaching Award. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a national committee that sets evidenced-based clinical guidelines for the profession and is chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry.

Kathy Kurth is a secretary within the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She has been a valued member of the department for more than 44 years working within the Radio and Plasma Wave Space Physics Research Group primarily at the side of the late Professor Donald Gurnett. Kurth has demonstrated a dedication to not only the Department of Physics and Astronomy but to the university in managing the historical records of the department, and her dedication to exhibits, education, and public outreach has totaled more than 300 activities.


Stephen Corbeil is a 1984 graduate of the UI. He earned a master’s degree in Hospital and Health Administration (now the Department of Health Management and Policy in the College of Public Health). Corbeil is an avid supporter of the College of Public Health and generously offers his time, resources, and expertise for the enrichment of today’s students.

For more than 25 years, Corbeil has successfully managed multiple health care organizations within Tenet Healthcare and HCA, for-profit health care providers, in numerous states. Most recently, he served as president of TriStar Health, a multi-billion-dollar division of HCA, he oversaw 22 hospitals, nine ambulatory surgery centers, and more than 12,000 employees in Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky.

Throughout his career, Corbell has been a professional and personal mentor to many College of Public Health students and served as preceptor for summer interns and post-graduate fellows. He served on the Alumni Board for the Department of Health Management and Policy from 2000-2012 and was president in 2007. He received the college’s Outstanding Alumni Award in 2011, the UI Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 2016, and is recognized as a founding partner for the key role he played in the inception of the college.