Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Four University of Iowa faculty members have been selected as recipients of the Iowa Mid-Career Faculty Scholar Awards for 2023.

This is the second year for the award, which provides funding and development opportunities for outstanding tenured associate professors who have established national or international reputations in their disciplines and are exceptional teachers in and outside the classroom.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Karen Dunn Lopez, associate professor in the College of Nursing and director of research at the Center for Nursing Classification and Clinical Effectiveness
  • Allison Jaynes, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Hongli Sun, associate professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in the College of Dentistry
  • Jan Wessel, associate professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Department of Neurology in the Carver College of Medicine

“Our Iowa Mid-Career Faculty Scholar Award recipients are some of the nation’s most promising scholars, leaders, and teachers,” says Kevin Kregel, executive vice president and provost. “It is crucial that we continue to recognize and support the growth of faculty members who will be the future leaders in their disciplines and within our university.”

Each awardee will receive $25,000 annually for the next three years to support their scholarly activities. In addition to the financial support, scholars will work with mentors to create a tailored development plan and participate in an annual symposium showcasing their work to the university community. Development conferences—covering topics such as research leadership, mentoring, and resource management—will allow awardees to engage with the five members of the inaugural 2022-2025 cohort and form a community of scholars across disciplines.

The Iowa Mid-Career Faculty Scholar Award program highlights UI’s commitment to nurturing the professional development and recognition of its exceptional faculty. By supporting the growth and success of these scholars, the university continues to advance its mission of excellence in teaching, research, and service.

Karen Dunn Lopez

Karen Dunn Lopez headshot

Dunn Lopez is a leading expert in the emerging field of nursing informatics. Her research focuses on enhancing clinical decision support for nurses and improving the usability and effectiveness of health information technologies. She has authored 56 peer-reviewed articles, which have been cited more than 1,700 times, and has a strong research track record with nine funded studies totaling $8.2 million. She is frequently invited to present at conferences and serve in leadership roles for professional organizations. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, the most prestigious award in nursing’s premier leadership organization.

As the director for the nationally renowned Center for Nursing Effectiveness and Classification, Dunn Lopez has spearheaded an innovative strategic plan with the potential for substantial funding growth and far-reaching impact on policy. In addition to her research accomplishments, she is a remarkable teacher and mentor, having guided three junior faculty mentees at Iowa who successfully achieved small grant funding, publications, and promotions to next-level academic positions.

“Dr. Dunn Lopez’s work is vital to the future of nursing and health care and the work of building the University of Iowa to become preeminent in the field of informatics and use of analytic techniques that improve patient care outcomes,” Julie Zerwic, Kelting Dean of the College of Nursing, wrote in a letter of support.

Dunn Lopez earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Public Health in health services from Boston University, and a doctorate in nursing science from Iowa. She was an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago before joining Iowa as an associate professor in 2019.

Allison Jaynes

Allison Jaynes headshot

Jaynes is an esteemed space physicist lauded for her ambition, creativity, and leadership. Her research focuses on designing instruments for space-based measurements of energetic particles and analyzing data related to space particles and auroras. Jaynes’ work has significant implications for understanding Earth’s radiation belts and mitigating space weather events affecting space-borne technology, such as satellite communications and GPS navigation. She has led nine competitive research grant proposals to NASA and two to the National Science Foundation (NSF), already earning more than $2 million in external funding. Her work is highly cited, and she has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers in prestigious journals.

Jaynes is frequently invited to present at conferences and actively contributes to the space physics community, serving on a committee for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine that helps guide NASA funding decisions. She was recognized with the CLAS Dean’s Scholar Award in 2022 and received a prestigious NSF CAREER Award in 2020. Jaynes is also an exceptional research advisor and mentor, earning Iowa’s Postdoctoral Association Mentor Award in 2021.

“Professor Jaynes has been called a ‘rising star,’ a ‘superstar’ and a ‘natural leader.’ She has an outstanding record. She already demonstrates leadership in teaching, research, and service. I expect her leadership roles will grow significantly in the coming years,” Mary Hall Reno, professor and departmental executive officer of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, wrote in a letter of support.

Jaynes earned a Bachelor of Science in physics from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a doctorate in physics from the University of New Hampshire. She joined Iowa as an assistant professor in 2017.

Hongli Sun

Hongli Sun headshot

Sun is an emerging leader in the field of biomaterials and tissue engineering, focusing on innovative strategies to improve bone tissue regeneration. His cutting-edge research has been recognized for “groundbreaking progress” in electrospinning techniques and has resulted in strong external grant support, including a five-year R01 grant of more than $1.7 million from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. His research group has published 15 highly cited papers since 2018, and he serves in numerous leadership roles within his field, including chairing several award committees, providing expert review on grant applications, and serving as an editorial member for peer-reviewed journals.

Sun’s dedication to education and mentorship is also notable. He has been the primary graduate student research advisor for five students, including three PhD and two master’s degree students. His long-term goals include becoming one of the leading scholars in bone and dental tissue engineering and developing novel therapeutics for musculoskeletal-related diseases.

“Dr. Sun is a rising star in the field of biomaterials for bone and tissue engineering. With a long list of high-impact, peer-reviewed publications and his excellent and progressively improving record of external grant support, largely from the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Sun’s research is strongly impacting the field of regenerative medicine,” Clark Stanford, dean of the College of Dentistry, wrote in a letter of support.

Sun earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from Changchun Normal University, a Master of Science in cell biology from Nanjing Normal University, and a doctorate in cell biology from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was an assistant professor at the University of South Dakota before joining Iowa as an associate professor in 2018.

Jan Wessel

Jan Wessel headshot

Wessel is a prominent researcher in cognitive neuroscience, recognized for his exceptional scholarly productivity and innovative work. Over the past two years, he has published 16 papers in esteemed journals such as Current Biology, eLife, and Scientific Reports. Wessel currently serves as the principal investigator for two five-year R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health and an NSF CAREER Award, totaling more than $3.6 million. In 2022, he was appointed as a standing member of the National Institutes of Health’s Human Complex Mental Function study section.

In addition to his research success, Wessel is committed to teaching and mentorship. As a first-generation student, he dedicates himself to supporting other first-generation students at Iowa. Wessel used part of his NSF CAREER Award to establish a First-Generation Brain Research Workshop, which introduces first-gen students to cognitive neuroscience methods. In recognition of these contributions, he received the 2022 Award for Outstanding First-Generation Student Advocacy from the UI’s First-Generation Task Force.

Mark Blumberg, F. Wendell Miller Professor and chair of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, wrote in his nomination letter: “By the time (Wessel) was promoted to associate professor in 2020, one of his external evaluators wrote that he ‘has emerged as a major international force in the field of cognitive neuroscience. Indeed, if one wants reliable and groundbreaking data in the area of human motor control and cognitive flexibility, I cannot think of anyone better than Wessel to provide it.’ Another wrote that he is ‘one of the top cognitive neuroscientists of his generation.’”

Wessel received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in psychology from the University of Cologne and earned a doctorate in psychology from the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research. He joined Iowa as an assistant professor in 2015.