The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, has selected six outstanding University of Iowa faculty members to be honored for their extraordinary contributions and sustained record of excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. Each recipient of the Regents Award for Faculty Excellence received a $1,500 stipend and will be honored at an awards celebration during the June Board of Regents meeting on the UI campus.
The recipients were selected by committees appointed by shared governance in collaboration with the UI administration and confirmed by the Board of Regents.
Abel, professor and chair of the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, is founding director of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute (INI) and co-director of the Hawkeye Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. He has developed the INI into a world-class interdisciplinary research institute, involving more than 140 faculty members from seven UI colleges and 30 departments, and growing external grant funding for the institute to about $90 million in FY22. An internationally renowned neuroscientist, Abel has published more than 230 research articles focusing on neurobiology, epigenetics, and behavioral neuroscience. He is the principal investigator on three active NIH R01 grants, securing more than $2 million in funding for FY22. Committed to community engagement and education as well as research, he has overseen the creation of a new undergraduate neuroscience major that now enrolls more than 280 students, and he is active in various outreach events, including serving as the UI Presidential Lecturer in 2021. Abel is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Cavanaugh, professor and head of the Department of Biostatistics in the College of Public Health, is a methodological and collaborative researcher who leverages his expertise in statistics and biostatistics to investigate a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary topics. He has published more than 170 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has made particularly important contributions in the areas of statistical model selection, time series analysis, infectious diseases epidemiology, and injury prevention. He played a significant role in the state of Iowa’s COVID-19 response, leading a team that partnered with the Iowa Department of Public Health to analyze data and develop predictive models to help the state respond to the pandemic. He has supervised 19 doctoral dissertations and 39 master’s projects, and is active in service to the department, college, university, and profession. His efforts to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Department of Biostatistics recently helped the department earn recognition from the American Statistical Association. He is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute and a fellow of the American Statistical Association, and has received numerous teaching and mentoring awards, including the UI Hancher-Finkbine Medallion, the College of Public Health Faculty Teaching Award, and the College of Public Health Faculty Mentor Award.
Kowal, professor and departmental executive officer in the Department of Dance in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), is an accomplished scholar known for her fierce advocacy for the arts and dedication to providing students with the best educational experience possible. She has co-edited an influential volume on dance and published two books, including Dancing the World Smaller: Staging Globalism in Mid-Century America, which was a finalist for the prestigious 2021 Outstanding Book Award given by the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. She has taken on substantial service roles within the university and in the dance field, including service as a board member for the National Association of Schools of Dance, vice president for awards and prizes for the Dance Studies Association, vice president for the Society of Dance History Scholars, and executive co-editor of Dance Research Journal. An exceptional teacher who is devoted to fostering inclusion and collaboration among her students, she has mentored numerous MFA theses and honors projects, and was honored as the Outstanding Honors Teacher by the UI Honors Program in 2007. She was named the CLAS Dean’s Scholar in 2009 and CLAS Collegiate Scholar in 2020.
Reinhardt is professor and Roy J. Carver Chair in Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering, where he has overseen remarkable growth in both the department’s student and faculty populations. His leadership helped the department secure a $12 million naming gift from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, which has enabled a significant expansion of research and teaching activities. A highly respected expert in lung imaging and medical image analysis, he has received external research support from organizations including the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, and he has published more than 120 peer-reviewed journal papers. He is an elected fellow of several engineering organizations, including the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Asia-Pacific Artificial Intelligence Association. Reinhardt is a popular teacher and mentor who has taught courses at all levels of the engineering curriculum, including the first-year Introduction to Engineering Computing course. He is committed to developing the next generation of scientists, engineers, and academics, and has successfully mentored 16 doctoral and 21 master’s students.
Weber-Gasparoni, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry in the College of Dentistry, is a respected dental scholar whose research focuses on dental care for patients with special needs, infants, and children from low-income, high-risk populations. She has authored seven book chapters, more than 43 published papers, and more than 100 abstracts, and has active grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration. Her demonstrated commitment to service at the local, university, and national levels includes membership on the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Council of Clinical Affairs, helping set national standards for clinical pediatric dentistry. She led a $1 million fundraising campaign for the department’s Pediatric Dental Excellence Fund and was instrumental in fundraising for the Dr. Jenn Wolfe Memorial Campaign for mental health resources for dental students and practitioners. As a teacher in a clinical setting, course director, lecturer, and mentor, she has positively influenced students and residents both in the College of Dentistry and in the Carver College of Medicine. She received the College of Dentistry’s James McLeran Faculty Award in 2012 and the Hancher-Finkbine Medallion in 2022.
Welch is professor of educational measurement and statistics in the College of Education. As Feldt Faculty Scholar and co-director of the Iowa Testing Programs, Welch is highly regarded for her expertise in student assessment in K-12 education. Her work has shaped the assessment landscape across the state and country. She has authored multiple editions of the High School Equivalency Test and is a principal author of the Iowa Assessments, as well as a lead author of the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress. Dedicated to teaching and mentoring, Welch has played a crucial role in creating materials for the MA in teaching, leadership, and cultural competence program and providing advising and instruction in the educational measurement and statistics program. Her extensive service record includes contributions to the National Council on Measurement in Education, the National Research Council on Developing Assessments for Science Standards, and the Statewide Assessment System Advisory Committee. Her research on assessment practices has earned her numerous awards, including three Distinguished Research Awards from the Iowa Educational Research and Evaluation Association and six Inventor Awards from the UI.