The University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) on Tuesday night celebrated faculty, staff, and students who have distinguished themselves in the areas of research, scholarship, innovation and mentoring.

Discovery & Innovation award ceremony

Joined by the UI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) and the newest member of its organization—the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU)--OVPR presented 14 awards (several to multiple recipients). It also recognized individuals and start-ups awarded patents, options, or licenses with the support of the University of Iowa Research Foundation to help protect and commercialize their intellectual property in 2018. [To view patent winners, click here. To view license and option awardees, click here.]

“All of our award recipients have made important contributions to the research enterprise,” interim Vice President for Research John Keller said in his opening remarks. “Whether they’re conducting new and exciting research and scholarship, translating that work into real-world treatments and inventions, or mentoring students and junior faculty, their work is the lifeblood of a research university.”

Awards given were:

Distinguished Research Administrator: Mindy Sickels Sterbenz, BBA, research support manager, College of Public Health Department of Occupational & Environmental Health. This award recognizes a staff member who performed exceptional service in support of research at the UI by exploring funding opportunities, and assisting in grant proposal preparation, submission, post-award administration, and operational support.           

Distinguished Research Professional : Jeanette Daly, Ph.D., research scientist, UI Carver College of Medicine Department of Family Medicine. This award recognizes a staff member who performed exceptional service in support of research at the UI by conducting experiments, collecting and analyzing results, and performing operational duties associated with a laboratory or research program.

Early Career Scholar of the Year: Korey Kennelty, Pharm.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, College of Pharmacy Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science and UI Carver College of Medicine Department of Family Medicine. This award honors assistant professors in tenure-track, research-track, or clinical-track who have no more than four years total of postdoctoral and/or fellowship experience, are currently involved in research, scholarship and/or creative activity, and who show promise of making a significant contribution to their field.                                                              

Faculty Communicating Ideas: John Rapson, Ph.D., professor of jazz studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) School of Music. This award recognizes excellence in communication about research and scholarship in the sciences and humanities and the study of creative, visual, and performing arts to a general audience directly or via print and electronic media.                                

Leadership in Research: Susan Assouline, Ph.D., Myron and Jacqueline Blank Endowed Chair in Gifted Education, professor in the Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, and director of the Belin-Blank Center, College of Education. The Leadership in Research Award is a lifetime achievement award recognizing research and scholarly accomplishments over a career.                        

Distinguished Achievement in Publicly Engaged Research: Lisa Segre, Ph.D., associate professor, College of Nursing. This award recognizes an individual faculty member who has put addressing public needs and direct engagement with the public, in the service of improving quality of life through research, at the forefront of his or her academic activities.                                     

Scholar of the Year: Bob McMurray, Ph.D., professor, CLAS Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, and director of the DeLTA Center. This award celebrates nationally recognized recent achievement in outstanding research, scholarly and/or creative activities by tenure- and/or research-clinical-track faculty members within the previous 24-month period.                 

Student Startup of the Year (two awards): No Limbits, founded by Erica Cole, senior, CLAS Department of Chemistry, and VerdiLife LLC, founded by Mahdi Eghbali, Ph.D. candidate, Tippie College of Business Department of Economics. The recipients of this award exhibit passion, devotion, and innovation in planning and deploying their startup and have either made significant progress over the years, or have made an impact as determined by jobs created, revenue generated, or other metrics.         

Faculty/Staff Startup of the Year: Firefly Photonics, LLC. Recipients of this award exhibit passion, devotion, and innovation in planning and deploying their startup and have either made significant progress over the years, or have made an impact as determined by jobs created, revenue generated, or other metrics. The recipients are:

  • Co-Founder and President John Prineas, professor, CLAS Department of Physics and Astronomy.
  • Co-Founder and Vice President Fatima Toor, assistant professor, College of Engineering Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • CEO Michael Jones, MBA, University of Iowa.

Excellence in Undergraduate Research Award: These awards recognize outstanding accomplishments in scholarly investigation, artistic creation, or performance by UI undergraduates. The five recipients, in alphabetical order, are:      

  • Mackenzie Cross, junior, CLAS Department of Anthropology.
  • Taha Gesalla, junior, UI Carver College of Medicine Departments of Neurology and Pediatrics.
  • Rikki Laser, junior, CLAS Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.
  • Margaret Mungai, junior, UI Carver College of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine.
  • Sam Ponnada, junior, CLAS Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU) Distinguished Mentor Award: This award was created to recognize the outstanding mentoring of undergraduate students in research and creative projects at the University of Iowa.  (two recipients, in alphabetical order):      

  • Philip Kaaret, Ph.D., professor, CLAS Department of Physics and Astronomy.
  • Linda McCarter, Ph.D., professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Carver College of Medicine.

Student Innovator Award: Qinghua Wang, Ph.D. candidate, College of Engineering Department of Mechanical Engineering. This award honors undergraduate and/or graduate students conducting research/scholarly innovation or new technology development that is recognized as highly original work and has led to intellectual property.         

Graduate Research Excellence Awards: The Graduate Research Excellence Awards honor students in terminal degree programs conducting research and scholarly activity that is recognized as highly original work and makes a significant contribution to the field. The three awardees, listed in alphabetical order, are:       

  • Ian Faith (Arts and Humanities), Ph.D. candidate, CLAS Department of English.     
  • Volha Kananovich (Social Sciences), Ph.D. candidate, CLAS School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
  • Benton Purnell (Life Sciences), Ph.D. candidate, UI Carver College of Medicine Department of Neurology.

Postdoctoral Research Scholar/Fellow Excellence Award: Ali Sulaiman, Ph.D., CLAS Department of Physics. This award honors research performance and scholarly activity that is recognized as highly original work and makes a significant contribution to the field.

The University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research provides researchers and scholars with resources, guidance, and inspiration to secure funding, collaborate, innovate, and forge frontiers of discovery that benefit everyone. More at http://research.uiowa.edu, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover

Contacts: 

Stephen Pradarelli, Office of the Vice President for Research, 3193841282