Exceptional effort awards garner 647 nominations

Earlier this week, 52 individuals and teams learned they received one of 12 COVID-19 Exceptional Effort Awards, announced in October to recognize the extraordinary and innovative ways Iowa Staters strived to overcome the challenges of the pandemic.

Following the Nov. 20 nomination deadline, a central review committee of 21, representing all university divisions and employee representative bodies, worked its way through an astounding 647 nominations. While the original intent was to recognize up to three recipients in nearly all categories -- five in the exemplary team/unit award -- the volume of nominations compelled award organizers in the provost's office to expand the recipient list in most categories.

Individual recipients receive a certificate and $500 stipend in their January paychecks. Units or teams selected for an award receive a certificate and $500 award to support a priority need. The award stipends were made possible by private donations in support of the university.

Congratulations to all 647 nominees, including these award recipients: 

Excellence in Face-to-Face Instruction

This award recognizes a faculty or staff instructor who has made exceptional efforts to successfully modify the learning experience during the fall semester to engage students creatively and safely in a face-to-face classroom, studio or lab setting.

  • Jeramy Ashlock, associate professor, civil, construction and environmental engineering
    For exceptional simultaneous delivery of in-person and online instruction through innovative use of technology and training and support of other faculty.
  • Claudia Lemper-Manahl, assistant teaching professor, plant pathology and microbiology
    For leadership and creativity in ensuring the safety of students and staff in undergraduate in-person microbiology labs.
  • Chad Sonka, assistant teaching professor, and Jodi Goble, associate teaching professor, music and theatre
    For the "Dido Project," which created a multi-location, multi-performer, cinematic version of "Dido," overcoming logistical obstacles to rehearse, edit and execute.

Excellence in Remote Instruction

This award recognizes a faculty or staff instructor who has made exceptional efforts to successfully transform courses into engaging and accessible remote teaching platforms while maintaining an exceptional standard of quality.

  • Alice Alipour, associate professor, civil, construction and environmental engineering
    For not only transforming but improving the delivery of CE 332: Structural Analysis I, one of the most challenging courses in the structural engineering program.
  • Locke Karriker, professor, veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine
    For seizing the opportunity to become a leader in remote instruction for clinical teaching.
  • Alejandro Plastina, associate professor, economics
    For adapting ECON 330: Advanced Farm Business Management to an exceptional hands-on, but entirely online, format.
  • Grant Thompson, assistant professor, horticulture
    For outstanding virtual delivery of HORT 240: Landscape Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines, and for enduring improvements to student accommodations.

Graduate Student Teaching Impact

This award recognizes a graduate student who has made exceptional efforts to support student learning through innovative and high-quality approaches to teaching, whether through online, hybrid or face-to-face modalities.

  • Caroliena Cabada, English
    For providing a seamless transition to online delivery for ISUComm foundation courses.
  • Nicole Hayes, psychology
    For promoting student engagement in social psychology and fostering an inclusive and supportive environment.
  • Jameel Kelley, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering
    For becoming a trusted and indispensable resource for students with limited coding experience.
  • Trevor Kliever, interior design
    For exceptional performance transitioning to online and hybrid teaching in interior design.

Excellence in Instructional Support

This award recognizes a faculty or staff instructor who has made exceptional efforts to support the creative and successful redesign of a course or curriculum for remote or hybrid delivery through instructor training or instructional support.

  • Ryan Arndorfer, teaching lab specialist, chemical and biological engineering
    For supporting students and instructors in virtual lab courses through timely creative innovation and trouble shooting.
  • Lesya Hassall, instructional technology specialist, Center for Excellence and Learning and Teaching
    For effective leadership of CELT's Course Design Institute program.
  • Michael Renze, information technology support, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering
    For exceptional technological support to the department's faculty and staff.

Research Impact

This award recognizes an individual or team that has contributed to ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19 through research in any disciplinary area.

  • Nicholas Gabler, professor, animal science
    For delivering practical science-based solutions to pork producers in order to overcome the challenges of packing plant shut-downs.
  • Jacob Meyer, assistant professor, kinesiology
    For transformative research into the behavioral and psychological associations of COVID-19-related alterations to society.
  • Lily Wang, professor, statistics
    For research of COVID-19 dynamics in order to understand and improve forecasting of the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Next Generation Mask project team, associate professor of materials science Jun Cui and scientist Julie Slaughter, Ames Laboratory; and associate professor Bryan Bellaire, veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine
    For research leading to the delivery of the next generation mask/respirator that enhances efficiency and is capable of self-sterilization.

Graduate Student Research Impact

This award recognizes a graduate student who has contributed to ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19 through research in any disciplinary area.

  • Ryan Andrews, biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology
    For important discoveries in the functional annotation of the SARS-CoV-2 genome.
  • Amanda Bries, food science and human nutrition
    For tireless efforts to support nutritional research and undergraduate student lab experiences.
  • Emma Helm, animal science
    For selflessly leading two impactful research studies of pandemic effects on the swine industry.
  • Urminder Singh, genetics, development and cell biology
    For breakthrough research into the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on orphan genes of African American populations.

Extension Impact

This award recognizes an individual or team that has demonstrated innovation and resilience to successfully carry out impactful extension efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Julie Naig, extension youth coordinator, Palo Alto County
    For innovation and resilience in leading impactful extension efforts in fabrication and distribution of personal protective equipment in the state of Iowa.
  • Marc Schneider, industry extension specialist, Center for Industrial Research and Service
    For leading the CIRAS emergency response and for overcoming challenges to global trade and shipping to continue serving organizations across Iowa.
  • Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program educational efforts
    For successfully transitioning food education programs to meet the needs of communities facing food insecurity during the pandemic.

Principles of Community Champion

This award recognizes an individual or team that has shown commitment to Iowa State's Principles of Community and was effective in supporting faculty, staff and students impacted by campus climate issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Cris Broshar, program specialist, child care and family services, university human resources
    For creating "family forum" to share strategies and assist learning to overcome child care and remote working challenges.
  • Social Media + Diversity and Inclusion teams, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
    For intentional collaboration during the pandemic leading to the creation of the #CALScommunity social media campaign.
  • Student Counseling Services
    For incredible empathy, care and compassion to help students practice self-care through therapy and counseling.

Exemplary Team or Unit Effort

This award recognizes a team or unit that has gone above and beyond expectations to support the university in navigating the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Impact can be universitywide or focused on a specific program or cohort of employees or students.

  • Academic Success Center
    For mass communication efforts and effective tutoring services, coaching teams and supplemental instruction.
  • Athletics Training Staff
    For leadership in strategic planning and implementation of protocols to protect the health and welfare of Cyclone student-athletes.
  • Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
    For essential contributions to the efficient and effective shift of teaching and learning across campus.
  • Cyclones Care Development Team
    For a creative and highly effective communications campaign that inspired behavioral change during the pandemic.​
  • Thielen Student Health Center
    For the heroic efforts of all these essential workers to step up and work around the clock to care for our students and community.
  • Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
    For dramatically increasing COVID-19 test processing to respond to testing surges.

Exemplary Operational Support

This award recognizes an individual or team that has demonstrated a resilient commitment to operational success.

  • Mark Coberley, associate athletics director for sports medicine
    For the design and implementation of effective protocols in the care and safety for our student-athletes.
  • Michelle Lenkaitis, senior manager, custodial services, facilities planning and management
    For the successful creation and execution of enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols.
  • Brian Vanderheyden, director, student wellness
    For exceptional leadership and development of ISU’s detailed public health plan.
  • Environmental Health and Safety
    For providing exceptional support, communication and follow-through to ISU's COVID-19 response efforts in the face of unpredictable circumstances.
  • ISU Dining Services
    For responsiveness and flexibility in refocusing services to provide meals to campus, to students in isolation and to those in need in the campus and Ames communities.
  • Printing Services
    For innovation and partnership which helped to provide face shields and protective barriers across campus.
  • Office of Risk Management
    For untiring operational support of students, faculty and staff from the very first stages of the pandemic outbreak through to current contact tracing logistics.

Exemplary Student Support

This award recognizes an individual or team that has demonstrated a resilient commitment to student life and success.

  • Ben Chamberlain and Nate Dobbels, academic advisors, agricultural education and studies
    For providing exceptional face-to-face instruction and supervision, alongside student peer mentors, that assisted new students during their transition to ISU.
  • Michelle Grawe and Ryan Braga, lab coordinators, materials science and engineering
    For dedicated efforts to enable crucial lab-based instruction to continue through enhanced safety measures and extensive redesign.
  • Jenny Macken, academic advisor, sociology
    For dedication to student success and retention through creative online learning communities.
  • Virginia Speight, residence life director, residence
    For managing the logistics for students needing quarantine and isolation spaces, comforting nervous students and responding to anxious parents.
  • Course Material and TechCyte teams, ISU Book Store
    For providing unrelenting assistance through increased technology support and enhanced procedures to meet the needs of students and parents.
  • Undergraduate Programs Office, Ivy College of Business
    For increasing high-touch advising and extending Learning Community enrollment and instruction in support of new students.

University Hero

This award recognizes a faculty or staff member who has shown extraordinary work and whose contributions went above and beyond expectations and directly contributed to the ability of the university to fulfill its mission.

  • Spencer Braly, systems support specialist, information technology services
    For ensuring that videoconferencing technology for major institutional functions was well-designed, programmed, set up and secure.
  • Arne Hallam, associate dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
    For unparalleled leadership of both the university and college response teams to address a multitude of challenges presented by the pandemic.
  • Kristen Obbink, lead public health veterinarian, Center for Food Security/Public Health
    For her achievements in the role of acting COVID-19 public health coordinator.
  • Jessica Shannon, assistant director of nursing and patient services, Thielen Student Health Center
    For inspirational leadership, expertise and compassion in successful management of the Hilton Coliseum COVID-19 testing site.
  • William Spratt, supervisor, Central Stores
    For his efforts in procuring and managing personal protection equipment distribution to campus.