After a two-year pandemic hiatus, graduation breakfast returned to the Memorial Sun Room Tuesday morning, part of Senior Week activities. The senior breakfast is co-sponsored by the division of student affairs and the Student Alumni Leadership Council, which is supported by the ISU Alumni Association. Iowa State leaders and other administrators cover volunteer shifts at the breakfast.
More than 60 Iowa State faculty and staff will be recognized this fall for winning one of the university's annual awards. Following is the list of the employees and the promotions or awards for which they will be recognized.
The title of Distinguished Professor, first awarded in 1956, is Iowa State's highest academic honor. It recognizes a faculty member whose accomplishments in research or creative activities have had a significant impact on their discipline nationally or internationally and who has demonstrated outstanding performance in at least one other area of faculty responsibility. Nominees must hold the rank of professor and have served at least five years on the Iowa State faculty. The awardee retains the title for the remainder of their career at the university.
- Diane Bassham, professor of genetics, development and cell biology
- Lance Baumgard, professor of animal science
- Douglas Gentile, professor of psychology
- Sri Sritharan, Wilkinson Chair of Interdisciplinary Engineering and assistant dean, College of Engineering
- Xinwei Wang, professor of mechanical engineering
The title of University Professor is awarded to a faculty member who has acted as a change agent by making significant contributions to improve the university and who has demonstrated outstanding performance in at least one other area of faculty responsibility. Nominees must hold the rank of professor and have served at least 10 years on the Iowa State faculty. The awardee retains the title for the remainder of their career at the university.
- Tunde Adeleke, professor of history
- Elisabeth Lonergan, professor of animal science
The title of Morrill Professor is conferred on a faculty member who has exhibited excellence in undergraduate or graduate teaching or extension and outreach programs and who has demonstrated outstanding performance in at least one other area of faculty responsibility. Nominees must hold the rank of professor and have served at least five years on the Iowa State faculty. The awardee retains the title for the remainder of their career at the university.
- Steve Butler, Barbara J. Janson Professor of Mathematics
- Amanda Fales-Williams, professor and Tyrone D. Artz, M.D. Chair for Teaching Excellence, veterinary pathology
- Kevin Schalinske, professor of food science and human nutrition
- Jonathan Sturm, professor of music and theatre
Regents Award for Faculty Excellence
The award is presented by the state Board of Regents to recognize tenured faculty members who are outstanding university citizens and have rendered significant service to the university or the state of Iowa.
- Julie Dickerson, David C. Nicholas Professor of electrical and computer engineering
- Margaret LaWare, associate professor of English
- Sergio Lence, Marlin Cole Professor of International Agricultural Economics
- Linda Niehm, professor of apparel, events and hospitality management
- Brett Sponseller, associate professor of veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine
Regents Award for Staff Excellence
The award is presented by the state Board of Regents to recognize professional and scientific or merit staff who are outstanding university citizens and have rendered significant service to the university or the state of Iowa.
- Monica Howard, assistant dean, College of Veterinary Medicine
- Wendy Stensland, manager, Veterinary Diagnostic Lab
Award for Inclusive Excellence
The award recognizes faculty, professional and scientific staff and merit staff who have advanced the university's mission of diversity, equity and inclusion beyond their usual job responsibilities.
- Kimberly Greder, professor of human development and family studies
- Mindy Heggen, academic advisor, mechanical engineering
International Service Award
The award recognizes a faculty member for outstanding international service in teaching, research or administration within the United States or abroad.
- Curtis Youngs, professor of animal science and Ensminger Endowed Chair of International Agriculture
Outstanding Achievement in Teaching
The award recognizes a faculty member for outstanding teaching performance over an extended period of time.
- Dirk Deam, teaching professor of political science
- Phillip Jones, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering
Early Achievement in Teaching
The award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding teaching performance unusually early in their career.
- Mirka Deza, assistant teaching professor of mechanical engineering
- Raluca Iancu, assistant professor of art and visual culture
- Ilker Karaca, assistant professor of practice of finance
- Tingting Liu, associate professor of finance and John and Connie Stafford Professor in Business
James Huntington Ellis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Introductory Teaching
Established by a 1928 Iowa State graduate, the award recognizes a faculty member for exceptional achievement in teaching introductory courses.
- Carlton Basmajian, associate professor of community and regional planning
- Emily Morgan, associate professor of art and visual culture
The award recognizes a department chair or school director who has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities in advancing the faculty, staff, students and programs in their department.
- Chad Gasta, chair of world languages and cultures
Early Achievement in Departmental Leadership
The award recognizes the exceptional impact of a department chair or school director within the first three years of their leadership role.
- Hridesh Rajan, chair of computer science and Kingland Professor of Data Analytics or Cognitive Machine Learning
Academic Advising Impact
The award recognizes outstanding performance by an academic advisor over an extended period of time.
- Ben Chamberlain, student services specialist, agricultural education and studies
- Michael Wigton, associate teaching professor, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
Early Achievement in Academic Advising
The award recognizes outstanding performance by an academic advisor early in their career.
- Alissa Whitmore, academic advisor, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Outstanding Achievement in Research
The award recognizes a tenured faculty member who has a national or international reputation for contributions in research and/or creative activity.
- Jared Anderson, Alice Hudson Professor of chemistry
- Ratnesh Kumar, Palmer Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Mid-Career Achievement in Research
The award recognizes a tenured or tenure-track faculty member who has demonstrated exemplary performance or scholarship in research and/or creative activity as documented by peers or experts in the field.
- Megan Gilligan, associate professor of human development and family studies
- Kirill Kovnir, professor of chemistry
- Simon Laflamme, professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering and Waldo W. Wegner Professor in Civil Engineering
Early Achievement in Research
The award recognizes a tenured or tenure-track faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in research and/or creative activity unusually early in their professional career.
- Walter Moss, associate professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology
- Peter Orth, associate professor of physics and astronomy
- Cristina Poleacovschi, assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering
Interdisciplinary Team Research Award
The award recognizes an interdisciplinary team of two or more faculty researchers with outstanding achievements who have made a significant contribution to the university's research and scholarship mission through successful interdisciplinary collaborations.
C-CHANGE (Consortium for Cultivating Human And Naturally reGenerative Enterprises)
- Adam Janke, associate professor of natural resource ecology and management
- Omar de Kok-Mercado, program assistant, natural resource ecology and management
- Mark Mba-Wright, associate professor of mechanical engineering
- Marshall McDaniel, associate professor of agronomy
- Jarad Niemi, associate professor of statistics
- Lisa Schulte Moore, professor of natural resource ecology and management
- Dana Schweitzer, program specialist, natural resource ecology and management
Professional and Scientific Research Award
The award recognizes a professional and scientific staff member employed at Iowa State at least five years for excellence in research.
Cajetan Nlebedim, scientist, Ames Laboratory
Achievement in Economic Development in Iowa
The award recognizes individuals or teams of faculty or professional and scientific staff for outstanding university-based achievements in advancing the state of Iowa's economic development.
Raymond Hansen, director, Agricultural Marketing Resource Center
Achievement in Intellectual Property
The award recognizes individuals or teams of faculty and professional and scientific staff for outstanding university-based achievements in producing intellectual property.
Robbyn Anand, associate professor and Carlyle G. Caldwell Endowed Chair in Chemistry
Professional and Scientific Excellence Award
The award recognizes contributions made by a professional and scientific staff member within and beyond the university and career progress demonstrated by accomplishments at Iowa State.
- Lisa Lund, manager of information technology support, College of Veterinary Medicine
- Jennifer Plagman-Galvin, senior manager of business administration, College of Human Sciences
- Kathryn Wieland, director of career services, Ivy College of Business
Carroll Ringgenberg Award
Named for a longtime staff member in purchasing and facilities, the award recognizes an extraordinary professional and scientific staff member who exhibits constant and contagious dedication to and goodwill for Iowa State.
Michael Holtzbauer, meat laboratory manager, animal science
Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award
The award recognizes a professional and scientific staff member who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments unusually early in their professional career.
- Jordan Brooks, director of equity, inclusion and multicultural student success, College of Design
- Alisha Carroll, alumni relations specialist, civil, construction and environmental engineering
- Maya Hayslett, extension youth education specialist, plant pathology and microbiolog
Distinguished Service in Extension and Outreach
The highest award bestowed on an extension professional recognizes sustained distinguished performance and educational contributions to Iowa State's clientele through extension programs.
Jill Weber, extension food and health education specialist, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach
Outstanding Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice
The award recognizes a faculty or staff member who has demonstrated outstanding performance in statewide leadership in extension or professional practice, and has achieved national recognition for outreach activities.
- Denise Schwab, extension agriculture education specialist, Iowa Beef Center
- Christopher Seeger, professor of landscape architecture, Community and Economic Development Extension and Outreach
Early Achievement in Extension or Professional Practice
The award recognizes a faculty or staff member who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in extension or professional practice unusually early in their career.
Amy Powell, extension youth education specialist, animal science
R.K. Bliss Extension Award
Named for the director of Extension from 1912 to 1946, the award recognizes outstanding achievement of an extension staff member for developing an overall or continuing extension education program.
Larry Tranel, extension agriculture education specialist, Extension and Outreach Dairy Team
Numerous useful and thoughtful projects have bubbled up across campus in the last five years -- "Principles of Community" banners along Morrill Road; a rejuvenation of the student food pantry SHOP; a course proposal, gear kit and best practices for University Library on collecting oral history; a website to honor students who die during their ISU years, for example.
The thread that connects about 20 seemingly disparate projects is the annual Emerging Leaders Academy (ELA), a nine-month leadership development program for faculty and professional and scientific staff organized by the provost's office. Five years ago, its organizers replaced a faculty mentor component with a capstone concept: team projects that make Iowa State a kinder, more accessible community in which to work or study.
The intent, according to ELA co-director Katharine Hensley, faculty success coordinator in the provost's office, is to provide an interactive experience that builds on learned skills, helps class members develop lasting connections across campus and compels teams to collaborate -- or at least consult -- with administrators and staff in units impacted by capstone plans.
"The capstone might be the best way they learn about leadership, because they're doing leadership as a team," Hensley said.
Even when things go sideways -- as they inevitably do every year for one or more teams -- "They're gaining insight into what they'd do differently. The missteps are what you grow from the most," she said.
Hensley coordinates ELA with professor of veterinary clinical sciences Rod Bagley. Using a handful of variables, they assign four project teams from among a cohort's 24-30 members and recommend a few parameters as teams hone in on projects:
- It aligns with the university's strategic plan and Principles of Community
- It's sustainable without creating lots of work for someone else; it's not a one-and-done benefit
- It can be completed in six months
- Capstone team involves stakeholders in its planning
That third bullet often causes the most anxiety, Hensley said.
"We try to emphasize scope from the beginning. If they think too big, or if they don't clearly define their outcomes, often it doesn't turn out the way they anticipated," she said.
It's still working
Accurately assessing a real need also helps a capstone effort succeed. Three years ago, ELA member Sarah Wilson, now in student services in the Ivy College of Business, worked in the College of Human Sciences and watched her colleague, director of multicultural student success (DMSS) Carmen Flagge, struggle to keep afloat a gently used career clothing pop-up shop for students. Wilson's capstone team adopted the shop and did substantial "fact finding" to see if Iowa State could collaborate with an existing consignment store or student organization. Not finding a good match, ultimately, they approached student government and submitted a funding request on behalf of Flagge and other DMSSs behind the pop-up shop.
In spring 2019, student government approved a five-year commitment of nearly $23,000 each year to support the business attire pop-up shop, which collects donations year-round for two free distribution events a year.
It was a game-changer. Flagge said the annual support is used primarily for three needs: two student interns who promote the events on social media and set up the shop; climate-controlled storage off campus for the clothing items between pop-up shops; and industrial-grade supplies and equipment that help make the shop happen: hangers, mirrors, clothing racks, clothing collection bins and the like. From 71 students at the first pop-up shop in spring 2018, the event now serves 400-700 students from all seven colleges each semester.
"It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed immensely the work with my team," Wilson recalled this week. "You think you're in ELA to work on developing yourself, but there's also this really worthwhile project you want to make sure succeeds.
"All of those experiences helped us develop relationships around campus that I still have today," she said.
Nicely done, class of 2022
This year's four capstone teams shared their projects with classmates as part of their April 15 session. On May 9, they'll gather one more time for a graduation celebration. Here's a summary of their work and where you might find it:
- Gather content for a website highlighting campus' "best kept secrets" -- 40 locations grouped among five categories -- to share Iowa State's history and traditions with multiple audiences, including prospective students, current ISU families, alumni and the Ames community. The site could be added to the existing Arts and Attractions page.
- Organize ISU Serves, a month-long competition to complete and record volunteer service hours, by individual and campus unit. The intent behind gamifying volunteerism is to encourage it but also expand the scope of what it looks like in a community of skilled individuals. The pilot subsequently was added to the ISU WorkLife website. Congratulations to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which received the ISU Serves traveling trophy in its inaugural year.
- To help address student mental health needs, develop proposals for suicide-prevention decals that will go in campus restrooms and student housing. The four designs feature a message -- "Give tomorrow a chance" or "Your life means everything to the people who love you," for example -- and QR code that links to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, not a local resource. College of Design students created the proposals, and ISU printing services will produce the selected design(s).
- Secure keynote speakers for the 2022 ISCORE faculty/staff preconference that could address the topic of land-grant universities being funded through land expropriated by the federal government from indigenous tribes. The team's idea began as a one-day campus workshop to increase awareness of the land acquisition that made land-grant universities possible. The one-hour keynote is archived in University Library's digital press as part of the ISCORE archive.
At the conclusion of their presentations, Bagley congratulated class members for "projects that have impact," which is the goal every year for every project.
And then he added, "You've reached base camp. Your journey continues."
Bueller. Bueller. Bueller.
Actually, it's Detective Bueller.
ISU Police created a social media sensation with an April Fools' joke viewed by millions. On April 1, the police department posted on its Facebook page a picture of support services Capt. Zack McVey holding the newest addition to the force: Ferret Bueller. The ferret, given the honorary rank of detective complete with a mini police badge, was hailed as a narcotic-detecting ferret, less expensive to train than a drug-sniffing dog and capable of getting into small spaces.
The post exploded in popularity with more than 6,700 likes, nearly 5,000 comments and 29,000 shares to date.
"We were not expecting this at all," McVey said. "We are at 4.4 million profiles on Facebook that have viewed the post and counting."
The joke left many wondering if a ferret -- one of two owned by public safety officer Tim Murphy -- could perform drug-sniffing duties. That was quickly debunked in a post the next day, this time with Bueller sporting an ISU Police red vest. Bueller got an assist from the department's two certified therapy dogs, Zosia and Zeb, for the miniature badge and vest -- both extremely popular among Facebook commenters.
"Zosia and Zeb are out on campus frequently, and as part of one of our giveaways we had some stuffed Zosias made," McVey said. Bueller's badge and vest came from one of the toys.
The idea for the April Fools' Day post began a few years ago with a discussion with a teacher when McVey was a school resource officer in Ankeny. He presented it to police chief Michael Newton, who much to McVey's surprise, was in favor of it. The success of the original post led to a return for Bueller on April 20 (4/20) -- code for smoking marijuana -- when he went "sniffing" for drugs in cars and campus dorm rooms.
"We had students who recognized him and came over to interact and hold him. We certainly plan to use him some more on social media now that he has gained some fame," McVey said. "We still get comments on the post 27 days into it."
"One of the hallmarks of Iowa State is innovation," Newton said. "We want our team to try new approaches that will connect us with all members of our community. Our fun social media presence gives many in the community and us a talking point to get conversations started."
Bueller's celebrity continues to grow with student-made posters now popping up in the Armory.
It's not the first time ISU Police has been a hit on social media. In 2017, with the Ames Police Department, it launched "Donut Disrespect" to promote respect for everyone. That campaign went viral with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
Bueller's addition led to plenty of laughs and positive engagement for the police department, but it had an impact on a more important issue.
"Between April 1-3 we gained almost 4,000 followers to our social media accounts. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so it wasn't all lighthearted content. We were posting some very serious content about sexual assault and helping survivors," McVey said. "That more serious content had a greater reach because of this post."
Newton said ISU Police can't do its job alone, and social media is one of many tools it uses to meet larger goals of making Iowa State a safe, secure and welcoming community.
The end of Iowa State's contract with e-signature vendor DocuSign, announced in early February, has arrived. Friday, April 29, is the last day employees will be able to use that platform to modify or route electronic documents and contracts requiring a signature. Since early February, they've had access to Adobe Acrobat Sign for creating new documents.
After Friday -- and only through July -- access to DocuSign will be limited to reading documents or exporting PDF files of signed documents they want to keep. On July 31, DocuSign will purge all Iowa State documents from its system.
Blank templates available
An information technology services (ITS) team has exported all Iowa State document templates from DocuSign and formatted them for use in Adobe Acrobat Sign. If you haven't yet, email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy of your templates; be sure to include the template title.
Initiator vs signer
Jim Hurley, ITS software development manager, said he has provided "initiator" status in Adobe Acrobat Sign to about 375 faculty and staff, notably higher than the 230 who had authority to create e-signature documents in DocuSign. To request initiator status, submit the online form for Adobe Acrobat Sign in the IT service portal. Employees who simply sign documents routed to them don't need the software. However, they will be required to agree to Adobe's use terms the first time they use Adobe Sign.
The university's three-year contract with Adobe Acrobat Sign began Nov. 1, 2021. Hurley's team integrated it with other campus systems, and several dozen early adopters helped identify and correct hiccups before the rest of campus received access in February.
Use Adobe Sign to create e-signature documents, Feb. 10, 2022
On a Saturday morning in Carver Hall, student stage manager Ashley Oxenreider calls out, "Places. Cuing music," before hitting the play button on her laptop. A jazz drummer's brushes swirling a snare cause several larger-than-life bees to vibrate into existence at the front of the classroom.
Puppeteer Piper Smith lifts and lowers a large dowel that's supporting the rusty patched bumble bee's torso. She twists another to turn the pollinator's head from side to side. A closer inspection reveals the bee's gleaming black eyes are coils of beaded necklaces and the bright stripe that gives the rusty patched bumble bee its name is shredded plastic netting that once held oranges.
The students' rehearsal was for the upcoming performances of Iowa Insect Pageant on central campus (April 28, 6 p.m.) and at Bandshell Park (April 30, 2 p.m.). Free and open to the public, the pageant is intended to "delight and awe" audiences and bring attention to the fascinating and complex world of insects, said Amanda Petefish-Schrag, associate professor of theatre.
"This is an outdoor performance that really leans into the pageant structure. Different Iowa insects will be featured with a focus on their unique 'talent' or beauty," said Petefish-Schrag, a puppeteer and playwright.
The production is a collaboration between arts and sciences, with original music composed by teaching professor of music Mike Giles and performed by the ISU jazzONE ensemble he directs; insect expertise and guidance from entomology professor Matt O'Neal; and Petefish-Schrag's team of puppets and puppeteers.
Bring trash to life
Along the sides of the rehearsal space, dozens of puppets -- some the size of platters, others larger than coffee tables -- lie motionless. Petefish-Schrag said good puppetry creates an ongoing contradiction in the performance.
"You see a manipulated object that you know isn't alive, yet you respond to it as though it is. There's something both strange and a bit magical about seeing a familiar object or collection of materials suddenly gain personality and essence," she said.
Several staff and faculty, a few community members and more than two dozen students designed and constructed the giant insect puppets over the fall and spring semesters using discarded materials. Petefish-Schrag said working with plastic, food wrappers and other "trash" made the puppet-building process more challenging but also pushed puppeteers to think about what a material is and what it could be. Andes Mint wrappers mimic the sweat bee's green metallic sheen and bubble wrap fills the aphids' semi-translucent bodies.
"And since this project specifically deals with ecology, there is also an added element of commitment to repurposing and recycling, recognizing that the material choices puppeteers make have impacts not just on the puppets, but on the community itself," she said.
Smith, the company member who brought the rusty patch bee to life, said she likes the challenge of upcycling materials.
"It makes me think about how much we throw away and how we utilize resources. Using it is a restriction, but I think that makes us more creative," said Smith, a senior in performing arts.
Telling a bug's story
Initial discussions about the Iowa Insect Pageant started a year ago when Petefish-Schrag approached O'Neal. The entomologist said he didn't need much convincing to collaborate on the project. He had seen some of Petefish-Schrag's previous theater productions and puppets and was thrilled for the opportunity to contribute.
O'Neal visited several of Petefish-Schrag's classes early in the process to help the students learn more about the insects they would highlight through puppetry and a script with unique facts about each specimen.
"We reviewed the basic taxonomy of insects -- what morphological features make an insect an insect. But we also talked about other ways to classify insects, based on where they live, what they eat, how they reproduce and how they survive the winter," said O'Neal, who brought in other entomologists and pinned specimens for the students to draw inspiration.
Alex Brown, senior in performing arts and puppet captain for the pageant, said he appreciated learning about the "billion bug highway" used by insects migrating to warmer weather and the iterative script writing process.
"At the beginning, we were given a sheet of facts about the insect we were talking about in that section. We would then work together by splitting into groups and improvising our way of telling the facts. From there we would sit and talk about what worked well, and then once a written part of the script was handed to us, we started to cement those ideas," he said.
Inspired by insects
Last fall semester, Giles began composing original music for the project based on conversations with O'Neal about particular insects and their life cycles.
"Everything I learned from Matt -- and then swished around in my head for a little bit -- helped narrow the compositional focus. For example, the melody call and response heard in the song 'She'll Be So Proud' uses the syllabic rhythms of both the common name and species name of three different types of bees," he said.
Giles said he also wrote the music in a way to play up the strengths of the 17 student musicians in ISU jazzONE, the university's top big band.
Near the end of the rehearsal, the stage manager plays a recording of "The Mixtape Effect," which Giles wrote to tell the story of the Monarch butterfly's 3,000-mile migration. Two puppeteers expand the accordion-like body of a yellow-, white- and black-striped caterpillar as it eats a milkweed leaf. After the caterpillar is wrapped in a green cloth and carried off stage, three new puppeteers enter, slowly lifting and dipping a giant butterfly through the air.
The performance is a welcome celebration after a long winter and a reminder to marvel in the insect life that will become more active with each day of spring.