University faculty honored for research, teaching and engagement


By Kristen Cloyed, Staff Writer

University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken has announced the 2011 winners of the university’s most esteemed awards for research, teaching and engagement. These awards recognize faculty whose work made a strong impact on students, the university and the state, said Milliken.

“The strength of any university depends on its faculty, and the four campuses of the University of Nebraska are home to some of the country’s best,” Milliken said. “The efforts of our faculty in teaching, research and engagement improve the student experience, advance the university and make a positive impact on the state of Nebraska and its people.”

It’s important that UNO takse this opportunity to recognize some of its faculty’s most outstanding work, Milliken said.

The Outstanding Research and Creative Activity (ORCA) Award acknowledges faculty members for outstanding research or creative activity. The winners of the ORCA Award are Gert-Jan de Vreede, from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and P. Stephen Baenziger, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Recently named the Most Productive Group Support Systems Researcher in the World from 2000 to 2005, de Vreede’s efforts have advanced group support systems and collaboration engineering. In 2010, de Vreede received UNO’s Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity. As managing director of UNO’s Center for Collaboration Science, de Vreede has secured nearly $5 million in grants and contracts for research.

Baenziger, the only American serving on the Board of Trustees for the International Rice Research Institute, has earned an international reputation as a wheat breeder in his 25 years at UNL. He will be the first Nebraska Wheat Growers president, a position created through a licensing agreement between NUtech Ventures and Bayer CropScience. The agreement also includes plans for Bayer CropScience to launch its first North American wheat breeding station near Lincoln. 

The Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA) recognizes faculty members who demonstrate praiseworthy and continued records of excellence and creativity in teaching. The winners of this award are Kurtis Cornish, University of Nebraska Medical Center and Jonna Holland from UNO.

As a professor in the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology, Cornish has been awarded the Golden Apple Award for teaching six times. He created the “J-term” at UNMC, a three-day workshop where medical students learn essential diagnostic and treatment skills needed to progress from medical school to clinical work. Cornish also created a lab so students can learn principles of cardiovascular physiology with a simulated dog instead of a live dog.  Educators around the world have adopted his method. 

Holland, an associate professor of marketing, has served as the College of Business Administration’s internship coordinator for the past decade, successfully placing more than 1,800 students in internships. In 2009, Holland received the UNO Excellence in Teaching Award. She was also nominated by her students to be inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society.

The Innovation, Development andEngagement Award (IDEA) honors faculty members who have extended their academic expertise outside of the university in ways that have benefited the community. The winner of this award is Stephen Taylor, UNL.

Taylor, a professor of food science and technology, has accumulated 35 years of research in food safety and toxicology. He has become an international authority in the areas of sulfite sensitivity and food allergies, publishing more than 250 manuscripts on these topics. In 1996, Taylor organized the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at UNL, the U.S.’s largest food allergy testing laboratory, which provides confidential food allergen analysis to the food industry and conducts research, outreach and distance education.

The awards will be presented to the winners during a luncheon later this spring.


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