News and information from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Keep up with the college on our news site, news.las.iastate.edu.
LAS, ISAA honor eight notable alumni
This summer, three LAS alumni were named 2017 award winners by the Iowa State University Alumni Association. Luis E. deBaca (’90 political science) was selected for the Alumni Merit Award for his humanitarian work to combat human trafficking and modern-day forms of slavery. Josiah A. Dykstra (’04 MS information assurance) and Nora K. Tobin (’10 political science and international studies) were selected for Outstanding Young Alumni Awards for their professional success and service to their communities.
In addition, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences honored five alumni for their outstanding achievements. Srinivas Aluru (’91 MS, ’94 Ph.D. computer science) was selected for the John V. Atanasoff Discovery Award for pioneering the development of parallel methods in computational biology and contributing to the assembly and analysis of complex plant genomes. Adam J. Clark ('04 BS, ’06 MS, ’09 Ph.D. meteorology) was selected for the LAS Young Alumnus Award for his work as a research meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla. Christy A. Doornink ('00 philosophy, environmental studies) was selected for the LAS Young Alumna Award for her work as president of the Pacific Northwest’s largest workers' compensation defense law firm. Thomas J. Miller ('72 computer science) was selected for the Citation of Merit Award for his extensive career at Microsoft where he led numerous software projects. George O. Strawn (’69 Ph.D. mathematics) was selected for the Distinguished Service Award for his work with innovative information technology and his dedication and service to LAS.
Recipients will be honored at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Honors and Awards Ceremony and the Iowa State University Alumni Association's Honors and Awards Ceremony during Homecoming this fall.
New leadership in LAS departments, administration
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences appointed Kent Kerby as its new assistant dean for academic student success. Kerby will also serve as an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB), and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise in student advising, recruitment and support; course and curriculum development; STEM outreach; academic administration and more. In addition, the college has appointed new department chairs, including Leana Bouffard, chair of the Department of Sociology, Kristen Johansen, chair of the Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (BBMB), Sven Morgan, chair of the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, John Nason, chair of the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology (EEOB), Angela Powers, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, Henry Schenck, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Donald Simonson, chair of the Department of Music and Theatre.
Data research strengthened by Kingland gift
Two faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences were awarded named faculty positions thanks to a generous donation from Kingland Corporation and its owners, David and Deb Kingland. Hridesh Rajan, professor in the Department of Computer Science, was named Kingland Professor of Data Analytics. Stephen Vardeman, University Professor in the Department of Statistics and the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, was named Kingland Data Analytics Faculty Fellow. The awards are part of a $1.5 million donation to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and the College of Engineering by Kingland, a global leader in data quality control, development and risk management, and from a personal donation by its owners, David and Deb Kingland, to support several areas in data science. The donation also established the Kingland Data Analytics Scholarship Fund, which will help attract top students and make the opportunity for a degree in data programs available to more students.
Like many outdoor enthusiasts, Betsy Swanner spent time at the lake this summer. But instead of seeking sun and waves, she was on the hunt for harmful algal blooms. Swanner, an assistant professor in the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, is investigating how iron contributes to harmful algal blooms in an effort to better understand, monitor and perhaps prevent the blooms. She said harmful algal blooms are a big environmental problem for water quality in the Midwest and across the globe. Her research hopes to understand the bloom process for further study.
Care for chronically ill children may suffer when parents and doctors are at odds
Parents are often thrust into the role of advocate when their child is diagnosed with a chronic illness, but see it as their responsibility to ensure their child gets the best care. Katherine Rafferty, a lecturer in psychology and communication studies, researches the challenges parents face when communicating with their child's medical team. Rafferty says if those lines of communication break down, the child’s quality of care is likely to suffer.
An adventure in Iowa arts
Joseph Alan Smith’s degree from Iowa State has given him the foundation to succeed in any creative genre. Smith (’16 performing arts) went from studying great actors at ISU to auditioning them for his very own show, including an actor from NBC’s “This Is Us” drama. His show, “Outed,” is a web TV series filmed in Iowa with support of the Iowa Arts Council. It will be released this fall online. In addition, Smith is using his training from ISU to explore additional producing roles and is developing short films to submit to film festivals.
Finding nature’s ‘backup plan’
A recent LAS study upends established models of forecasting co-extinction in complex ecosystems. The research casts new light on how biologists understand the likelihood of “co-extinction”—the extinction of one species leading to the demise of other “mutualist” species, or plants and animals that depend on one another for survival. Haldre Rogers, assistant professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology (EEOB), said the study turned up good news that many mutualist species are not as vulnerable as once thought. “Nature seems to have some backup plans when you need them,” Rogers said.