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Release: Immediate

Robert Mutel receives Iowa Academy of Science Distinguished Teaching Award

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Robert L. Mutel, professor of astronomy in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts, received the Iowa Academy of Science (IAS) Distinguished Iowa Science Teaching Award during the organization's 109th annual meeting April 25 at Clark College in Dubuque.

The award is presented annually to acknowledge, honor and promote meritorious undergraduate science teaching. Mutel was cited for his creative and effective efforts to provide high quality laboratory instruction in astronomy and physics for large numbers of introductory students at the UI.

Mutel is widely recognized for his innovative teaching, having developed an automated telescope facility (ATF) to give more than 700 undergraduates each year access to high-quality teaching and research images that previously were available only to graduate students and professionals. During the past two years, undergraduates have published six research papers with the aid of ATF, which also is used by Internet observers worldwide. He is currently supervising the design and construction of the Iowa Robotic Observatory to be placed in Arizona this summer and to be shared among the astronomy departments at the three Iowa Regents universities.

In addition to writing a 170-page laboratory manual and developing a new curriculum for introductory astronomy laboratories, Mutel has published more than 100 scientific articles in professional journals.

Mutel came to the university in 1975, after having received his bachelor's degree at Cornell University in 1968 and his doctorate from the University of Colorado in 1975. He served as a physicist with the U.S. Antarctic Research Program, 1968-69, and as a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge, England, 1984-85. He was promoted to full professor in 1986.

From 1976 until 1991, he directed the North Liberty Radio Observatory and was treasurer for the U.S. Very Long Baseline Interferometry Consortium from 1981 through 1992. Mutel served on the National Science Foundation Undergraduate Curriculum Advisory Board from 1992 through 1995. He was named a UI Faculty Scholar from 1983 to 1985, received a UI Instructional Improvement Award in 1996, and received a UI Collegiate Teaching Award in 1997.