CONTACT: STEVE PARROTT
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Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-0557; fax (319) 335-0558
Engel wins Spriestersbach Dissertation Prize in biological sciences
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Jeff Engel, who earned a doctorate in 1995 from the
University of Iowa, has been awarded the 1997 D.C. Spriestersbach Dissertation
Prize for excellence in doctoral research in the biological sciences. As
the recipient of the UI Graduate Council's highly coveted prize, Engel
will be presented with $2,500 and a certificate at a reception Wednesday,
Engel's award-winning dissertation is titled "Effects of Second
Messenger and Excitability Mutations Upon Identified Neural Circuits Underlying
Activity-dependent Plasticity of Behavior in Drosophila." His thesis
advisor was Dr. Chun-Fang Wu.
Engel's work uses fruit flies to uncover how humans learn. "I'm
interested in what makes us tick," Engel said. "Using fruit flies
is a simple analog of high organisms. They are easy to work with and have
pretty simple nervous systems, but their nerve cells are similar to ours."
He is currently a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University in Ithaca,
N.Y. In addition to his doctorate, Engel also earned a bachelor's degree
in biology from the UI. While a doctoral student at the UI, he was a teaching
assistant in biological sciences. He has published six articles in scholarly
Engel is the son of Robert and Elizabeth Engel of Iowa City. His father
is UI professor emeritus of planning, policy and leadership studies.
Funds for the D.C. Spriestersbach Dissertation Prize are provided by
the UI Foundation. The prize is awarded annually in two of four broad disciplinary
areas: humanities and fine arts, mathematical and physical sciences, social
sciences, and biological sciences.
The award is named for D.C. Spriestersbach, UI vice president emeritus
for educational development and research and former dean of the Graduate
College. The competitive award requires "highly original work that
is an unusually significant contribution to the nominee's field."
Winners of the Spriestersbach Prize also become the UI's nominee for
the Council of Graduate Schools Dissertation Prize, a national award. Three
UI doctoral recipients have won that national competition in recent years,
including Susan Behrends Frank, art and art history, who was this year's
Spriestersbach dissertation award winner in the humanities and fine arts.
The UI is the only college or university with three national winners.