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Release: July 29, 1999

UI's Zbiek named 1999 recipient of Thomas N. Urban Research Award

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Rose Mary Zbiek, an associate professor of mathematics and education at the University of Iowa, is the recipient of the third annual Thomas N. Urban Research Award.

Zbiek was recognized in particular for her study "Prospective Teachers' Use of Computing Tools to Develop and Validate Functions as Mathematical Models," published in 1998 by the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. The study explored the impact of computer technology, such as function graphers, on the ability of math education students to understand mathematical models.

An award ceremony and banquet to honor Zbiek will be Oct. 28, beginning 6:30 p.m., at the Embassy Club in Des Moines. Zbiek will be given a $2,000 check from the Des Moines-based FINE (First In the Nation in Education) Foundation, and a matching $2,000 from the Urban award's namesake -- Pioneer Hi-Bred International Director and former CEO/Chairman Thomas N. Urban -- to help her disseminate the findings of her research.

The Thomas N. Urban Research Award was created by the FINE Foundation to recognize outstanding educational research efforts in Iowa.

Zbiek, who earned her Ph.D. in mathematics education from Pennsylvania State University, joined the UI faculty in 1992 and was promoted to associate professor in 1998. In addition to teaching in the University of Iowa College of Education's Division of Curriculum and Instruction and the College of Liberal Arts department of mathematical sciences, Zbiek is an undergraduate and graduate adviser for her two departments. She has more than a dozen research-related publications.

Harold L. Schoen, a professor in the College of Education Division of Curriculum and Instruction and coordinator of Zbiek's academic program, nominated her for the award. In his nomination letter he said Zbiek's research has laid the groundwork for further exploration of technology's role in mathematics education.

"Her work, always of very high quality, is relevant and timely for both researchers and practitioners, many of whom are struggling with how to deal with technology," Schoen said.