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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 9, 2008

Six UI professors win Regents Awards for Faculty Excellence

Six University of Iowa faculty members have won the 2008 Regents Award for Faculty Excellence. Given by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, the award honors faculty members for work representing a significant contribution to excellence in public education. Each honoree will receive $1,000. This year's UI recipients are professors Peter Damiano, Pamela Geyer, William LaRue Jones, Craig Kletzing, Sheldon Kurtz and Jane Paulsen.

Peter Damiano, professor of preventive and community dentistry and director of the UI Public Policy Center, has focused his scholarship on finding solutions to the problems faced by people who encounter barriers to receiving health care.  He also works actively to reduce those barriers to care for the citizens of Iowa. His work, for example, includes helping the Iowa Department of Human Services evaluate various innovative, managed care programs that have led to substantial improvements in health care for Iowans. Recently, in collaboration with several statewide organizations, he developed a network for the delivery of oral health care for nursing home residents that is quickly becoming a national model. Damiano stays actively involved in teaching and student mentorship while carrying out his impressive research program and service to the university and the state. For the latter, especially, he is highly regarded by appointed and elected state officials on both sides of the aisle.

Pamela Geyer, professor of biochemistry in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the area of biochemical research on RNA transcription regulation. Insights gained in her lab will likely lead to improved strategies for gene therapy and treatment of disease. A collaborative scholar, highly sought-after presenter, and committed teacher, Geyer has energized countless other scientists at all levels of experience. She has a long record of service to the university and to the college, including seven years (1999 to 2006) as director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), which guides students who are studying simultaneously for M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. Under her leadership, the number of students and faculty participating in MSTP increased dramatically. She also used the program effectively as a platform to enrich the college by recruiting underrepresented minority students and other undergraduates for summer research opportunities.

William LaRue Jones, professor and director of orchestral studies in the School of Music in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, conducts the UI Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. He also created the All-University String Orchestra, which provides a performing outlet for non-major UI string players. He is a highly sought-after clinician and guest conductor for high schools, colleges, music conservatories, professional orchestras, and international workshops. He has served as guest conductor for all-state honors orchestras in 42 states. As director of the graduate program in orchestral conducting, Jones has had particular success in attracting, mentoring, and placing talented female and minority students, who are underrepresented in the field of conducting. In addition to his extensive professional service, he has served on the School of Music's Executive Committee as well as numerous faculty review and mentoring committees.

Craig Kletzing, professor of physics and astronomy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is internationally known for his research on space plasmas, which are rarified, ionized gases that make up much of the observable mass in the universe. His emphasis is on the plasmas associated with the Earth's auroras, especially the northern lights. His work has led to one of the largest NASA grants ever awarded to the UI's renowned Department of Physics and Astronomy. The award of approximately $30 million was made for an in-depth study of the Van Allen radiation belts. Kletzing was recognized for his outstanding teaching with a 2006 Collegiate Teaching Award and a 2007 President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence. He has also maintained a record of extensive service, having served as his department's associate chair and director of graduate studies, as a member of the college's Executive Committee, and on the university-wide Faculty Senate. 

Sheldon Kurtz, Percy Bordwell Professor of Law, is a prolific scholar in the area of property law, wills and trusts. He has put his expertise into the service of the state by acting as a commissioner on Uniform State Laws for the state of Iowa since 2000. In that capacity, he works with numerous state legislatures on the adoption of important statutes such as the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. Kurtz has offered dedicated service to the College and University, notably as an active participant and past president of the Faculty Senate. A popular and creative teacher, he has developed several innovative educational opportunities for law students. One is a law and technology seminar in which students mimic the role of legislators and develop statutes on important public policy issues, typically relating to law and medicine; another is a medical seminar for law students in which students work with faculty and staff from the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the Carver College of Law to learn about various aspects of the health care system.

Jane Paulsen, professor of psychiatry in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, researches the neuropsychological aspects of Huntington's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, and schizophrenia. She has attracted funding from the NIH and the High Q Foundation to support the largest clinical research program ever undertaken in Huntington's Disease, and her findings represent the greatest growth in knowledge about the disease since study of it began. The Huntington's Disease Society of America has given the program its Center of Excellence Award every year since 2000. Paulsen also built and now directs the division of psychology within the Department of Psychiatry, and she also directs the department's neuropsychiatry service. She is known as a caring and effective mentor, and consistently receives the highest evaluations for her teaching and presentations.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Susan Johnson, Office of the Provost, 319-335-0256,; Charles S. Drum, University Relations, 319-384-0048,