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University of Iowa News Release


May 21, 2009

Five UI engineering faculty, staff receive excellence awards

Five University of Iowa faculty and staff recently received College of Engineering Excellence Awards for their individual contributions to research, teaching, service, staff research and staff excellence in 2008-09.

The five, honored by Dean P. Barry Butler at the college's annual faculty/staff recognition reception on May 14, are: Jacob Odgaard, Faculty Excellence Award for Service; Gene Parkin, Faculty Excellence Award for Research; Gary Christensen, Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching; Craig Just, Staff Excellence Award for Research; and Judith Holland, Mary Sheedy Staff Excellence Award.

Odgaard, professor of civil and environmental engineering, faculty research engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, and researcher in the Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research, is internationally known for his research, including sediment management in rivers using Iowa Vanes and other structures. He was nominated for the service award, in part, for his commitment to the people and process of constructing the Seamans Center while he served as associate dean from 1992 through 2002.

Parkin, Donald E Bently Professor of Engineering, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and professor of Occupational and Environmental Health, directs the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination. As a researcher in the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination as well as the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing, he is world-renowned as an expert in environmental engineering in such fields as wastewater design and treatment and the use of iron in remediation of chlorinated solvents. He was nominated for the research award for sustained research excellence over his entire career.

Christensen, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and Computational Imaging Group leader in the Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging, is a well-respected researcher in the fields of global shape models and medical imaging. In addition to his excellent skills as a teacher, he was nominated for the teaching award, in part, for being an innovator in the use of computers in the classroom with his "Laptop Classroom." During the past several years, his classes in computer programming have equipped students with individual classroom-dedicated laptop computers so that students have been more focused and involved in their studies than ever before.

Just, adjunct assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and research engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, was recently appointed coordinator of sustainability programs in the college. In 2008, he won the UI's President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence. He is faculty advisor to the college chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World, whose project to develop a $5 hand-held water sanitizer for use in developing countries won first place in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2008 P3 Awards. He was nominated for the staff research award, in part, for his excellent citation rate of research papers in such research areas as phytoremediation, arsenic in humans, biofilms and degradation of herbicides.

Holland, administrative staff member in the UI Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was nominated for her involvement in student development. In her nomination, Holland is described as informative, caring, helpful, generous and fun and the go-to person for hundreds of students who need to acquire accurate information quickly. According to her nomination statement, she "encompasses everything positive about higher education."

The Mary Sheedy Award -- named for a secretary who served 40 years in the College of Engineering Dean's Office ( -- is presented to a staff member who provides outstanding service to the College of Engineering, has a positive attitude that impacts and improves the work atmosphere within the college, leaves a lasting impression with the college and its constituents, and demonstrates a commitment to the college and its mission.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, writer, 319-384-0009,