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University of Iowa News Release


April 12, 2010

PHOTO: Jeffrey C. Murray, (left) professor of pediatrics in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine with Allison Momany, (right) Student Employee of the Year

UI names Allison Momany 2010 Student Employee of the Year

momanyAllison Momany has coordinated and analyzed the DNA of preterm babies and contributed to the genetic findings of preterm births. Though many of her colleagues have doctorates and years of experience in this type of research, Momany started while in high school and continues her work now as an undergraduate University of Iowa student.

Her hard work has paid off. Momany is this year’s UI Student Employee of the Year. Momany, a research assistant in pediatrics, was selected from among 39 student employees nominated by their supervisors for special recognition. Annually, the UI employs approximately 8,000 students in hourly positions.

Momany, a junior, is a psychology major and works other jobs while also completing her research assistant duties. On a day-to-day basis at the lab, she manages the genetic analysis of samples obtained from preterm birth infants and their family.

“Allison has set the standard for many more senior people in the lab for the quality assurance that she provides on this project,” said Jeffrey C. Murray, professor of pediatrics in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, who nominated Momany for the honor.

Preterm birth is a major international health problem that leads to more than 3 million deaths each year at enormous financial and emotional costs to the families. More than 500,000 children born in Iowa every year are preterm.

Momany, 20, has co-authored three papers on the project, which Murray said is an unusual accomplishment for an undergraduate. In addition, Momany – who has worked at the lab for four years – has made significant contributions to genetic factor findings and complications associated with preterm births.

“Besides the leadership role that Allison plays in managing and analyzing samples, she has now become one of our strongest laboratory methodologists,” Murray said in his nomination letter.
He added that the Amana native also trains new lab personnel and she has taken her interest of preterm birth outside the laboratory with fundraising efforts through the March of Dimes.

“Her energy is an extremely positive force within our environment,” Murray said. “I can’t think of a single student or other member of our laboratory over the last 25 years who has had such a positive and important role in how we work and perform.”

The National Student Employment Association sponsors the National Student Employee of the Year competition and winners are announced in conjunction with National Student Employment Week, which runs April 11-17. Students are selected based on the following criteria: reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism and uniqueness of contribution.

In addition to the campus winner, four student employees were recognized for their work with certificates of distinction and appreciation. On Wednesday, April 14, UI President Sally Mason will host a luncheon at the President's Residence for the student winners. The university encourages all units to participate in celebrating the efforts of their student hourly employees during National Student Employment Week.

Certificates of distinction were awarded to the following students, listed by hometown:


Bettendorf: Riley Boland, an undergraduate biology major, who works as a lab research assistant in the genomics lab in the biology department.

Bellevue: Lindsay Knake, an undergraduate biomedical engineering major, who works as an undergraduate research assistant for the Center for Computer Aided Design and the Virtual Soldier Research Program in the engineering department.

Certificates of appreciation were awarded to the following students, listed by hometown:

Donnellson: Lydia Crowe, a graduate student in Teaching English as a Second Language program, who works as a music library assistant for Broadcasting Services for Iowa Public Radio.

West Des Moines: Alexis Hahn, an undergraduate marketing major, who works as a production assistant for UI Information Technology Services, Instructional Services.

For more information on this award or the students recognized, contact Cynthia Seyfer at 319-335-1460.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Cynthia Seyfer, Student Financial Aid, 319-335-1460,; George McCrory, University of Iowa News Services, 319-384-0012,; Writer: Ashton Shurson