University Awards Ceremony honors excellence

Mike Randleman

Some of Iowa State’s finest were honored this past Friday at the 2012 University Awards Ceremony.

Headlining this event, which took place at the Memorial Union’s Sun Room, was the awarding of Distinguished Professor, which went to Dan Shechtman and Jonathan Wendel.

According to the ceremony program, this title is presented to “faculty members whose accomplishments in research, and/or creative activities have had a significant impact on their discipline, and who have demonstrated outstanding performance in at least one of other area of faculty responsibility.”

Shechtman was awarded the Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering Award.

“[Shectman] received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his 1982 identification of a new type of material, quasicrystals,” said ISU President Steven Leath. “His revolutionary discovery changed scientists understanding of how atoms arranged themselves in solids.”

Within Ames, Shechtman is a distinguished professor of materials science and engineering at Iowa State as well as a senior scientist at U.S. Department of Energy Ames Laboratory. Shechtman also spends time in Israel as a research scientist at Technion – Israel Institue of Technology.

“Shechtman singlehandedly redefined the thinking of scientists and engineers surrounding the structure of physical matter and he stood firm in his convictions against intense professional resistance,” wrote a nominator.

Jonathan Wendel, distinguised professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, also received the Distinguished Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“[Wendel] is widely viewed as a world leader in the study of evolutionary and genomic consequences of genome doubling or polypoidy,” Leath said. “Wendel has received awards in teaching, research and departmental leadership.”

As a biologist, Wendel researches how an organism’s genomes evolve over time and how those changes relate to the structure of an organism.

“I can’t think of anyone who has had as great of an influence on the development of the field of plant molecular systematics,” wrote a nominator.

Another headlining category of the Awards Ceremony was a trio who received the title of “university professor.” This title is awarded to faculty members who, according to the University Awards Ceremony program, have “acted as a change agent by having made significant contributions to the university, and who has demonstrated outstanding performance in at least one other area of faculty responsibility.”

The aforementioned trio that received this honor includes Steven Herrnstadt, professor of art and design; Gordon Miller, professor of chemistry; and James Oliver, professor of mechanical engineering. Their impacts have been felt not only at Iowa State but out in their respective professional fields.

While those mentioned previously have received prestigious honors, more than 50 other ISU faculty members also received various awards and honors at the University Awards Ceremony.