Congratulations to the winners of the
2016 University of Nebraska
Faculty Excellence Awards.
The university’s most prestigious awards for teaching, research and engagement recognize faculty whose work has had a significant impact on students, the university and the state. Winners are selected by a committee of faculty members—and in the case of the engagement award, community members—and receive $10,000 each, a presidential medallion and an engraved plaque.
MATTHEW WAITE, UNL
Waite is founder of the Drone Journalism Lab, the first of its kind at a journalism school. Since he joined the College of Journalism and Mass Communication faculty in 2011, Waite and his students have used drones to report news in six countries on three continents.
He speaks about the legal and ethical complexities of using drones at conferences around the world and is frequently consulted by media organizations about the potential of using drones in journalism. He also teaches courses in data journalism, web development and the intersection of storytelling and technology.
Waite previously was a hybrid programmer/journalist for the St. Petersburg Times, where he developed PolitiFact, a website that fact checks what politicians say. The site became the first website awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2009. Before becoming a web developer, Waite was an award-winning investigative reporter.WATCH PROFESSOR WAITE’S VIDEO
SURINDER BATRA, PH.D., UNMC
Batra has helped make UNMC’s pancreatic cancer research program one of the best of its kind. After completing graduate studies in biochemistry in India and France, Batra completed a fellowship in biochemistry at North Carolina State University and went on to receive postdoctoral training at Duke University Medical Center.
Batra previously served as senior associate dean of research and development in the College of Medicine and the Helen Freytag Professor of Cancer Biology at UNMC. His current lab has cloned and patented mucin genes being investigated for the diagnosis and therapy of pancreatic cancer. His research has been continuously funded by multiple grants and he has published more than 360 papers in high-impact journals and received several U.S. patents.WATCH DR. BATRA’S VIDEO
ELLIOTT OSTLER, ED.D., UNO
Ostler has spent more than two decades researching and applying non-traditional teaching techniques for students who struggle to learn mathematics and science content. During this time, his unique instructional approach has attracted the attention of institutions such as NASA, JPL, Texas Instruments and The College Board, all of whom have invited him to consult on projects ranging from curriculum review to product design.
The application of his own research led to the development of an innovative mathematics teaching tool, which earned a U.S. Patent and ultimately evolved into a successful business venture called the Initiative for Instructional Inventions and Solutions. Since formalizing this business commitment, he has distributed nearly 11,000 of his unique teaching instruments nationwide and trained more than 1,000 mathematics teachers in its use. Today he continues to pursue his vision of reinventing STEM instruction through the development of innovative teaching tools.WATCH DR. OSTLER’S VIDEO
BRUCE JOHANSEN, PH.D., UNO
Johansen, who has been teaching and writing at UNO since 1982, has authored 44 published books. He writes frequently about environmental subjects, including Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Issues, a 200,000-word encyclopedia of indigenous peoples’ struggles with corporations with a world-wide scope.
He also writes as a journalist for several United States national forums, including the Washington Post and The Progressive. Johansen was co-editor of the Encyclopedia of American Indian History, a 4-volume set, as well as a 2-volume Praeger Handbook of Contemporary Native American Issues. He recently also wrote The Global Warming Combat Manual: Serious Solutions for a Sustainable World.WATCH DR. JOHANSEN’S VIDEO
NEAL GRANDGENETT, PH.D., UNO
Grandgenett teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in data-driven decision making, interdisciplinary STEM learning and research methods. His efforts at UNO have helped establish dual pathways for P-12 STEM teacher certification that are collaborative across colleges, and his community efforts have engaged thousands of teachers and other campuses in efforts like learning with educational robotics and wearable technologies.
A 27-year veteran of UNO, Grandgenett is a favorite among students, achieving a lifetime instructor average on student evaluations of 4.88 on a five-point scale. His research interests align closely with his teaching and focus on the investigation of technology-based learning in STEM education, a topic on which he has authored more than 130 articles and research papers.
Grandgenett has been a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on nearly $18 million in federal grants, and has been the investigator or co-investigator on 10 National Science Foundation grants, several of which have been shared with other NU campuses.WATCH DR. GRANDGENETT’S VIDEO
Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, UNO
Chaired by Dr. Melanie Bloom, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature is home to 13 faculty members and one graduate teaching assistant and serves hundreds of students each semester from a range of academic disciplines. The department’s mission is to provide UNO students with the linguistic and cultural understanding necessary for a global education. Priorities include internationalization of the UNO curriculum, student-focused instruction and service to the Omaha community.WATCH THE DEPARTMENT’S VIDEO