NU announces top teaching, research awards

Lincoln, Neb., March 10, 2006 - University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken today announced the 2006 winners of the university’s most prestigious awards for research and teaching.

The research awards and this year’s winners are:
Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award (ORCA): recognizes individual faculty members for research and creative activity of international or national significance

  • Ruma Banerjee, George Holmes University professor of biochemisty and director of the Center for Redox Biology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Wheeler Winston Dixon, James P. Ryan professor of film studies in the department of English at UNL

"By creating new knowledge, our faculty contribute to the university, the state and the world,” Milliken said. “The research interests represented by this year\'s ORCA recipients demonstrate the richness and diversity of work among our faculty."

Banerjee directs the Redox Biology Center, an internationally known research center that was established with a $10 million National Institutes of Health grant. She and her team are conducting enzyme chemistry research that holds great promise in the study of heart disease, cancer and metabolic disorders.

Dixon is an artist, film critic and historian who built the film studies program at UNL. He has made significant contributions to the scholarly analysis of film in society, and the program has provided students with a wide range of opportunities including internships and other learning experiences.

The teaching awards and this year’s winners are:
Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA): recognizes individual faculty members for sustained records of excellence in teaching.

  • Karen Dwyer, professor of communication and director, Public Speaking Fundamentals program, University of NEbraska at Omaha.
  • Ruth Heaton, associate professor of teaching, learning and teacher education at UNL
University-wide Departmental Teaching Award: recognizes a department within the university that has made a unique and significant contribution to teaching
  • Division of Physical Therapy Education, University of Nebraska Medical Center
"Excellent faculty are the heart of any university,” Milliken said. “These recipients of our highest awards for teaching exemplify the university's commitment to building educational programs of high quality with an emphasis on excellent teaching."

Dwyer was nominated for her teaching and mentoring skills, curriculum development, assessment and community engagement. The American Society of Training and Development has recognized her for her mentoring skills. Dwyer developed UNO’s graduate certificate program in resources and training and coordinates the public speaking fundamentals program.

Heaton will be honored for her work in mathematics education and collaboration with faculty colleagues and master teachers at Roper Elementary School in Lincoln. The focus of her work is in strengthening the skills of future elementary school teachers in teaching math.

The Division of Physical Therapy Education at UNMC, part of the School of Allied Health Professions, offers a three-year program that leads to a clinical doctorate in physical therapy. Approximately 120 students are currently enrolled. The program, which was established in 1970, has an emphasis on placing clinicians in underserved, rural areas of Nebraska. The division has had exceptional success in faculty recruitment and retention and in student placement and employer satisfaction.

Award recipients, who will be honored at an April 6 luncheon in Omaha, are selected by a committee of outstanding peers. The ORCA originated in 1978, the OTICA in 1992 and the UDTA in 1993.

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