University of Nebraska names top research, teaching and engagement award winners
 University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken has announced the 2011 winners of the university’s most prestigious awards for research, teaching and engagement.

These university-wide awards recognize faculty whose work has made a strong impact on students, the university and the state, according to Milliken.

“The strength of any university depends on its faculty, and the four campuses of the University of Nebraska are home to some of the country’s best,” Milliken said. “The efforts of our faculty in teaching, research and engagement improve the student experience, advance the university and make a positive impact on the state of Nebraska and its people. It’s important that we take this opportunity each year to recognize some of the most outstanding work of our faculty.”

Awards will be presented during a luncheon later in the spring. Winners are:


Outstanding Research and Creative Activity (ORCA) Award recognizes individual faculty members for outstanding research or creative activity of national or international significance.

2011ORCAVreede.jpg Gert-Jan de Vreede, managing director of the Center for Collaboration Science and Frederic W. Kayser Distinguished Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Informatics, University of Nebraska at Omaha: A highly productive and widely published researcher, de Vreede’s work has significantly advanced the scientific areas of group support systems and collaboration engineering. Recently, he was named the most productive group support systems researcher in the world from 2000 to 2005 in a comprehensive research profiling study. In 2010, de Vreede received UNO’s Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity, the highest recognition for researchers at UNO. de Vreede also serves as a mentor to many of his colleagues and students, and has initiated a number of collaborative projects across the university. In particular, de Vreede was instrumental in establishing UNO’s Center for Collaboration Science. Under his leadership, the center has secured nearly $5 million in grants and contracts and has been active in supporting many instructional and outreach activities.

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Baenziger P. Stephen Baenziger, Eugene Price Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln: In 25 years at UNL, Baenziger has developed an international reputation as a wheat breeder whose research is helping to feed more people and improve lives in Nebraska and around the world. Baenziger is the only American serving on the Board of Trustees for the International Rice Research Institute, and has consulted with numerous international groups and universities to help foster modern agricultural research. Recently, UNL announced that Baenziger will be the first to hold the new Nebraska Wheat Growers Presidential Chair, an endowed professorship created through a licensing agreement between NUtech Ventures and Bayer CropScience. The licensing agreement also includes plans for Bayer CropScience to establish its first North American wheat breeding station near Lincoln – a reflection of the strength of UNL’s wheat research program.

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Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA) recognizes individual faculty members who have demonstrated meritorious and sustained records of excellence and creativity in teaching.

Cornish Kurtis Cornish, professor in the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center: Cornish is perhaps the ultimate educator: In teaching students how to place nasogastric tubes – an essential skill – Cornish allows them to place a tube in his own nose, despite the discomfort of the process. He is also an innovator who created the “J-term” at UNMC, an intense, three-day June workshop where medical students learn key diagnostic and treatment skills they need to transition from medical school to the clinical years. Further, where students historically learned principles of cardiovascular physiology by using a live dog, Cornish computerized this “dog lab” so students can use a simulated model instead – a method that has been adopted by educators around the world. Cornish has developed an outstanding reputation among medical students, who have awarded him the Golden Apple Award for teaching six times.          

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Holland Jonna Holland, associate professor of marketing, UNO: One colleague once said of Holland that she demonstrates what it means to “place students first” at UNO. In 2009, Holland received the UNO Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest teaching award available on campus, and was successfully nominated by her students to be inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society. For the past decade, Holland has served as the College of Business Administration’s internship coordinator; conservatively, she has placed more than 1,800 students in internships. More than 75 percent of the college’s interns are offered full-time employment with their internship companies upon graduation, an important economic driver for the Omaha area. In addition to serving her students and UNO, Holland engages the Omaha community, incorporating service learning into her courses to help students understand the world more broadly.          

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Innovation, Development and Engagement Award (IDEA) recognizes faculty members who have extended their academic expertise beyond the boundaries of the university in ways that have enriched the broader community.

Taylor Stephen Taylor, professor of food science and technology, UNL: In his 35 years of research in food safety and toxicology, Taylor has become an international authority in the areas of sulfite sensitivity and food allergies. He has published more than 250 manuscripts on these topics, and has worked extensively with the food industry, regulatory agencies, clinicians and allergic consumers. Notably, in 1996 Taylor organized a highly successful food industry-funded consortium, the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, at UNL. FARRP provides confidential food allergen analysis to the food industry and conducts research, outreach and distance education. Originally founded with seven companies, FARRP now includes more than 50 companies; it is North America’s largest food allergy testing laboratory. Under Taylor’s leadership, the consortium has been recognized numerous times for its timely work related to the food allergy field.          

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Award recipients are selected by committees of outstanding peers. The ORCA originated in 1978, the OTICA in 1992 and the IDEA in 2006.
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