University of Nebraska names top teaching, research and engagement award winners

April 3, 2018

University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds today announced the 2018 winners of the university’s most prestigious awards for teaching, research and engagement.

The university-wide President’s Faculty Excellence Awards recognize faculty whose work has had a significant impact on students, the university and the state.

“The University of Nebraska is one of the most important drivers of our state’s economic competitiveness and quality of life. Our faculty, who are among the nation’s leaders in what they do, deserve a great deal of the credit,” Bounds said. “These faculty carry out our missions of teaching, research and service on a daily basis. I’m honored to serve among such dedicated and talented colleagues and to lift up their work to the university community and all Nebraskans.”

Winners – who are selected by a university-wide committee of faculty members and, in the case of the engagement award, community members – receive $10,000 each, a presidential medallion and an engraved plaque. Awards will be presented at a luncheon hosted by Bounds this spring.

The 2018 winners are:


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

Tammie Kennedy, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English, University of Nebraska at Omaha: Since joining UNO’s faculty in 2009, Kennedy has developed 10 courses to meet the multidisciplinary interests of students and encourage them to create public scholarship for audiences outside the classroom. Much of her scholarly and creative work focuses on the rhetoric of remembering practices and how memory shapes identity, writing and knowledge production, especially for marginalized groups. She co-edited Rhetoric of Whiteness: Postracial Hauntings in Popular Culture, Social Media, and Education, which was named 2018 Best Co-Edited Book by the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Kennedy has also published in more than 20 top-tier journals and contributed chapters to several books. Kennedy serves as an affiliate faculty for the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and the Thompson Learning Community, and directs the Women’s Archive Project, a student-produced digital archive exhibiting the experiences and contributions of UNO-affiliated women.

Colleen Medill, J.D., Robert and Joanne Berkshire Family Professor of Law in the College of Law, University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Medill is recognized nationally for her innovative teaching techniques in the areas of employee benefits law, property law and professional legal skills development. Among her peers, she is known as a “teacher of teachers” who explains and models her techniques through the extensive teachers’ manuals that accompany her textbooks. Medill’s first law school textbook, Introduction to Employee Benefits Law: Policy and Practice, has been used at more than 40 accredited law schools, and she is a leader in the integrated teaching of doctrinal theory, legal skills and the professional ethical responsibilities of lawyers. At the College of Law, she has twice been selected by law students as Professor of the Year and has been honored with the Alumni Council’s Distinguished Faculty Award. She teaches three of her four courses using textbooks that she authored.


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

David Hage, Ph.D., Hewett University Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Hage, who joined the UNL faculty in 1989, has carried out research at the interface of chemistry, biochemistry and clinical chemistry for more than 30 years. His work has focused on the creation and development of new detection and separation methods for chemical and biochemical analysis for important applications in the life sciences, pharmaceutical research and environmental testing. He has published more than 285 scientific papers, book chapters and books in these areas. He has also edited a handbook in the area of affinity chromatography, his field of scientific expertise, and he holds six patents in this area. In addition, Hage has written several college-level textbooks on the topic of chemical analysis. Hage is currently editor-in-chief for the Journal of Chromatography B and is a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry.

Dennis Molfese, Ph.D., Mildred Francis Thompson Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Molfese was the founding director of UNL’s Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior. A developmental cognitive neuropsychologist who has been continuously funded since 1975, Molfese has extensive experience in conducting large-scale, longitudinal studies recording brain imaging and behavior measures from newborn and older infants, toddlers, preschool, school-age children, adolescents and adults. He revolutionized understanding of brain structure-function relations across the lifespan and broke new ground investigating dynamic brain changes associated with the short- and long-term development of language, social interactions, memory and cognitive processes from birth into adulthood. In research supported by NASA and NIH, Molfese and colleagues noted the detrimental effects of sleep loss on daily functioning and problem-solving skills on earth and in outer space. Molfese’s research using neuropsychological and multiple brain imaging techniques to study the effects of concussions on athletes noted even one concussion significantly impairs brain functioning.


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.

Joseph Evans, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the Munroe-Meyer Institute and the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska, University of Nebraska Medical Center: A program innovator, Evans developed the pediatric integrated behavioral health in primary care model at UNMC that has been extended to 42 integrated care programs in Nebraska and numerous other states. Children, adolescents and families from more than 225 cities, towns and villages have been provided behavioral health services thanks to the program Evans developed. Evans was also instrumental in establishing the Nebraska Internship Consortium in Professional Psychology, the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute doctoral program in applied behavior analysis, and the MMI Autism Care for Toddlers program. He has been the recipient of more than $19 million in federal and state grants and contracts. Evans is committed to improving access to behavioral health for underserved rural and inner-city residents and has been widely recognized for his work in improving the quantity and quality of the behavioral health workforce.

Nicholas Stergiou, Ph.D., Professor and Distinguished Community Research Chair in Biomechanics; Director of the Biomechanics Research Building and the Center for Research in Human Movement Variability; and Assistant Dean of the Division of Biomechanics and Research Development, University of Nebraska at Omaha: Stergiou is the founding chair of the first-ever academic biomechanics department that graduates students with a B.S. in biomechanics. His research focuses on understanding variability inherent in human movement and he is an international authority in the study of nonlinear dynamics. Stergiou’s work spans from infant development to older adult fallers, and has impacted training techniques of surgeons and treatment and rehabilitation of pathologies like peripheral arterial disease. Stergiou has received more than $30 million in funding from the NIH, NASA, NSF and other agencies. He received the largest grant in UNO history, a $10.1 million NIH grant that allowed him to develop the Center for Research in Human Movement Variability. Stergiou also has several inventions and leveraged private giving to build the 23,000-square-foot Biomechanics Research Building that opened in 2013 as the first building in the world dedicated to biomechanics research.

Media Contact:
Melissa Lee
Director of Communications,
University of Nebraska