The University’s most prestigious awards—The President's Excellence Awards—recognize especially meritorious research, teaching, and innovative efforts by individual faculty and academic departments or units.
Outstanding Research and Creative Activity (ORCA) Award Recipients:
ORCA recognizes individual faculty members for outstanding research or creative activity of national or international significance.
EDGAR CAHOON, PH.D.
Center for Plant Science Innovation
Department of Biochemistry
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Edgar B. Cahoon is the George Holmes University Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Prior to joining the UNL faculty in 2008, he was a senior scientist at DuPont Crop Genetics in Wilmington, DE and principal investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, MO.
Cahoon’s research explores the biochemical and genetic bases for the immense chemical diversity found in plant lipids. By combining biochemistry and functional genomics, he has solved the biochemical pathways and identified the associated genes for a wide range of unusual fatty acids found in seed oils. His recent work has included the identification of “nebraskanic” and “wuhanic” acids and a new fatty acid modification pathway involved in their biosynthesis. His research has also provided new insights into vitamin E and sphingolipid metabolism in plants.
Cahoon has used these basic discoveries as the foundation for biotechnological efforts to improve the nutritional, industrial and biofuel properties of crops. This work has included Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-supported research on the development of provitamin A-enhanced “golden” cassava and Nebraska Soybean Board-funded research on the genetic improvement of soybean for expanded use in aquaculture feed markets.
Cahoon also directs the UNL Center for Plant Science Innovation and the NSF EPSCoR-funded Center for Root and Rhizobiome Innovation in their missions of enabling fundamental discoveries and their translation into technologies that benefit Nebraska and global agriculture.
Cahoon’s research, which benefits from an extensive network of international collaborations, has led to over 130 scientific publications and 34 issued US Patents. He was recognized with the prestigious Terry Galliard Medal from the international plant lipid research community in 2016 for his career achievements. Cahoon also holds an honorary doctorate in Plant Breeding from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and is a Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA) Recipients:
OTICA recognizes individual faculty members who have demonstrated meritorious and sustained records of excellence and creativity in teaching.
JODY KOENING KELLAS, PH.D.
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Dr. Jody Koenig Kellas is a professor of Communication Studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Before joining the faculty in 2004, she earned her Bachelors in Communication Studies at Northwestern University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication at the University of Washington. Her teaching and research focus on interpersonal, family, and health communication and are guided by the philosophy that the quality of our communication is linked to the quality of our lives.
Dr. Koenig Kellas has designed and taught courses on interpersonal communication, health communication, the dark side of interpersonal and family communication, and on narratives, health, and relationships. She has overseen 11 doctoral, two MA, and seven undergraduate honors students. She actively mentors students in her research lab — Narrative Nebraska — whose purpose is to study the links between storytelling and health. She has published over 50 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters and has won several research awards.
Dr. Koenig Kellas cares deeply about faculty development and joined UNL’s Peer Review of Teaching Project as a fellow in 2006 and has been involved in the project ever since, co-directing the project since 2012. She has interacted with over 300 faculty in an effort to enhance teaching and student learning on UNL’s campus and beyond. For the past 10 years, she has also partnered with the Office of Graduate Studies to teach UNL’s Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) summer seminar to advanced doctoral students across the university on norms in academia. In 2018 she was honored as the Mortar Board Professor of the Month and received the Hazel R. McClymont Distinguished Teaching Fellow Award from the College of Arts & Sciences. She has won two College Distinguished Teaching Awards, the Department of Communication Studies Bruce Kendall teaching award, and the Central States Communication Association Outstanding New Teacher Award.
She is also a well-supported and grateful daughter, sister, wife, friend, and colleague, and mom to two amazing kids — Hannah and Jackson.
WALTER STROUP, PH.D.
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Dr. Walt Stroup is a professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Dr. Stroup attended elementary school in Lexington, Kentucky, middle school in Saigon, Vietnam, and graduated from Lexington’s Lafayette High School in 1968. He received his B.A. in Psychology from Antioch College and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Statistics from the University of Kentucky. He joined the UNL faculty in 1979. He served as Chair of the Department of Biometry from 2001-03 and the Department of Statistics from its creation in 2003 until 2010.
The overarching theme of Dr. Stroup’s teaching is to make statistics accessible and useful to researchers and those making data-informed decisions. Dr. Stroup’s target audiences include graduate students in disciplines that use statistical design and analysis, graduate students preparing for careers in statistics, professional statisticians seeking continuing education and researchers who use statistics and want to keep their knowledge of statistical methods current.
Besides in-class teaching, Dr. Stroup has been extensively involved in consulting and collaboration, activities he considers “teaching by other means.” Dr. Stroup’s teaching methods are as many and varied as the students he teaches. He focuses on, “what does this student need?” as opposed to the more traditional “what material important to the discipline should be imparted to the student?” In addition to teaching, Dr. Stroup has been involved in building infrastructure to promote statistical education at UNL (he was chair during the creation of the Department of Statistics), he has written or co-authored several textbooks in his areas of expertise (statistical design and statistical modeling), and he had been active in developing statistical methods to estimate the effectiveness of professional development programs to improve teaching. Dr. Stroup has presented at numerous workshops and has offered short courses in Africa, Australia, Europe and North America.
Innovation, Development and Engagement Award (IDEA) Recipients:
IDEA recognizes faculty members who have extended their academic expertise beyond the boundaries of the university in ways that have enriched the broader community.
ARMANDO DE ALBA ROSALES, M.D., M.P.H.
Department of Health Promotion
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Dr. Armando De Alba Rosales is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Promotion at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), College of Public Health (COPH). He earned his medical degree from the Autonomous University of the State of Puebla, Mexico, and is currently an active primary care physician in the State of Veracruz. In 2013, Dr. De Alba received his Master’s degree from Public Health at UNMC.
From 2013 to 2014, he was a national Health Disparities Fellow for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Office of Minority Health. From 2010 to 2013, Dr. De Alba worked in the Mexican Consulate assessing and addressing the health care needs of the Mexican immigrant community. As Coordinator for Nebraska and Iowa, he collaborated with different organizations in the design and conduction of health care interventions that successfully impacted and benefited the underserved communities of both states. Further, Dr. De Alba has assisted in various projects as the lead coordinator, including providing the Ebola communication resources from UNMC to the Latino/Hispanic community during the public health emergency.
During his free time, Dr. De Alba provides medical services and education free of costs in Mexico. Also, he has supervised UNMC students on medical trips in Central America. In 2016, Dr. De Alba initiated a partnership between UNMC and the Universidad Anahuac Xalapa, Mexico (UAX). First, conducting binational academic and research projects between the UNMC COPH and the UAX medical school. Four years later, the partnership with UAX has expanded to multiple colleges in UNMC and UNO. In 2018, Dr. De Alba was one of 31 professional Mexicans around the world awarded from the Government of Mexico with a Medal of Honor as a “Distinguished Mexican Living Abroad.” Last year, he was the recipient of the UNMC, COPH Excellence in Teaching Award.
SAJDA QURESHI, PH.D.
Department of Information Systems and Quantitative Analysis
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Sajda Qureshi is the Kayser Chair Professor at the Information Systems Department and Director of the Information Technology for Development Health Lab at the College of Information Science and Technology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
She serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Information Technology for Development. She received her Ph.D. at the London School of Economics. She was President of the Association for Information Systems (AIS) International Special Interest Group for Global Development (GlobDev). She co-chairs the Annual SIGGlobal Development workshop at the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), and has supported the SIGGlobDev workshops at ECIS, and AMCIS mini-tracks as track chair and in other leadership roles. She was coordinator of the Commonwealth Network of Information Technology for Development at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, was Assistant Professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and has numerous award-funded research projects.
She has over 200 publications in conferences, books and journals such as IEEE Transactions in Professional Communication, Group Decision and Negotiation, Information Infrastructure and Policy and Communications of the ACM, books published by Prentice Hall, Springer-Verlag, Chapman and Hall and North-Holland.
She has secured over 1.1 million dollars in grants and contracts and has been awarded the Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award at the University of Nebraska Omaha (2014), the UNO Faculty Service Learning Award (2011) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Recognition of Service Award (2003).
Inclusive Excellence Collaboration Award (IECA) Recipient:
IECA honors sustained, outstanding contributions in diversity and inclusion between two or more University of Nebraska academic and/or administrative units or campuses that move the university system toward inclusive excellence.
NEBRASKA COLLEGE OF LAW
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
University of Nebraska at Kearney (co-equal partner)
DIVISION OF STUDENT SUCCESS
University of Nebraska at Omaha (co-equal partner)
The Nebraska College of Law—in partnership with the Department of Political Science at UNK and Division of Student Success at UNO—has developed two programs aimed at expanding access to justice in Nebraska’s rural and underserved communities. The shortage of attorneys in rural Nebraska areas means that people may have to drive hundreds of miles for legal assistance. Nebraska continues to have a need for bilingual attorneys and attorneys willing to practice law in the public interest. The Rural Law Opportunities Program and the Underserved Law Opportunities Program are working to meet those needs through recruitment and retention of students from underserved communities.
The Rural Law Opportunities Program (RLOP) aims to ensure all Nebraskans have access to legal representation by encouraging the practice of law in the state’s rural communities. Through the program, students from certain Nebraska areas will study at one of three Nebraska State Colleges or Universities, obtain their legal education at Nebraska Law and then practice in rural areas throughout the state. RLOP was established through a partnership between the University of Nebraska College of Law and Chadron State College, the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Wayne State College.
The Underserved Law Opportunities Program (ULOP) aims to provide the opportunity for a legal education for students in underserved communities, and to encourage students to provide legal services to those communities. Through the program, students will study at the University of Nebraska Omaha, obtain their legal education at Nebraska Law and then practice in areas traditionally underserved by the legal community.
University-wide Departmental Teaching Award (UDTA) Recipient:
UDTA recognizes departments or units within the university that have made unique and significant contributions to NU’s teaching efforts and that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the education of students at the undergraduate, graduate or professional levels.
DEPARTMENT OF TEACHER EDUCATION
University of Nebraska at Omaha
The primary mission of the Teacher Education Department (TED) is to offer quality programs leading to initial certification and advanced degree programs leading to professional certification and/or added endorsements. As a faculty we are committed to promoting socially responsible learning communities that honor and empower all learners. We strive to model best practices that prepare professionals who demonstrate intentional competence as dedicated practitioners, reflective scholars, and responsible citizens. As a faculty we engage in research and scholarly activities with dissemination in the form of local, state, regional, national, and international presentations as well as publications in journals, technical reports, monographs, and books. We also serve the educational community by participating in studies of educational policy, program evaluation and assessment, service on committees and study groups, and service to public and professional organizations.
The overall mission of TED is to improve educational practice in the college, the profession, and the PK-12 schools through teaching, research, leadership, service, and innovative programs. In so doing, the department attempts to aid the city, state, and nation in educating children and adults, as well as enriching the profession and disciplines with creative programs and new knowledge. TED’s BRIDGES program provides teacher candidates with teaching practice guided by an instructional coach who provides meaningful feedback on the candidate’s skills as the candidate practices teaching in a partner school. This developmental process prepares teacher candidates for a successful clinical practice experience. Our graduate programs encourage teachers to use research to inform their practice to effectively impact PK-12 students in classrooms. Taught in a hybrid format (both face-to-face and online meetings), our graduate classes seek to not only meet the needs of PK-12 teachers, be respectful of the busy and complex life of a teacher, but also offer new ideas tied to research that enrich and enhance PK-12 education.