Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
fyi Microscopic image of human cells
Faculty and Staff News
The University of Iowa
Photo Feature
In Brief
Back Issues
Jobs at Iowa
UI News Services

News in Brief






Four UI faculty members win Guggenheim Fellowships

Four University of Iowa faculty members—Iowa Writers' Workshop faculty members Ethan Canin and Paul Harding, Paula Michaels of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Lea VanderVelde of the College of Law—are winners of 2010 fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation.

They are among 180 winners selected from among more than 3,000 applicants. The average grant amount is more than $40,000. No special conditions are attached to them, and fellows may spend their grant funds in any manner they deem necessary to their work.

Both Canin and Harding are alumni of the Writers' Workshop, and Harding recently was honored with the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his debut novel, Tinkers. Canin's most recent book is the novel America America.

Michaels is an associate professor of history whose research interests include cultural history, women’s history, and the history of medicine. The author of Curative Powers: Medicine and Empire in Stalin’s Central Asia, she is writing an international history of the Lamaze method of childbirth.

VanderVelde is the Josephine R. Witte Professor of Law in the UI College of Law. She writes in the fields of employment law, property law, legal history, and constitutional law. She is the author of Mrs. Dred Scott: A Life on Slavery's Frontier.

Among the other winners is Paul Trachtenberg, who will be a faculty member in the 2010 Iowa Summer Writing Festival.

The prestigious "midcareer" fellowships are awarded to men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.


UI recognizes students, faculty, staff, and alumni at Finkbine Dinner

The University of Iowa honored outstanding students, faculty, staff and alumni on Tuesday, April 13, at the 93rd anniversary Finkbine Dinner for representative student leaders, one of the university's most prestigious award ceremonies.

The Hancher Finkbine Faculty Medallion went to David Joseph Depew, a faculty member in the Project on the Rhetoric of Inquiry (POROI) and the Department of Communication Studies. His area of expertise is articulating the philosophy of Darwinism. Depew is well published in this field and has been an invited speaker to the International Conference on Biological Evolution held at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, sponsored in part by the Vatican.

The Hancher Finkbine Staff Medallion went to Linda M. Curran, who has been a UI staff member for more than 21 years. Since 1995 she has served as a secretary III in the College of Nursing Office of Nursing Research. In this position, she has been editorial coordinator for five books published by faculty. In 2003 she received the College of Nursing Strategic Initiative Award in recognition of her contribution to the Office of Nursing Research infrastructure by extending her support to include student scholars and authors. Curran was one of the first employees to complete the Office of International Students and Scholars Building a Global Community Certificate.

The event began in 1917 to honor campus leaders and give them an opportunity to meet administrators, faculty, staff, fellow students, and alumni. The dinner is named after William O. Finkbine, a Des Moines businessman and 1880 UI law graduate.

The tradition of awarding Hancher-Finkbine medallions began in 1964. The awards, which recognize outstanding leadership, learning, and loyalty, are named after Finkbine and Virgil M. Hancher, who served as president of the University from 1940 to 1964.

UITV will broadcast the dinner at a later time. Check listings for day and time.

For a complete list of award recipients, visit


Diversity Catalyst Award reception to be held April 21

The Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity will celebrate The University of Iowa's distinctive and innovative diversity contributions at the 2009–10 Diversity Catalyst Award reception from 4 to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 21, in the Second Floor Ballroom of the Iowa Memorial Union.

This year’s Diversity Catalyst Award recipients include:

  • Thomas A. Weingeist, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, individual award.
  • Theodore J. Patton, copresident of the Iowa Student Bar Association, individual student award.
  • REACH (Realizing Educational and Career Hopes), program/department award.
  • Engineers Without Borders, student organization.
  • Helen Park Jameson, Office of International Students and Scholars, individual diversity practitioner.

The keynote address, “At Home in the World: Creating Synergy Between Multicultural Education and Globalization,” will be given by Nicole Nisly, interim chief diversity officer and associate vice president.

Click here for information about the Diversity Catalyst Awards or contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity at 319-335-0705.


UI law class to examine new health care reform law

A class next fall in the University of Iowa College of Law will examine the recently passed health care reform law, and the instructor says the syllabus won’t lack for material.

“The law is mammoth, more than 2,000 pages long, so we’ll have plenty to study,” says Herbert Hovenkamp, professor of law. “If anything, we’ll have a hard time fitting it into a semester.”

The colloquium style class will meet weekly through the semester and is offered by the law school’s Innovation, Business, and Law Center. Hovenkamp, one of the center’s faculty members, says the class will analyze legal issues presented by the country’s new health care policy. Given its sweeping nature, he said the issues are many and broad.

“It touches virtually every aspect of the law that we can think of,” he says. “Almost every law college graduate who practices in an area with a significant regulatory component can benefit from learning about the health care reform law.”

Read more:


Podcast: picky eaters, twice-exceptional students, and environmental activism

In the April 2010 edition of the Iowa Insights podcast, University of Iowa pediatrician Linda Cooper-Brown discusses picky eaters, and how to encourage kids to eat a balanced diet.

Also in this edition, Susan Assouline, associate director of the College of Education's Belin-Blank Center, explains how the University is establishing the first national center for twice-exceptional students. And UI student Abbie Gruwell, an intern in the Office of Sustainability, talks about her trip to the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and her involvement with environmental causes.

Iowa Insights is a monthly audio magazine featuring interviews with some of the world's leading thinkers, researchers, and teachers. The podcast is produced by the UI Office of University Relations.

To listen or subscribe to the podcast, visit


New episode of Iowa Magazine premieres on Big Ten Network April 19

The latest installment of Iowa Magazine, titled “Foresight,” will highlight education and research at Iowa with an eye toward the future when it premieres at 1 p.m., Monday, April 19, on the Big Ten Network.

This episode of the half-hour program, produced by the University of Iowa Center for Media Production, includes:

  • “Living with Floods,” how the Iowa Flood Center is using the lessons of 2008 to advance the science of flood prediction.
  • “Design for the Developing World,” which examines a service-learning course that teaches engineering students how simple ideas can address the biggest problems.
  • “Planning for Livable Communities,” which looks at Iowa’s graduate program in Urban and Regional Planning, where students learn diverse skills to enhance the quality of life for all communities.
  • “Copyright Criminals,” a look at a new documentary coproduced by a UI alumnus and UI scholar to explore a raging music industry debate and the collision of copyrights and creativity.

A preview of the episode can be viewed at

In the Iowa City area, the Big Ten Network may be seen on Mediacom channel 72 and UI Campus Cable channels 59.11 (High Definition) and 25 (Standard Definition).


Colm Toibin to give free reading on UI campus April 22

Irish fiction writer, journalist, and critic Colm Toibin, an Ida Beam visiting faculty member in the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will present a free fiction reading at 8 p.m., Thursday, April 22, in lecture room 2 of Van Allen Hall on the UI campus.

Toibin's work focuses primarily on Irish society and history, the challenges of living abroad, and homosexual identity. His The Heather Blazing won the 1993 Encore Award, The Master won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and Brooklyn won the 2009 Costa Novel Award.


University of Iowa accepts Tree Campus USA award at annual luncheon

The University of Iowa Landscape Services staff accepted the Tree Campus USA award in Des Moines on April 6 at the annual Community Forestry Awards luncheon.

The University was designated Iowa's first Tree Campus USA institution by the Arbor Day Foundation in December 2009. Each year the University must renew its designation by fulfilling a number of tree stewardship and service learning requirements.

On Wednesday, April 7, Landscape Services held its annual service-learning project behind the Boyd Law building. Student volunteers and retired Facilities Management staff member Larry Wilson helped the landscape crew plant 500 oak seedlings and remove garlic mustard, an invasive weed that can take over wooded areas and choke undergrowth.

Shawn Fitzpatrick, landscape services supervisor and certified arborist, Andy Dahl, certified arborist and municipal specialist, Mike Rhinehart, certified arborist, and Allan Allgood, tree trimmer, maintain more than 7,000 campus trees and plant more than 300 campus trees each year. Landscape Services pursued the Tree Campus USA designation as part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability.


Staff Council seeks nominations for 2010 staff awards

The UI Staff Council seeks nominations for the Board of Regents Staff Excellence Award, the UI Outstanding Staff Award, and the David J. Skorton Award for Staff Excellence in Public Service. Any member of the UI community (faculty, staff, student) may submit nominations.

The Board of Regents Staff Excellence Award recognizes staff for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the institutions as well as the State of Iowa. The UI Outstanding Staff Award recognizes current UI staff who have made outstanding accomplishments and contributions that significantly benefited or brought honor or recognition to the University. The David J. Skorton Award for Staff Excellence in Public Service recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions and have shown exceptional imagination and dedication to improving the University community.

Complete nominations must include nominating letter, two supporting letters,
the nominee's curriculum vitae/résumé, and the nominee's current job description.

For complete award criteria, go to the Staff Council web site, Nominations may be submitted electronically at The nomination deadline is May 17.


College of Medicine to host conference focusing on links between medicine, writing

The University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine will host The Examined Life: Writing and the Art of Medicine, a conference focusing on the links between the science of medicine and the art of writing, April 28–30.

The goals for this conference are:

  • To foster collaboration and discussion on the role of creative writing in medical education and writing throughout a lifelong career as a physician.
  • To share initiatives that demonstrate the role of creative writing in patient care.
  • To offer skill-building sessions on writing, editing, and publishing creative work.

Physicians and nurses, medical and allied health care students, writers and educators, editors and publishers, health care staff and administrators, and anyone else with an interest in creative or reflective writing and medicine is encouraged to register. Some events are open to the public, with no registration required. For full program information and registration, visit


Rec Services invites faculty, staff to drive for show, putt for dough

The University of Iowa Recreational Services is offering a faculty and staff golf league starting May 16. Registration is now open and will run until noon, Tuesday, May 4. To download a registration form, visit or go to the Recreational Services office at E216 Field House.

The Faculty and Staff Golf League is a 10-week, 9-hole, doubles league with different ability groupings based on the player’s handicap.

Teams are made up of two golfers. Players are responsible for finding their own partner or may be placed on a free agent list, located at the Recreational Services Office.

Three different levels of leagues are available, intermediate, recreational, and open. For more information about the Faculty and Staff Golf League, or to download a registration form, visit


See which Learning and Development courses are right for you

UI Learning and Development, a unit of Organizational Effectiveness, provides professional development services to faculty and staff. There are many learning opportunities that will support your professional development and growth. Look for classroom instruction on leadership issues for managers, frontline supervisors, human resource professionals, and office professionals.

Check out the following links:

  • For registration information, log in at the UI Human Resources Self Service site at and click the “My Training” link to register for any available session. This tool will let you see the status and location of a class, get e-mail confirmations, withdraw from a class, check your course registration history, and even do online evaluations. Courses with a fee (Special Events, 7 Habits, Reframing Your Work) will use the printable registration form.
  • To visit Learning and Development's home page, go to



New test could identify smokers at risk of emphysema

Using CT scans to measure blood flow in the lungs of people who smoke may offer a way to identify which smokers are most at risk of emphysema before the disease damages and eventually destroys areas of the lungs, according to a University of Iowa study.

The study found that smokers who have very subtle signs of emphysema, but still have normal lung function, have very different blood flow patterns in their lungs compared to nonsmokers and smokers without signs of emphysema.

This difference could be used to identify smokers at increased risk of emphysema and allow for early intervention. The findings appear in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As many as 24 million Americans have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—a group of serious lung diseases that includes emphysema—and COPD is the fourth leading cause of death nationwide. Because COPD is a group of different diseases, identifying more effective treatments may hinge on distinguishing between these diseases and targeting them separately.

The team used multidetector row CT imaging to measure blood flow patterns in the lungs of 41 study participants—17 nonsmokers and 24 smokers. All the participants had normal lung function, but 12 of the smokers had very subtle signs of emphysema. The CT scans showed that these 12 individuals had the most disrupted patterns of blood flow compared to the other participants.

The findings also support the idea that abnormal blood flow occurs before emphysema develops.

Read more:


Guidelines suggested on Alzheimer's disease and driving

New guidelines can help clinicians determine when a person with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia should stop driving.

The new guidelines issued by the American Academy of Neurology were published in the April 12 online issue of the journal Neurology and were written by a team of specialist clinicians including a neurologist with University of Iowa Health Care.

The team, which included senior author Matthew Rizzo, UI professor of neurology, engineering, and public policy, evaluated which tests and observations were most useful for predicting increased risk of unsafe driving among patients with dementia.

"Although severe dementia significantly impairs driving skills, for patients with mild dementia, the situation is less clear cut," Rizzo says. "In fact, as many as three in four patients with mild dementia may be considered safe drivers based on their ability to pass an on-road driving test.

"With these uncertainties, as well as a concern that we not restrict driving for people who can still safely do so, we developed these guidelines to help clinicians identify which patients may be at higher risk of unsafe driving," Rizzo added.

The guidelines establish that a test known as the Clinical Dementia Rating scale is useful in identifying potentially unsafe drivers and recommends that clinicians use it. This tool allows clinicians to integrate information from caregivers and direct examination of patients to determine the severity of a patient's dementia. Conversely, the guidelines find that a patient's self-rating of safe driving ability is not a reliable indicator of safe driving ability.

The guidelines also found that caregivers' concerns that a patient's driving had become "marginal" or "unsafe" were often accurate and should be part of the clinician's overall assessment of a patient's driving capability.

Warning signs of unsafe driving due to dementia that caregivers and family members might observed include:

  • Decreased miles being driven.
  • Collisions.
  • Moving violations.
  • Avoiding certain driving situations, such as driving at night or in the rain.
  • Aggressive or impulsive personality traits.

Read more:


Study shows little difference between good, great NHL goalies

Martin Brodeur is considered one of the best NHL goaltenders of all time, certainly the best of his era, but a new study from The University of Iowa suggests that there's not much difference between Brodeur and an average NHL goalie.

In a new study, "On the Evaluation of the 'Most Important' Position in Professional Sports," Stacey Brook, an economics researcher in the Tippie College of Business, says those small differences between a good goalie and a great one lead NHL teams to overpay for the position.

Brook says that in setting the market for goaltenders, general managers are hamstrung by the fact that goaltenders are notoriously streaky and can go from brick wall to sieve in a single season. It's also not unusual for an average goalie to suddenly put together one or two great seasons, only to quickly revert to his less than stellar form.

But Brook points out that there is surprisingly little difference between an average goalie and a future Hall of Famer like Brodeur, the New Jersey Devils legend and three-time Stanley Cup winner who has won more games than any other NHL goalie. He notes that Brodeur’s save percentage of 91.4 percent is only 1 percentage point better than the NHL average of 90.4 percent, a difference of only 216.9 goals.

Using a formula that converts a goalie's save percentage into his teams' points in the standings, Brook's research suggests that Brodeur has won only 33.5 more regular season games over the course of his 17 season NHL career than an average goalie, or two games a season.

Given such a small difference between legendary and average, Brook said it’s difficult for a GM to predict with any accuracy how a free agent goaltender will perform and pay him accordingly. As a result, they wind up overpaying for average goaltenders, which makes the market less efficient, driving up the prices for all goalies, especially the great ones like Brodeur.



UI Health Care names Richerson as new head of neurology

University of Iowa Health Care leaders announced the appointment of George Richerson as professor and head of the UI Department of Neurology, pending approval by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

Richerson, 52, currently serves as professor and residency program director of the Department of Neurology at the Yale University School of Medicine, where he was previously the acting chairman of neurology. He also previously served as acting chief of neurology at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Haven, Conn.

Richerson graduated from Iowa State University in 1980 with a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering with honors and distinction. He received a medical degree and a doctoral degree in physiology and biophysics in 1987 at the UI Carver College of Medicine.

Richerson finished his residency in neurology at Yale–New Haven Hospital in 1991, and served as chief resident from 1990 to 1991. He completed an internship at Waterbury Hospital Health Center in Waterbury, Conn., in 1988. He also served as an emergency room physician at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Haven, Conn., from 1988 to 1991.

"I am certainly looking forward to joining such an outstanding academic medical center that has a tremendous reputation for providing high-quality patient care, conducting pioneering research and training the next generation of health care professionals," Richerson says. "Iowa City is a special community, and I am eager to come back to my roots."

Richerson will begin his new duties on July 1.


Recent deaths

  • Alvin Gingerich, 88, retired LPN, March 31 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Helen Fry, 90, retired clerk I, March 31 in Kalona, Iowa. (obit)
  • Marvin Sims, 66, program consultant, April 2 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Timothy Robertson, 72, retired professor, April 5 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Carolyn Wolf, 101, retired food worker, April 8 in West Branch, Iowa. (obit)


Office of University Relations. Copyright The University of Iowa 2006. All rights reserved.