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Kruesel, Nilsen-Hamilton, Underbakke, Xu to Receive University Awards

Congratulations to the four BBMB members receiving University Awards this year!

At the heart of this university community are faculty and staff doing excellent work every day to contribute to an Iowa State student experience that is purposeful, rich with options, inspired -- and fun.

University awards are the highest recognition Iowa State bestows upon its faculty and staff for their commitment to the land-grant ideals of learning, discovery and outreach. Their peers nominated them for their accomplishments.

The university community will honor these award recipients during a ceremony and reception Wednesday, Sept. 20 (3:30 p.m.) in the Memorial Union Great Hall. All are welcome.

Faculty Awards

University Professor

Marit Nilsen-Hamilton, University Professor

Headshot of Marit Nilsen-Hamilton.
Marit Nilsen-Hamilton
University Professor, 2023
  • Implemented rotations to give interdepartmental graduate students opportunities to learn a variety of research approaches and develop a network of peers, a model now used by most ISU interdepartmental programs.
  • Published 110 peer-reviewed journal articles and 12 books or book chapters.
  • Organized more than 30 symposia over 25 years, which contributed to the university's image.
  • As department chair in the 1990s, initiated the structural biology program, pushing for faculty hires, persuading deans of the program's importance and planting the seeds for strong funding opportunities.
  • Mentors faculty through collaboration and works with colleagues on unfunded projects to help get to competitive grant proposals.









James Huntington Ellis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Introductory Teaching

Eric Underbakke, Associate Professor

Headshot of Eric Underbakke.
Eric Underbakke
James Huntington Ellis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Introductory Teaching, 2023
  • Redesigned introductory biochemistry courses to raise the rigor and connect biochemistry topics with current events.
  • Launched Eat N' Learn, a weekly session where students enjoy pizza and receive help from biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology faculty.
  • Designed a course to address the learning and research gap resulting from the impact of the COVID pandemic.








Staff Awards

Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award

Claire Kruesel, Undergraduate Program Coordinator

Headshot of Claire Kruesel.
Claire Kruesel
Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award, 2023
  • Sought a leadership role for the department's scholarship committee and set up a rubric for objectivity, prioritized funding for first-generation students.
  • Created and oversees two novel programs not part of her job description: 1) departmental mentoring program (faculty mentor students), involves 14 faculty and 160 undergraduates, 2) Summer undergraduate research program (9-week, donor funded) created with the past department chair and concludes with a Three Minute Thesis event.
  • Knows all 150 undergraduate majors by name.
  • Shepherds students who organize the department's annual Stupka Undergraduate Research Symposium.







Regents Award for Staff Excellence

Meimei Xu, research scientist

Headshot of Meimei Xu.
Meimei Xu
Regents Award for Staff Excellence, 2023
  • Published 39 papers in prestigious journals since joining the department in 2002.
  • Earned international recognition by winning the International Allelopathy Society's Grodzinsky Award (2014) for a refereed publication that exemplifies research excellence.
  • Nomination letter: "Her work is among the very best studies in the broader area of plant biochemistry and molecular biology."