Achievements | Honors, appointments, publications for Jan. 12

· 6 min read

Achievements | Honors, appointments, publications for Jan. 12

The Nebraska sign outside the Visitors Center shows signs of the Jan. 8-9, 2024, snowstorm.
Craig Chandler | University Communication and Marketing

Recent achievements for the campus community were earned by Majid Al Harthy, Humberto Blanco, Crystal Bock Thiessen, Andrew Brown, Dan Coogan, Amanda Dabney, Aaron Ebrahim, Christian Elowsky, Carrie Fitzwater, Melanie Griffin, Kathryn Holland, Amit Jhala, Valerie Jones, Kaci Jumps, Aidan Linder, Patrice McMahon, Justin McMechan, Phuong Hanh Nguyen, Laila Puntel, Christian Stephenson, the Children’s Justice Clinic, and the College of Engineering.


  • Humberto Blanco, professor of agronomy and horticulture, has been named a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy Blanco’s contributions and achievements were recognized during the scientific society’s annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, on Oct. 30. Fellow is the highest recognition bestowed by the society. Blanco is nationally and internationally recognized for his research on soil ecosystem services of conservation agriculture (such as no-till), cover crops, biochar, crop residue management and energy crops. He has spoken worldwide on these topics.

  • Andrew Brown, assistant director of community engagement for Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement, earned a Kudos award from the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. Brown provides leadership for student-centered community engagement activities and direct service opportunities with local nonprofits in Lincoln and Lancaster County. Brown has led an overall growth of the experiential engagement options for students through development of new programs, expansion of existing programs and enhancement of community partnerships. Read more about Brown’s work with students and the local community.

  • The Children’s Justice Clinic has received the Education Rights Counsel’s Advocacy in Education Award. The award is given to a lawyer or legal entity who advances the education rights of children across Nebraska.

  • Law students Dan Coogan, Amanda Dabney and Kaci Jumps defeated a University of Iowa team to win the Region 9 competition of the New York City Bar Association’s National Moot Court competition. Dabney earned the award for best finalist in the final round. The team will advance to the national competition to be held in New York City Jan. 28-Feb. 2.

  • Four Nebraska Business students won the national supply chain competition at the Specialty Tools and Fasteners Distributors Association conference in San Antonio, Texas. The Nebraska team claimed the championship for the second year in a row. Team members were Majid Al Harthy, junior supply chain major from Muscat, Oman; Aaron Ebrahim, senior accounting major from Lincoln; Aidan Linder, senior supply chain management major from Omaha; and Phuong Hanh Nguyen, senior supply chain management major from Hai Phong, Vietnam.

  • Christian Elowsky and Christian Stephenson, assistant professors of practice in agronomy and horticulture, were each honored recently at an Indigenous Food Sovereignty event. The Indigenous Food Sovereignty Program is sponsored by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Tribal Extension Office. The program welcomes Indigenous high school students onto East Campus to engage with Indigenous elders and Nebraska Extension faculty to learn how to grow their own food and establish food sovereignty for their families and communities. They meet on Saturday mornings throughout the year.

  • Carrie Fitzwater assistant director of residence life, has been elected to a three-year term for the Upper Midwest Region-Association of College and University Housing Officers, serving as president in 2025. The association is a group for housing and residential life professionals, dedicated to education, research and service for member institutions, with a focus on housing education, research support and fostering a service-oriented community. In her leadership role, Fitzwater aspires to enrich professional development and networking, encourage resource sharing and offer inspirational mentorship, influencing the future of student housing and residence life.

  • Kathryn Holland, associate professor in psychology and the Women’s and Gender Studies program, earned an award for Distinguished Early Career Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest from the American Psychological Association. This award recognizes people who have advanced psychology as a science and/or profession by a single extraordinary achievement or a lifetime of outstanding contributions in the public interest.

  • Amit Jhala, professor, associate department head and Nebraska Extension weed management specialist in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, was honored with an Outstanding Mid-Career Extension Award from the Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association during the annual conference in Kearney on Nov. 15. The association is the statewide umbrella organization that connects local extension personnel to national organizations related to their field of work.

  • Valerie Jones, associate professor of advertising and public relations, was named the Fred A. and Gladys Seaton Professor. Jones previously held the Seaton Professorship from Jan. 1, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2023. The professorship is awarded for a three-year term. Before joining the College of Journalism and Mass Communications in 2013, Jones built a substantial career in media strategy and branding. Her current research primarily explores the influence of digital media on societal behaviors and trends. The Seaton Professorship was established at the University of Nebraska Foundation in 1979 to commemorate the life of Fred A. Seaton, who served as secretary of the interior under President Dwight D. Eisenhower and whose business interests included newspapers and radio stations in Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota and Kansas.

  • Justin McMechan and colleagues received the 2023 Outstanding Paper Award in the Agronomy Journal for their article “Abnormal Ear Development in Corn: A Review.”

  • Nebraska Engineering has been recognized as one of the top three 2024 Best Engineering Master’s Programs for Your Money by Money, earning a five-star designation from the magazine. For their inaugural graduate school rankings, Money partnered with College Factual to find the country’s top-value programs — with a focus on annual costs, typical debt burdens, employment rates and recent graduate salaries. Read more.

  • Laila Puntel, assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture, was formally presented with the American Society of Agronomy Early Career Award during the scientific society’s annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, on Oct. 30. Puntel has been testing and developing digital agriculture solutions to improve nutrient management. The Early Career Award recognizes individuals who have made an outstanding contribution in agronomy within seven years of completing their final degree — bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate.


  • Melanie Griffin, associate professor of libraries, joined University Libraries in August as chair of Archives and Special Collections. The chair serves as the educational and administrative leader of the unit, overseeing its program initiatives and the building, preservation and accessibility of a strong collection representing the history of the university, Great Plains literary and cultural history, and other subject areas. Before coming to Nebraska, Griffin served as the interim associate dean for special collections and as the director of special collections services at the University of Arkansas.

  • Patrice McMahon, director of the Honors Program and professor in the Department of Political Science, was appointed an International Affairs Fellow for Tenured International Relations Scholars, part of the Council on Foreign Relations. Fellows are offered practical experience in foreign policy through a 12-month placement at a United States federal government agency, in Congress or with an international organization.


  • Crystal Bock Thiessen, graduate student and lecturer in Programs in English as a Second Language and Global Affairs, was invited to be a contributing author to the recently published book “Innovation in University-Based Intensive English Programs,” edited by Jason Litzenberg. Her culminating chapter, “Where to From Here? Continuing to Innovate, Respond and Reform in IEPs,” summarizes and critically evaluates the book’s chapters. This chapter also examines the crucial support IEPs provide to multilingual international students, as well as the future of their survival during a time of precarious existence in higher education.

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