Achievements | Honors, appointments, publications for July 2

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Achievements | Honors, appointments, publications for July 2

Jorgensen Hall is reflected in the ongoing construction of the College of Engineering’s first phase expansion. The project is replacing the “Link,” which connected Nebraska Hall to the Walter Scott Engineering Center.
Craig Chandler | University Communication
Jorgensen Hall is reflected in the ongoing construction of the College of Engineering’s first phase expansion. The project is replacing the “Link,” which connected Nebraska Hall to the Walter Scott Engineering Center.

Recent achievements among the university community were earned by Kwame Dawes, Maria de Guzman, Car Reen Kok, James Le Sueur, Jaci Lindburg, Peter Pinnell, Jamie Reimer Seaman, William G. Thomas and two teams from the Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management program.


  • Kwame Dawes has been named a finalist for the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature for his book, “Prophets,” published in 2018. The Neustadt Prize is a biennial award sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and “World Literature Today,” and is often referred to as the American Nobel. It is the first international literary award of this scope to originate in the United States and is one of the very few international prizes for which poets, novelists, and playwrights are equally eligible. Dawes is the George Holmes Distinguished Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner. Read more about the award here.

  • Car Reen Kok, a doctoral student studying complex biosystems, has been named as a co-recipient of the inaugural Glenn Gibson Early Career Researcher prize from the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics. Kok’s research focuses on untangling factors leading to how individuals respond or don’t respond to prebiotics interventions based on the bacterial makeup of their gut microbiome. The line of research has great potential to personalize prebiotics, thereby increasing their effectiveness. The prize is reserved for early career researchers with the goal of recognizing individuals who contribute substantial research findings in the fields of probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, postbiotics and fermented foods.

  • The documentary film, “The Art of Dissent,” directed by James Le Sueur, Samuel Clark Waugh Distinguished Professor of International Relations and chair of the history department, earned the Best Documentary Feature prize at the Blackbird Film Festival in Cortland, New York. “The Art of Dissent” explores the work of dissidents under the communist regime in post-World War II Czechoslovakia during the Velvet Revolution.

  • Peter Pinnell, professor of art, has received a $44,000 Windgate Foundation grant to replace electric kilns in the School of Art, Art History and Design’s ceramics program. The grant will be used to replace eight of the school’s 14 electric kilns, along with kiln shelves and some additional spare parts. Pinnell said the new kilns will be better insulated and will save the university money on energy.

  • Jamie Reimer Seaman, associate professor of voice, earned a Special Judges’ Citation from the American Prize for “Championing the Music of Robert Owens.” The American Prize is the nation’s most comprehensive series of contests in the classical arts. It is designed to evaluate, recognize and reward the best performers, ensembles, composers and administrators in the U.S. based on submitted recordings. Reimer Seaman has been researching and performing Owens’ works since 2007. Her CD, “The Last Songs of Robert Owens,” was recently released by Centaur Records.

  • William G. Thomas’ book, “A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War,” has been named a finalist for the George Washington Prize. The award honors outstanding new works on George Washington and his times (the Revolutionary and founding eras circa 1760-1820). Thomas is a professor of history, the John and Catherine Angle Chair in the Humanities and associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences. Read more on the award and the finalists here.

  • Two teams of students from the Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management program earned top-five finishes in the North American Student Competition of the Professional Convention Management Association. The competition tested student knowledge and understanding of issues and trends affecting the business events industry. Five finalists were selected to present their proposals and do a live question and answer session with the panel of judges. The “Experience Vanlife” team of Jessica Conrad, Ally Norris, Ryan Sedlacek and Kiana Walsh placed second. The team presented a 14-day road trip-style event that takes place across the Western United States. The “Break the Mold” team of Mackenzie Brabec, Addisyn Dupler, Aubrey Jensen, Lyllian Nguyen and Emily Zetterman placed fourth. Their team curated an event plan for universities to implement that embodies diversity and inclusion, and engagement from a student perspective. The team emphasized the importance of storytelling within experiential events as a way to connect different forms of knowledge and voices. Both teams were advised by Kristin Malek, assistant professor in hospitality, restaurant and tourism management.


  • Maria de Guzman has been named chair of the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design in the College of Education and Human Sciences. She will assume the position on July 1. De Guzman was recently promoted to full professor, effective July 1. She also serves as an adolescent development extension specialist in the Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies. In this role she holds both research and extension responsibilities.

  • Jaci Lindburg, has been named the University of Nebraska’s associate vice president for digital education and director of University of Nebraska Online after a national search. Lindburg, who came to the NU system in 2012, most recently served as assistant vice president for IT strategy for NU’s Information Technology Services and director of digital learning at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her new role is effective July 1; Lindburg will retain some leadership duties within ITS going forward.

  • Sarah Michaels, professor of political science, has been named a Fulbright Canada Distinguished Research Chair in Environmental Science at Carleton University. Michaels will spend the 2021 academic year as a visiting scholar at the Ottawa-based institution, collaborating with the Carleton community and nearby agencies to develop joint projects that address environmental challenges.

This column is a regular feature of Nebraska Today. Faculty, staff and students can submit achievements to be considered for this column via email to For more information, call 402-472-8515.

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