Achievements | Honors, awards, publications for May 11

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Achievements | Honors, awards, publications for May 11

Nasan Altwal examines her diploma as she and Feedom Akinmoladun discuss graduation during commencement exercises on May 5. In case you missed it, Nebraska conferred a record 3,221 degrees during ceremonies on May 4 and 5.
Craig Chandler | University Communication
Nasan Altwal examines her diploma as she and Feedom Akinmoladun discuss graduation during commencement exercises on May 5. In case you missed it, Nebraska conferred a record 3,221 degrees during ceremonies on May 4 and 5.

Recent achievements for the campus community were earned by Bridget Bickner, Noori Choi, Zach Fischer, Natalia Gutierrez-Pinto, Gina Hotovy, Russ Johnson, Chauncey Kate Kleveland, Matt Mills, Katherine Nashleanas, Candace Nelson, Kristen Olson, Kamlakar Rajurkar, Michaela Wadzinski, Karman Weber, Kristy Weissling. The design of the university’s 8.29-million-gallon thermal energy storage tank was also honored.


  • Zach Fischer, a University Police Department dispatcher, has been named the department’s 2018 dispatcher of the year. Fischer, a police dispatcher since 2015, earned the award for demonstrating a willingness to work in a team setting; consistently displaying a positive attitude; and maintaining a high degree of flexibility and motivation during changing conditions.

  • Gina Hotovy, a financial specialist with the University Police Department, was named the department’s civilian employee of the year. A university employee since 2008, Hotovy earned the award by developing strong professional relationships in the department and across the university; being accessible and responsive to all inquiries; and displaying thorough knowledge of university policies.

  • Russ Johnson, a University Police Department K-9 police officer, has been named the department’s officer of the year. Johnson, a member of the department since 2011, earned the award by demonstrating a commitment to improving his performance as a K-9 officer; displaying professionalism and competency while maintaining a safe campus community; and self-initiating projects and activities that benefit the overall mission of the department. Specifically, in the last year, Johnson joined the UPD’s K-9 program; led research into the use of electrical weapons (Tasers) for field use; and developed curricula and led training of fellow officers.

  • Katherine Nashleanas, lecturer in geography, received the Higher Education Distinguished Teaching Award from the National Council for Geographic Education. The honor recognizes and supports excellence in geography teaching among two-year college, college and university educators. The award will be presented during the National Conference on Geography Education, Aug. 6-10 in Québec, Canada.

  • Kristen Olson, a Leland J. and Dorothy H. Olson Distinguished Professor of sociology, has been named a fellow of the American Statistical Association. The association grants fellowship to no more than one-third of one percent of its membership each year.

  • Kamlakar Rajurkar, professor of mechanical and materials engineering, will be awarded the M. Eugene Merchant Manufacturing Medal of American Society of Mechanical Engineers/ Society of Manufacturing Engineers at the ASME Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition Honors Assembly in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in November. The honor recognizes an individual who has had significant influence and responsibility for improving the productivity and efficiency of the manufacturing operation.

The University Police Department recently presented annual awards to its employees. Pictured (from left) is Hassan Ramzah, assistant chief of police; Russ Johnson, K-9 police officer, and partner, Layla; Gina Hotovy, financial specialist; Zach Fischer, dispatcher; and Owen Yardley, chief of police.

  • Karman Weber, a community service officer with the University Police Department, was named the department’s community service officer of the year. A member of the department since 2014, Weber earned the honor by being proactive in locating policy violations while completing campus patrols; and displaying a willingness to help others whenever needed, specifically during instances requiring immediate assistance. She was also commended for helping a police officer restrain an individual until additional officers arrived to complete an arrest.

  • Kristy Weissling, associate professor of practice in special education and communication disorders, is helping form a partnership between the Barkley Center and Horses for Healing: Equine Therapy and Research Center. While the client rides the horse, the speech therapist walks alongside, mixing the speech therapy into the riding lesson given by a certified Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship instructor.


  • Bridget Bickner, a junior majoring in biological sciences, received an American Society of Plant Biologists Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and been named to the DaRin Butz Foundation Research Internship Program at Harvard University. Both programs include a stipend and allow Bickner to conduct research through the summer. Bickner will present research conducted through the American Society of Plant Biologists fellowship at the society’s annual meeting in August 2019.

  • Noori Choi and Natalia Gutierrez-Pinto, doctoral students in biological sciences, were among 21 recipients of the 2018 Graduate Research Excellence Grant – R.C. Lewontin Early Award. The award, presented by the Society for the Study of Evolution, is given to students in the early stages of their doctoral programs. It is designed to help recipients collect preliminary data or enhance the scope of research.

  • Chauncey Kate Kleveland, a junior music education major, has been named winner of the Presser Scholarship given by The Presser Foundation. A national honor, the award winner selected by a vote of the faculty in the Glenn Korff School of Music. The award recognizes outstanding and meritorious achievement in music and is reserved for a music major in their junior year.

  • Matt Mills, mathematics doctoral student, was awarded a Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship by the National Science Foundation. Mills, who earned his doctorate from Nebraska in May, will continue his research at Michigan State University. The $150,000 fellowship covers three years of full-time research in the sciences and is highly sought-after funding by students to support their transition from graduate studies to professional careers. Mills was one of 35 students chosen to receive the award from a pool of 260 applicants.

  • Candace Nelson and Michaela Wadzinski, film and new media students, have received summer internships with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation. Nelson, who graduated in May with a bachelor of arts degree in theatre performance and a bachelor of fine arts degree in film and new media, received a directing internship and will be working on the television shows “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “The Big Bang Theory.” Wadzinksi, a senior film and new media major, received an animation (traditional) internship and will be working at Bento Box Entertainment, which produces the animated Fox television show “Bob’s Burgers.” The Television Academy Foundation’s summer internship program offers undergraduate and graduate students in-depth exposure to professional television production during an eight-week summer period in Los Angeles.


  • The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s 8.29-million-gallon thermal energy storage tank on City Campus was named the 2017 Atmospheric Oil Storage Tank of the Year by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The structure, which is made from 1.5 million pounds of steel plate, is holds chilled water used for air conditioning in reserve for peak demand periods and cools water in the evening when utility rates are generally lower. The tank will save an estimated $900,000 in annual utility expenses.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s award-winning, 8.29-million-gallon thermal energy storage tank.

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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