Achievements | Honors, awards, publications for Nov. 11

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Achievements | Honors, awards, publications for Nov. 11

Recent accomplishments for the campus community were earned by Martin Massengale, Lauren Gatti, Tina Vo, the iGEM team, University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, Center on Children, Families and the Law, and the Nebraska Letterbox Club.


Martin Massengale, director of the Center for Grassland Studies, has been announced by the Lincoln Rotary Club No. 14 as the 2016 Nebraskan of the Year. The award was established to honor and recognize the accomplishments of Nebraskans who have distinguished themselves through service to others in keeping with ideals of Rotary International. Each year one honoree from a statewide field of nominees is selected based on honesty, integrity and concern for others; service in charitable and civic causes; and leadership and significant accomplishments in his/her profession or volunteer activities. For more information, click here.

Lauren Gatti, assistant professor of teaching, learning and teacher education, tracks new developments in teacher preparation. Gatti’s close attention to teacher education and unique research in teacher residency programs has resulted in a $50,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation Small Grants Program. Gatti will be working on the grant with colleagues from DePaul University and National-Louis University in Chicago. The award allows her research on teacher residency programs to continue from a previous Layman Award funded internally through the University of Nebraska Foundation. For more information, click here.


Tina Vo, a doctoral student in teaching, learning and teacher education, has been accepted to the 2016-17 CADRE Fellows program of the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education, a program funded through the National Science Foundation. The fellowship provides a variety of capacity-building experiences for early career researchers and developers participating in National Science Foundation activities. Fellows meet throughout the year to learn more about K-12 science education and gain insight into the NSF and what it takes to be successful and effective researchers and developers. Vo was an original member of the research team on the NSF grant MoHSES and has taken the lead on the teacher aspects. She has designed and led professional development for teachers and is conducting teacher-focused research. For more information, click here.


A team of six undergraduate students earned a silver medal designation at the 2016 International Genetically Engineered Machines competition, held Oct. 27-31 in Boston. The iGEM team – the first to hail from Nebraska – consisted of Madison Bierman, chemistry; Danny Dooling, chemistry and microbiology; Colton Harper, computer science and mathematics; Joshua Mueller and Brynne Schwabauer, chemical engineering; and Phuong Ninh, computer engineering. Their project addressed the accumulation of excess nitrates in waterways, a problem that can stem from the runoff of nitrate-laced fertilizers. This nitrate can lead to algae blooms whose decomposition sucks up precious oxygen in waters such as the Gulf of Mexico, making them uninhabitable for many species. In response, the team genetically engineered an E. coli bacterium that can survive in nitrate-contaminated water and chemically reduce the nitrate into the less harmful nitrite and, eventually, nitrogen gas. The team was advised by faculty Massimiliano Pierobon, Jiantao Guo, Wei Niu and Myra Cohen, along with graduate students Erome Hankore and Nanxi Wang. For more information on the team and its project, click here.

The University of Nebraska Public Policy Center and the Center on Children, Families and the Law are part of a new collaborative effort to combat chronic homelessness in Lincoln. The organizations will work with Region V Behavioral Health Systems, CenterPointe and the Mental Health Association of Nebraska to provide housing; behavioral health treatment; and peer and employment supports to people experiencing chronic homelessness and serious behavioral health disorders. Funding for the project comes from a three-year, $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The Nebraska Letterbox Club, a program organized by the university’s Academy for Child and Family Well Being, was selected as the recipient of the Celebrate Literacy Award by the Eastern Nebraska Reading Council. The award was presented at the next Eastern Nebraska Reading Council meeting on Nov. 10. The Celebrate Literacy Award is an International Literacy Association program that recognizes organizations, institutions and individuals that have made significant literacy contributions at the local, state or provincial level. As the winner at the local level, Nebraska Letterbox Club is eligible for the state award, which will be presented in February. Each year, the Nebraska Letterbox Club sends monthly packages for six months filled with books, math activities, games, stationery and handwritten letters to children in Nebraska’s foster care system. For more information about the Nebraska Letterbox Club, click here.

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

Martine Massengale
iGem team
Nancy Shank, University of Nebraska Public Policy Center; Dennis Hoffman, CenterPointe; Jeff Chambers, Center on Children, Families, and the Law; John Turner, Region V Systems,Tarik Abdel-Monem,University of Nebraska Public Policy Center
Nebraska Letterbox Club
Lauren Gatti

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