February 20, 2015

Achievements | Diamond named to AAAS committee

Judy Diamond

Judy Diamond, professor and curator of Informal Science Education at the University of Nebraska State Museum, has been appointed to the American Association for the Advancement of Science Committee on Science and Technology Engagement with the Public. Diamond will serve a three-year term beginning dpring 2015.

“I am honored to have been selected by the board of the AAAS to join the Committee on Science and Technology Engagement with the Public,” Diamond said. “AAAS is the largest scientific society in the world, and this committee is an influential voice that will help strengthen the links among STEM researchers, the general public and the working media.”

As the leading scientific organization in the United States the AAAS has a strong commitment to enhance the public’s understanding of science. As a member of the AAAS committee, Diamond will work to promote and prepare the scientific community to communicate science to the public. Diamond and other appointed committee members will facilitate science opportunities including workshops and family days as well as providing scientists and engineers with tools for communicating complex scientific information to journalists, policy-makers and the public.

“Dr. Diamond is an internationally recognized leader in informal science education, which refers to educational opportunities outside the traditional classroom, such as children’s learning in museums,” said Priscilla Grew, director of the NU State Museum. “We are honored that she will represent the museum on this prestigious AAAS committee.”

Diamond was elected as an AAAS fellow with five other UNL faculty in 2013. She was honored for her distinguished contributions to informal science education, promoting science literacy through innovative collaborations with journalists and media experts, natural scientists and learning scientists. Diamond spoke at the recent AAAS conference in San Jose, California on work of “World of Viruses” — a collaborative project of the University of Nebraska State Museum, the Nebraska Center for Virology and UNL’s department of Sociology funded by the National Institutes of Health through the Science Educational Partnership.

Other recent awards and honors earned by the UNL community include:


Jim Alfano, Charles Bessey Professor of plant pathology, has been named a 2015 fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. The academy represents a leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology, the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to life sciences. Alfano will receive fellowship recognition at a June 2 ceremony in New Orleans, site of the ASM’s 115th General Meeting.

Alfano studies how bacterial pathogens cause disease in plants, focusing especially on a secretion system that allows pathogens to inject virulent proteins into plant cells. Having demonstrated that a certain class of proteins can suppress a plant’s immune system, Alfano’s research has also made strides in identifying and boosting critical components of that immunity.

Alfano joined the UNL faculty in 2002, becoming director of the undergraduate microbiology program in 2011. He also serves as a member of UNL’s Center for Plant Science Innovation. He also was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012.

Dawn O. Braithwaite, professor and chair of communication studies, will receive a Master Teacher Award at the annual meeting of the Western States Communication Association Communication in Spokane, Washington, on Feb. 23. The award, which started in 1988, honors outstanding teachers in the communication discipline.

Mark Griep, associate professor of chemistry, has been named the 2015 Outreach Volunteer of the Year by the Nebraska section of the American Chemical Society. The award honors Griep’s work in securing a National Historic Chemical Landmark status honoring Rachel Lloyd, the first U.S. woman chemistry professor.

Griep researched the life and accomplishments of Lloyd and has written a book on her life. Griep also organized a “Women in Science” symposium to accompany the NHCL event. Nearly 500 undergraduate chemistry students and 31 middle school students attended the event.

J.D. Madsen, assistant professor of theatre, has received a nomination for Outstanding Set Design in the Helen Hayes Awards. The nomination is for the play “Sex With Strangers,” which played the Signature Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Madsen is one of five designers up for the award. The winner will be announced on April 6.

One of the country’s most prestigious cultural honors since 1985, the Helen Hayes Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in more than 90 professional theatres throughout the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. They are named for the legendary “First Lady of the American Theatre,” whose career spanned nearly 80 years.

Madsen is in his first year teaching scene design at UNL.

Read more about the award nomination at http://go.unl.edu/jmis.

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

The set for "Sex with Strangers" at the Signature Theatre in Washington, D.C., designed by J.D. Madsen.
The set for "Sex with Strangers" at the Signature Theatre in Washington, D.C., designed by J.D. Madsen.
Dawn O. Braithwaite
Mark Griep with a time capsule from the cornerstone of Avery Hall.
Jim Alfano