Achievements | Honors, awards, publications for April 29

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Achievements | Honors, awards, publications for April 29

Recent accomplishments earned by members of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln community include honors, awards and publications collected by faculty Robert Ladislas Derr, Ronald Lewis, William Lopez, Barney McCoy and Joe Starita.

Faculty and Staff

Robert Ladislas Derr, associate professor of art, undergraduate chair and photography area coordinator at Ohio State University, has been named the new chair of UNL’s Department of Art and Art History. Derr will begin his tenure on July 1. Derr received his Master of Fine Arts in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, and his Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Derr replaces Pete Pinnell, who has served as chair since 2011.

Ronald Lewis, professor of animal science, was awarded the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance with a Faculty Excellence Award. Lewis helped develop 16 one-hour courses that offer online master’s students training in Quantitative Genetics and Genomics. The courses were developed and evaluated through U.S. Department of Agriculture Higher Education Challenge grants. Lewis received the teaching excellence award at the Great Plains IDEA annual meeting on April 18 in Kansas City, Missouri.

William Lopez, professor of practice in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, has been selected as the 2016 recipient of the Donald R. and Mary Lee Swanson Award for Teaching Excellence by the College of Education and Human Sciences. He was recognized at a campus luncheon in his honor April 18 and will be honored at the CEHS Awards Ceremony April 22 and the All-University Honors Convocation April 23 at the Lied Center. The central focus of the Swanson Award is the positive impact of teaching excellence on students. Award recipients must demonstrate that their teaching promotes thinking; encourages engaged, active and continuous learning; and holds high standards for student performance. Since 1994, Lopez has been a faculty member in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, where he is also known for his creative and effective use of technology.

Barney McCoy, associate professor of broadcasting, was elected president of the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association during the organization’s annual conference, held April 9 in Minneapolis. The association is designed to serve electronic journalists with training, networking and career growth.

Joe Starita’s book, “I Am A Man: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice,” has been named one of Nebraska’s most notable 150 books. The book chronicles the life and death of Chief Standing Bear, the Ponca chief who, in 1879, unwittingly ended up in the crosshairs of a landmark legal case. The list, generated by the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association, is part of the 2017 celebration of Nebraska’s 150th anniversary of becoming a state. Starita is a professor of news-editorial in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. For more information on the book list, click here.


Brennan Costello, Kate Likens, Ashtyn Shrewsbury and Sarah Wollenburg earned top honors during the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program’s quick pitch competition on April 21. Likens and Wollenburg won the freshman-sophomore division with MealMap, an all-inclusive in information source on food and health. Costello won the junior-senior division with his business FarmAfield, an online marketplace that offers small production contracts between everyday people and farmers. Shrewsbury, also in the junior-senior division, won for her business Cornerstone Genetics, which creates a breeding program that produces high-quality registered red angus bull to be sold to area cattlemen. Each winner received $1,000 to apply toward college expenses. For more information, click here.

Autumn Dunn and Maranda Miller, both students in the School of Natural Resources, were named Milton E. Mohr Awards Program recipients. Dunn, who is an undergraduate, received a scholarship. Miller, a graduate student, collected a fellowship. The Milton E. Mohr Awards Program recognizes outstanding students in the sciences of biotechnology and engineering based on their academic performance and potential for accomplishments in their specific field. The Milton E. Mohr Scholarship and Fellowship Awards Program was established in 1989 for students in engineering or biotechnology degree programs.

College of Journalism and Mass Communications students received nine 2016 Eric Sevareid Awards from the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association. Each year, the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association presents awards to the best work done by broadcast news operations and journalists working in small, medium and large markets in the six-state region on radio, television and online. Winners are: Evan Hummel, first place for “Sex Trafficking in Nebraska;” Benjamin A. Schoenkin, award of merit for “Nebraska Euthanasia Proposal;” Erica Nett, award of merit for “Alzheimers – A life taken away;” Tommy Rezac, award of merit for 90.3 KRNU FM Newscast; Evan Hummel, first place for “Undocumented Immigrants’ Driving Dream Comes True;” Tommy Rezac, award of merit for “Alcohol at UNL Sports Events?;” Conor Dunn, award of merit for “Drag – A different way of expression;” Tommy Rezac, first place for “Husker Countdown – Nebraska-BYU Football Suspensions” and NewsNetNebraska, first place for Student Market Radio.

College of Journalism and Mass Communications students received nine Region 7 Mark of Excellence awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. SPJ’s Region 7 comprises Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Award recipients were honored at the Region 7 Spring Conference in Overland Park, Kansas. Winners will move on to the national Merit of Excellence competition among category winners from the 12 SPJ regions. Winners are: Chris Heady for sports writing, Mara Klecker for online feature reporting, Jordan Huesers for online in-depth reporting, Benjamin A. Schoenkin for online news reporting and radio in-depth reporting, Tommy Rezac for radio sports reporting, Conor Dunn for television feature reporting, Erica Nett for television general news reporting and Joy Carey for television sports reporting.


The College of Journalism and Mass Communications National Student Advertising Competition team won second place at the District 9 regional competition in Kansas City April 15-16. The NSAC team has competed for 12 consecutive years and placed at the regional competition for the past eight years, with a first-place finish six times and advanced to the national competition. The college chapters were tasked with putting together a comprehensive advertising campaign that included creative executions, media placement, public relations, special events and other promotional tools for this year’s client, Snapple. The campaign looked to grow household penetration for the Snapple brand. The campaign included a print campaign, three TV spots and a mobile game.

This column is a regular Friday feature of UNL 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.

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