The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has named Yvonne Lai and Joe Louis as recipients of the Harold and Esther Edgerton Junior Faculty Award.
The honor is presented each year to outstanding junior faculty members who have demonstrated creative research, extraordinary teaching abilities and academic promise. The awards will be recognized at Honors Convocation on April 24.
Lai, assistant professor of mathematics, is a leader in UNL’s Discipline-Based Education Research faculty group, In her time working in mathematical knowledge for teaching, she has received two best paper awards, is the principle or co-principle investigator on three National Science Foundation grants and has an outstanding publication record.
In her teaching, Lai purposely designs courses to showcase mathematical reasoning and ways that students can improve their mathematical knowledge. Her expectations are high and students receive the support needed to meet them. Lai also advises both undergraduate and graduate research projects.
“Dr. Lai is a brilliant researcher who is well-poised to make seminal contributions to her field; she is a very strong teacher; and she is an excellent colleague,” said Judy Walker, professor and chair of mathematics.
Louis, assistant professor of entomology, is internationally recognized as a young investigator in plant stress biology and for his work on the application of plant molecular biology for enhancing immunity in plants to insect infestation.
At Nebraska, Louis has established a state-of-the-art research laboratory and has initiated several collaborative projects with scientists both on- and off-campus. Recently, Louis received the National Science Foundation Nebraska EPSCoR First Award for his research.
Beyond research, Louis has successfully incorporated the current knowledge of plant-insect interactions in his courses targeted to senior undergraduate and graduate students from multiple departments. Students have commented on his method of teaching and that he is an enthusiastic, compassionate and organized teacher in the classroom. He is currently mentoring students at the undergraduate and graduate level and his mentoring ability is reflected in his students’ research, which have been recognized this past year at the national, regional, and university level.
“Dr. Louis is a recognized expert in the fields of plant-insect interactions and host plant resistance,” said Gary Brewer, professor and chair of entomology. “He is definitely a young ‘rising star’ in these areas of research.”