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Home > People > Awards and appointments, January 2008

Awards and appointments, January 2008

By Pauline Oo

Anne Kapuscinski
Anne Kapuscinski, a founding fellow of the U's Institute on the Environment, will receive the 2008 Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology.

Jan. 30

Assistant professor of chemical engineering Kevin Dorfman was named by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation as one of 20 new promising scientific researchers. As a 2007 Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering recipient, Dorfman will receive an unrestricted research grant of $625,000 over five years.

The Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA) has inducted Peter Olin, director of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, into its Hall of Fame. The MNLA Hall of Fame honors leaders who have given longtime service to the association and the industry. Olin's 24-year career as Arboretum director has been notable for several innovations, including the internationally recognized Therapeutic Horticulture Program. He became a professor of horticultural science and landscape architecture at the U in 1974.

Renowned University of Minnesota scientist Anne Kapuscinski is one of five recipients of the international Society for Conservation Biology's Distinguished Service Award for 2008. Kapuscinski, a professor in the department of fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology, is being honored for her "extraordinary contributions to conservation research, teaching and conservation policy, particularly related to effects of biotechnology policy on aquatic species." The awards will be presented in July. Kapuscinski is a founding fellow of the U's Institute on the Environment and directs the Institute for Social, Economic, and Ecological Sustainability.

Assistant professor of nursing Bonnie Westra was appointed to the Minnesota e-Health Initiative Advisory Committee by Minnesota's Commissioner of Health. The goal of the initiative is to improve health care quality, increase patient safety, reduce health care costs, and improve public health by accelerating the use of health information technology in Minnesota.

Dan Voytas is the new director of the U's Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Transposon Research. He hopes to expand the center by promoting novel technologies that are being developed at the U to manipulate genomes to augment and complement existing research programs. Voytas also plans to expand the impact of the center's research to applications in plant agriculture.

Jan. 23

Harriett Copher Haynes, senior psychologist and former director of University Counseling & Consulting Services has been named president-elect of the Minnesota Psychological Association.

The Minnesota Medical Foundation's 2006 annual report has received an Award of Distinction from the Association of American Medical Colleges' Group on Institutional Advancement. MMF staff involved in production: Catherine Henry, Meredith McNab, Nicole Endres, and Tracy Ayers. (The report was designed by Woychick Design.) The publication builds on the concept "Great Stories Start Here" to capture the passion, conviction, and sense of promise and hope evoked by personal giving stories. See the MMF annual report. Hilda Ladner has been named assistant to the chancellor for equity and diversity on the Morris campus, as well as director of the Multi-Ethnic Student Program. Ladner will assume her new roles in March 2008. Read news release.

Jan. 15

Cancer Center researcher Lisa Peterson has been named chair-elect of the American Chemical Society's Division of Chemical Toxicology. Peterson, who studies the chemical compounds of tobacco products and their impact on health, will be the first woman to head the more than 1,000-member national society of chemists and biochemists whose work focuses on toxicology and the study of poisons. She begins her chair-elect duties this month, and next year, becomes chair of the division.

School of Dentistry dean emeritus Erwin Schaffer died on Dec. 25; he was 85. Schaffer, who received a doctor of dental surgery degree (1945) and master's of science in periodontology (1951) from the U, served the University and the dental profession for more than 60 years. During his tenure as dean, the School of Dentistry consistently ranked first or second in the nation for federally funded research money. He created dozens of programs, including human oral genetics and the management of cleft palate and maxillofacial deformities. He officially retired in 1991, but continued to teach until 2006.

Denise Guerin, interior design professor, has been awarded the American Society of Interior Designers 2007 Distinguished Educator Award for her contributions to the profession, including her work on the only searchable research database on design and human behavior (InformeDesign) and her work with sustainable design and regulating the interior design practice. Shana Sturla, Cancer Center researcher, was elected to a one-year term as member-at-large of the American Chemical Society's Division of Chemical Toxicology. Sturla is an assistant professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. Her research focuses on understanding the chemical mechanisms by which environmental chemicals cause cancer and developing approaches for treatment and prevention using natural and synthetic agents.

Jan. 7

Assistant professor of curriculum and instruction Aaron Doering has been named the first holder of the Bonnie Westby Huebner Endowed Chair in Education and Technology in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD). Doering is education director of the K-12 classroom learning project Go North! The late Huebner, '53, received a bachelor's degree in education and taught elementary students in Minnesota California; her husband, Dan, '55, received a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering. A gift of $2 million established the new chair, which will advance ongoing work in CEHD in the field of learning technologies. Doering will explore multidisciplinary approaches to research, teaching, technology, and service. Read the news release and his faculty bio.

Professor of curriculum and instruction Deborah Dillon has been named to hold the Guy Bond Chair in Reading. One of the nation's leading reading-education scholars, Dillon will expand her work in research-based policymaking on the state and national levels. Read the news release and her faculty bio.

Dave Crane and Jeremy Todd from the Twin Cities campus Office of Classroom Management are among the first in the nation to receive the new Educational Facilities Professional (EFP) credential, administered through APPA, the association dedicated to leadership in educational facilities. The EFP credential is a new standard for educational stewardship and recognizes exerienced professionals who complete technical training and a comprehensive examination. See also APPA.

Michael Dennis Browne
Professor and poet Michael Dennis Browne. Photo by Patrick O'Leary.

Twin Cities campus professor of English and poet Michael Dennis Browne (right) will see his oratorio, To Be Certain of the Dawn--a commemoration of children of the Holocaust written with composer Stephen Paulus and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize--performed and recorded by the Minnesota Orchestra Feb. 12 under the direction of Osmo Vänskä. In May and June, musicians from three area colleges will bring the oratorio to Europe, where performance locations will include a former concentration camp in Alsace-Lorraine. Read more about the oratorio and Feb. 12 concert. See also Browne's faculty bio.

Jan. 4

The new director of the Beckman Center for Transposon Research is Dan Voytas, a genetic engineering faculty member at Iowa State University. Transposons are pieces of DNA that can change their position on chromosomes, which holds the potential for developing new therapies for genetic diseases. Voytas will work in labs in the Medical School and in St. Paul, which will allow him to expand the Beckman Center's research to applications in plant agriculture. Read the news release.

Professor of mathematics Doug Arnold has been voted in as president-elect of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) for a term that began Jan. 1. He will become president for a two-year term, 2009-10. Arnold will step down as director of the U's Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications (IMA) this year. SIAM serves those in applied mathematics and computational science worldwide. Read the SIAM announcement and his faculty bio.

Awards, appointments, and other items of note about faculty, staff, and outstanding students and alumni of the University of Minnesota campuses are published here as reported and summarized in Brief, the internal news digest of the U. Submit items for this page to

See also the Scholars Walk and U Awards & Honors.