News Briefs

  • Dean’s Achievement Awards given to CLAS students

    May 18, 2022

    Temyia Holcomb, a 2022 graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in speech and hearing science, and Evita Woolsey, a 2022 recipient of a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, recently received the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Achievement Award. With this award, CLAS recognizes outstanding undergraduate students who are eligible for services from the Center for Inclusive Academic Excellence

    Nominated by faculty and mentors, Dean’s Achievement Award recipients are undergraduates who have made significant contributions to the university and the community. These contributions include scholarship, clubs, volunteer work, and more.

    Temyia HolcombIn addition to her BA in speech and hearing science, Holcomb earned a minor in human relations and a Certificate in Resilience and Trauma-Informed Perspectives. She also served as the Vice President of Active Minds, a student organization at the UI and conducted faculty guided research as an undergraduate.​



    evita woolseyIn addition to her B.A. in psychology, Woolsey earned a minor in American Sign Language (ASL). She was a TRIO and ASL tutor as well as a Supplemental Instruction leader.  In the research domain, Woolsey was an Iowa Biosciences Academy scholar, a summer research fellow for the Growing Words Project, and a research assistant for both the Cochlear Implant and Pediatric Audiology labs. 

  • CLAS awards new graduate assistantships in writing, editing and community engagement

    May 11, 2022

    The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce the winners of a competition for five new Graduate Assistantships in Writing, Editing and Community Engagement.

    These new graduate assistant positions, part of a five-year pilot project, provide doctoral students opportunities to participate with the college’s outreach, engagement, and writing missions in ways designed to diversify and transform graduate career preparation.

    Writing Research Assistantship for the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing

    Adare Smith
    Adare Smith

    Alyssa D. “Adare” Smith, a PhD student in English, was awarded the 50% effort graduate assistant assistantship for the Magid Undergraduate Center for Writing where she will offer outreach and promotional support for various programs and endeavors across multiple platforms.

    In her submission, Smith described how her personal interest in public-facing education and outreach compelled her to apply for the Magid Center writing research assistantship:

    “I am passionate about providing and advocating for accessibility, and this assistantship is in line with those values. This opportunity is uniquely positioned to teach me more about the services of the university and will allow me to easily network with like-minded individuals who are dedicated to positively impacting our campus community.”

    Editing Research Assistantships

    CLAS also awarded two (2) 50% effort Editing Research Assistantships to assist faculty who serve as editors-in-chief to selected prestigious academic journals

    Cody Norling
    Cody Norling

    Cody Norling, 4th year candidate for the PhD in Music (Musicology), was selected to serve as editing research assistant for Dance Research Journal, the flagship English-language journal in the international field of Dance Studies, published by Cambridge University Press and co-edited by Rebekah Kowal, Department of Dance DEO.

    “I am thrilled by the opportunity to work directly with editors, reviewers, and authors in this exciting pilot program,” said Norling.  “I am working toward a competitive presence in the academic job market, balancing a growing teaching portfolio with continued scholarly output.  Editing, communicating, and collaborating are all valuable tasks which are applicable across my future responsibilities as a teacher, researcher, and colleague. This editing research assistantship will be an opportunity to continually develop the practical and professional skills necessary for a career in academia.”

    Corrine Watts
    Corrine Watts

    Corinne Watts, candidate for the PhD in Anthropology (third year) was also selected to serve as the editing research assistant RA, for the Journal of Archeological Method and Theory, the leading journal in its field, co-edited by  Margaret Beck of the Department of Anthropology.

    “While at the University of Iowa, I have continually developed my skills as an academic researcher, instructor, and writer,” shared Watts in her application. “These skills will not only serve me during my remaining time at this institution but will be necessary as I pursue work as a tenure-track professor after graduation.  This assistantship is an opportunity for me to improve my skills related to research and publishing that will allow me to support my students and peers during future academic endeavors.”

    Community Engagement Graduate Assistantships for the Latham Science Engagement Initiative/Iowa Biosciences Academy

    Finally, CLAS also awarded two halftime Community Engagement Graduate Assistantships for the Latham Science Engagement Initiative and Iowa Biosciences Academy to Briante Najev and Kelley Withers, both PhD candidates in the Ingregrated Biology (iBio) program.

    Briante Najev
    Briante Najev

    In her application, Najev, who has a focus on evolution and ecology in her research under advisor Maurine Neiman,  articulated the opportunity this assistantship represents:

    “My goals for the future are to pursue a career as a biologist for an agency that serves the public and our public lands like Fish and Wildlife or the Forest Service. I believe that this graduate assistantship will provide major benefits for my future. Creating seminars, editing scientific articles, and polishing my own and others’ professional development skills are powerful ways of internalizing and teaching a suite of important tools. Writing is critical for virtually all science careers, so the writing opportunities afforded by this fellowship will be especially valuable.”

    Kelley Withers
    Kelley Withers

    Withers, who is conducting her thesis research in Dr. Chi-Lien Cheng’s laboratory, described similar benefits in her own application letter: 

    “To me, managing the editorial responsibilities of the Synthesis undergraduate journal is an exciting opportunity to broaden my expertise in writing…I am pursuing a career in academia; therefore, it is of great interest that I develop and strengthen my skills in curriculum design, scientific publication, and undergraduate mentoring. This assistantship provides the perfect opportunity to accomplish this goal.”

    Awardees for this competition were selected by Christine Getz, Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Outreach and Engagement, in consultation with: Danny Kalatschi, director of the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing; Lori Adams, director of the Latham Center/Iowa Biosciences Academy; the editors of the Dance Research Journal (Nadine George-Graves Northwestern University, and Rebekah Kowal, University of Iowa) and The Journal of Archeological Method and Theory (Valentine Roux, University of Paris-Nanterre and Margaret Beck, University of  Iowa); Nick Benson, director of the UI Office of Community Engagement; and representatives from the CLAS Graduate Education Policy Committee.

  • CLAS commencement ceremonies to be held on Saturday May 14

    May 11, 2022

  • Stellar seniors to address CLAS '22 graduates

    May 11, 2022

    As a child, Mitchell O’Meara endured more than 10 surgeries to try to restore hearing in his left ear and now, as a Spring 2022 graduate, will pursue a career as an ENT pediatric physician to treat kids just like him.

    Passionate about bridging gaps between language, Camellia Pham traveled more than 8,000 miles to attend the University of Iowa and claim her spot as the last Comparative Literature graduate at UI.

    Pham and O’Meara represent the resilience and distinction of the Class of 2022. As our Spring 2022 Student Commencement Speakers, Pham and O’Meara will offer our CLAS graduates the courage and inspiration they need for their next chapter. We are proud to celebrate the Class of 2022 with these incredible speakers.


    Camellia Pham

    Camellia Pham

    Camellia Pham will speak at the 9 a.m. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Commencement on May 14, 2022. From Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Pham will graduate with a BA in Comparative Literature with Honors and Chinese with a minor in Translation for Global Literacy. As the last Comparative Literature major at UI, Pham has spent her time at Iowa exploring modern literature in Vietnam and China.

    “I want to reflect on the educational values of translational I translated myself from one culture to another; how my peers and I adaptively translated our traditional education; and even how we got lost in the midst of it,” Pham said.  “The class of 2022 was given a strange kind of unprecedentedness to be vulnerable, yet we've bloomed with monumental persistence and tenacity."  

    During the last four years, Pham took part in several opportunities both on and off campus. She is the Columnist & Admin Intern for the Iowa Youth Writing Project and an Honors Writing Fellow. Previously, Pham was the Iowa Chapbook Prize Editor in 2020 and an undergraduate teaching assistant. Among her many honors, Pham is a University of Iowa Stanley Undergraduate Fellowship for International Research recipient (2021), a Summer and Academic Year Undergraduate Research Fellowship recipient (2021-2022), and the Highest International Distinction in Education award recipient (2018). Pham was also named a 2021 Princeton P3 Scholar.

    Following graduation this spring, Pham will attend Dartmouth College to pursue her master’s in Comparative Literature.


    Mitchell O'Meara

    Mitchell O’Meara

    Mitchell O’Meara will speak at the 1 p.m. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Commencement on May 14, 2022. From West Des Moines, Iowa, O’Meara will graduate with a BS in Human Physiology with Honors in the Major, University Honors, with Highest Distinction, and a minor in American Sign Language. 

    “My peers and family would tell you that the traditional and clichéd graduation speech is not part of my vocabulary,” O’Meara said. “Throughout my time here at UI I've worked with a wide range of individuals....taking time to understand others that are different than you was one of the biggest lessons I learned at my time at Iowa, and I believe that the way I will convey this will be impactful for everyone in attendance!" 

    Throughout his time at Iowa, O’Meara has stayed busy, working as an admissions host, campus tour guide, and pharmacy technician in the Stead Family Children’s Hospital. In addition, he developed an honors thesis during his time as a Research Assistant in Dr. Jacob Michaelson’s lab within the Department of Psychiatry at the Carver College of Medicine. As a 2021 ICRU Research Fellow, O’Meara spent his time in the lab researching childhood behavior and its association with academics. With a passion for disability advocacy, O’Meara serves as a Director on the Board of Directors and is the Young Leaders Council Chair for Best Buddies International. O’Meara is also a certified EMT, lifeguard instructor, and works as an ongoing respite provider for multiple kids with special needs.

    After graduation, O’Meara will be attending Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis to pursue his MD. He hopes to be involved with groundbreaking research at WashU and take the next step to becoming a Pediatric Physician. 


  • CLAS announces 2021-2022 CTA and IETA faculty awards

    April 29, 2022

    The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences presented six faculty members with the 2021-2022 Collegiate Teaching Awards and two faculty with the 2021-2022 International Engagement Teaching Awards.

    The CTA awardees include Emily Finzel (Earth and Environmental Sciences), Robert Franciscus (Anthropology), Sara Mitchell (Political Science), Brandon Myers (Computer Science), Elizabeth Yale (History), and Giovanni Zimotti (Spanish and Portuguese). Nominated by students and colleagues and chosen by the CLAS Teaching Awards Committee, these faculty members are awarded for their outstanding instruction and mentorship. Whether it is in the classroom, laboratory, or studio, these instructors have gone above and beyond to academically support their students. See the full list of recipients and learn more about the Collegiate Teaching Awards.

    Nicole Esposito (Music) and William Reisinger (Political Science) were awarded the International Engagement Teaching Award, which is jointly awarded by CLAS and the University of Iowa International Program. The IETA recognizes instructors who foster international learning experiences for students.


    Nicole Esposito, International Engagement Teaching Award

    Esposito is a professor of Flute in the School of Music. She has given over 200 international master classes to thousands of students. Her studio at the University of Iowa, which often includes many international students, has been active as performers and teachers in places such as Aruba, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Dubai, Germany, Haiti, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Syria, Sweden, Taiwan and the United Kingdom among others. Professor Esposito has hosted international artists and students from over 25 countries on the University of Iowa campus both during the academic year and through her summer workshop, the Iowa Flute Intensive. In addition to teaching at Iowa, Professor Esposito is also the Permanent Visiting Professor of Flute at the University of Chile.

    “[The Iowa Flute Intensive] summer program is a series of international lectures and classes for students from around the globe, housed and hosted right here in Iowa City,” said School of Music Director Tammie Walker. “Giving her students internationally-focused learning experiences such as this truly impacts the direction of their studies and perspective, which lasts well beyond their years of study at Iowa.”


    Emily Finzel, Collegiate Teaching Award

    Finzel is an associate professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Since joining faculty in 2012, Finzel has been known for her innovative teaching methods, which include interactive, hands-on exercises and a flipped classroom. She is nationally recognized for her role in defining best safety practices in field-based classes and places emphasis on soft skills such as clear written and verbal communication. Maintaining an “open office door” policy, Finzel prioritizes the needs of her students and is an exemplary mentor in and outside the classroom. In her lab, the Tectonics & Basin Analysis Lab, Finzel encourages and mentors undergraduate students seeking hands-on research and presentation experiences.

    “Emily is a strong advocate for helping students understand that employers are looking for a broad range of "soft skills" like critical thinking and oral/written communication, in addition to book knowledge,” said David W. Peate, DEO and Chair of Earth & Environmental Sciences. “With this in mind, she developed the EES:3130 Career Path Planning for EES course to get students to also learn about career paths, write resumes, and gain interview practice with the assistance of department alumni.”


    Robert Franciscus, Collegiate Teaching Award


    A picture of Robert FranciscusRobert Franciscus is a professor of Anthropology. In the 23 years Franciscus has been mentoring students, his main priority has always been the professional outcomes and career goals after graduation. Franciscus has developed his own teaching and mentoring principles, one of which encourages each of his students to begin conducting research as soon as possible. After students have selected a research question to investigate, Franciscus sends them abroad or to another U.S. institution to give them real-world experience away from their UI community. Furthermore, Franciscus encourages his students to consider each one of their course papers as a potential publishable work and encourages them to present their research at national meetings. Franciscus also believes in gradually “cutting the academic umbilical cord” and limiting hands-on guidance to give his students the independence and real-world experiences they will need to succeed.

    “Bob is well-known in the Department for having the most impressive record of all the faculty for placing his graduate students in tenure-track jobs,” Katina T. Lillios, DEO of Anthropology, said. “He has chaired 12 PhD students since 2002, women and men, and all 9 of those who have completed their PhDs have secured tenure- track or academic positions. He supervised 15 undergraduate honors theses, and many of these students have also gone on to graduate programs and other rewarding careers.”


    Sara Mitchell, Collegiate Teaching Award

    Sara MitchellSara Mitchell is the F. Wendell Miller professor of Political Science. Mitchell joined UI faculty in 2004 and has been working to make research accessible and inclusive for her students ever since. With emphasis on the connection between teaching and research, Mitchell has developed a single class discussion into Domestic Law Goes Global: Legal Traditions and International Courts, a book published by Cambridge University Press and co-authored by her former PhD student and current Notre Dame professor Emilia Powell. In the classroom, Mitchell also values student perspectives and engagement, encouraging all students to offer their viewpoint and enrich the discussion. Mitchell played a significant role in making Political Science more accessible through the online BA program. Mitchell developed three classes and worked alongside Distance Education to improve the quality of the courses. Additionally, Mitchell aims to make political science research more accessible in the four textbooks she has authored. In these textbooks, Mitchell breaks down technical jargon and provide clear information on the interstate and civil wars and scientific study of warfare. She also co-founded the Journeys in World Politics workshop, which mentors junior women studying international relations.

    “Sara is central to our undergraduate and graduate curriculum,” Brian Lai, DEO of Political Science, said. “Her work with students outside of the classroom has also been a vital part of our ability to provide experiential learning opportunities for students.”


    Brandon Myers, Collegiate Teaching Award

    Brandon MyersBrandon Myers is a lecturer in Computer Science. Myers is particularly interested in understanding and improving the experiences of undergraduate students in computer science and other STEM disciplines. In addition to researching the accessibility of computer science introductory courses, Myers helped produce the department’s first program objectives for the bachelor’s degree. His teaching philosophy places emphasis on learning as an active process enhance by discussion and teaching as a reflective process informed by others. Myers also values inclusive teaching within computer science in hopes of retaining students from all backgrounds. Myers has students form learning teams to help encourage a sense of belonging for all students. In line with his teaching philosophy, Myers will ask students for feedback regarding the learning team. Myers is also working to make computer science more accessible prior to college and co-created and co-taught a computer science course for K-12 teachers.

    “I’ve learned that Brandon is extremely thoughtful about how he explains things: he is aware of the listener’s context, and will think carefully not only about what the right or best answer actually is, but how to best communicate it given what the listener is likely to know,” Alberto Maria Segre, Chair of Computer Science, said. “Brandon is an exceptional teacher, a nationally established leader in student-oriented learning within our discipline, and a gifted student mentor.”


    William Reisinger, International Engagement Teaching Award

    William ReisingerWilliam Reisinger is a professor in Political Science. With research and curriculums focused on Russian politics, global democracy, and authoritarianism, Reisinger consistently supports international experiences in CLAS. All his courses include debates, discussions of current events, analysis of documents and memoirs, and/or guest presentations to expose students to non-U.S. perspectives and help students understand citizens from other countries. He is an advocate for study abroad experiences, especially as a Fulbright faculty mentor. Based on his own study abroad in Soviet Union in the 1980’s, Reisinger understands the invaluable connections and experiences studying abroad offers. Each year, he nominates about a dozen students for Fulbright consideration and encourage them to consider an international experience. He advises the campus Fulbright coordinator, leads workshops for students applying for the award, meets with students to discuss and edit applications, and participates in campus interviews. Additionally, he serves on the Campus Review Committee for Boren Awards and the selection committee for the University’s Stanley Scholarships and Fellowships. Additionally, he has mentored two visiting scholars from China and helped them get involved in departmental talks and events.

    “He has provided a tremendous amount of service to the University in promoting internationally oriented learning experiences for graduate and undergraduate students,” Brian Lai, DEO of Political Science, said. “Bill’s classes enhance international perspectives by teaching students about the culture, history and politics of Russia and other non-democratic countries as well as how to understand the different political systems and approaches of non- democratic countries.”


    Elizabeth Yale, Collegiate Teaching Award

    Elizabeth Yale is a lecturer and assistant professor of Instruction in the Department of History. Yale challenges her students to push past their assumptions about past ideas, material cultures, and social formations and encourages them to consider the world from different perspectives. She organizes her courses around deepening students’ research, writing and communication skills to grow their historical knowledge and encourage life-long learning. Her courses include interactive learning with hands-on work with rare books; peer review workshops; visits to the Natural History Museum and Van Allen observatory; and lab sessions in which the students experiment with early modern scientific methods. From introductory classes to advanced ones, Yale believes mentorship is crucial throughout a student’s time at Iowa. As an instructor for “Introduction to the History Major,” she ensures each of her students is equipped with the knowledge of early modern printed books and how to decipher a readers’ marks. This equips them for dissecting more challenging texts later in their college career. Yale also prioritizes student and colleague feedback to revise and improve courses. Recently, Matthew Brown, director of the University of Iowa Center for the Book, and Yale were awarded a NEH Humanities Initiatives grant proposal, which will fund a dedicated laboratory space where undergraduates can gain hands-on experience with making and studying books and manuscripts.

    “Yale teaches an unusually wide range of courses, both by topic and by course level,” Landon Storrs, Chair of History, said. “She has been a leader in updating our curriculum, including to involve more experiential learning and more inclusive framings of history.”


    Giovanni Zimotti, Collegiate Teaching Award

    Giovanni Zimotti is a lecturer of Spanish and Portuguese. As the program director for Spanish language general education program, Zimotti places cultural and social interaction at the forefront of his teachings. In line with his principles as an instructor, Zimotti centers the student in the learning process, provides students with the right tools based on their individual needs, and integrates technology to enhance learning. Zimotti also believes that it is an instructors duty to provide equal access and equitable education to all students. In collaboration with colleagues, Zimotti has designed and published various Open Educational Resources textbooks that are free to students. These textbooks aimed to portray the local people of a region as a diverse demographic instead of the dominant stereotype present in most textbooks. Furthermore, Zimotti created a self-assesment tool for students in general education Spanish courses to identify Spanish language skills they have obtained and areas where the need to improve. Adhering to these values, Zimotti continues to be a great resource and mentor to his students.

    “Dr. Zimotti’s outstanding achievements in curriculum innovation, mentoring, and empowering undergraduate students and TAs in our Spanish GEP are truly impressive,” said Denise K. Filios, DEO of Spanish and Portuguese and Interim DEO of German.

  • Marissa Schooley awarded 2022 Critical Language Scholarship

    April 12, 2022

  • University of Iowa introduces new BA in Translation

    April 11, 2022

    An image of a student in a translation class

    The University of Iowa is meeting a pressing need for undergraduate training in translation with a new Bachelor of Arts in Translation.  Drawing on the university’s recognized strength in writing and communication, the degree will be the first BA in Translation to be offered at a Research 1 university in the U.S.

    The new major builds on the success of Iowa’s undergraduate minor in Translation for Global Literacy and responds to increasing demand for translation skills in an increasingly international job market.  According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of interpreters and translators is projected to grow 24% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. 

    “Our focus on translation and world languages and cultures is about training our students to lead purposeful lives and function successfully in an extremely diverse global environment,” said Dr. Aron Aji, director of Iowa’s translation program.

    Students earning Iowa's BA in Translation will be prepared to obtain specializations and serve as translators in global sectors such as business, communication, and diplomacy, where there is growing demand for language mediation.  The major complements many other programs, especially those with focus on international topics, as well as the many world languages offered at Iowa. 

    Known worldwide as 'the writing university', the University of Iowa has an unsurpassed legacy in literary translation and international writing. 

    “The first-ever translation workshop in a U.S. academic institution was held here in the mid-1960s,” said Dr. Aji, “and today our MFA in Literary Translation is the largest and arguably the strongest graduate program of its kind; for globally-minded undergraduate students, Iowa is the best place to study this.”

    Students in Iowa’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will be able to declare the BA in Translation major as soon as fall 2022 semester.  Visit to learn more about this and all of the UI’s programs in translation.

  • Colleen Mitchell, PhD received the University of Iowa’s highest teaching honor

    April 11, 2022

    Colleen Mitchell, PhD, associate professor of Mathematics, received the University of Iowa’s highest teaching honor, the 2022 President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence from the UI Council on Teaching.

    Since Mitchell began working on the University of Iowa 16 years ago, she stood strongly behind her belief that math is for everyone. She has created equitable and inclusive spaces inside and outside the classroom for her students and mentees. Among the countless future teachers and researchers she’s mentored, she’s supervised 11 teaching practicum students. She currently serves as the director of the UI Sloan Center of Exemplary Mentoring, which supports underrepresented minority PhD students in STEM.

    Throughout her professorship, Mitchell has created meaningful curriculum for students with a variety of backgrounds and learning styles. One of these curriculums is MATH:1260 PokéMath: The Mathematics of Pokémon Go ®. This general education course used the popular augmented game to introduce students to applied mathematics. She collaborated with the Iowa Veteran Education, Transition, and Supports office to develop Math Platoon, a twice-weekly tutoring program that aids military-connected students.

    Congratulations, Dr. Mitchell!

    Since its establishment in 2004, the President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence has acknowledged instructors who have demonstrated a commitment to student learning and teaching excellence. Mitchell will receive a $3,000 honorarium.

  • CLAS student Rachael Volkman named Goldwater Scholar

    April 05, 2022

  • Book by CLAS professor emeritus Judy Polumbaum featured on NPR

    April 04, 2022


The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 73 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.