News Briefs

  • Ancient DNA reveals impact of the “Beaker Phenomenon” on ancient Europeans

    February 18, 2018

    Katina Lillios
    Professor Katina Lillios

    In the largest study of ancient DNA ever conducted, an international team of scientists, including University of Iowa professor Katina Lillios (Anthropology), has revealed the complex story behind one of the defining periods in European history. The study is published this week in the journal Nature.

    Between 4,700-4,400 years ago, a new, bell-shaped pottery style spread across western and central Europe. For over a century, archaeologists have tried to establish whether the spread of “Beaker” pottery represented a large-scale migration of people or was simply due to the spread of new ideas. This study, using ancient DNA data from 400 skeletons drawn from sites across Europe, shows that both sides of the debate are right. The paper shows that the Beaker phenomenon spread between Iberia and central Europe without significant movement of people. However, it also demonstrates that the Beaker expansion achieved a near-complete turnover of the population in Britain.

    Lillios contributed bone samples from the archaeological site of Bolores, in Portugal, which she excavated between 2007-2012 with University of Iowa colleague Joe Alan Artz and students. Excavations at Bolores were funded by the National Science Foundation and University of Iowa Social Sciences Funding Program grants.

    “These results are very intriguing, especially in light of the climatic and environmental changes that have been documented at around the same time in some parts of Europe, such as increased aridity," Lillios said. "The interrelationship between these environmental, demographic, and cultural shifts at the local level is a topic that requires much more investigation.”

    Investigations such as this one, which involved 144 archaeologists and geneticists from around the world, show the potentials of broad collaboration in the sciences.


    Issued by the University of Iowa on behalf of a multi-institutional team.

    Press contacts:

    Katina Lillios, Department of Anthropology, University of Iowa (319 335 3023)

    David Reich, Department of Genetics, Harvard University Medical School (617 432 6548)


  • Rachel Williams exhibits, gives talk on her "Mary Turner Project" at Valdosta State University

    February 18, 2018

  • Elizabeth Stone honored with Van Allen Natural Science Award

    February 18, 2018

    Betsy Stone

    Elizabeth Stone, associate professor of chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been awarded the 2018-19 James Van Allen Natural Sciences Fellowship, a competitive award designed to encourage and support work in the physical, natural, and mathematical sciences. The $15,000 Van Allen award is one of two UI faculty fellowships awarded in alternate years, the other being the May Brodbeck Humanities Award.

    Professor Stone’s long-term research goal is to improve understanding of how human activity contributes to degradation of air quality. During the fellowship period, she and her research team will focus on developing better ways to trace the source of a certain group of atmospheric aerosols: secondary organic aerosols (SOA) derived from chemical compounds released by the use of fossil fuels.

    Particulate matter in the air adversely affects human health, but scientists have yet to fully understand all of its sources. Source “tracers”—molecules that help researchers identify the source of aerosols—have been well-developed for SOAs generated from natural gases, but the effort has lagged behind for SOAs emerging from human activities, such as those derived from fossil fuel use. Developing and evaluating new tracers of SOAs is critical to accurately quantifying their impact relative to other forms of aerosol-based pollution.

    Professor Stone’s project aims to identify a set of effective tracers and then use them, in a study of selected urban and suburban environments, to improve measurement-driven estimates of SOA and its precursors. Ultimately, better understanding of the sources of aerosols will inform new pollution mitigation strategies and efforts to improve air quality.

    Stone received her undergraduate degree in chemistry and French from Grinnell College and her Ph.D. in environmental chemistry and technology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A member of the UI faculty since 2010, she received the University of Iowa Early Career Scholar of the Year award in 2015, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Outstanding Outreach and Public Engagement Award in 2017. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Iowa Academy of Science.

  • Jacki Rand and Phillip Round receive Humanities Without Walls grant

    February 18, 2018

    Jacki Tompson Rand
    Jacki Thompson Rand

    University of Iowa professors Jacki Rand and Phillip Round have received funding from Humanities Without Walls for a research project related to humanities work in a changing climate.

    Professors Rand and Round will serve as collaborators on a three-year project that will bring together interdisciplinary teams of junior and senior scholars from multiple institutions. The project will include a graduate student lab practicum, and culminate with a symposium and edited collections to share research findings with undergraduates and the general public.

    The project, coordinated by faculty at Northwestern University, received $138,360 from Humanities Without Walls, a consortium of humanities centers and institutes at 15 major research universities throughout the Midwest and beyond.

    Phillip Round
    Phillip Round

    The University of Iowa faculty members in the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program are part of a grant to study the shifting environmental, political, economic, and racial climates that define the Mississippi River’s course, meanings, and relation to Native peoples. The project, “Indigenous Art and Activism in Changing Climates: The Mississippi River Valley, Colonialism, and Environmental Change,” will focus on how Indigenous art and activism maintain intellectual traditions and exert continued rights to homelands, constituting strategies of persistence and resistance.

    Jacki Thompson Rand, Associate Professor in History, will create a “climate”-themed exhibit on Midwest Native Spaces (formerly, Iowa Native Spaces), an enduring digital project that indigenizes a post-removal region that includes the Mississippi River. Phillip Round, John C. Gerber Chair in English, will focus on adapting his current blog (The Repatriation Files) to the needs of the consortium’s Graduate Practicum Lab, a public humanities writing project that will chronicle the grant’s outcomes, working to educate members of the community on the “shifting environmental, political, economic, and racial climates that define the Mississippi River’s course, meanings, and relation to Native peoples.”

    Institutional partners include Northwestern University (principal investigator), the University of Minnesota (co-principal investigator), and the University of Mississippi. Faculty and graduate student collaborators from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Iowa, and University of Maine will also join the project.

    Funded by $7.2 million in grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Humanities Without Walls aims to create new avenues for collaborative cross-institutional research, teaching, and scholarship in the humanities.

  • "Rapid Response History" lecture series to explore climate and the environment through the lens of history

    February 18, 2018

    History doesn't only happen in the past. It also lives in the present, and can point the way to a better future.

    After a successful run in the fall 2017 semester, the Department of History is continuing its "Rapid Response History" lecture program in spring 2018, with a series titled, "History of the World: Thinking Climate and Environment."

    The upcoming series of seven weekly lectures, featuring faculty members from across the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will run from March 20 to May 1. All talks will be held on Tuesdays from 5:30 - 7:20 p.m. in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library.

    This semester's Rapid Response History series ties in with the University of Iowa's 2017-2018 Theme Semester, "Climate for Change." During each spring's Theme Semester, faculty, students, and staff, are invited to create public programming that engages with the theme. The Theme Semester initiative is spearheaded by the UI Office of Outreach and Engagement.

    UI students wishing to attend the entire series may enroll to receive one hour of academic credit (HIST 1166:001).

    Here is the complete list of lectures:

    • 3/20 Real Climate, Real Science: Bradley Cramer, Earth and Environmental Sciences
    • 3/27 Indigenous Foodways and Biodiversity: Stephen Warren, History
    • 4/3 Imagining Climate in the Age of Romanticism: Eric Gidal, English
    • 4/10 Who Invented Extinction?: Elizabeth Yale, History/Center for the Book
    • 4/17 Liquid Gold or Fool’s Gold? Biofuels in the US: Silvia Secchi, Geographical and Sustainability Sciences
    • 4/24 Elephants and Hunters in Africa: James Giblin, History
    • 5/1 American Climate Policy from George H. W. Bush to Donald Trump: Tyler Priest, History/Geographical and Sustainability Sciences

    Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the Department of History in advance at

  • Classicist Sarah Bond's book reviewed in The Journal of Roman Studies

    February 18, 2018

  • Biologist Maurine Neiman credited for innovation in the journal editing process

    February 18, 2018

    Maurine neimanIn addition to their teaching and research, scientists and scholars in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences often contribute to their disciplines through serving in editorial roles for essential disciplinary publications.

    A case in point is Associate Professor Maurine Neiman of the Department of Biology. In 2017, Neiman, an evolutionary biologist, was named to an innovative editorial role—the first-ever Preprint Editor of Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences, which is one of the prestigious Royal Society family of scientific journals.

    The peer-review process for having one's paper published in a scientific journal can be lengthy. So that researchers can get their work out to their colleagues and into discussion more quickly, a new tool has emerged: preprint servers, such as bioRxiv. These services allow researchers to submit papers to an online forum, where other scientists can see, discuss, and comment on the findings immediately, before the peer review process. While not formally refereed, the articles on the preprint server undergo a basic screening process for offensive and/or non-scientific content and for material that might pose a health or biosecurity risk and are checked for plagiarism.

    This is where Neiman comes in. To enable Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences to identify potentially interesting articles sitting on preprint servers that may be suitable for the journal following formal peer review, Neiman was appointed Preprint Editor, the first among the Royal Society journals. She was allowed to develop her own process for solicitation, which included recruiting and training a team of student assistant editors from the University of Iowa. She and her team conducted a survey of authors with preprints lodged on bioRxiv to gauge interest in possible submission to the journal. Based on the success of this survey, involving some 900 articles of which approximately 10% were considered potentially suitable, she moved ahead with active solicitation of articles, yielding important submissions to Proceedings B.

    Her work was cited in this article by the editor-in-chief of Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences.

    Following are the UI students on Neiman's team of assistant editors.


    • Alex Anderson
    • Mohad Awan
    • Cody Crawford
    • Samantha Hennessey
    • Jorge Moreno
    • Benjamin Ripperger
    • Marissa Roseman
    • Samantha Swartz

    Graduate students:

    • Sepand Bafti
    • Stephanie Haase
    • Joseph Jalinsky
    • Tarah Marks
    • Kyle McElroy
    • Krista Osadchuk
    • Beth Osia
    • Eric Tvedte
    • James Woodell

    Postdoctoral fellow:

    • Robin Bagley

    Former graduate students:

    • Claire Adrian-Tucci
    • Robert Taylor

  • Brenda Longfellow wins award for paper

    February 18, 2018

    Brenda LongfellowAssociate Professor Brenda Longfellow of the School of Art and Art History at the University of Iowa has won the 2018 Barbara McManus Award from the Women's Classical Caucus for her article "Female Patrons and Honorific Statues in Pompeii."

    Longfellow's article was published in Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 59/60 (2014/2015).

    The award is named for the late Professor of Classics Barbara McManus of the College of New Rochelle, who died in 2015. It is given by the Women's Classical Caucus, an affiliate of the Society for Classical Studies.

    Longfellow earned the PhD in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan and joined the UI faculty in 2005. She is Director of Graduate Studies for the Art History division of the School of Art and Art History. She teaches courses on Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art, and her research is focused on the art and architecture of the ancient Roman Empire. She is the author of the book Roman Imperialism and Civic Patronage: Form, Meaning and Ideology in Monumental Fountain Complexes (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and co-editor of the book Roman Artists, Patrons, and Public Consumption: Familiar Works Reconsidered (University of Michigan Press, 2018).

  • Daily Iowan: CLAS Alumni Fellow Mary Bennett discusses history of photography in Iowa

    February 18, 2018

  • Jessica DeSpain (PhD English '05) wins distinguished faculty award at Southern Illinois University

    February 18, 2018


The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 67 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 2,200 graduate students study each year in the College’s 39 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.