News Briefs

  • Nugent named editor of The Iowa Review

    July 27, 2021

    Lynne Nugent, The Iowa Review
    Lynne Nugent, PhD, MFA

    Lynne Nugent has been named editor of The Iowa Review, effective August 1, 2021. She is the seventh editor in the half-century history of The Iowa Review and the first nonwhite person (she is Asian American) to serve in that role.

    Nugent has been acting editor for the past year and previously was managing editor, a position she held beginning in 2003. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing (2004) and a PhD in English (2010) from the University of Iowa. Her nonfiction chapbook, Nest, won the 2019 Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award and was published by the University of Central Florida/The Florida Review. In 2020, the Council on the Status of Women named her co-winner of the University of Iowa’s Jean Y. Jew Women’s Rights Award.

    The flagship literary magazine of the University of Iowa, The Iowa Review has been in continuous publication since 1970.

    See the magazine's website.

    Taking over as managing editor is Katie Berta, who comes to The Iowa Review from Hayden’s Ferry Review at Arizona State University, where she was supervising editor. Berta earned her PhD in poetry from Ohio University and an MFA from Arizona State. Berta’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Kenyon Review OnlinePrairie SchoonerThe Rumpus, and The Massachusetts Review, among other magazines. You can find her criticism in American Poetry ReviewWest BranchHarvard ReviewPloughshares, and elsewhere. She has received a residency from Millay Arts, a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, and a Global Travel Fellowship from the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

    The Iowa Review's mission is to publish the best short stories, poems, essays, and work in emerging genres being written today, whether by established or emerging writers. Once published in TIR, work has recently been selected for Best American Poetry, Best American Essays, Best American Nonrequired Reading, the Pushcart Prize, and the Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize. The Iowa Review publishes three issues a year; single issues and subscriptions can be purchased via its webstore.

  • Remembering Ira "John" Rapson (1953-2021)

    July 27, 2021

    John RapsonThe University of Iowa and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences mourn the death of Professor Ira “John” Rapson, who passed away at the age of 67 on July 21, 2021, from cancer.

    Since joining the faculty of the School of Music in 1993, John was known as a caring and committed teacher and musician and a ceaseless ambassador for jazz and the School of Music. 

    An award-winning composer, trombonist, pianist, and recording artist, John’s work mixed ethnic and experimental elements with more conventional jazz forms. At Iowa, he established both the BA and MA programs in jazz studies and successfully advocated for increasing the instructional capacity and breadth of the jazz area over his 26-year career. John taught and mentored countless students who remember him as a wonderful friend and role model who taught them how to be good human beings as well as good musicians.

    Learn more about Professor Rapson's career as a band leader, sideman, and recording artist.

    Beloved by his colleagues as well, John’s influence was deeply personal, according to James Dreier, UI associate professor of instruction in jazz.

    “He opened doors that students and colleagues often did not see," Dreier said. "There was always joy in his demeanor even as he held himself and all of us to high standards. There was no doubt that he cared deeply. For those of us who claim the title of 'teacher,' this is John's legacy and the lesson we are left with: Knowledge, skills, and ability are all critical, but to truly make an impact, more is required.”

    John never tired of composing and performing for all. In 2019, CLAS honored him with the CLAS Outstanding Outreach and Engagement Award for his sustained efforts to bring outstanding jazz music to communities across the state and the nation. His last finished project, Hot Tamale Louie, was seen by more than 6,000 people all over Iowa and the US, supported entirely through grant funding to eliminate barriers for those who couldn’t afford a ticket.

    In a 2020 interview for Iowa Public Radio's "Talk of Iowa" program (the segment was titled "Contemplating Death and Mortality"), the host asked John what he wanted people to know about facing his terminal diagnosis.

    “Gratitude is a story that we use to explain what our lives have meant," John responded. "There’s a choice involved in how you collect your thoughts and the kind of narrative you want to create.”

    John’s life created a narrative of curiosity, generosity, love, and an unbounded desire to connect with others through the arts. His colleagues and many students—as well as his family, friends, and fans—will carry forward that legacy, ensuring that John's ethic of inspiration, service, and kindness will remain essential to the School of Music's future, just as it has helped shape its past.

  • Iowa: Nation’s next hotbed for jazz

    July 20, 2021

  • Halekas leads national team in advancing knowledge of the sun

    July 14, 2021

  • See how Iowa has shaped American TV

    July 13, 2021

  • CLAS, UI break research funding records

    July 13, 2021

  • CLAS Professor Phil Kaaret leads P3 initiative to extend space-based research throughout the UI

    June 30, 2021

    Philip E. Kaaret, University of Iowa
    Professor Philip Kaaret

    The University of Iowa Department of Physics and Astronomy has had outstanding success in space-based research, from James Van Allen’s pioneering discovery of Earth’s radiation belts in the 1950s to Craig Kletzing’s TRACERS mission, funded by NASA at $115 million just last year.

    Equally important, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) department is renowned internationally for its educational programs at all levels. Undergraduate and graduate students regularly work side-by-side with faculty, designing and building instruments that fly on American spacecraft, and analyzing the data the instruments return. NASA Chief Scientist James L. Green, who earned both his BA in astronomy (1973) and PhD in physics (1979) from the UI, is just one example of Hawkeye alumni who have been shaping the nation's space program for decades.

    Now Philip Kaaret, professor and chair of the department, is leading an interdisciplinary team that will extend that research and educational success throughout the UI. The team comprises faculty members from the CLAS Departments of Physics and Astronomy, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Geographical and Sustainability Sciences, as well as from the College of Engineering. Jun Wang, the James E. Ashton Professorship in Engineering and assistant director of the Iowa Technology Institute (ITI), and Thomas (Mach) Schnell—the Captain Jim “Max” Gross Chair in Engineering, associate director of the Iowa Technology Institute, and director of ITI's Operator Performance Laboratory—are key leadership partners in the project.

    The researchers and educators received "P3" funding from the UI, totaling $3,595,237 over three years, for a project titled "Extending Iowa’s Success in Space-Based Research Across Campus." The proposal for the funding describes a three-pronged approach to reaching the initiative's goal.

    UI space physicists recently discovered the origins
    of the Northern Lights and other auroras.

    "We will draw on the expertise of faculty across multiple departments to create an interdisciplinary research enterprise that will enable departments across the university to successfully compete for NASA funding for space missions and instruments in a broad range of fields," Kaaret's team wrote. "To accomplish this, we will: 1) enhance the UI’s capabilities to design, build, and test novel space instrumentation; 2) develop proposals for space missions in Earth observation and lunar science that will jumpstart UI’s instrumentation efforts in these fields; and 3) create a space instrumentation summer school that will make the UI the destination of choice for students interested in space, and help recruit a diverse student body."

    The three-year project is expected to be just the beginning of efforts to leverage Iowa's historic success in space-based research into ongoing, cross-disciplinary programs that will benefit the entire university.

    Iowa students at rocket school
    Iowa undergraduates at "Rocket School" in Norway

    "The interdisciplinary teams essential for the missions and the summer school will create lasting cross-campus collaborations," the researchers said.  "The project will enhance the UI’s stature and build partnerships with NASA, industry, and other academic institutions. The project will have a high return on investment through significantly increased external funding that will diversify UI’s funding portfolio and enable continuation of project activities. An integrated capability from sensor and algorithm design to qualification and flight test of instrumentation will open unparalleled opportunities for the UI to leap to the next phase of space-based observation excellence."

    P3 resources are generated by the UI's public-private partnership (P3) with its utility system. The university issued a call for proposals, receiving 45. Kaaret's team's project is one of seven selected in 2021 for funding. The funding for all seven projects totals $12,128,313.

    Cecilia Fasano
    Physics PhD student Cecilia Fasano
    recently earned a 3-year NASA
    fellowship to pursue her research.

    In addition to the project led by Kaaret, another CLAS faculty member's proposal was selected for P3 funding. Professor Shaun Vecera of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences was awarded $900,000 to develop and implement a project using empirically proven learning methods from cognitive science that have been demonstrated to have positive effects on student learning and progress toward degree.

    Kaaret's partners in the "Extending Iowa’s Success in Space-Based Research Across Campus" project include the following colleagues.

    Jun Wang, the James E. Ashton Professor in the College of Engineering, is the Earth-Observing Mission Lead and a primary partner of Kaaret's in designing and implementing the project. Wang is on the faculty of the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, and is assistant director of the Iowa Technology Institute.

    Thomas (Mach) Schnell, the Captain Jim “Max” Gross Chair in Engineering, is associate director of the Iowa Technology Institute, director of the institute's Operator Performance Laboratory, and a professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

    Craig Kletzing, the Donald A. and Marie B. Gurnett Chair, is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

    Jasper Halekas, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is the Lunar Mission Lead.

    Casey DeRoo is assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

    Allison Jaynes, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is the Space Instrumentation Summer School Co-Lead.

    David Miles is assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

    David W. Peate is professor of geochemistry and chair of CLAS's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

    Marc Linderman is associate professor in the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences.

    Susan Meerdink, assistant professor in the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences, is the Space Instrumentation Summer School Co-Lead.

    Ananya Sen Gupta is assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

  • Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences Shaun Vecera wins funding to transform UI's "culture of learning"

    June 30, 2021

    A Campuswide Learning at Iowa Framework to Increase Students’ Academic Success

    Most students starting college have not received guidance on how to learn for success in collegiate settings. This program will develop and implement the Learning@Iowa framework to transform the culture of learning throughout campus, spanning a variety of academic courses, residence hall settings, academic advising sessions, and more. The project uses empirically proven learning methods from cognitive science that have been demonstrated to have positive effects on student learning and progress toward degree.

  • Polumbaum publishes book about her father's award-winning photojournalism

    June 28, 2021

    book cover of "All Availalbe Light"In the early 1950s, at the height of what came to be known as McCarthyism, Ted Polumbaum was summoned before Congressional inquisitors who claimed to be searching for “Communist subversion in education.” He’d been a member of a progressive student group in college. He refused to cooperate, and was fired from his newswriting job as a result. The FBI trailed him for years after.

    Ostracized, with a wife and child to support and another child on the way, Ted returned to a childhood hobby: photography. His ultimately successful new career as a freelance photojournalist gave him a front row to history, as he captured moments, large and small, across the country and around the world. He did hundreds of assignments for LIFE, the most popular picture magazine of the era, and hundreds more for Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Look, The Saturday Evening Post, The New York Times, and other publications. He documented major social movements of the second half of the twentieth century that laid the groundwork for much of the current drive for social change.

    In her new book All Available Light: The Life and Legacy of Photographer Ted Polumbaum, Ted’s daughter Judy, a University of Iowa professor emerita of Journalism and Mass Communication, shares her father’s legacy. The biography, 20 years in the making, was released in early June by McFarland Press.

    Judy, raised alongside cameras and tutored by her dad in wet darkroom photography, introduces many highlights of Ted’s work, including cameos of Jackie Kennedy and Muhammad Ali, pictures from India and Chile and China, breathtaking images of Freedom Summer, and chronicles of protest against the war in Vietnam.

    “He did make it a point to photograph as many protests as he could,” she said. “Thankfully, because media often disregarded the civil rights and antiwar movements, especially early on, and civic protest was not as amply documented as it is today.”

    An earlier book, Juxtapositions: Images from the NEWSEUM Ted Polumbaum photo collection, edited by Judy Polumbaum and published in 2016, presents selections from Ted’s vast archive, some quarter of a million images, the Newseum’s largest holding by an individual photographer. Although the Newseum’s gargantuan museum of news on the DC National Mall closed at the end of 2019, its collections remain intact and activities continue online, with hopes of reopening in a smaller facility.

    Even after these two books, “far more of this historic treasure trove has yet to be shared,” Judy Polumbaum said.

    In her new book, she describes Ted as a quirky, loving father, a great conversationalist and an inveterate reader, with a strong sense of social justice.

    His integrity was evident at a confrontation with the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) that led to his new career. “Ted reported to the hearings with a lawyer, and confronted the Committee in a performance that then looked reckless and now looks heroic,” Polumbaum said. “He took the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions about his political beliefs and associations; and he accused the congressmen of trampling on the Bill of Rights and subjecting him to trial by publicity.”

    This chapter in Ted’s life seems all the more relevant today, according to his daughter. “The sort of mindless hysteria that HUAC fostered and thrived on has burgeoned anew,” she said. “Like Ted Polumbaum, we need to stand up to it.”

    She also sees the book as an opportunity to share Ted’s story with younger generations. Several UI journalism students who helped with early stages of research – alumni Lindsey Moon, Kirsten Riggs (now Newmaster), and Jennifer Earl – became engrossed in learning about the Red Scare and the antiwar and civil rights movements. She also ran a draft of the manuscript by two former students, Nicholas Compton and Danielle Wilde, to test whether the book spoke to millennials – and it turns out that it does.

    In addition to recalling important events of the past century for baby boomers like herself who lived through the period, Polumbaum hopes to alert younger readers to a time before social media and cellphones.

    “I think it’s useful to resurrect those pre-digital days,” she said, “before the universe was awash with images, when photography was special, and a compelling photo could rouse us to action or quiet us into contemplation. I want young people to know that such an environment once existed.”

    Sharing pictures of both historic and contemporary relevance, Polumbaum sees her father as a figure both of and ahead of his times. She sees today’s calls for social action, economic redress and political reform mirrored in Ted’s work.

    “My father would be right on board in building upon the movements he participated in and documented during the second half of the twentieth century,” she said. “Ted’s story, and the power of his pictures, can illuminate the enduring influence of the past upon the present and, I hope, further inspire those working for a better future. Idealistic, for sure, but that’s also imprinted in my father’s legacy.”

    On July 14, 2021, Polumbaum will share excerpts from All Available Light in a Prairie Lights Bookstore online event. Writers Alexander Wolff and Brett Dakin also will read from recent books of family history. Each copy of any of the three books purchased from Prairie Lights will come with a small print of an original image from Ted’s collection, contributed by Judy as a token of support for an iconic independent bookstore, fellow authors, and the circulation of Ted Polumbaum’s magnificent photography.

    About Judy PolumbaumJudy Polumbaum

    Before joining the University of Iowa faculty in 1989, Polumbaum worked as a newspaper reporter and magazine writer. She earned her bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, a master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a doctorate in communication from Stanford University. At Iowa, she taught reporting and writing and many other courses, worked with the UI Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, International Programs, and the Honors Programs, and was an advocate for international undergraduates. Her scholarship focused on journalism and media in China. In 2008, she published China Ink: The Changing Face of Chinese Journalism, based on interviews with 20 young Chinese journalists. She has worked for news organizations in Vermont, California, Oregon, Iowa, and Beijing, China, and continues to freelance today, writing about China as well as other topics. She also was a founding board member for the nonprofit Iowa Center for Public Affairs (

  • Physics/Astronomy chair Philip Kaaret to lead UI-wide expansion of space research

    June 21, 2021


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.