News Briefs

  • CLAS students among winners in Fall 2021 IdeaStorm Competition

    October 20, 2021

  • Mellon Sawyer Seminar at the University of Iowa

    October 05, 2021

    The University of Iowa Obermann Center for Advanced Studies in the Office of the Vice President for Research is pleased to announce the award of a grant totaling $225,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to host a Mellon Sawyer Seminar on “Racial Reckoning and Social Justice Through Comics” at the University across the academic year 2022-23.

    “We are honored to receive our third Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Seminar Award. This project will connect artists and humanities scholars of comics, visual culture, and histories of race and representation in the U.S. and globally” said UI President Barbara Wilson. “We’re grateful for the Mellon Foundation’s continued support of the University of Iowa over the years.”

    The Mellon Sawyer Seminar will be co-directed by University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty members Corey Creekmur (Cinematic Arts, English, and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies), Ana Merino (Spanish and Portuguese), and Rachel Williams (Art & Art History, Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies).  Among their other professional interests and accomplishments, Creekmur edits the award-winning book series Comics Culture for Rutgers University Press and is First Vice President and a founding member of the Comics Studies Society. Merino, in addition to writing plays, poetry, and fiction, has published El cómic hispánico, Diez ensayos para pensar el cómic, and a critical monograph on Chris Ware; she has also curated a number of major exhibitions of comics.  Williams has recently published Elegy for Mary Turner: An Illustrated Account of a Lynching and Run Home If You Don’t Want to Be Killed: The Detroit Uprising of 1943, both works of graphic nonfiction centered on historical cases of racial injustice

    In addition to a year-long intensive seminar with local participants, the Sawyer Seminar will feature a series of public presentations by prominent visiting creators and scholars, a film series, workshops, podcasts, and other public events, all of which will critically engage questions of racial representation in the popular international formats of comics.  Mellon Sawyer Seminar funding will also support an in-residence post-doctoral fellow and the dissertation research of two affiliated UI graduate students.

    “Racial Reckoning and Social Justice Through Comics” will be the third Mellon Sawyer Seminar hosted at the University of Iowa, and will build upon the strong foundations for comics studies at the University of Iowa established a decade ago when the co-directors brought major comics scholars, publishers, and artists to Iowa City for a series of events and exhibitions as part of the Obermann Humanities Symposium “Comics, Creativity, and Culture.” This Seminar is also designed to directly engage with ongoing discussions and initiatives around social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus, in Iowa City, and beyond.  

    A full list of visitors and events will be forthcoming on a seminar website, a link to which will be available via the Obermann Center’s website.

  • CLAS team lands $4M NSF grant to support renewable energy in Iowa

    September 28, 2021

    Bradley Cramer, University of Iowa
    Bradley Cramer

    Researchers led by the University of Iowa have been awarded $4 million in funding to support renewable energy industries in Iowa and Kansas.

    The four-year project, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation through its Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), seeks to bolster the United States’ competitiveness in renewable energy.

    Specifically, the researchers aim to identify potential new sources of rare Earth elements, the backbone of a host of renewable energy technologies, including as batteries and the magnets inside wind turbines. The funding also will support researchers’ effort to more precisely evaluate regional groundwater resources, a critical component in ethanol production. Iowa and Kansas are national leaders in renewable energy; both states rank in the top five in total wind power generation. Iowa leads the nation in ethanol production, and Kansas ranks in the top ten.

    Jessica Meyer, University of Iowa
    Jessica Meyer

    The project will support private sector growth by providing the technical capacity and information required for sustainable growth and development of the renewable energy sector in both jurisdictions. Specifically, this grant includes support for new chemical analysis equipment (Magnetic Sector LA-ICP-MS) at the UI that will be housed in the Materials Analysis, Testing, and Fabrication (MATFab) Facility. In addition, new field equipment to explore groundwater flow and bedrock aquifers (geophysical tools, groundwater monitoring systems) will be utilized by the Iowa Geological Survey and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

    “What’s exciting about this project is that the new analytical capacity will be used to generate data that are directly integrated into state agency systems in the Iowa Geological Survey,” says Brad Cramer, a principal investigator and associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. “Those systems are then utilized by other state agencies and the private sector to determine the best approaches to sustainable development within their industries.”

    NSF director Sethuraman Panchanathan praised the proposal: “These projects advance curiosity-driven research and focus on important issues such as STEM education and career opportunities in their communities by establishing regional partnerships with higher education and industry.”

    Jessica Meyer, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Keith Schilling, state geologist and director of the Iowa Geological Survey at Iowa, also are principal investigators. The Iowa team will partner with the Kansas Geological Survey and the University of Kansas.

    —adapted from Iowa Now

  • NWP Professor Melissa Febos's book lights up the media in 2021

    September 22, 2021

    Girlhood book coverThe University of Iowa—renowned worldwide for creative writing—has struck literary gold again, thanks to Melissa Febos, associate professor of English in the Nonfiction Writing Program.

    Since Febos published her third book, GIRLHOOD, in March, the national media have lined up to sing its and its author's praises.

    GIRLHOOD, Febos’ second essay collection, examines narratives that women are taught about themselves and internalize during their adolescence, and the steps needed to free themselves from these narratives. With excerpts published in the New York Times and the New York Times Magazine, Febos’ vulnerability struck a chord with readers across the nation.

    “I had largely seen the struggles of my girlhood as unwarranted—I thought I'd struggled too much for someone who hadn't undergone what I considered any major trauma,” Febos said. “What I quickly discovered is that growing up as a girl in a patriarchal society is constituted by a series of harms so ordinary that they go largely unrecognized.”

    CLAS faculty across the disciplines have been busy publishing books and releasing music. Check them out here.

    Have you written a book or released a CD that's not included in this list? Let us know! Bring a copy to the Dean's Office for display, and email us with the information.

    GIRLHOOD received rave reviews from the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, NPR, and many other nationally renowned publications. In an excerpt featured in the New York Times Magazine titled “Getting to No”, Febos writes about the unwanted physical touch women endure and the barriers women face when they want to reject this touch. Throughout the piece, Febos shares her personal experience with unwanted physical touch, cuddle parties, and sex work. With more than 1,000 comments, the article resonated with many readers who thanked Febos for her experiences and shared their own stories.

    Melissa Febos, University of Iowa
    Melissa Febos

    “My writing practice is partly one of sitting down in absolute privacy and attempting to name experiences that feel or have felt unspeakable,” Febos said. “When I get a powerful response of readers identifying with those articulations, well, it is the best possible outcome. That's my hope. That we make it all speakable so that we can find each other, and then collaborate in the work to change ourselves and society.”

    Around the book’s publication, Febos published another excerpt as an Op-Ed in the New York Times titled “What if the Pain Never Ends?” As a person who endures chronic back pain, Febos writes about the challenge of facing a life of accommodation and dependency with grace and perspective, and the importance of resisting society’s prescription of inferiority and her own internalized ableism.

    In addition to the NYT excerpts, Febos was also featured on the MSNBC national morning show "Morning Joe," and was interviewed by The Nation, The Los Angeles Review of Books, NPR’s "Live with Alison Stewart," and many other outlets.

    “Writing this book evolved my thinking from the question of ‘what was wrong with me?’ to ‘how can I consciously grow my thinking so that it accords with my own beliefs instead of those I've inherited from a system that is in direct opposition to them?’ or, more simply, ‘how do we heal from the inevitable harms of girlhood?’” Febos said.

    GIRLHOOD succeeds Febos’ memoir WHIP SMART, and her first essay collection, ABANDON ME. In March 2022, Febos will release her fourth book, a nonfiction work that combines memoir with essays on creative writing craft: BODY WORK: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative. In four chapters, it details the political power of autobiographical writing, and its influence on Febos’ life as an intersection of aesthetic, spiritual, social, and psychological practices.

    “It is basically an argument for the transformative power of telling our own hardest stories,” Febos said. She will be launching the book locally on March 22, 2022, with a virtual reading at Prairie Lights Bookstore with fellow essayist Elissa Washuta.

    Febos’ writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Tin House, The Guardian, McSweeney’s, and many other acclaimed publications. She is a four-time MacDowell Fellow, the 2018 recipient of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Sarah Verdone Writing Award, and a LAMBDA Literary Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award recipient. In addition to these recognitions, Febos has also earned fellowships with the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, the Barabara Deming Memorial Foundation, The BAU Institute at the Camargo Foundation, The Ragdale Foundation, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

    Febos joined the Iowa faculty in 2019. View her personal website.

     —by Grace Culbertson

  • Nabhan-Warren's new book on meatpacking, immigration, and faith kicks off year-long tour

    September 08, 2021

  • Len MacGillivray, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, to receive prestigious disciplinary award

    September 07, 2021

    Leonard MacGillivray, University of IowaThe American Chemical Society has named Professor Leonard "Len" MacGillivray, the chair of the University of Iowa Department of Chemistry, the recipient of the 2021 ACS Midwest Award. The award, granted by the ACS's St. Louis section, each year recognizes one scientist who has significantly contributed to the development of chemical research and education.

    MacGillivray's award marks the second year in a row that a UI chemist has earned the prestigious honor. In 2020, Professor David Wiemer won the award.

    MacGillivray, who is an Elected Fellow of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Royal Society of Chemistry, earned his PhD in 1988 from the University of Missouri‐Columbia, and joined the UI faculty in 2000.

    The UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences named him Dean's Scholar in 2005, Collegiate Scholar in 2010, and Collegiate Fellow—the college's highest faculty honor—in 2019, the year he became chair of the Department of Chemistry. The university recognized him with the Faculty Scholar Award in 2007, and in 2019, the UI Graduate College gave him the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award. He has a secondary appointment in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics in the UI College of Pharmacy, and is affiliated with the UI's Environmental Sciences Program. 

    The primary research focus for MacGillivray and his team in the MacGillivray Research Group is in the field of supramolecular chemistry—an area that bridges chemistry, physics, and biology through exploiting noncovalent bonds—as related to organic solids.

    His team's work has significant influence on their field. To date, MacGillivray has published 246 articles in refereed journals, which are regularly cited by other researchers. He is co-editor of International Union of Crystallography Journal, and serves on the editorial board of several other key journals. He is in demand nationally and internationally as a speaker, and has delivered over 240 invited lectures and conference presentations, in addition to chairing and organizing 26 symposiums and conferences.  

    MacGillivray will formally receive the award at the ACS Midwest Regional Meeting to be held October 20-22 in Springfield, Missouri, at which he will deliver a lecture for the Midwest Award Symposium. 

    About the ACS Midwest Award

    The St. Louis Section of the American Chemical Society established the ACS Midwest Award in 1944 to publicly recognize outstanding achievements in chemistry in the Midwest region. The award is conferred annually on a scientist who has made meritorious contributions to the advancement of pure or applied chemistry, chemical education, and the profession of chemistry.

  • Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz named F. Wendell Miller Associate Professor

    August 26, 2021

    Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz, University of IowaNatalie Fixmer-Oraiz, a leading scholar of feminist and gender studies, has been appointed the F. Wendell Miller Associate Professor, Communication Studies, by the University of Iowa.

    Fixmer-Oraiz is a faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies, with a joint appointment in the Department of Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies.

    Sara Sanders, dean of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said the associate professorship is well-deserved recognition of Fixmer-Oraiz's teaching and scholarship to date, as well as of her potential for further national and international leadership in her field of study.

    "We are proud to have Dr. Fixmer-Oraiz on our faculty, and I am delighted that the University of Iowa has named her an F. Wendell Miller Associate Professor," Sanders said. "Her work is having an important national impact among scholars, students, and policymakers. I congratulate her on this career milestone, and I look forward to learning about her scholarship and academic accomplishments for years to come."

    Fixmer-Oraiz's research focuses on communication, culture, feminism, and reproductive politics. In addition to articles and book chapters, she has published two full-length books.

    She is author of Homeland Maternity: US Security Culture and the New Reproductive Regime, published by the University of Illinois Press in 2019. The book explores the ways that Americans' conceptions of national security impact our perceptions of motherhood, pregnancy, birth control, abortion, and reproductive justice. In 2020, the National Communication Association named it the winner of the James A. Winans-Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric/Public Address, and it was a finalist for the 2020 Rhetoric Society of America Book Award.

    Fixmer-Oraiz also co-authored, with Professor Emerita Julia T. Wood of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the 13th edition of Wood's widely used textbook Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture, due in December 2021. She served as second author with Wood for the 12th edition, and the two collaborated on a teaching guide for the book.

    In addition, Fixmer-Oraiz presents her research often at international, national, and regional conferences, and has been invited to lecture at universities and colleges around the nation. In 2019, she served as visiting lecturer for the Interdisciplinary Center for Gender Research at Bielefeld University in Bielefeld, Germany, and she serves on the editorial board for the journals Quarterly Journal of Speech, Women’s Studies in Communication, and Rhetoric and Public Affairs.

    A popular teacher and mentor at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, Fixmer-Oraiz has been the principal advisor for three successful doctoral candidates and serves regularly on doctoral committees. She also supervises graduate students' teaching. 

    Fixmer-Oraiz, who earned her PhD from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a graduate certificate in women's studies from Duke University, joined the Iowa faculty in 2012.

  • Rene Rocha named Herman J. and Eileen S. Schmidt Chair

    May 18, 2021

    Rene Rocha, University of IowaRene Rocha, professor in the University of Iowa Department of Political Science and faculty director of the Latina/o/x Studies program, has been named the Herman J. and Eileen S. Schmidt Chair by the university and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

    Sara Sanders, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said Rocha is a perfect fit for the prestigious appointment.

    "The Schmidt Chair advances excellence in teaching,” Sanders said, “and Professor Rocha is an outstanding teacher. He is dedicated not only to his students' academic success, but also to their personal growth as individuals. This appointment is richly deserved, and on behalf of our entire college, I congratulate Rene on his success.”

    Named, endowed chairs are the university's highest honor for distinguished faculty. The Schmidt Chair is the only chair at Iowa designed to support and recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching, mentoring, and curriculum development.

    Rocha joined the UI faculty in 2006. A leading scholar of racial and ethnic politics in the United States, his articles are regularly published in influential journals, including The Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Policy Studies Journal, American Politics Research, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, and Review of Policy Research. He mentors students at all levels in conducting research, and teaches courses such as "Introduction to the Politics of Race" and “Immigration Politics”. Rocha has directed the interdisciplinary Latina/o/x Studies program for four of the past five years. His research has received prestigious recognition in his field, including awards from the American Political Science Association, the Midwest Political Science Association, the Western Political Science Association, and the Southwestern Political Science Association.

    The Schmidt Chair was established by a philanthropic gift to the UI Center for Advancement by the estate of Herman J. “Herm” and Eileen Schmidt of Greenwich, Connecticut. Herman was a native of Davenport, Iowa, who earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the UI in 1938. He and Eileen desired that the chair be awarded to a faculty member in any College of Liberal Arts and Sciences department who demonstrates a priority and emphasis on teaching undergraduates.

    The UI acknowledges the UI Center for Advancement as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university.

  • Claire F. Fox named M. F. Carpenter Professor

    June 07, 2021

    Claire Fox, University of Iowa

    Claire F. Fox, a scholar of literature and culture of the Americas, has been appointed by the University of Iowa as the M. F. Carpenter Professor. Fox is professor of English, and is affiliated with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

    Fox has published widely in the fields of Latinx and Latin American visual art and culture, Latinx Midwest studies, and related areas, with her current research focusing on contemporary art and performance at heritage sites in the Americas. 

    Dean Sara Sanders of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) said Fox, who served as chair of the Department of English from 2017 to 2020, is richly deserving of the honor.

    "Professor Fox is an outstanding scholar who inspires her students and colleagues alike," Sanders said. "The Carpenter Professorship will help Claire advance her important research into the cultural experiences of Hispanic and Latinx individuals and communities, here in the U.S., at our southern border, and throughout Mexico and Central and South America. I congratulate Claire for the many accomplishments that have culminated in her appointment to this honor."

    Fox is author of two full-length booksMaking Art Panamerican: Cultural Policy and the Cold War and The Fence and the River: Culture and Politics at the U.S.-Mexico BorderIn addition, she co-edited The Latina/o Midwest Readerpart of the University of Illinois Press Series, Latinos in Chicago and the Midwest.

    She recently served as co-Principal Investigator of Building Sustainable Worlds: Latinx Placemaking in the Midwest, a collaborative project among several Big Ten and Midwestern universities exploring the lives and communities of Latinx-identifying people in our region. The project, which began in 2017 and concluded in 2019, was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Humanities Without Walls consortium.

    A 2010 recipient of the CLAS Collegiate Teaching Award, Fox teaches and mentors students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In 2014, she earned the Collegiate Scholar honor in recognition of her research and teaching. She earned her PhD in comparative literature from the University of Iowa and joined the UI faculty in 2001.

    The Carpenter Professorship was established with funds donated to the University of Iowa Center for Advancement by the late Millington F. Carpenter, who earned a doctoral degree in English from Iowa in 1924. Carpenter was for many years an English instructor in the University High School on the University of Iowa campus, and rose to associate professor and head of English at that school. In 1950, he began teaching literature in what was then known as the College of Liberal Arts, and retired in 1957. The Millington F. Carpenter Professorship in English was established in 1963; Carpenter died in 1967.

  • 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.


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.