News Briefs

  • Lynn, Noonan publish on perceptions of occupation compatibility for mothers

    July 31, 2020

    Freda Lynn, University of Iowa
    Freda Lynn

    Research shows that the public holds unfavorable views of women working in traditionally male-dominated roles, such as leader or scientist. Clashing stereotypes are typically to blame. The public expects women to be warm and friendly, but expects leaders, for example, to be competitive and forceful. Two associate professors in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Iowa, Mary Noonan and Freda Lynn, are breaking ground by investigating what the public thinks more broadly about mothers and fathers working in a diverse set of occupations.

    Freda Lynn and Mary Noonan, associate professors in the Department of Sociology and Criminology, have published “Boxed In: Beliefs about the Compatibility and Likability of Mother-Occupation and Father-Occupation Role Combinations,” a groundbreaking new sociological study. Read the article here.

    Noonan and Lynn published their study, “Boxed In: Beliefs about the Compatibility and Likability of Mother-Occupation and Father-Occupation Role Combinations”, in Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World. The duo worked with Mark Walker, assistant professor of sociology at Louisiana State University and former UI graduate student.

    Mary Noonan, University of Iowa
    Mary Noonan

    The researchers collected data on public perceptions of how well-matched the roles of mother and father are with 28 different occupational roles, such as lawyer and librarian. Doing so allowed them to better understand hidden assumptions about what people think makes a woman a “good mother” and a man a “good father”, and the extent to which the public scrutinizes the role of mother versus the role of father. 

    Noonan and Lynn concluded that mothers are viewed as more compatible with jobs that are female-dominated, have high ethical standards, are safe, and offer plenty of part-time opportunities. For example, occupations such as lawyer and politician were deemed relatively incompatible with motherhood while teacher, nurse, and secretary were deemed generally compatible.

    “We argue that these occupations are seen as more compatible with motherhood because they align with norms concerning what a 'good mother' should be—someone who has time for her children, is nurturing, etc.,” Noonan said. “Furthermore, we found that a mother working in a supposedly incompatible occupation is penalized by being judged as less likable, less sincere, less trustworthy, and less attentive to her children than a mother in a supposedly compatible occupation.”

    In contrast, the only occupational characteristic that predicted compatibility for fathers was the level of power associated with the job. Furthermore, father-occupation compatibility was not strongly associated with value or worth.

    “This suggests that the public has fewer ‘rules’ when it comes to combining work and parenting for men compared with women; a mother’s choices are more actively policed compared with a father’s,” Lynn said.

    Noonan and Lynn’s research suggests that mothers in incompatible occupations face more societal penalties, and therefore may experience more negative mental health repercussions. Additionally, “rosy images” associated with mothers working in supposedly compatible occupations may contribute to females continuing to pursue female-dominated occupations.

    Mary Noonan

    Mary Noonan joined the University of Iowa faculty in 2001. Her previous research has used quantitative methods to study relations between gender, work and family. In 2014, she received the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Collegiate Teaching Award. Most recently, Noonan received COVID-19 RAPID funding, which she will use to examine the impact of the pandemic on childcare and working parents.

    Freda Lynn

    Freda Lynn joined the University of Iowa Department of Sociology and Criminology in 2008. Her research focuses on the dynamics of winner-take-all markets. In 2018, she received the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Collegiate Teaching Award. Recently, Lynn received NSF funding to study the pathways of college students in and out of STEM fields. 

    About Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World

    —Grace Culbertson

  • Scott Baalrud adds to early career awards with recognition by American Physical Society

    July 31, 2020

    Scott Baalrud, University of iowaThe American Physical Society has recognized University of Iowa Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Scott Baalrud with its Thomas H. Stix Award for Outstanding Early Career Contributions to Plasma Physics Research.

    Baalrud received the award for “fundamental advances to the kinetic theory of strongly-coupled plasma and plasma sheaths,” according to the American Physical Society website. The award is given to researchers who make outstanding contributions in plasma physics early in their career.

    “The award is named for a giant of plasma physics, so it’s an honor to have an award named after Thomas Stix,” Baalrud said.

    A plasma is a state of matter where the electrons are separated from the atoms, making them highly electrically conducting. This makes it possible to do certain things in experiments, a laboratory, or an industry, Baalrud said. As a plasma theorist, Baalrud said his research is focused on the fundamental questions about the plasma state of matter.

    Baalrud was nominated for the award by Fred Skiff, UI professor and former chair of physics and astronomy. He is humbled to have been selected as the award recipient, Baalrud said. He is especially honored to be among the other prize recipients from the American Physical Society, for whom Baalrud said he has tremendous respect.

    In February 2015, Baalrud won a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation, for a project connecting the public to plasma physics. He was the recipient of the 2018 Hershkowitz Early Career Award and Review, as well as early-career awards from the Department of Energy and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He was recognized as a 2018-20 Dean’s Scholar by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

    “Nobody gets here alone,” Baalrud said. “So I’m incredibly grateful for all the mentorship I’ve received throughout my career.”

    Baalrud will be presented the award at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics in November.

    —Katie Ann McCarver

  • Jennifer Buckley wins Outstanding Book Award from Association for Theatre in Higher Education

    July 28, 2020

    Book cover--Jennifer Buckley, University of IowaJennifer Buckley, associate professor in the Departments of English and Theatre Arts at the University of Iowa, has earned the 2020 Outstanding Book Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. Her book, Beyond Text: Theater and Performance in Print after 1900, was published in 2019 by the University of Michigan Press.

    Buckley says that her book explores the relationship between the written word and live performance. An irony that appears throughout Beyond Text is how performing artists who say literature is separate from theater actually use the medium of print and books to do so.

    "In the early twentieth century, there was a rebellious movement of performance artists who pushed back against what they viewed as the domination of the playwright in the field," said Buckley. “So it’s this deep, deep disagreement about not just the place of language and performance, but what language and performance can do. The question is whether they can do it together.”

    Jennifer Buckley, Associate Professor of English and Theatre Arts, has won the 2020 Outstanding Book Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.

    Read Beyond Text: Theater and Performance in Print after 1900 here.

    Buckley was nominated for the Outstanding Book Award by her publisher. She was humbled to be in such extraordinary company, Buckley said of her fellow nominees. She was stunned when her book won the award, and pleasantly surprised that the organization's theatre practitioners had found it useful.

    “It’s from people who study theatre, but also people who make theatre,” Buckley said. “And that’s why I’m so excited about this award. Because it means that theatre-makers like the book.”

    Buckley's current project is a new book titled, Act Without Words: Speechless Performance on Modern Stages. It asks what theatre could be without any words at all.

    Jennifer buckley, University of Iowa
    Jennifer Buckley

    Jennifer Buckley joined the University of Iowa faculty in 2011. Her teaching, research, and writing focus on modern and contemporary drama, theater, performance art, and media in Europe, the UK, and the US. She won the Collegiate Teaching Award in 2018.

    The Association for Theatre in Higher Education is one of the largest professional organizations in academic theatre studies, and comprises scholars and practitioners in the field.

    Because most physical libraries are closed due to COVID-19 and social-distancing guidelines, the University of Michigan Press has made the E-book version of Beyond Text available for free to read online.

    —Katie Ann McCarver

  • David Wiemer wins 2020 American Chemical Society Midwest Award

    July 23, 2020

    Professor David Wiemer, University of IowaThe American Chemical Society (ACS) has awarded Professor David F. Wiemer the 2020 ACS Midwest Award. The award, granted to scientists who have significantly contributed to the development of chemical research and education in the region, is granted annually by the ACS’s St. Louis section.

    Wiemer, who holds an F. Wendell Miller Professorship, joined the University of Iowa faculty in 1978. He has appointments in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as well as in the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology in the Carver College of Medicine. With a research focus on the synthesis and evaluation of biologically active natural products and organophosphorus compounds, Wiemer has authored more than 210 publications and received grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, the Leukemia Society of America, and other agencies and organizations.

    Wiemer’s research team, which consists of PhD students and undergraduates, currently collaborates with scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the University of Connecticut, and the National Cancer Institute to develop new compounds for cancer treatment. Many of the compounds have been created through methods for carbon-phosphorus bond formation that his team has invented. Using his findings, Wiemer co-founded Terpenoid Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology company, to commercialize some of his drug discoveries.

    This is not the first time Wiemer’s dedication to education and research has been recognized. In 2002, Wiemer was named a CLAS Collegiate Fellow, the college’s highest faculty honor. He has also received the Regents Award for Faculty Excellence, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Additionally, he served as an ACS Fellow and has presented about 160 lectures to ACS local sections around the country.

    Wiemer will be presented with a medallion and a cash honorarium at the 55th Annual Midwest Regional ACS meeting in Springfield, Missouri, in October. Upon receiving the award, Wiemer will present the Midwest Award Lecture and attend the Midwest Award Banquet.

    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.

    —By Grace Culbertson

  • Paleontologists: 80 million years ago, this monster ate dinosaurs

    July 27, 2020

    Deinoschus illustrations
    An illustration of Deinosuchus from the journal's cover.
    (Illustration by Tyler Stone BA '19, art and cinema
    see his website)

    This thing ate dinosaurs. University of Iowa-based research can prove it.

    Adam Cossette, who earned his PhD in geoscience from the UI in 2018, and his graduate advisor, Professor Christopher Brochu of the UI Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, have co-authored a paper that sheds new light on the monstrous creature. Cossette is assistant professor in the Department of Basic Science in the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University (Jonesboro).

    The research, which grew out of Cossette's UI doctoral dissertation, is published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (the issue's cover features artwork by another UI grad, Tyler Stone)The study revises what we know about Deinosuchus—one of the largest, if not THE largest, crocodylian genera known.

    Adam Cossette, a vertebrate paleobiologist, earned his PhD in geoscience from Iowa in 2018.

    Now he's shaping his discipline as an assistant professor at a research institution.

    Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

    Some species of Deinosuchus, which prowled coastal wetlands in North America between 75 and 82 million years ago, may have reached 35 feet in length. They were the largest predators in their ecosystem, outweighing even the largest predatory dinosaurs living alongside them. Based on the study of cranial remains and bite marks on dinosaur fossil bones, paleontologists have long speculated that the massive beasts preyed on dinosaurs. Now Cossette has proved that they had the head size and crushing jaw strength to do that. 

    Adam Cossette
    Adam Cossette

    Deinosuchus was a giant that must have terrorized dinosaurs that came to the water’s edge to drink,” said Cossette, the primary author of the study. “Until now, the complete animal was unknown. New specimens reveal a bizarre, monstrous predator with teeth the size of bananas.”

    Stephanie Drumheller-Horton, who also earned her PhD in geoscience from Iowa (in 2012), is a paleontologist at the University of Tennessee. “Deinosuchus seems to have been an opportunistic predator, and given that it was so enormous, most everything in its habitat was on the menu," she said. "We actually have multiple examples of bite marks made by D. riograndensis and a species newly described in this study, D. schwimmeri, on turtle shells and dinosaur bones.”

    In spite of the genus's name, which means “terror crocodile,” they were actually more closely related to alligators. Based on its enormous skull, it looked like neither an alligator nor a crocodile. Its snout was long and broad, but inflated at the front around the nose in a way not seen in any other crocodylian, living or extinct. The reason for its enlarged nose is unknown.

    Professor Christopher Brochu, University of Iowa
    Christopher Brochu

    “It was a strange animal,” said co-author Brochu. “It shows that crocodylians are not ‘living fossils’ that haven’t changed since the age of dinosaurs. They’ve evolved just as dynamically as any other group.”

    The study also reveals that more than one kind of “terror crocodile” has been found. Two species lived in the west, ranging from Montana to northern Mexico. Another lived along the Atlantic coastal plain from New Jersey to Mississippi. At the time, North America was cut in half by a shallow sea extending from the Arctic Ocean south to the present-day Gulf of Mexico.

    Christopher Brochu joined the University of Iowa faculty in 2001. His research explores the phylogeny and historical biogeography of crocodyliforms—alligators, crocodiles, gharials, and their close relatives.

    The University of Iowa Graduate College manages the enrollment and degree progress for nearly 5,000 students from over 100 graduate programs in 10 different colleges, spanning the arts and humanities, biological sciences, health sciences, engineering, education, physical sciences, social sciences, and business.

    by Nic Arp

  • UI researchers find third party app misuse on social-media platform

    July 23, 2020

  • Brian Metzger ('03 BS) wins $250K Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists

    July 22, 2020

    Brian Metzger
    Dr. Brian Metzger ('03 BS)

    Brian Metzger, who earned his undergraduate degrees from the University of Iowa in 2003, has received the Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists. The recognition carries a $250,000 cash prize, the largest unrestricted scientific prize offered to America’s most-promising, young faculty-level scientific researchers.

    Read an Iowa Alumni Magazine profile on Brian Metzger from 2018.

    Read the Blavatnik Family Foundation's recognition of Dr. Metzger, with links to some of his prominent publications.

    Metzger, the Blavatnik Prize 2020 Laureate in Physical Sciences & Engineering, triple-majored at Iowa in physics, astronomy, and mathematics, graduating with Highest Distinction. He is now associate professor in the Department of Physics at Columbia University, after completing his PhD and postdoctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley, and fellowships at Princeton University.

    In a 2018 profile in the Iowa Alumni Magazine, the Burlington, Iowa, native credited his UI undergraduate experience for his success as a scientist and professor.

    NASA images of the kilonova observed in 2017

    “My UI professors inspired me to love science,” Metzger said. “I want to help launch my own students’ careers, and I know their breakthroughs will be even greater than ours."

    Metzger, whose heroes growing up included the legendary UI space-exploration pioneer James Van Allen, has kept in close touch with the UI Department of Physics and Astronomy.

    Metzger won the Blavatnik Prize for predicting the creation of gold and other elements in the collision of merging neuron stars; he coined the term "kilonova" for such then-theoretical collisions. His predictions were borne out in 2017 when the first actual kilonova was observed and satellite measurements confirmed the creation of the universe's heaviest known elements.

    The Blavatnik National Awards were first given in 2014, building on a successful regional awards program by the Blavatnik Family Foundation. The awards celebrate the past accomplishments and future potential of young faculty members working in the three disciplinary categories of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Chemistry. Metzger is the first University of Iowa graduate to receive the recognition.

  • Ekdale, Havens, Nithyanand receive $1 million+ federal grant to study radicalization in social media

    July 15, 2020

     Brian Ekdale, Timothy Havens, Rishab Nithnayand, University of Iowa
    From top: Ekdale,
    Havens, Nithyanand

    Brian Ekdale, associate professor in the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is leading a unique research project that examines how and why some individuals adopt extreme political and cultural views through their use of social media, and what researchers, technological companies, and policymakers can do to identify, predict, and prevent that behavior.

    The research is funded with more than $1 million from the Minerva Research Initiative, a social science research program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. The program focuses on U.S. national security policy, with a goal of understanding the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S.

    Co-Principal Investigators of the research project, "Algorithmic Personalization and Online Radicalization: A Mixed Methods Approach," include UI faculty members Professor Timothy Havens of the Departments of Communication Studies and African American Studies, and Rishab Nithyanand, assistant professor of computer science. Andrew High of Pennsylvania State University, who formerly was on the UI communication studies faculty, and Raven Maragh-Lloyd of Gonzaga University, who earned her PhD in communication studies at Iowa in 2018, are also co-PIs.

    The project will use qualitative, quantitative, and computational research methodologies to investigate the psychological attributes that make one vulnerable to radicalization, how users respond to personalization and radical content, and algorithmic personalization for particular communities online. The investigators will then use those data to develop techniques for predicting communities likely to adopt extremist ideologies.

    The research project developed out of an Obermann Center Working Group on Algorithms and Social Media, which brings together scholars from the humanities, social sciences, and STEM sciences to explore the functioning and implications of large data generated by social networking applications.

  • Sociology & Criminology faculty receive NSF COVID-19 RAPID grants, win top research and publication awards

    July 13, 2020

    Faculty members in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Iowa are demonstrating national leadership in their discipline.

    Two faculty members have received funding from the National Science Foundation's RAPID program for research addressing the impact of COVID-19. The RAPID program enables the NSF to quickly process and support research that addresses an urgent need. Previous RAPID awards have helped researchers better understand and control outbreaks of diseases such as Ebola and Zika, and investigate preparedness and responses in natural and environmental disasters. Now, the program is funding research into COVID-19.

    Mark Berg, University of IowaAssociate Professor Mark Berg and co-Principal Investigator Nicole Novak of the College of Public Health have received funding to understand the health and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 in understudied rural communities, especially in meat-packing towns. The project will, in the words of the proposal abstract, " . . . survey residents of midwestern small towns to: (1) document the health, socioeconomic, and emotional impacts of the pandemic; (2) identify local needs and effectiveness of local and state responses; and (3) understand how impacts, responses, and needs vary across diverse small towns. Findings from the project will inform governmental policies and programs at several levels, thus advancing the health and well-being of rural people and places." Berg serves as the Director of the Crime and Justice Policy Research Program at the University of Iowa Public Policy Center.  

    Mary Noonan, University of IowaAssociate Professor Mary Noonan is using RAPID funding to examine how working parents managed the care of their children in the context of day care and school closures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. As she states in her proposal abstract, "Findings from the project will inform policies for several levels of government and many businesses related to child-care provisions during extreme events, but also during economic recovery and beyond. As such, project findings will provide information to support economic competitiveness, health, and well-being in our society."

    Five other University of Iowa research projects have received NSF COVID-19 RAPID funding, including one by Frederick Boehmke, professor of political science, who is studying state policy responses to the pandemic.

    Victor Ray, University of IowaAssistant Professor Victor Ray, who holds a joint appointment in the Department of African American Studies, has been named the recipient of the the 2020 Distinguished Early Career Award from the American Sociological Association (ASA) Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities. The award recognizes exceptional achievement and scholarly contribution to research on the sociology of race and ethnicity.

    In addition, Ray's article, "A Theory of Racialized Organizations," was selected by the Society for the Study of Social Problems as the winner of the 2020 Kimberlé Crenshaw Outstanding Article Award. The selection committee proclaimed the article, " . . . a tremendous contribution not just to race critical theory, but organizational theory and the field as a whole." The article, which appeared in the American Sociological Review, also received an honorable mention for the 2020 Oliver Cromwell Cox Article Award from the ASA Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities, and an honorable mention from the ASA Theory Section in the Junior Theorist Prize competition.

    Michael Sauder, University of IowaProfessor Michael Sauder has received the ASA Sociology of Culture section’s Clifford Geertz Award for Best Article for his paper, “Public Ideas: Their Varieties and Careers." The paper, published in the American Sociological Review, was co-authored by Indiana University colleagues Tim Hallett and Orla Stapleton.

  • Professor Colin Gordon and students uncover Iowa City's racist housing history

    June 23, 2020


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.