News Briefs

  • University of Iowa names Craig Kletzing as inaugural holder of the Donald A. and Marie B. Gurnett Chair

    June 24, 2019

    Donald Gurnett
    Professor Emeritus Don Gurnett

    During more than 60 years at the University of Iowa—beginning as an undergraduate in 1957 and ending with retirement in May 2019 as Professor Emeritus—Don Gurnett of the Department of Physics and Astronomy built a career that will be remembered as among the most influential in the history of American space exploration.

    Now the university has announced that Gurnett’s scientific and UI legacy has become even more firmly cemented, with the establishment and appointment of the Donald A. and Marie B. Gurnett Chair.

    Learn about Don Gurnett's career in experimental space physics at the UI.

    Learn about Professor Craig Kletzing's research at Iowa.

    Professor Craig Kletzing of the Department of Physics and Astronomy has been named the inaugural holder of the Donald A. and Marie B. Gurnett Chair.

    Several years ago, Don Gurnett and his wife, Marie, donated the funds for the endowed faculty position to the UI Center for Advancement to provide salary support for a faculty member who has a distinguished program in areas of experimental space physics or space-based astronomy. A named, endowed chair is the most prestigious honor given by the university to a faculty member, and is considered an essential tool in recruiting and retaining world-class faculty.

    Craig Kletzing
    Professor Craig Kletzing, the inaugural
    Donald A. and Marie B. Gurnett Chair

    Kletzing, who joined the UI faculty in 1996, is an outstanding teacher who has focused much of his research on using rockets and satellites to learn about Earth’s auroras. In June 2019, NASA and the UI announced that a team of scientists led by Kletzing earned a $115 million NASA contract—the largest research award in the UI’s history—to study the connection between Earth and the sun’s magnetic fields.

    Don Gurnett said he and Marie are excited about the chair and its appointment.

    "Marie and I are pleased to have established the Gurnett Chair to support the future of experimental space physics at Iowa,” Gurnett said, “and we are delighted that Professor Kletzing has been appointed as the inaugural holder of the position.  We are excited about Craig's work, and look forward to learning of his accomplishments in the years to come."

    Kletzing said he was humbled by the appointment.

    “To be named the Gurnett Chair is an incredible honor,” Kletzing said. “In addition to being my friend and colleague throughout most of my career, Don is an absolute giant in our field. I intend to use the position to expand our knowledge of space with the vigor and diligence that Don has demonstrated for decades, and I’m extremely grateful for the privilege of doing it in his name.”

    To learn about supporting the University of Iowa, contact Kate Metcalf of the UI Center for Advancement at or 319-335-3500. The UI Center for Advancement is the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the UI, and its mission is to promote the UI’s commitment to excellence through engagement and philanthropy.

  • School of Social Work's Aging and Longevity Studies program earns AGHE Program of Merit designation

    June 21, 2019

  • Workshop grad Joy Harjo named the 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate

    June 21, 2019

  • Professor Kletzing brings in largest research grant ever for the UI: $115M from NASA

    June 20, 2019

  • CLAS faculty earn OpenHawks grants from UI Libraries

    June 06, 2019

  • CLAS grad Alexander Rubinow is an editor of "Deadliest Catch"

    June 05, 2019

  • Beth Skinner (97 BA, 06 MSW, 10 PhD) named director of Iowa Dept. of Corrections

    June 05, 2019

  • Don Gurnett retires after 60 years in space exploration

    June 04, 2019

  • Liberal Arts and Sciences undergrads Gulick, Qi named national Goldwater Scholars

    May 15, 2019

    After weeks of anticipation, University of Iowa undergraduates Hannah Gulick, Russell Martin, and Guowei Qi finally got some great news. They learned that they had been named 2019 Goldwater Scholars. 

    The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship—the premier undergraduate award of its kind—was established by Congress in 1986 in honor of Senator Barry M. Goldwater, to challenge and support outstanding young scholar researchers committed to conducting basic science research in the fields of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering. Since 1989, 57 undergraduates from the University of Iowa have been named Goldwater Scholars.

    Hannah Gulick
    Hannah Gulick

    Hannah Gulick of Spirit Lake, Iowa, is member of the University of Iowa Honors Program, a licensed ham radio operator, a graduate of rocket school, and an editor of Fools Magazine. Gulick is currently studying astronomy, physics, and creative writing while conducting research on HaloSat, a NASA-funded CubeSat that is searching for missing matter in the Milky Way’s Galactic Halo with Dr. Philip Kaaret. Gulick has been a part of several other projects connected to her home department where she was able to learn from Drs. Robert Mutel, Cornelia Lang, and David Miles.

    After graduation, Gulick plans to pursue a Ph.D. in astrophysics and her goal of conducting research in observational astronomy and space instrumentation for NASA.

    Guowei Qi
    Guowei Qi

    Another Goldwater Scholarship recipient is UI sophomore Guowei Qi of West Des Moines. Qi is pursuing degrees in biochemistry, mathematics, and computer science, and he conducts research with Dr. Michael Schnieders, a biomedical engineer who was a 1997 Goldwater Scholar from the University of Iowa. Qi will be continuing his work with Schnieders on protein-side optimization in his third year of undergraduate study.

    Qi is a Presidential Scholar and a member of the University of Iowa Honors Program, UI Student Government, and the UI Environmental Coalition.  He recently represented his fellow students on the 2018 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Search Committee and is an Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU) Ambassador. 

    Russell Martin
    Russel Martin

    The Goldwater Foundation also recognized College of Engineering student Russell Martin of West Branch, Iowa, who is a member of the University of Iowa Honors Program, the ICRU Ambassadors, and the UI Robotics Team. During his undergraduate career, in which he studies biomechanics and biomaterials, Martin has contributed to the work of Drs. Michael Schnieders,  Robert Cornell, Alexander Bassuk, and most recently, Laura Frey Law on the investigation of the relationship between electromyography magnitude and joint angle during voluntary contractions. 

    Each of the university’s institutional nominees worked closely with UI Honors Program Director of Scholar Development Kelly Thornburg, the University of Iowa’s Undergraduate Fellowships Committee, and an invaluable community of faculty and research mentors during the development of their application materials. Gulick, Martin, and Qi were also supported by 2018 scholar Ojas Pradhan of West Des Moines, IA. 

    Thornburg offered some insight into the process, what makes a strong applicant and why she thinks this year’s nominees were so successful.

    “The best candidates have a problem or question they cannot stop thinking about," said Thornburg. "The application is an invitation to consider what is behind that obsession and to ask themselves how they might be able to channel it now and in the future. Our nominees took the opportunity to represent their university and departments very seriously, so none of us were surprised to find out that they were recognized by the Goldwater program.”

    Gulick, Martin, and Qi came to the process with more than the requisite grades and practical experience. The kinds of challenges they were taking on proved to the nominating committee that science would always be more than a job for them. Bob Kirby, Director of the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates has worked with all three scholars and was eager to celebrate their success as well as their potential as champions of accessible, ethical scientific discourse.

    “Hannah, Russell, and Guowei are wonderful examples of the outstanding basic science and engineering research done by undergraduates at Iowa," Kirby said. "What makes me most proud of them as a group is the public outreach they have been engaged in. They are excellent advocates for research both on and off campus.  It will be a pleasure to see where their careers take them.”

    To view a full list of the 2019 Goldwater Scholars, visit the Goldwater Scholarship & Excellence in Education Program website. Each scholar will receive up to $7,500 in funding for tuition, fees, books, and room and board.

    Undergraduates entering their second or third year of study who are interested in representing the University of Iowa in the 2020 Goldwater competition should contact Kelly Thornburg at

  • CLAS graduate students Anderson, Frank, Green, Shyue named 2019-20 Fulbright Scholars

    May 15, 2019

    Four graduate students studying in College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) departments have been awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants to conduct research, undertake creative projects, or serve as English teaching assistants abroad in 2019–20.

    This year, the UI had the largest-ever number of applicants, with a total of 47 students completing the rigorous application and interview process. A record number of 32 semifinalists were selected to compete in the second round of the competition. Eleven CLAS undergraduates were also named Fulbright Scholars.

    The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries by providing participants the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

    “The Fulbright awards provide life-changing opportunities for UI students, and this record-breaking year is a testament to the hard work of our talented students and the tremendous team of faculty and staff in International Programs that has prepared them compete successfully for these prestigious awards,” says Downing Thomas, associate provost and dean of International Programs, which oversees the university’s Fulbright programs.

    The Fulbright competition is administered at the UI through International Programs under the guidance of Fulbright Program Advisor Karen Wachsmuth. Students interested in applying for the 2020–21 Fulbright competition should make an appointment to learn more about the application process.

    “For this year’s 17 talented Fulbright awardees from the University of Iowa, Sen. William Fulbright’s vision of academic and cultural exchange in 1946 has become a reality,” Wachsmuth says. “After competing successfully in a field of more than 10,000 applicants nationally over the past year, four students have been selected to undertake arts projects, six students will do research or enroll in graduate programs in fields ranging from public health to translation, and seven students will serve as English teaching assistants abroad. They will represent the university, the state of Iowa, and the U.S. as superb citizen ambassadors, and will carry this badge of honor forward into their future professional lives.”

    Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

    The CLAS graduate students selected for 2019-20 are:

    Brittany AbndersonBrittany Anderson, of Sparta, Wisconsin, is a PhD candidate in anthropology. With her Fulbright Study/Research Award in anthropology to Sierra Leone, Anderson will examine how Ebola survivors navigate social, economic, and medical hardships through complex relationships with communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the government.


    Alexa FrankAlexa Frank, of Irvington, New York, is expected to graduate from the UI in 2019 with an MFA in creative writing. With her Fulbright Study/Research Arts Award in creative writing to Japan, Frank will spend the year completing a novel that examines Japan and America’s relationship to mental illness. She will serve as a guest lecturer on contemporary American literature at Waseda University in Tokyo.


    Charles GreenCharles Green, of Los Angeles, is expected to graduate from the UI in 2019 with an MFA in playwriting. With his Fulbright Study/Research Award in creative writing/playwriting to Germany, Green will research and write a theatrical text about the influence of immigrant Eastern European Yiddish theater troupes on local German Jewish performance artists in Berlin from 1918 to 1933.


    Jennifer ShyueJennifer Shyue, of Brooklyn, New York, is expected to graduate from the UI in 2019 with an MFA in literary translation. With her Fulbright Study/Research Award in translation to Peru, Shyue will undertake Spanish-to-English translations of fiction by Julia Wong Kcomt, one of only a few Peruvian writers of Chinese descent. She hopes to expand the scope of U.S. scholarship on the Asian diaspora in the Americas.


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.