CLAS announces top teaching award recipients

Bognar, Brown, Buckley, Lynn, Muñoz, and Osborn receive Collegiate Teaching Award; Aji earns International Engagement Teaching Award
Sunday, May 6, 2018

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has named six recipients of the Collegiate Teaching Awards for 2017-2018. The awardees, chosen by the college’s Teaching Awards Committee from nominations by students and colleagues, are Associate Professor of Instruction Matthew Bognar (Statistics and Actuarial Science), Lecturer Shea Brown (Physics and Astronomy), Assistant Professor Jennifer Buckley (English), Associate Professor Freda Lynn (Sociology), Associate Professor Luis Muñoz (Spanish and Portuguese), and Associate Professor Tracy Osborn (Political Science). Lecturer Margaret Murray (Rhetoric) received a Collegiate Teaching Award Honorable Mention.

In addition, the Teaching Awards Committee selected Visiting Associate Professor Aron Aji (Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures) to receive the International Engagement Teaching Award, which is awarded jointly by CLAS and University of Iowa International Programs.

The awards were presented at the CLAS Faculty Honors Celebration on April 16, 2018.

CLAS Dean Chaden Djalali said the awards reflected the recipients’ deep commitment to excellence in teaching.

“The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is delighted to recognize the achievements of these outstanding faculty members,” Djalali said. “It is clear that their students regard them not only as innovative classroom teachers, but also as role models and mentors who help them develop personally as well as academically. On behalf of our college, I congratulate these accomplished colleagues on their success.”

Matthew BognarAssociate Professor of Instruction Matthew Bognar, who earned his PhD in Statistics from the University of Iowa, joined the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science faculty in 2006. His research interests include spatial statistics, Bayesian statistics, computational statistics, Markov chain Monte Carlo, and educational software. He has developed widely used educational software, including "Probability Distributions" for Android and iOS, as well as web-based probability, statistical inference, and non-parametric applets. Among other service to his department, he serves as Director of the Statistics Tutorial Lab.

Shea BrownLecturer Shea Brown joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy faculty in 2012, having earned the PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Minnesota. He has played a critical role in the teaching of the foundational physics and astronomy courses that the department offers to students across the university. These are challenging teaching assignments, with hundreds of students in large lecture halls, and he has taught them to great acclaim from his students. Dr. Brown also mentors students in research projects, and has developed a new online course called “Citizen Astronomy,” which features hands-on “citizen science” modules and a robust online discussion forum.

Jennifer BuckleyAssistant Professor Jennifer Buckley earned the PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, and joined the Department of English faculty in 2011. She has been an innovative and effective teacher at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, bringing her expertise in contemporary drama and modernism to the Department; initiating a departmental engagement with Performance Studies; and serving as an exceptionally generous mentor. Her prior teaching experiences at the high school and community college level have informed her commitment to diversity and community. The quality of her scholarship in contemporary drama and Performance Studies is as exemplary as her teaching. She has also taught in the Department of Rhetoric, where her focus on social media, digital, and informational literacies, and her dedication to helping students find, interpret, evaluate, and use online materials made her courses both successful and innovative.

Freda LynnAssociate Professor Freda Lynn, who earned the PhD in Sociology from Harvard University, joined the Department of Sociology faculty in 2008. A faculty affiliate of Iowa’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Informatics, her teaching interests include quantitative methods, status and inequality, the social construction of value, and social networks. She has established herself as a consistently excellent and innovative classroom teacher, as well as a devoted mentor to both undergraduate and graduate students. Her research appears in a variety of journals, including the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, and Social Forces. She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation award for her work on citation patterns in science.

Luis MunozAssociate Professor Luis Muñoz earned the PhD from the University of Granada (Spain) and joined the Department of Spanish and Portuguese faculty in 2012. He is a well-recognized poet in the Spanish-speaking world and a gifted teacher. He has encouraged many people to explore poetry for the first time, with rewarding results. Undergraduate students rate his classes very highly, and he has successfully mentored students in the MFA in Spanish Creative Writing program who credit him with their adoption of poetry as their primary medium of expression. In all, he has mentored 15 graduate students on thesis and dissertation committees, including in the MFA in Literary Translation program.  

Tracy OsbornAssociate Professor Tracy Osborn earned the PhD in Political Science from Indiana University, and joined the Department of Political Science faculty in 2007.  She excels at teaching in all three levels of classes for her department, including introductory-level general education classes, upper-level classes for majors, and classes for graduate students. Her research focuses on women and politics in U.S. state legislatures, Congress, and political behavior. Her book, How Women Represent Women: Political Parties, Gender, and Representation in the State Legislatures was published by Oxford University Press in 2012.  She has also published articles in Political Research Quarterly, American Politics Research, Politics & Gender, and other journals. Professor Osborn was named a Dean's Scholar by our college in 2012.

Aron AjiVisiting Associate Professor Aron Aji serves as the Director of the MFA in Literary Translation program. Since his appointment in 2014, he has turned a struggling program into one with world-class standing. He is credited with increasing the size of the program from six degree-seeking students in 2014 to 22 in 2018. Much of Professor Aji’s success in attracting new students to the program is rooted in his innovative curricular development. Specifically, his “Translation and Global Society” and “Retranslation” courses are highly original in both their concept and application because they view translation within a global context whereby translation becomes an international language. Students in the program work in English, but come from a variety of language backgrounds. As a result, both the theory and practice of Professor Aji’s teaching is international in its scope and application.



The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.