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University of Nebraska Chapter 2005 Award Winners

The UNL Chapter of Sigma Xi, the science and engineering honorary society, has announced the winners of its 2005 awards for outstanding research and for outstanding science teaching. Seven individuals are being honored this year, including three UNL faculty members, three UNL graduate students and one high school science teacher. The award winners will be recognized at Sigma Xi's annual Awards and Initiation Banquet on Thursday, April 21, 2005, at The Green Gateauís Windsor Stables Reception Center.

Charles Wood, Lewis Lehr/3M University Professor of Biological Sciences and Director of the Nebraska Center for Virology, has been selected for the Outstanding Scientist Award for his research on the transmission and molecular biology of the human immunodifficiency virus (HIV), which is aimed at reducing the impact of AIDS in Africa. Wood, who is currently in Zambia, wrote that his research in Africa "has changed my perspective on life." He will present an after-dinner talk at the Sigma Xi Banquet on "HIV and AIDS Research in Sub-Saharan Africa: Involvement of UNL."

Johannes Knops, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, and Tracy Frank, Assistant Professor of Geosciences, were selected for Outstanding Young Scientist Awards. Knops was cited "for his ecological studies analyzing the impact of elevated carbon dioxide on grassland communities." Frank was cited "for her significant contributions to carbonate geochemistry and a new understanding of the evolution of seawater through geologic time."

Sarah Petitto, a graduate student in Department of Chemistry, Corinna Ross, a graduate student in the School of Biological Sciences, and Juijie Guan, a graduate student in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, were selected for Outstanding Graduate Student Awards. Petitto was cited "for research on the surface structure and reactivity of transition metals and metal oxides." Ross was cited "for studies aimed at understanding the distribution of genetic mosaicism among body tissues." Guan was cited "for research on biodegradable packaging materials from agricultural products using extrusion and chemical reactions."

Sara LeRoy-Toren, was selected for the Outstanding High School Science Teacher Award. She was cited "for exceptional expertise, dedication, and professionalism as both a science teacher and as Chair of the Science Department for the Lincoln Public School Science Focus Program."

The Sigma Xi 2005 Award Selection Committee was chaired by Merlin P. Lawson, Professor of Geosciences and former Dean of Graduate Studies and of International Affairs. Other members of the committee were: Z.B. Mayo, head of the Department of Entomology, Rosevelt L. Pardy, Professor of Biological Sciences, Anthony F. Starace, George Holmes University Professor of Physics, and James L. Van Etten, William B. Allington University Professor of Plant Pathology.

At the annual banquet, the winners of the 2005 Graduate Student Research Poster Competition, held on March 10th as part of the 2005 UNL Research Fair, will also be honored. These winners were announced previously. Their seven winning posters will be on display throughout the evening.

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