Iowa State University


John McCarroll, University Relations, (515) 294-6136


AMES, Iowa -- Six Iowa State University professors have received 1997 Iowa State Board of Regents Faculty Excellence Awards.

The six faculty members are David Hoffman, professor of chemistry; Patricia Murphy, professor of food science and human nutrition; Vernon Ryan, professor of sociology and anthropology; Dennis Starleaf, professor of economics; Mary Yearns, associate professor of human development and family studies; Richard Zbaracki, professor of curriculum and instruction and professor of English.

The six were introduced by ISU President Martin Jischke at a ceremony Tuesday, July 22, in the Campanile Room of the Memorial Union. The State Board of Regents held their monthly meeting at Iowa State July 22-23.

David Hoffman

A theoretical chemist, Hoffman is widely recognized for his research in the dynamics of chemical reactions. He has nurtured cross-disciplinary initiatives at Iowa State, such as the agricultural chemical products laboratory, which brings together researchers from the colleges of Agriculture, Engineering and Liberal Arts and Sciences.

As a member of the chemistry department faculty for 30 years, and as chair from 1981 to 1989, Hoffman has played a vital role in strengthening Iowa State's national and reputation in chemistry, said Jischke.

As associate director of the university's Institute for Physical Research and Technology, Hoffman has overseen the strategic evolution of many of the centers including the Center for Advanced Technology Development, the Center for Nondestructive Evaluation, and the Center for Coal and the Environment.

Patricia Murphy

Murphy's research on isoflavones in soybeans and fumonism toxin in corn have made significant contributions to the food industry in Iowa and the health interests of the world. Murphy has developed methods to fortify foods with vitamin A that are suitable for applications in Asia, Africa and South America, where populations suffer from vitamin A deficiency.

In addition, she has helped develop the ISU's toxicology major by reorganizing the main graduate course, which is team-taught by 10 faculty members.

And in her 17 years at Iowa State, she has served as adviser to many graduate students and as an informal mentor to innumerable undergraduate students, said Jischke.

Vernon Ryan

Ryan is a national expert on public policy and a sought-after resource for communities throughout Iowa. For nearly 20 years, he has led Iowa State's CD-DIAL program, which helps residents plan and implement community development efforts.

His work has direct application and importance to Iowa. Ryan is an outstanding example of the outreach mission of Iowa State, said Jischke.

Ryan's most recent project, a survey of residents in 99 small communities -- one per county-- assesses the health of small towns and progress in betterment efforts. His research produced a set of community characteristics which he combined into a typical community called, Sigma.

Ryan involves his students in community-based projects that give them valuable experience in addressing real-life problems and challenges.

Dennis Starleaf

Starleaf is known for his foresight for research that is important and relevant to the time, such as his study of the relationship between ag commodity markets and macroeconomic conditions in the early 1980s, said Jischke.

Earlier research papers earned him an associate editor's post for The Journal of Finance -- a prestigious economic journals -- and a staff position on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

And even without an extension appointment, he has performed Iowa State's outreach mission by making more than 400 presentations to lay audiences.

Mary Yearns

In addition to her faculty position, Yearns serves Iowa State and the people of Iowa as an extension specialist in housing, said Jischke.

She is a co-creator of two heavily used extension programs: "A Home for All Ages," a life-size "home" that demonstrates devices for persons with disabilities; and "Iowa AgriAbility," which works with farm families to adapt their homes when a member has a disability.

Yearns reached out to rural Iowans in response to the 1980's farm crisis by creating the "Modest Home Makeovers," a program that helped thousands of Iowans use limited resources to improve their lives.

Because of her expertise in space and design, she was selected to represent her college on several significant building projects, including the Center for Designing Foods to Improve Nutrition and the Palmer Human Development and Family Studies Building.

Yearns also has served as president of the American Association of Housing Educators.

Richard Zbaracki

Zbaracki is one of the strongest ambassadors of Iowa State's Honors Program, said Jischke. He also served on the committee that designed and implemented Project Opportunity, a pilot undergraduate program that is changing the way teachers are trained.

Zbaracki has served as an adviser to hundreds of Iowa State teacher education students, as a consultant to public school districts throughout the state, and, on the local level, as a member of the Ames Community School Board for nine years, including three as president.


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