University of Nevada, Reno honors 2014 Foundation Professors

Names of outstanding teaching, research honorees engraved in University’s granite pillars

5/8/2014 - By: Roseann Keegan
FoundationProfessors The University of Nevada, Reno 2014 Foundation Professors are (left to right) Department of Biology Professor Lee Dyer, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor David Sanders and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science Professor James Sedinger.

Lee Dyer, David Sanders and James Sedinger were named 2014 University of Nevada, Reno Foundation Professors in recognition of their outstanding research and teaching achievements. 

The Foundation Professor award was established in 1983 to recognize and salute University professors for their exemplary achievements. Recipients are nominated by their deans and selected by a committee, chaired by the University provost, comprised of faculty peers and University of Nevada, Reno Foundation board members. They receive an annual stipend for three years, provided by the Foundation, to further their professional endeavors. Their names will be engraved in the granite pillars of the University's Honor Court.

"The University of Nevada, Reno Foundation is pleased to recognize these three outstanding scholars on campus," John Carothers, executive director of the foundation and vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, said. "The Foundation Professorship provides $15,000 to those recognized. The foundation has supported 90 Foundation Professors since 1983."

Department of Biology professor Lee Dyer, who joined the University faculty in 2008, has an exceptional record in the areas of research, teaching and service and is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking research accomplishments. His work spans ecology and evolution in climates ranging from Arizona and Nevada to Costa Rica and Ecuador. He studies the interactions between plants, herbivores, and predators and has developed new concepts in his research fields. 

His research has resulted in 43 papers in top-flight journals since 2009, and he has given 17 invited talks in the last six years at universities and international meetings, including a keynote talk at a Gordon Research Conference, which provides an international forum for the presentation of frontier research in the biological, chemical and physical sciences. 

Dyer has supported his research activities with significant funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. He received the Hyung K. Shin Outstanding Research Award in 2011 from the College of Science.

"Dr. Dyer has an excellent record in the classroom and has taught classes in field ecology, entomology and research design," said Jeff Thompson, dean of the College of Science. "He has refurbished these courses and included cutting-edge research techniques and analysis in the curriculum. He is a very popular and effective teacher and his student evaluations are outstanding."

Dyer serves as an editor for Ecology, the leading international journal in its field, and Annals of the Entomological Society of America. He also leads up to 10, two-week citizen science events each year, funded through the Earthwatch Institute. More than 50 K-12 students, teachers and international business leaders participate. Since its inception, more than 1,500 participants have been exposed to biological research through Dyer's Earthwatch Institute program. 

David Sanders, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, joined the University in 1990 and conducts research in the behavior and design of structural concrete with an emphasis in the seismic performance of bridges. His research focuses on reducing the damage and impact caused by earthquakes on bridges through the use of complex computer analysis and large-scale experiments. Sanders is noted for his excellent record as a teacher and scholar, having achieved national prominence in the field of structural engineering.

"His teaching evaluations are near the highest in the department," said Ahmad Itani, professor and department chair. "Many of the students' comments in his evaluations often include the statement of the 'best professor I have had' and praise how accessible he is."

Sanders has been selected by students six times as a College of Engineering Senior Scholar Mentor. He also received the Faculty Appreciation Award from engineering students five times. Sanders has published more than 240 research publications and has been a principal investigator or a co-principal investigator for more than $12 million of research projects.

Sanders is also the faculty adviser for the American Society of Civil Engineering Student Chapter and the Nevada Concrete Canoe Team, which has brought tremendous attention to the program locally and nationally. Since 2006, the team has had a consistent performance of excellence in regional and national competitions. He was honored as a fellow with the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2010, received the Professional Progress in Engineering Award from Iowa State University in 2006, was named an Iowa State University Outstanding Young Alumnus in 2000 and a fellow of the American Concrete Institute in 2000. Sanders is also known for his service to the University and technical societies. He is a subcommittee chair for the national committee that writes the building code for the use of structural concrete.

James Sedinger, professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, joined the University in 2001. He was named Researcher of the Year in 2012 by the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources for his exceptional research performance.

Sedinger has produced 108 peer-reviewed publications since 1984; 51 as a faculty member at the University. He plays a central role in understanding the habitat, population biology and ecology of the greater sage-grouse, whose listing as an endangered species is an important issue for the state of Nevada. He also maintains a long-term project focused on the black brant sea goose in Alaska, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Sedinger places students in internships with state and federal agencies, including the Nevada Division of Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"In addition to his exceptional research program, Dr. Sedinger teaches a keystone course in the wildlife, ecology and conservation bachelor of science program," said CABNR Dean Bill Payne. "This course, together with the internships he offers, provides students with excellent, practically oriented knowledge and experience. His teaching is in the top tier of instruction at the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources."

This year, Sedinger received the Barrett A. Garrison Outstanding Mentor Award from the Western Section of the Wildlife Society. He currently serves on the Science Working Group, which advises the Governor's Sagebrush Ecosystem Council. He served as president of the Nevada Chapter of the Wildlife Society from 2011-12, and serves on the Dennis G. Raveling Scholarship Committee and the Traditions and Regulations Committee for the California Waterfowl Association. He currently serves as editor of The Auk, a major ornithological journal.


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