IOWA Magazine | 02-27-2024

Class Notes Spring 2024

9 minute read
The latest University of Iowa alumni and faculty achievements, including four Hawkeyes starring on reality television and a new honor for filmmaker Nick Meyer.


Adeniyi Ademoroti (22MFA) is a 2023-24 writing fellow with the Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship program in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Eliot Duncan (21MFA) is author of Ponyboy, a novel longlisted for the 2023 National Book Award in fiction.

Megan Freitag (20MFA), a poet and writer based in Boise, received a 2023 literature fellowship from the Idaho Commission on the Arts.

Grace Lynn Keller (21BA), a TV host, writer, and producer, has been crowned Miss Iowa USA 2023.

Sydney Papadopoulos (20BA), the assistant director of the Student Involvement Center at St. Louis University, received a 2023 35 Under 35 award from the Delta Zeta sorority.

Jichen Zhang (22DMA) a saxophone professor at the North University of China, has been named one of Slingshot’s 2023 Artists to Watch by NPR.


Kelsey Feller (15MPH) received a University of Iowa College of Public Health 2023 Outstanding Alumni Award for her work as bureau chief of data sharing, privacy and open records in the Division of Compliance at the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.

Andrew Ridker (19MFA), a Brooklyn-based writer, released his second fiction novel, Hope, this past summer.

Elizabeth Mendez-Shannon (10PhD) recently was inducted into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame for her work as the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where she advocates for immigrant rights.


Susan Beebout (01MD, 04R, 05F) received the UI Carver College of Medicine 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award for service in honor of her work teaching and establishing medical centers in Niger.

Carla Britton (06MS, 10PhD) received a UI College of Public Health 2023 Outstanding Alumni Award for her work as lead epidemiologist at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s Alaska Native Epidemiology Center.

Kevin Clouther (03MFA), associate professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha Writer’s Workshop, published his short story collection Maximum Speed, which follows three friends navigating a shared secret past.

Mary Elizabeth Hamilton (09MFA), a Brooklyn-based playwright and TV writer, wrote the play It’s Still F-cking Tuesday, which follows a mother recovering from addiction and that ran as the conclusion of the Cape Cod Theater Project’s 2023 season.

Paul Harding (00MFA), director of the MFA in creative writing and literature program at Stony Brook University in New York, is author of This Other Eden, which was a finalist for the 2023 Booker Prize and the National Book Awards in fiction.

Liz Hollingworth (05PhD), a UI professor in educational leadership, has been named faculty athletics representative to the board for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

Edan Lepucki (06MFA) is author of the novel Time’s Mouth.

Shane McCrae (04MFA, 12MA) recently released his memoir, Pulling the Chariot of the Sun, and his poetry collection, The Many Hundreds of the Scent.

Nicholas Mohr (06MD, 14MS) received the UI Carver College of Medicine 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award in early career achievement for his work building the emergency care research program in the UI Department of Emergency Medicine.

Albert Pulido (06MFA) has been appointed deputy secretary for finance and technology for New York State.

Chuy Renteria (09BA), an assistant director of strategic initiatives in the UI’s Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, received the 2023 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award, which promotes promising authors.

Bart Stephan (03BBA) recently retired after 19 years as CEO of Lerch Bates, a Denver-based technical consulting firm.

James Matthew Vollmer (06MFA) released his latest book, All of Us Together in the End, a family memoir dealing with loss and belief.

Ready for Reality

Whether cooking, singing, or looking for love, Hawkeyes have what it takes to shine on screen. These are four of the latest reality shows to feature Hawkeye talent.


The Golden Bachelor

Starring in the senior spinoff of ABC’s hit dating series is Hawkeye fan Gerry Turner, a 72-year-old retired restauranteur who spent most of his life in Iowa with his late wife, Toni. Turner came to the show looking for a second chance at love and found it in contestant Theresa Nist, whom he married Jan. 4 following the season.


Love is Blind

Originally from Iowa City, makeup artist Mackenzie Tenold (19BA) is searching for a deeper connection on the sixth season of Netflix’s popular dating show, in which contestants meet and fall in love without ever seeing each other. Tenold, who now lives in North Carolina, enters the “dating pod” hoping to build a genuine relationship and start a family.



Iowa native Grant Gillon (12BS) won season 13 of Fox's competitive cooking show hosted by Gordon Ramsey with dishes that combined his Italian heritage with Midwest staples. Post-win, the sales director at Kinship Brewing in Waukee, Iowa, gave a lecture to University of Iowa students and is considering opening his own restaurant in his hometown of Altoona.


The Voice

Eli Ward took a year off from running long-distance for the Hawkeyes to compete in season 24 of NBC’s The Voice, where he joined singer-songwriter Gwen Stefani’s team. While Ward was voted off in the second round, the coaching and connections he made on the show have encouraged him to pursue a music career, and he already has original songs available for streaming on Spotify.


Thomas Braverman (90BGS, 02MA), a retired special education teacher at Iowa City High School, received a 2023 Iowa Character Award for his lifelong commitment to inclusion in Iowa City schools and sports.

J. C. Hallman (91MFA), a Brooklyn-based writer, recently released the nonfiction book Say Anarcha: A Young Woman, a Devious Surgeon, and the Harrowing Birth of Modern Women’s Health.

Mona Susan Power (92MFA) is author of the new short story collection A Council of Dolls, which was longlisted for the 2023 National Book Award.

Eric Rupe (90BBA) is CEO of Lerch Bates, a Denver-based technical consulting firm.

Susan Winckler (92BSPh) received the UI College of Pharmacy 2023 Osterhaus Medal for Lifetime Achievement for a career spent advancing the mission of the Food and Drug Administration.


Ted Anton (84MA, 84MFA) is author of Programmable Planet: The Synthetic Biology Revolution and had an excerpt featured in The Wall Street Journal.

Lori Danielson (87BBA), founder of consulting firm GoTime Coaching, received the 2023 Volunteer of the Year award from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce for her work with the Institute for Workforce Excellence.

LeAnn Erickson (88MA, 90MA, 92MFA), a professor of film production at Temple University in Philadelphia, re-released her 1996 documentary, From One Place to Another: Emma Goldman Clinic Stories, in Iowa City this past fall as part of the 50th anniversary of the Emma Goldman Clinic for Women.

Bruce Japsen (88BA), an adjunct instructor in the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication, released his second book, Walmart’s Second Opinion: How a Retail Giant is Bringing Cost Transparency and Better Quality to Healthcare.

Tim Johnston (85BA), an Iowa City-based author, recently released the novel Distant Sons.

Stephen Kiernan (89MFA), a journalist and novelist, recently released his latest historical fiction novel, The Glass Château, set in the aftermath of World War II.

Michael Mahoney (87BBA), CEO of Boston Scientific Corporation, a global medical technology leader, has been named to The Healthcare Technology Report’s 2023 list of 50 Healthcare Technology CEOs.

Suzanne Tick (81BFA), a textile designer and weaver based in New York City, was named to the 2023 Interior Design Hall of Fame.


Director of Change

Film director Nick Meyer (68BA) received the 2023 Future of Life award this past fall from the Future of Life Institute for his 1983 film The Day After. The award, which also honored the creators of the 1983 film War Games, recognized those who decreased the risk of nuclear disaster during the Cold War through film.

The Day After, which follows the survivors of a fictional nuclear bombing of Kansas City, was a monumental event for the American public during the Cold War; the made-for-television movie saw more than 100 million viewers when it first aired on ABC. And, at a time when tensions were especially high between the U.S. and Soviet Union, the film’s depiction of the horrors of nuclear war helped persuade President Ronald Reagan to shift foreign policy strategy toward peace.

The full social and political impact of Meyer’s film is discussed in a new book, Apocalypse Television: How The Day After Helped End the Cold War by University of Southern California clinical professor David Craig.


Ralph Jesse Hernandez (79BBA) has been inducted into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame for his work preserving Latino culture through music and youth mentorship.

Jayne Anne Phillips (78MFA) is author of Night Watch, a novel longlisted for the 2023 National Book Award in Fiction.

Hung Tao Shen (74PhD), professor emeritus of hydraulic engineering at Clarkson University in New York, received the Bernard Michel Award of the Committee on River Ice and the Environment of the Canadian Geophysical Union, which honors significant contributions to river ice engineering in Canada.

Christine Skarbek (78MA) published her memoir, Confronting Power & Chaos: The Uncharted Kaleidoscope of My Life.

Mindy Pennybacker Wallace (77MFA), a retired journalist based in Honolulu, published the nonfiction book Surfing Sisterhood Hawai‘i: Wāhine Reclaiming the Waves.

Barbara Halverson Westercamp (74MA), a longtime educator and community volunteer, earned a hero award from the 2023 Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival in recognition of over 50 years serving Cedar Rapids community schools and students.


Earl Fitz (68BA, 70MA), a professor of Portuguese, Spanish, and comparative literature at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, is author of The Literatures of Spanish America and Brazil: From Their Origins through the Nineteenth Century.

Janifer Judisch (63MD) received a 2023 UI Carver College of Medicine Distinguished Alumni Award in service, recognizing her work as co-founder of the Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, which specializes in holistic care for young patients.

James Rosborough (66BA), a retired assistant basketball coach at the University of Arizona, has been inducted into the A STEP UP Assistant Coaches Hall of Fame class of 2023.

Bob H. Williams (69BS, 73DDS), a dentist in Lakewood, Washington, has been named the 2023 Alumnus of the Year by the UI College of Dentistry, recognizing his lifetime of support for the program.


Julia A. Sherman (57MA, 57PhD), a psychologist who celebrates her 90th birthday this month, donates proceeds from her book, Beating Depression and Bipolar Disorder Without Drugs: A Memoir of Survival in a Male-Dominated World, to the Drs. Roy and Julia Sherman Scholarship that funds psychology graduate students.

Faculty & Friends

Ethan Anderson, a UI professor of pharmaceutics and translational therapeutics, received a $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study sepsis.

Gregory Carmichael, the UI’s Karl Kammermeyer Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, has been appointed to lead the Global Greenhouse Gas Watch, an international initiative of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization.

Jan Jensen, an assistant coach for Hawkeye women’s basketball, has been inducted into the A STEP UP Assistant Coaches Hall of Fame class of 2023.

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