By TODD GOTTULA
KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney biology professor Kim Carlson has been honored as a 2023 Sigma Xi Fellow, marking a historic first for the university.
She was recognized during the recent International Forum on Research Excellence in Long Beach, California.
Sigma Xi, the global honor society of science and engineering professionals, selects fellows for their contributions to research, outreach, education, mentorship and leadership. Carlson’s selection into the cohort of 18 esteemed members nationwide underscores her exceptional contributions and commitment to scientific excellence, said Allen Thomas, UNK chemistry professor and Sigma Xi’s northwest region associate director.
“Kim’s impact on our chapter cannot be overstated – she is the glue holding it all together,” Thomas said. “Kim has consistently been a major driver of our success, spearheading many of our events.”
Carlson has been instrumental in bridging the gap between science and the community through initiatives such as Science Cafes. During her tenure as president of UNK’s Sigma Xi chapter from 2010-15, and earlier as vice president in 2007, she pioneered these events that offer informal presentations on scientific topics in local bars and coffee shops.
“Kim is highly passionate about promoting Sigma Xi on our campus, and she tirelessly puts her time on the line for our chapter,” said Thomas.
Since joining UNK in 2003, Carlson’s excellence in teaching, research and service has been recognized through numerous awards, including all three of UNK’s Pratt-Heins Foundation Awards and the university’s most prestigious faculty award.
Her academic journey began at UNK, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in biology in 1992 and a Master of Science in education in 1994. Carlson obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and later conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Today, Carlson is pivotal in guiding UNK faculty and students in research through her oversight of the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence program. She also plays a key role on the INBRE Grant Steering Committee, which supports faculty and student scholars across Nebraska.
In addition to her research and teaching, Carlson is an active member of numerous committees and executive boards, including the University of Nebraska System STEM Consortium, Nebraska Cures Executive Board, Nebraska Women in STEM Executive Committee and others.
“Kim has influenced the lives of thousands of students and dozens of faculty, and her achievements in teaching, scholarship and service are legendary at UNK,” Thomas said in his nomination letter. “Without her leadership and relentless service, our Sigma Xi chapter would not have developed into the highly active chapter we are today.”