Twigg, Lilly, Steele receive prestigious Pratt-Heins Faculty Awards

UNK Communications

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney professors Paul Twigg, Carol Lilly and Janet Steele received the prestigious Pratt-Heins Faculty Awards on Aug. 22 during the Faculty/Staff Convocation.

For more than 30 years, the Pratt-Heins Foundation has recognized UNK faculty members for their outstanding contributions in the categories of teaching, service and scholarship and research.

Twigg, a biology professor, received the Pratt-Heins Foundation Scholarship and Research Award.

The award is based on evidence of the consistent production of original work in the nominee’s discipline. Each nominee submits a list of research documents and publications, evaluations from individuals qualified to evaluate the scholarship and research of the nominee, and administrative evaluations from the department chair and dean.

Twigg joined the UNK faculty in 1992.

“During his career at UNK, he has become one of the most sought after research mentors and advisors in his field,” said Tom Tye, the Pratt-Heins Foundation Trustee.

In 2002, Twigg became involved with the Institutional Development Awards Network of Biomedical Research – graduating from the program in 2009. As a result, Twigg helped secure $3.3 million in funding for UNK to train undergraduates in biomedical research.

Twigg has done pioneering research in biofuels, the Switchgrass Genome Project, plant viral interactions, genomics and entomology. He has published 21 peer-reviewed articles, and he has mentored more than 130 undergraduate research projects and 31 graduate research projects. He has been awarded the Graduate Research Mentor Award twice.

Lilly wins service award

Lilly, a professor of history and the director of the International Studies Program, received the Pratt-Heins Foundation Service Award.

In 1992, Lilly joined the UNK faculty after earning her Ph.D. from Yale University.

Selection for the award is based on evidence of consistent outstanding service to UNK students, the university and to education and peer evaluations.

Lilly served nine years on the Faculty Senate, two terms on the General Studies Council, Women’s Studies Council and Chancellor’s Committee on Gender Equity.

She has served more than five years as director of international studies, seven years as chair of her department and five years as chair of the Undergraduate Studies Committee.

She has given support and guidance to the James E. Smith World Affairs Conference and helped bring international experts and speakers to campus.

“She was described by her enthusiastic nominators as a ‘difference maker.’ Someone who makes certain that an endeavor is not merely being done, but being really done, and she has been getting things ‘really done’ for over 20 years at UNK,” Tye said.

Steele wins teaching award

Steele, a professor of biology, received the Pratt-Heins Foundation Teaching Award.

She joined the UNK faculty in 1993 and now serves as director of the online master’s program in biology.

Selection for the award is based on peer evaluations from faculty, chair and dean of the nominee’s department and student comments from course evaluations.

Over the past 20 years, her student evaluation scores are some of the highest in her department.

“Her intelligence, compassion and work ethic are surpassed by few and admired by many,” Tye said.

Tye added that Steele, who teaches one of the largest courses on campus, uses humor to make a large class feel like family.

Pratt-Heins winners receive a plaque and $1,000.

Staff Awards for Excellence

Staff Awards for Excellence (SAFE) were also presented at the convocation. The SAFE Awards are presented annually to honor UNK staff members for outstanding service to students, UNK and education in general.

The awards are sponsored by Fidelity Investments and presented to staff by Patrick Vaughan, vice president and managing director of Fidelity Investments.

Recipients of the SAFE Awards were Andrea Childress, director of systems and programming for Information Technology Services, and Jennifer Harvey, director of the Thompson Scholars Program.

A third SAFE Award, made possible by the Jim and Lynn Rundstrom Family Foundation Fund, was awarded to Marcia Burman, an administrative associate in the Office of the Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Humanities.

Each recipient is awarded a plaque and $1,000.


Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *