Kim Carlson receives Holdt Distinguished Faculty Award

UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen presents Kim Carlson with the 2015 Leland Holdt/Security Mutual Life Distinguished Faculty Award during winter commencement Friday.

UNK Communications

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney biology professor Kim Carlson was presented the 2015 Leland Holdt/Security Mutual Life Distinguished Faculty Award during winter commencement Friday.

Carlson joined the UNK faculty in 2003 and is a previous recipient of the university-wide Departmental Teaching Award, the Pratt Heins Award for Research and Scholarly Activity and the Pratt Heins Award for Service.

“Her teaching, research and service are so tightly woven that no clear line separates one from the other. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes – in traditional settings, in the laboratory and online – writing intensive and capstone courses,” said UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen.

“Colleagues and students report that, no matter the course or the level, she encourages students to look critically at the world around them, ask questions, and apply concepts learned in class to societal situations.”

UNK’s most prestigious faculty award, the Leland Holdt/Security Mutual Life award recognizes an outstanding teacher/scholar for achievements that bring substantial credit to the university. The activity areas considered include teaching, research and service, with preference given to candidates who demonstrate high accomplishments in all three areas.

The award honors alumnus Leland Holdt and commemorates his many years of leadership at Security Mutual Life. Carlson received a $5,000 stipend.

Carlson teaches introductory and upper-level courses in genetics, human genetics, bioethics, scientific writing and graduate education. Her area of research is in the role of genetic factors in aging and innate immunity using Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) as a model system. Her research has brought $5.5 million in funding to UNK.

“Beyond the classroom she is a brilliant research scientist who is widely known and appreciated for sharing her research and opening her laboratory to undergraduate students, clearly achieving hands-on learning at its finest: students working and learning alongside a full professor,” Kristensen said.

Carlson has mentored over 50 undergraduate students conducting research in the biology department.

Carlson graduated from UNK in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and in 1994 with a Master of Science in education. At the time, UNK didn’t offer a master’s in biology but Carlson’s master’s thesis focused on the molecular characterization of the retinoblastoma gene in Oryzias latipes. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Department of Genetics, Cellular and Molecular Biology.

She is on the editorial review board for four professional journals, has been a judge for the Central Nebraska Junior Academy of Sciences and has moderated Nebraska Academy of Sciences sessions. Carlson currently serves or has served on college peer review committees and Faculty Senate committees, the NU System STEM Consortium, American Democracy Project Advisory Board, UNKEA Advisory Board, UNK Strategic Planning Committee and many more.

1998 – Charles Bicak, Biology; James Gilbert, Criminal Justice
1999 – Peter Longo, Political Science
2000 – Donald Envick, Industrial Technology
2001 – Ed Scantling, Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Leisure Studies
2002 – Susanne Bloomfield, English
2003 – Kathryn Benzel, English
2004 – Harold Nagel, Biology
2005 – Charles Peek, English
2006 – Richard Miller, Psychology; Max McFarland, Counseling and School Psychology
2007 – Don Kaufman, Chemistry
2008 – Ronald Crocker, Music and Performing Arts
2009 – Phyllis Markussen, Family Studies and Interior Design
2010 – Christopher Exstrom, Chemistry
2011 – Dennis Potthoff, Teacher Education
2012 – Linda Crowe, Communication Disorders
2013 – Valerie Cisler, Music and Performing Arts
2014 – Julie Shaffer, Biology


Source: Kim Carlson, 308.865.1554,
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529,



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