Muste, Mutel, Sonka Honored for Excellence by Regents

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Two College of Engineering faculty members and a staff member have been recognized for excellence by the Board of Regents.

They are Marian Muste, adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering and research engineer at IIHR--Hydroscience & Engineering, and Connie Mutel, historian and archivist at IIHR, who have received the Board of Regents Staff Excellence Award; and Milan Sonka, professor and departmental executive officer of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Iowa Institute for Medical Imaging, who was honored with Regents Award for Faculty Excellence.

Muste and Mutel are two of six UI staff members selected for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to their institutions as well as to the State of Iowa.  This is the second time Mutel has won the Regents Staff Excellence Award.  She also was honored in 2000. Established in 1993, the award was created to provide a statewide forum to recognize staff members in conjunction with colleagues from the other Board of Regents institutions. Recipients will receive $500 and a commemorative gift.

Sonka is one of six University of Iowa faculty members who received the Faculty Excellence Award.  The award honors faculty members for work representing a significant contribution to excellence in public education.  Each honoree will receive $1,000.

Since 1998, Muste has served as a research engineering and adjunct professor at IIHR; the seven years prior to that, he served as a graduate research scientist and a postdoctoral research associate/adjunct associate professor. Muste’s main area of research and consulting is environmental river hydraulics. He has conducted a variety of field and laboratory investigations covering both microscale (turbulence, particle-fluid interaction) and macroscale river hydraulic processes (sediment transport, flows in confluences, ice-covered river flows, etc.). His most recent area of research is the development of large-scale data/information management systems, sensors and sensor networks, and their implementation in research and education focused on sustainable use of water and land resources. Muste is an expert for UNESCO’s International Hydrologic Program and World Meteorological Organization projects. He has extensive international experience as a three-time Fulbright Fellow and grantee of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. He is a member of the Council of the International Association of Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research.

Mutel has been with the university for 35 years, starting as an educational resource specialist and medical writer for the Rural Health and Agricultural Medicine Training Program. Since 1990, she has served as historian and archivist for IIHR, and for the past 17 years she’s been consulting editor for natural history for the University of Iowa Press. Mutel uses her gifts as a writer and communicator to share the messages of sustainability and environmentalism. She has taken on the tasks of writing and editing several books to disseminate important messages to create a sense of urgency and motivate people and governments to make changes. In her role as historian, Mutel has written about—and given much visibility to—IIHR’s work in water engineering and science. She led the major undertaking of assembling and editing the book A Watershed Year: Anatomy of the Floods of 2008, published by University of Iowa Press. She worked with a team of UI faculty and staff to address diverse aspects of the floods, resulting in a highly readable account of the floods. Her work explaining science and technology to wide audiences is cited for providing an engaging role model for women and girls interested in scientific fields. Mutel is affiliated with the Iowa Academy of Science, the Ecological Society of America, and the Iowa Native Plant Society—she received the Iowa Native Plant Society Service Award in 2010.

Sonka holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Radiation Oncology in the UI Carver College of Medicine. An internationally recognized scholar in the area of medical image processing, he has introduced key ideas and methods that have led to a number of scientific breakthroughs in cardiovascular, pulmonary, ophthalmic, and orthopedic image analysis, as well as general medical image analysis techniques. His current leadership roles include departmental executive officer of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, director of the Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging, and editor-in-chief of the flagship journal IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Transactions on Medical Imaging. Sonka was a pioneer in the use of computers in classroom instruction, changing the way students learn by creating the college’s first “hands-on” electronic classroom, which has been a model for many others since.