This award's purpose is to acknowledge the critical and central role honors faculty play in the experience our students have at the university and in the Honors Program.
The University Honors Program will send out a call for nominations by email, social media, and on our website in late fall/early spring each year. The nomination form will ask for the nominator's information, the nominee's information, and an explanation of why this instructor has proved exceptional in teaching honors students.
Dr. Brian Lai
Brian Lai is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Political Science. He received his BA from Northwestern and PhD from Emory University. Brian’s research focuses on conflict between countries and within countries, focusing on the conditions that lead to the use of violence by non-state actors, the formation of military alliances, foreign policy and the role of regime type on international conflict. He teaches classes on American foreign policy, terrorism, consequences of war, and Diplomacy Labs, a class that Is a partnership with the US State Department. He also works with graduate and undergraduate students outside of the classroom, including research labs, student research projects, career mentoring, and alumni networking.
Debra Trusty is a lecturer in the Department of Classics. She received her BA in Archaeology from the University of Evansville and MA and PhD in Classics from Florida State University. An archaeologist by trade, she spent a decade excavating at Mycenae (Greece) and wrote her dissertation on Bronze Age cooking vessels from Greece. Dr. Trusty came to UIowa in 2017 and enjoys teaching a wide range of courses, including Classical Mythology, Myth Makers of the Classical World, Greek Civilization, and Greek Archaeology and Ethnohistory. She also directs and leads summer study abroad programs in Greece for UIowa students (City of Athens and Greece: Ancient Perspectives, Modern Eyes), in addition to live-streaming video games based on Classics and Greco-Roman mythology on Twitch in the summer (https://www.twitch.tv/doctordebitage and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd4dBeGtDa8nTTM5hsDOsMw).
Dana Thomann is a first-generation University of Iowa graduate (’05) who benefited from the Belin-Blank Center as a young student growing up in rural Iowa. After college, Thomann completed a two-year commitment with Teach For America on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.
In 2007, Thomann returned to the University of Iowa where she was employed by the Center for Diversity and Enrichment’s TRiO programs as a coordinator of academic services and, later, directed the Upward Bound Project, securing grants to continue the program on the University of Iowa campus. She currently works as a lecturer in the Department of Rhetoric, where she has served as the chair of the professional development program for new graduate teaching instructors.
Passionate about educational equity, Thomann partners with the University of Iowa’s Department of Academic Support and Retention to embed peer tutors in Rhetoric classrooms; called Success in Rhetoric (SiR), the program is intended to assist all Rhetoric students in their pursuit of academic success.
Thomann also holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University. She is working on a collection of linked short stories that focuses on the 1980s farm debt crisis.
Visiting Associate Professor
Public Policy Center
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Biomedical Engineering, Occupational & Environmental Health
The Department of Rhetoric
Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies
Art & Art History
Ambassador in Residence