University System Awards

University of Nebraska System AwardsOTICA, ORCA, IDEA

2017 OTICA Award RecipientErin Blankenship, Ph.D., Statistics

Martha Mamo profile photo
Craig Chandler | University Communication

Through research and teaching, Blankenship is making students’ classroom experience more engaging. Since joining the university in 1999, she has placed a high priority on students by improving not only her own teaching methods, but making her colleagues better teachers in the process.

Blankenship has developed or co-developed eight courses at the university and, in 2015, "The American Statistician" published her research about modernizing undergraduate statistics curriculum. Her involvement in Math in the Middle, a National Science Foundation-sponsored math-science partnership, changed the teaching of statistics at the K-12 level and has been effective in helping teach Nebraska math educators how to engage students.

Blankenship has received many teaching honors, including Mu Sigma Rho’s William D. Warde Statistics Education Award, a national honor recognizing lifetime achievement in statistics education. She is also a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.

The University of Nebraska recognizes the importance of honoring accomplished faculty, staff, students, and community leaders and organizations for significant contributions and achievements.

Faculty excellence in teaching, research and outreach is honored each spring with the ORCA, OTICA, IDEA and UDTA awards presented by the President. Entrepreneurial initiatives of businesses and students are honored with the Walter Scott Awards. And lasting contributions to the university and to the world are honored with the Regents Medal and Honorary Degrees.

University of Nebraska Kudos recognize staff who go "above and beyond," while Resolutions are presented by the Board of Regents to honor service to the university.



Two Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Awards are presented each year in honor and recognition of meritorious and sustained records of excellence in teaching and creativity related to teaching to two full-time faculty members of the University of Nebraska. Both awards may be made to the same campus in a given year.

More information available from the University of Nebraska System.

Past OTICA Awardees from CASNR

2017 Erin Blankenship Statistics
2015 Martha Mamo Agronomy
2012 Tiffany Heng-Moss Entomology
2009 Donald Lee Agronomy & Horticulture


ORCA awards are presented each year in honor of outstanding research or creative activity of national/international significance conducted by individual full-time faculty members at NU. The awards are given for a sustained record of excellent accomplishment in research or creative activity, rather than “meritorious service”. A major part of the work on which each nomination is based must have been done while the nominee has served at NU. Each nominee must still be engaged in research or other creative activity at the University to be eligible.

More information available from the University of Nebraska System.

Past ORCA Awardees from CASNR

2014 Donald Weeks Biochemistry
2011 P. Stephen Baenziger Agronomy & Horticulture
2008 Vadim Gladyshew Biochemistry
2006 Ruma Banerjee Biochemistry
2003 Stephen Ragsdale Biochemistry
1992 James Van Etten Plant Pathology
1988 Dermot Coyne Horticulture
1982 Myron Brakke Plant Pathology
1981 Charles Gardner Agronomy
1979 John Schmidt Agronomy


The IDEA is a university-wide faculty award recognizing faculty excellence in engagement and outreach. The award honors faculty members who extend their academic expertise beyond traditional boundaries of the university in ways that enrich the broader community. Faculty members are recognized for working with citizens, businesses, government and nonprofit organizations, other educational institutions, communities, or regions to develop new ideas, technologies, programs, or businesses that strengthen the region or community economically, educationally, or governmentally.

More information available from the University of Nebraska System.

Past IDEA Awardees from CASNR

2012 Chris Calkins Animal Science
2011 Taylor Stephen Food Science & Technology
2009 Donald Weeks Biochemistry