Distinguished Alumni Award

Donald Gurnett 62BSEE, 63MS, 65PhD

2022 Distinguished Forevermore Staff Award

Donald Gurnett was a pioneer in the field of plasma wave research whose innovative instrumentation captured a profusion of data during more than 30 exceptional space research missions, including Voyager, Cassini, and Galileo.

A scientific scholar through and through, the longtime professor in the University of Iowa Department of Physics and Astronomy—who died in January 2022—also gave generously to ensure the future of space research at Iowa.

James Van Allen's discovery of Earth's radiation belts deepened Gurnett's interest in space plasma physics, inspiring him to join Van Allen's research group. Throughout his extraordinary 60-year career, Gurnett went on to establish the field of space plasma wave research, leading a team that developed numerous plasma wave instruments—including one that proved Voyager I had entered interstellar space. He also mentored more than 60 graduate students and authored or co-authored two textbooks and more than 750 publications.

"Don made tremendous contributions to faculty life, student experience, and research at Iowa," says Philip Kaaret, professor and chair of the university's physics and astronomy department.

Physicists, astronomers, and scientists around the world admire Gurnett, who also was a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He and his wife generously established the Donald A. and Marie B. Gurnett Chair of Physics at the University of Iowa in 2015.

NASA senior advisor James L. Green (79PhD), Gurnett's former student, recognized his professor's leadership in international space research—and his dedication to students: "He advised and mentored an entire generation of graduate students. It is important to recognize his lifetime of excellence and achievements in space science, as well as the service he offered the UI, the planetary science community, and the nation."

About Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.

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With the start of a new year upon us, it's time to look back at your favorite University of Iowa stories from 2018. Here are Iowa Magazine's top 10 most-read articles of the year: The Nomadic Life (spring 2018) Hawkeye football favorite Paki O'Meara (10BA) finds ultimate freedom in backpacking around the world, taking photos that inspire a sense of wonder. PHOTO COURTESY PAKI O'MEARA Kinnick at 100 (summer 2018) This past summer marked two historically significant dates for Hawkeye fans: the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nile Kinnick (40BA), and the 75th anniversary of his tragic death. In memory of Iowa's favorite son, scholar, and Ironman, we look back on his life and legacy. Ahead of the Game (spring 2018) The Iowa football team becomes the first in the nation to equip the majority of its players with a state-of-the-art new helmet designed to improve player safety. PHOTO: MARK STASTNY Hollywood U (fall 2018) Alumni success in TV and film shines the spotlight on Iowa's? flourishing screenwriting program. ILLUSTRATION: FABIEN GILBERT / ARTISTIQUE INTERNATIONAL Mountain Roots (spring 2018) Nearly 80 years ago, an unlikely UI mountain-climbing club emerged from the cornfields of Iowa to become one of the most active in the world. Now the next generation of outdoorsmen continue in their Hawkeye family's footsteps. PHOTO COURTESY EBERT FAMILY The Secrets of Sleep (fall 2018) UI doctors and researchers work to shine light on the third of our lives we spend in the dark. Illustration: John Emigh Fry's Dream Team (fall 2018) FRYFest honors Hayden Fry's legendary 1983 coaching tree. PHOTO: UI ATHLETICS Going the Distance (spring 2018) UI-trained dentist Deb Carneol (92DDS) completes seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. PHOTO: MARK CONLON/WORLDMARATHONCHALLENGE.COM At 105, Our Oldest Hawkeye? (spring 2018) Catherine Shaw Shors (35BSC), who earned her business degree from Iowa more than eight decades ago, celebrated a milestone birthday in May. 1936 HAWKEYE YEARBOOK A Heroic Homecoming (spring 2018) Avengers: Infinity War director Joe Russo (92BA) receives a superhero's welcome at his alma mater. PHOTOS: Justin Torner

Iowa alumni with shared connections are invited to join an affinity group. Some of these organizations are an extension of student interests, like Alumni Band or Dance Marathon Alumni Group.

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