Distinguished Alumni

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences is proud to honor the distinguished careers of three recipients of the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Thomas Black

B.S. Meteorology ‘76
Geological and Atmospheric Sciences – Distinguished Alumni Award 2012

Lothian, Maryland

Thomas Black grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, where he says the public schools nurtured his love of science. After completing his bachelor’s degree at Iowa State, Black received a master’s degree in meteorology from the University of Arizona in 1978 and a Ph.D. in meteorology from the University of Wisconsin in 1984.

Black had a two-year post-doctoral position at the National Meteorological Center (NMC) to compare the operational LFM with an isentropic version of that model. In 1986 he moved into his position as a research meteorologist at NMC, now the National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

He worked very closely with Fedor Mesinger and Zaviša Janjić to prepare the step-mountain coordinate Eta Model for its 1993 operational implementation, which replaced the LFM. Black was part of the team that incorporated Janjić’s Nonhydrostatic Mesoscale Model (NMM) into WRF. Most recently he is on the development team of the Nonhydrostatic Multiscale Model (NMM-B) having put it under the ESMF-based NOAA Environmental Modeling System (NEMS) infrastructure and built its capability for static and moving nests.

Black received the National Weather Service Modernization Award in 1993 and 1996, and the Department of Commerce Gold Medal Award in 2007.

While a student at ISU, he served as secretary for Theta Chi Fraternity and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Black is a member of the ISU Alumni Association and resides outside of Washington, D.C., in rural Maryland.

Lyle V. A. Sendlein

Ph.D. Geology and Soil Engineering ‘64
Geological and Atmospheric Sciences – Distinguished Alumni Award 2012

Key Largo, Florida

Lyle V. A. Sendlein is a retired university professor whose teaching and research interest fused with his ability to promote interdisciplinary research. He received a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering in 1958 and a master’s degree in geology in 1960 from Washington University in St. Louis. After receiving his doctoral degree from Iowa State he joined the faculty and taught courses in geology and geophysics. He and his family spent a sabbatical year in Ankara, Turkey, where he taught ground water courses and directed graduate student research at Middle East Technical University.

When he returned he joined the Iowa Coal Project and operated a small coal mine and directed an interdisciplinary team of faculty members that demonstrated that a coal mine could be operated profitability in Iowa and the land returned to row crop production. He moved to Carbondale, Ill., to become the director of the Coal Research Center at Southern Illinois University. Under his leadership the program expanded and an off-campus building was acquired from the U.S. Bureau of Mines providing more space for coal research programs.

Sendlein moved to the University of Kentucky as director of the Institute for Mining and Minerals Research. There he managed a major off-campus Mining and Minerals Research laboratory and developed a consortium of four universities to study Coal Liquefaction. He also became the director of the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute and developed a team of faculty and staff researchers for the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection to deal with environmental problems at the U.S. Government Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Ky.

Sendlein has advised and directed thesis and dissertation research for 40 students. In retirement he and his wife serve as volunteers and officers of Mariners Hospital Auxiliary, and he studies and teaches tai chi in the Florida Keys.

Jack Troeger

B.S. English ‘67
M.S. Earth Science ‘71
Geological and Atmospheric Sciences – Distinguished Alumni Award 2012

Ames, Iowa

Jack Troeger was born and raised in Mason City, Iowa. Following high school he attended Mason City Junior College for two years. It was then on to Iowa State, where he obtained two degrees – a B.S. in English in 1967 and an M.S. in Earth Science in 1971.

After completing the M.S. degree, Jack began teaching Earth Science at Central Junior High in Ames. When Central closed in 1986, he moved to Ames High, where he continued teaching until he retired in 1999. As a teacher, Jack was known for his extreme passion, dedication, and use of innovative, hands-on teaching methodologies long before such approaches hit the mainstream. He inspired an impressive number of outstanding students to go on to major in the geosciences in college, many of them at Iowa State. In recognition of his exceptional abilities as an educator, Jack was selected in 1979 as Iowa’s Outstanding Earth Science Teacher by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. In the mid-1980s he was further honored by being chosen as an alternate in NASA’s Teacher in Space Program.

Not surprising considering his B.S. in English, Jack has a love of writing, which he has employed to communicate science beyond the classroom. In 1983 he published From Rift to Drift: Iowa’s Story in Stone through the ISU Press, and for a number of years he wrote an astronomy column for the Des Moines Register. He has also been a strong voice for the “Dark Sky” movement.

To a large degree, Jack’s passion for teaching reflects his deep concern for people. This ethic is reflected in recent years in his involvement with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and various environmental causes.