Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Kathy Kurth has been awarded the 2022 Hancher-Finkbine Staff Medallion, one of the most prestigious honors given at the University of Iowa.

Hancher-Finkbine Staff Medallion 2022

The Hancher-Finkbine Medallions were presented at the annual Finkbine Dinner April 12. The event is an opportunity for members of the University community to recognize their peers for exemplary dedication in leadership, learning, and loyalty. These awards honor and celebrate distinguished students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Kurth is a secretary in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, where she has worked for more than 40 years in the Radio and Plasma Wave Space Physics Research Group primarily assisting the late Professor Donald Gurnett. She supports a team of talented and dedicated faculty, staff, and students developing spaceflight instruments and conducting data analysis studies.

I am honored to be recognized for my many years of supporting the University's mission. Each day when people go to work, they hope to do something worthwhile, make positive contributions, accomplish tasks. Being nominated and selected to receive the Hancher-Finkbine Medallion Staff Award is a recognition that my effort is worthwhile.
In the nomination for the award, Departmental Administrator Heather Mineart said Kurth is “one of the pillars of the Department, from assisting numerous graduate students with their theses, helping organize and edit Professor Gurnett’s various class notes and his Plasma Physics textbook, to helping staff navigate the various University policies and rules.”

“Kathy exhibits leadership and fortitude in her job duties as well as the work of her research group and the department as a whole,” Mineart said. “She is consistently thinking outside the box.”

In addition to supporting teaching and research, Kurth assists with planning meetings and events that showcase and promote the University of Iowa’s past, present, and future roles in space science. She helped organize events honoring space pioneers Professor James A. Van Allen and Professor Donald Gurnett, and coordinated exhibits and public outreach across Iowa. 

She is also involved in preserving historical material for the University archives, and has recently assembled two book volumes highlighting the department through photos from circa 1936 to the present day.

Banner photo: University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson with Kathy Kurth at the Finkbine Dinner Celebration.