Science education professor Brian Hand speaks to a student in his office in the Lindquist Center.

February 15, 2021

Brian Hand, a science education professor in the University of Iowa College of Education, is one of six UI faculty members selected for a 2021 Iowa Regents Award for Faculty Excellence.

Awards are typically presented at the Iowa Board of Regents meeting in June. Hand will be formally recognized for this achievement and presented with an award. In addition, recipients receive a $1,500 one-time stipend.

This is one of Iowa’s highest honors for faculty achievement, and Hand’s selection is a testament to not only his outstanding accomplishments in teaching, scholarship, professional commitment, and service to the university, but also to his colleagues’ high regard for his contributions to the academic community.

An internationally renowned scholar, Hand joined the UI College of Education’s Department of Teaching and Learning in 2005, after serving as a visiting faculty member in 1997. Prior to this, he worked as a faculty member at Iowa State University from 1998 to 2004.

Hand is a prolific scholar, particularly regarding generative learning strategies within school science classrooms. His research and scholarship focus on the implementation of writing skills in student understanding of scientific concepts and processes.

The published results of his work include 11 books, over 130 refereed journal articles, more than 450 refereed and invited presentations, and innumerable teacher workshops. Hand’s publications appear in some of the most respected journals, not only in science education, but also in special education, brain science, teacher education, and literacy education.

This broad recognition of Hand’s scholarly research across so many disciplines is a rare occurrence for any researcher. Publication indices show him as a member of the most cited scholars in the field of science education, with the National Science Foundation listing him in the top five internationally. Much of Hand’s work has also been published with current and former doctoral students from his program. He not only creates and disseminates influential work, but he also integrates mentorship of advanced graduate students into that work.

In addition, Hand is extremely successful in securing external funding for his pioneering research. Over his career at Iowa State University and Iowa, he earned more than $20 million in grant funding to further his research and to support graduate students and colleagues.

In the past five years alone, he received three major grants totaling more than $3.4 million. Two grants from the Carver Foundation focus on enabling Iowa teachers in science education via a web-based platform and in the relation between K-2 students’ writing in science classrooms to their multi-modal representational development. A $2.88 million grant from the National Science Foundation, in conjunction with the University of Alabama,  continues Hand’s work in developing science teaching expertise in classrooms and has funded two post-doctoral fellowships.

Hand has taught both graduate and undergraduate students in the area of science education. Such courses as Science Methods I, Learning in the Science Classroom, Writing in the Science Classroom, and Research Apprenticeship and Science Seminar are just a sample of the wide range of academic levels and content that he has taught over the years. The students taught or supervised by Hand over his career include many k-12 science teachers around the world and some of the most prominent scholars in the field of science education. His 25 doctoral advisees have spread far the fame of Iowa’s Regents Universities.

Hand’s professional leadership is exemplary and broad. He serves as the program coordinator for science education and expanded this role to include the math education area as well. He has served on the University Research Ethics Committee, co-chaired key faculty search committees, and served on editorial boards of leading journals including Studies in Science Education and Research in Science Education. Hand has also served on countless tenure and promotion review committees, merit review committees, and more.

One nominator wrote in closing, “All of this leads me to believe that Dr. Hand’s remarkable combination of groundbreaking research, widely recognized scholarly contributions, excellence in teaching, and unbending service is the mark at which the Regents Award for Faculty Excellence was aimed when first conceived in 1990. Dr. Hand has served well the Board of Regents as an example of service offered by a public university to the citizens of our state and to his field.”