Points of pride

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Iowa State College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Research

Fundamental research is central to our mission. It’s why globally recognized researchers and scholars choose to make their home in LAS. In both 2019 and 2020, LAS faculty members were elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

It’s why LAS faculty at Iowa State conduct research with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, the only DOE lab physically located on the campus of a major research institution. Ames Lab also provides unique experiential access to our LAS undergraduate and graduate students.

It’s why our economics (#53), physics (#52), statistics (#20) and chemistry (#48) graduate programs are ranked among the nation’s best.

And, it’s why we believe in funding researchers from the beginning—at the undergraduate level. From 2018 – 2020, LAS awarded approximately $260,000 in LAS Dean’s High Impact Awards for Undergraduate Research. Our students push boundaries of science and innovation, right alongside the globally-recognized faculty members who inspire them.

Once students begin research their first year, they end up going further than they could ever imagine. All the way to Costa Rica to study tropical cyclones, to the New York Library to unearth archives of women’s suffrage leaders, and to the highest levels of academic excellence—LAS students regularly win the Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s premier undergraduate scholarship in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering.

LAS 2022 Goldwater Scholar, Nethmi Hewage
LAS 2021 Goldwater Scholar, Benjamin Litterer
LAS 2020 Goldwater Scholars, Madeline Farringer and Behnia Rezazadeh Shirazi
LAS 2019 Goldwater Scholars, Jacqueline Blaum and Matthew Ryan
LAS 2017 Goldwater Scholars, Courtney Smith and Matthew Cook
LAS 2016 Goldwater Scholar, Samuel Schulte

Iowa State College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Clubs

Is it still exciting when your student organization wins its highest national honor for the fifth time?

You bet it is. LAS is the proud home to nationally-recognized student organizations, like the ISU American Meteorological Society chapter, five-time winner of National Chapter of the Year.

We have one of the top university competitive programming teams. ISU’s team advanced to the 2020 ICPC North American Championship and has previously competed in the World Finals. And, in 2019 an Iowa State team comprised mainly of LAS students won the International Data Mining Cup in Germany.

For three years in a row, ISU Theatre students have won the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Region 5 Arts Leadership Fellowship.

The ISU Marching Band won the 2017-2019 Sudler Trophy from the John Philip Sousa Foundation, the “national championship” of college marching band awards.

Iowa State College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Faculty

Our globally-recognized faculty and scholars are leaders in their research fields and their communities.

Amy Erica Smith, LAS Dean’s Professor and associate professor of political science, is a 2020 Carnegie Fellow and will explore intersections between religion and climate change.

William Gutowski, professor of meteorology, is a lead author on the sixth assessment report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and was an IPCC contributing author when it was jointly awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.

Aili Mu, associate professor of world languages and cultures, is a world expert at using popular Chinese short-short stories to create cross-cultural impact in her classroom.

Iowa State College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Internships

One career-impacting internship just isn’t enough for some LAS students.

Some, like Lissandra Villa (’16 journalism and political science) do three. Lissa interned at National Public Radio, The Des Moines Register and the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Today, she’s a staff writer at TIME magazine covering national politics and a 2020 STATEment Maker.

With support from our full-time LAS Career Services staff and innovative awards that cover the costs of unpaid internships, students get hands-on experiences and career-launching opportunities with companies and organizations like NASA, Microsoft, Google, the National Weather Service and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, just to name a few.

“Iowa State was my launching pad. It ingrained in me the necessary thought process and knowledge to utilize my opportunities.”
Aitham Alabsi (’08 biochemistry)


Iowa State College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Innovation

LAS is known for innovation – whether it’s inventing lead-detecting equipment used in Flint, Michigan, or contributing to the analysis of a newly discovered planet.

We invest in student innovation through the LAS Dean’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I + E) Academy, a two-year program for all LAS majors. Students build an innovation mindset, match with a mentor and prep to bring their big ideas to life.

“There’s a great network of people at Iowa State. Everyone can either help, or they know who can help. The process of developing a business is sped up immensely by making other people aware of what you’re doing.”
Dillon Jensen (’21 computer science)


Iowa State College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Leadership

What a difference an LAS leader can make. LAS is home to the Leadership Studies Program, Iowa State’s interdisciplinary program designed for students in all majors, with a 21-credit certificate and a 15-credit minor.

Students tell us this program teaches them to lead authentically, shapes the lens through which they see the world and creates a lifelong foundation for leadership.

“Leadership Studies sets you apart when interviewing for jobs. Employers are looking for someone who can lead team projects and this shows you are coming in with experience.”
Sarah Walker (’20 anthropology, sociology)


Iowa State College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Open Option

LAS is home to Iowa State University’s Open Option program, where 20% of students start their adventure as a Cyclone. Undecided means unlimited adventures.

This intentional path helps students explore interests before choosing a major, while checking off Iowa State graduation requirements along the way. Personalized advising and the HOME Learning Community ensure students have support and a built-in community from day one.