Lakeside Lab creates new position, branches out to state universities

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Steve Hendrix has been researching and working with the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory since 1975, offering up his expertise and bonding with the community.

He now finds himself in a new position with the facility.

Hendrix was recently announced as the Director of Academics and Research. The position was created by Lakeside Lab to work with Iowa State University, UNI and Iowa to help expand the academic programs between the entities.

Hendrix has been a faculty member of the University of Iowa for 37 years and currently works in the Department of Biology at the UI. He spent many of those years working at Lakeside Lab, conducting research and sharing ideas with members of the lab. Lakeside Lab Executive Director Peter Van Der Linden felt Hendrix was the perfect fit for the new position.

"He's had years of experience in the academic area, has a lot of enthusiasm and has been doing research here, he's certainly well qualified," Van Der Linden said. "Lakeside Lab would like to have more involvement with the universities. We are so far away from them, that it is sometimes difficult to get them involved. Steve's role is going to be to encourage research and attract more students, by having someone on campus (in Iowa City) who can promote Lakeside Lab."

Hendrix has been released from his biology department duties on a part-time basis through the fall of 2014.

His experience in course and curriculum development is expected to be an asset in Dickinson County. His research tendencies often focus on the importance of native species' impact on plants and the native landscape.

Some of his duties will include promoting research activities among faculty and students from the three universities as well as students from all over. Hendrix will promote faculty and teacher diversity and develop new academic programs. In addition, he will work on establishing programs that address local and worldwide environmental issues at Lakeside Lab.

"Of course, like almost virtually everyone that goes to the lab, they fall in love with the place as did I, it's a wonderful, wonderful place," Hendrix said. "I've always been passionate about the lab and it seemed that one of the things that we were having difficulty with, in terms of moving forward, was the academic programs had been suffering and enrollment had been going down."

Both Hendrix and his colleagues understood the importance of connections between Lakeside Labs and students around the state.

The lab wanted to start up undergraduate programs, establish artists in residence programs and a post-doctoral teaching program. When officials realized this called for a new position they turned to Hendrix, a person who has been vital to the campus' success over the years. Hendrix jumped at the opportunity when he heard about the position.

"For me it's a little bit of giving something back to the lab," He said. "It's been so good at supporting me and my research for almost 40 years."

Hendrix is in the midst of pulling together programs that focus on water quality and the preservation of the landscape. He calls upon the beauty of the facility and all the things that are at his and his colleagues disposal. He said the natural habitat has been an important factor in guiding his research over the years, citing the wide variety of plant life and nature. He is also creating a summer program that will utilize one student from each state university to conduct research at the Lab.

"We need students that are aware of environmental issues, and there is no better way to sharpen their knowledge and interest then in the courses that we do," Hendrix said. "Everybody now seems to recognize that you change peoples lives with these types of courses. We want to make it easy for them to get (here). We always get students walking out the door saying that was the best experience they've ever had."

The support of the community is a significant factor in why Hendrix has continued to conduct research at Lakeside Labs time after time.

"I have really gotten to know the people in the community," he said. "It continues to feed my drive, the enthusiasm of the local community. That has become one of the things I absolutely love, the fact that we have a community behind us."

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