Luther recognized as one of UI’s Student Employees of the Year

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Luther Recognized

The UI Huntington’s Disease Society of America Center of Excellence’s Jolene Luther, a senior from Belgium, Wis., has been named a 2014 Student Employee of the Year Certificate of Appreciation winner, one of seven UI students recognized as part of National Student Employment Week (April 13-19) for their outstanding contributions to their departments, to campus and beyond.

A Spanish major, Luther first began working in the UI HDSA COE as a public relations assistant in the summer of 2012. After her grandfather died of Huntington disease in the fall of 2011, she came to the COE to ask if she could get involved and contribute in some way to the Huntington disease community.

After spending the 2012-2013 academic year abroad in Spain, she returned to the COE and was selected as a Huntington’s Disease Society of America Donald A. King Summer Research Fellow. Under the mentorship ofDr. Hans Johnson and Dr. Jane Paulsenshe studied the role iron plays in the progression of Huntington disease, and her research laid the groundwork for further discovery into increased iron levels in the brain (as detected by hypointensities on MRI scans) as a possible biomarker for early HD. She says the experience greatly influenced her decision to pursue a graduate degree in neuroscience.

Now working again as an undergraduate public relations assistant, Luther translates complex medical studies into materials for general audiences, and will be presenting her fellowship research this summer at the HDSA National Convention in Louisville, Ky.

Luther was nominated with high praise for her reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism and uniqueness of her contributions, and was selected based on these criteria set by the National Student Employment Association. 

“In making a difference for the HD community in several different ways during her time here as a student employee, Jolene has definitely accomplished what she set out to do when she came to us,” said Luther’s supervisor and mentor, UI HDSA COE Public Relations Coordinator Sean Thompson. “She’s been a highly-professional and dedicated student employee and is well-deserving of this recognition.”

President Sally Mason will honor Luther and other campus winners during an April 22 luncheon.

Photo: (from L to R) UI Director of Student Employment Cindy Seyfer, UI HDSA COE Public Relations Coordinator Sean Thompson, Public Relations Assistant Jolene Luther, UI HDSA COE Director Jane Paulsen and UI STEP Coordinator Josh Frahm. Seyfer and Frahm presented the Student Employee of the Year Certificate of Appreciation to Luther on March 27.