Alumni Board

The Honors Alumni Board was established in 2009 to advise the staff and to help explore how alumni can help shape the future of the Iowa State University Honors Program. Since its inception, the Alumni Board has discussed ways Honors students can connect with alumni, ideas for enhancing the Honors social community, and suggestions for improving the Honors curriculum. The Board consists of up to 22 members who volunteer to serve a three year term.

Many thanks to our Board members past and present for their dedication to and passion for helping today's Honors students at Iowa State.

Read about our current Honors Alumni Board Members below:

Andy Appleton

Andy Appleton’s first Iowa State University and Honors Program experiences were through a degree in Agricultural Business. Following graduation, Andy worked as a loan officer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for what is now known as U.S. Bank. After four years, Andy returned to Iowa State to obtain a degree in Agricultural Engineering, also conferred with Honors. After rising to the role of Chief Engineer for a small company in northeast Iowa, Andy transferred to John Deere. He served in a design capacity working on large tractors as Senior Staff Engineer. A majority of his time is spent in the domain of systems engineering.  Along the career path, Andy secured an advanced degree in Mechanical Engineering through Iowa State’s distance education program.  After retirement from Deere, Andy’s time is devoted to family and involvement in the family farm which recently achieved Heritage Farm status. He has also returned to the field of engineering on a contract basis.  Andy’s most memorable moments with ISU Honors include taking his daughter and his son to the FHP orientation in the Jischke Honors Building.


Ashley Arellano (B.S., Finance and Accounting ’06) is the Team Leader of Financial Reporting and Investment Operations at Wellmark, Inc.  Previously, she worked for KPMG for nearly 10 years where she was a senior manager in the audit practice, auditing various public and private companies operating in insurance (life and P&C), manufacturing, life sciences, and banking industries. She is a CFA charterholder and is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Iowa. She also serves on the board of the CFA Society of Iowa. 

Ashley’s Honors Project on the financial preparedness of the millennial generation for retirement continues to be useful to her in her current role at Wellmark, where she is actively involved with managing the investment portfolio for the company’s pension plan. 

Outside of work Ashley stays busy raising her two daughters, is an active member of Lutheran Church of Hope in Ankeny, and enjoys reading, swimming, cooking, and traveling. 


Eric Barsness (B.S., Computer Science ’93) has been employed by IBM since graduating from Iowa State. He works as an Executive Consultant and the leader of the IBM i Performance Delivery Practice for IBM System Lab Services. In this role he helps clients worldwide resolve performance problems that are affecting their businesses. Eric received his M.S. in Computer and Information Sciences from the University of Minnesota in 2000. He is an IBM Master Inventor and has been granted more than 275 patents.

Eric lives in southeastern Minnesota with his wife, Tracy, whom he met at ISU. He stays connected to Iowa State by mentoring summer interns and co-op students who work for IBM.


Brent Carlson is the Senior Vice President, Technology at SOA Software, Inc. and a recognized leader in enterprise application and service oriented architecture. Most recently, Mr. Carlson was the CTO and founder of LogicLibrary, Inc. where Mr. Carlson drove the development and delivery of LogicLibrary's products. Recently named to InfoWorld's prestigious ranking of the Top 25 CTOs in business today, Brent is a 17-year veteran of IBM, where he served as lead architect for the WebSphere Business Components project and held numerous leadership roles on the "IBM SanFrancisco Project." He is the co-author of two books: SanFrancisco Design Patterns: Blueprints for Business Software; and Framework Process Patterns: Lessons Learned Developing Application Frameworks. Brent is a frequent presenter at industry conferences. Mr. Carlson holds 19 hardware and software patents and earned a bachelor's degree in computer engineering from Iowa State University. At SOA Software, Mr. Carlson focuses on the strategic direction and development of planning and development governance.


Chris Deal

Chris Deal graduated from Iowa State University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. After undergrad he received a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship allowing him to spend a year in Uganda coordinating service projects and completing his Master of Science in Renewable Energy through Makerere University. When he returned, Chris joined the Teach for America program, where he taught high school science in an inner city Kansas City public school, during which he obtained his Master in Education from Rockhurst University. Chris is a co-founder of the nonprofit organization, EOS International, which focuses on sustainable development in the developing world through the application of appropriate technology. In 2011, Chris joined MODUS Engineering, a building energy systems consulting firm located in Des Moines, Iowa, where he currently works as a Senior Project Manager. During his four years at MODUS, Chris has designed and overseen the construction of tens of millions of dollars, with systems serving buildings ranging from hospitals to sports stadiums to historical renovations.


Nate Dobbels (B.S., Agriculture Education and International Agriculture '12) currently works for Iowa State University as an academic adviser in the Department of Agricultural Education and Studies. Nate advises students, teaches a couple of department-specific courses, and assists with teaching Honors 302. Nate believes his experiences in the Iowa State Honors Program transformed his path in life. Serving a year as an Undergraduate Assistant for the program and a summer working orientation for the office helped him realize his true passion for helping college students and working in higher education. This motivated him to obtain a Master's degree in Higher Education-Student Affairs from the University of Northern Iowa. In his free time Nate enjoys connecting with family and friends, traveling, cooking, coaching youth sports, and spending time with his wife, Kassie, and their two dogs and one cat.  


Gregor Dougal

After graduating from ISU, Gregor (BS, EE and Physics, '79) received a Rotary Scholarship. He studied for a year at the Semiconductor Institute of the Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, FRG after which he has been fortunate to pursue a career in his chosen field of process and device development of microelectronics. Gregor has been a principal engineer with Honeywell, Inc. for close to 24 years where he has focused on characterization of semiconductor devices for aerospace electronics. He has been responsible for and directed the development of numerous generations of devices for advanced CMOS process technologies which are used to produce aerospace electronic products. Parts manufactured with these processes are used in satellite systems as well as space missions that have flown around Saturn and landed on Mars. Gregor's family includes his wife of 34 years, Connie Howard (Journalism, '77), and children, Michael and Laura who are each now pursuing graduate degrees. Gregor and Connie continue to enjoy and look forward to future opportunities to travel abroad.


Sarah Fischer

Board President

Sarah Fischer graduated in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and English. She subsequently earned a master’s degree and PhD in comparative politics from American University, where her research focused on the relationship among secularism, gender, and democratization in the Middle East. Sarah has lived in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey. She is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Marymount University in Arlington, VA. In addition to being an FHP leader and member of the Honors Program while at Iowa State, Sarah was active with the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics. In 2011, Fischer received the ISU Alumni Association STATEment Maker award and in 2016, the James A. Hopson Alumni Volunteer Award. 


Blake Hanson

Blake R. Hanson graduated with his B.A. in Political Science from Iowa State University in 2012, and in 2015 received his J.D. from Drake University Law School. He also received National Order of the Barristers recognition for his excellence in oral advocacy. He is currently an attorney at the Crawford & Mauro Law Firm in Des Moines, IA. He specializes in civil litigation including personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death and employment-related matters. He enjoys the challenge of litigation and fighting for ordinary people in and out of the courtroom. In 2016, he received the Ed Campbell Rising Star Award from the Iowa Democratic Party. In his spare time, he enjoys giving back to the community by serving on numerous boards and committees throughout the state, including the Catt Center’s “Ready to Run Iowa” Advisory Board. He joined the Honors Program during his sophomore year at ISU and credits the experience for allowing him to collaborate with faculty and introducing him to a diverse group of like-minded students.


Stephen Ho

Stephen Ho (B.S. Civil Engineering ’82) joined as a Managing Director DBS’ Investment Banking Group in Singapore in June 2001. Prior to joining DBS, Stephen was the Head of Global Telecom, Media & Technology Group in Asia at JP Morgan Chase since 1998. He started his career with Chase in 1989 as an M&A generalist in New York before specializing in media and telecom sectors in New York and subsequently in Asia. Since 1994, he has led over $15 billion of bank or bond financing for more than 30 companies throughout Asia and around the world. On the M&A side, Stephen has advised corporations from North America to Asia in many cross-border transactions. Since 2003, he has completed multiple IPOs in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand. In addition to his Construction Engineering degree from Iowa State, he has an M.S. (Civil Engineering) from M.I.T. and an MBA from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. Along with Chinese and English, Stephen picked up a bit of Spanish at Iowa State in preparation of his stint as an exchange student in Mexico in the summer of 1981.


Mark Law is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Engineering at the University of Florida. He received the B.S. Cpr.E. degree from Iowa State University in 1981, the M.S.E.E. from Stanford University in 1982, and the Ph.D. degree from Stanford University in 1988. His current research interests are in integrated circuit devices and reliability. Dr. Law was named a National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellow in 1992, Outstanding Young Alumni of Iowa State in 1994, College of Engineering Teacher of the Year in 1996-97, a UF Research Fellow in 1998, won the 2006 SRC Aristotle Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Advising, and an Iowa State Professional Achievement Award in 2007. Dr. Law has written over 200 papers in the area of process and device modeling and has advised 19 Ph.D. students. He has been involved in more than $20 million of funding during his career. He is an IEEE EDS distinguished lecturer. He is a member of the American Physical Society, Materials Research Society, and American Society for Engineering Education. He was named an IEEE Fellow in 1998 for his contributions to integrated circuit process modeling and simulation. He was the 2010 IEEE EDS J.J. Ebers Award winner for contributions to widely used process modeling tools.


Justin Miller

Justin Miller (B.S., Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry '15) is currently working towards a Ph. D. in Biochemistry at Washington University in St. Louis. His research focuses on the "smell" of the malaria parasite, and how that contributes to the disease burden. He has received an Infectious Disease Gateway training grant and the American Institute of Chemists Student Award. He first became interested in research during his freshman year at Iowa State when he participated in the First-Year Mentor Program, and has since continued to develop his research interests. His involvement as both an FHP leader and an Undergraduate Assistant for the Honors Program taught him the value of communication and made him realize his excitement for teaching. He plans to pursue a career which allows him to continue researching while also maintaining a teaching role, likely in the form of a research professor. Justin is an active volunteer with the Young Scientists Program at Washington University and the St. Louis Science Center, where he enjoys getting St. Louisians excited about science. In his spare time Justin enjoys rock climbing, cooking, and hiking.


John Potter (B.S. Computer Engineering ’91; M.E. Information Assurance ’12) recently retired from his role leading John Deere’s efforts in machine cybersecurity. He worked for Deere & Company for 29 years, during which time he completed three master’s degrees -- Computer Science & Engineering (Penn State), Business Administration (University of Iowa) and Information Assurance (Iowa State). In 2013 he received the John Deere President’s Award of Excellence. He has fond memories of his time in the Honors Program, which include Liz Beck, Osborn Cottage and having to get the key to the building at the Union if you wanted to work after hours.