Vol. 9, No. 6
June 2017

Banners feature innovators worth looking up to

June 30, 2017 --

Fifty-one street-pole banners on display in the Old Capitol Mall/University Capitol Center through July tell the stories of University of Iowa researchers, innovators and those with extraordinary academic pursuits, including Kelli Ryckman, associate professor of Epidemiology and Pediatrics.

Kelli Ryckman

A “Dare to Discover” banner campaign launched in April throughout downtown Iowa City featuring individual banners with a large photo – clearly visible from street level – of each of these UI trailblazers and a “Dare to” statement about their area of expertise. For Ryckman, that is “Dare to prevent prematurity.”

Ryckman is distinguished for her work to improve health outcomes for babies, particularly those who were born preterm or with a low birth weight. She also is the State Hygienic Laboratory’s 2016-2017 Public Health Ambassador, and in that capacity promotes awareness of the laboratory’s maternal and newborn screening.

This year Ryckman is spearheading a new initiative called the Iowa Perinatal Health Research Collaborative aimed at bringing together public health professionals and data on outcomes in those born early.

“To me it is important to promote research on preterm birth; one, because I have devoted my entire career, including my graduate work, on studying the causes and outcomes related to preterm birth; and second, because I experienced preterm birth myself when my boys were born six weeks early,” Ryckman said.

“I learned firsthand how research on the medical care of preterm infants impacts each and every day of my life, and that because of this research children like my own can grow and thrive even when they were born too soon.”

In addition to highlighting such extraordinary accomplishments, the banner campaign created by the Office of the Vice President of Research and Economic Development also is intended to inspire creativity in others, no matter what the age.

“My husband and twin boys are very proud,” Ryckman said. “The boys were excited to visit my banner and thought it was neat to see their mom in that way.

“It’s also very important to me that I share these kinds of things with them, even though right now they may be too young to understand. One of my sons, Zach, did tell me he knows I am smart because I am a scientist and that scientists like to study ‘stuff.’”