Carl Vondra 2008
Carl F. Vondra
Few professors have had as profound an influence on their fields of study, their students, their former students, their institutions, and their communities as Carl F. Vondra, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Geology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University.
Vondra earned bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in geology from the University of Nebraska, where he was a Shell Fellow from 1957-1960. He joined the Iowa State faculty in 1963 and began directing the department’s field station near Shell, Wyo., two years later. Vondra continued to direct the field station until 2003, although he retired from the university in 2000. Over the years, the geology field course became one of the nation’s best and most respected in the discipline.
Vondra, who has made a steadfast commitment to keeping alumni connected to the university and the field station, established a geology alumni advisory council in 1991 and helped organize an alumni reunion at the field station during the summer of 2003. Another reunion was held this past summer to celebrate the renaming of the field station in Vondra’s honor.
In addition to his work with the field station, Vondra served as department chair from 1991-1997. Colleagues have described his commitment to teaching as exceptional and his philosophy on research as ahead of its time. He has traveled the world, including serving a 1972 National Academy of Science Exchange Professorship in Czechoslovakia and a 1979 visiting professorship in West Germany, in the pursuit of research and teaching excellence.
Vondra was awarded the title Distinguished Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1986 and received the college’s Distinguished Service Award in 2002. He is a past recipient of the Wilton Park International Service Award and the University of Nebraska’s Distinguished Geology Alumnus Award.
He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and a full member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Other societies of which he is a member include: the Society of Sedimentary Geologists, the International Association of Sedimentologists, the National Association of Geology Teachers, the Iowa Academy of Science, the Geological Society of Iowa, Sigma Xi, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Gamma Epsilon, Phi Beta Delta, and the Osborn Research Club.
A life member of the ISU Alumni Association, Vondra was listed as one of the university’s 150 “VISIONaries” in the sesquicentennial issue of the Association’s magazine, VISIONS. He is also a member of the Order of the Knoll Campanile Society, the ISU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council, and the University of Nebraska Geosciences Alumni Advisory Council.
Vondra and his wife, Georgia, live in Ames. They have four children: Georgia Lynn Vondra (’85 geology and anthropology; MS ’93 geology), Cynthia (Vondra) Hensch (’85 French), Charles Vondra (’91 psychology), and Carla (Vondra) Anderson.