Very Important Panther (VIP)

We all have that one person who made the difference for us at UNI. Share how they were a difference-maker for you, and we'll work to share your story with your Very Important Panther. We might even highlight your story on our social media! Please send your VIP stories and photos to

 Jeff Tamplin, Very Important Panther 

 Amy Marling and professor Jeff Tamplin 


VIP: Jeff Marling, biology professor
Nominator: Amy Marling (Klopfenstein), '11

I received my BA from UNI in Biology: Honors Research in 2011. I went on to receive my MAT in science education at the University of Iowa in 2014, taught high school science for several years and am now pursuing my Ph.D. in science education at the University of Iowa.

While there are many people who were an incredible influence during my years at UNI, I would be remiss to not acknowledge the professor I like to refer to as the Indiana Jones of UNI, Jeff Tamplin. As an undergraduate researcher in his reptile lab for three years, I remember being mesmerized by his stories of digging up dinosaur bones in Antarctica, the joy of playing with his Great Dane, Jack, who was always ‘helping’ us in the lab, and the thrill of searching for rare wood and Blanding’s turtles in the remote parts of northern Iowa. It was under his guidance that I began to truly understand the scientific process. Biology came to life for me in a way that I never expected. Research was messy, exhilarating, sometimes frustrating and truly amazing! It spurred my decision to leave the medical field that I was initially tracking to foster that same excitement for science with K-12 students and now future science educators. 

Dr. Tamplin was and continues to be a great mentor and Very Important Panther for biology students. :) 

— Amy Marling