College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Outstanding senior fall 2019 – Jens Dancer

Jens Dancer

Major: Civil engineering, environmental emphasis, and Spanish

GPA: 3.69

Hometown: Iowa City, Iowa

Career goal: I hope to one day own my own business

Clubs/activities: Freshmen Leaders in Engineering, ISU Triathlon Club, Cyclone Aide, Cyclone Aide Advisor, Admissions Outreach Ambassadors

Awards/honors: Dean’s List, Dean Farnsworth Scholarship in Civil Engineering, Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa Scholarship, Iowa County Engineers Association Scholarship, Iowa Concrete Paving Association Scholarship, Alliant Energy Diversity Scholarship, LaVern Noyes Scholarship, George Washington Carver Scholarship

Favorite place on campus: The courtyard in the Food Sciences Building

Most influential ISU mentor: Liz Kurt, retired director of New Student Programs

Why Iowa State: I had some great scholarship opportunities to come here and the College of Engineering has a good reputation.


“Trusting yourself is the first step to success,” Jens Dancer said. 

 Dancer took his own advice throughout his years at ISU: He holds a long list of awards and scholarships, including the George Washington Carver Scholarship, Dean Farnsworth Scholarship in Civil Engineering, Alliant Energy Diversity Scholarship, and a laundry list of others.

 Along with these, Dancer has held numerous leadership positions on campus. Jens was part of the Freshmen Leaders in Engineering during his first year on campus and member of the ISU Triathlon Club. He was also a Cyclone Aide, where he welcomed new students to orientation. 

 He was eventually selected to be the Cyclone Aide advisor for the summer of 2017. In this role he trained incoming Cyclone Aides and focused on building an effective team. After he served as advisor, Dancer and ten others started the Admissions Outreach Ambassadors program, which focused on increasing enrollment of students from underrepresented groups. In 2018, he served as president of this group.

 Dancer has worked in multiple research labs on campus, most notably the Center for Crops Utilization Research with Martin Gross, which Dancer considers his greatest accomplishment at ISU. In this role he researched ways to use high-voltage atmospheric cold plasma to lyse E. coli (break down the cell membrane) and disinfect wastewater. Dancer’s work led him to be a co-author on a 2017 article in Water Research, one of the most prestigious journals in environmental engineering.

 Dancer cofounded HC501 with his mother, a non-profit organization that helps a small, rural community in Belize. Dancer did the logistical work of raising funds, organizing travel and coordinating meetings. HC501 bought several acres of land to develop as a public space with shelters for grills and a soccer field for the community. 

 In the summer of 2017, Jens worked as an intern in the Muscatine County Highway Department observing highway construction. In the summers of 2018 and 2019, he worked at MSA Professional Services on wastewater treatment plants. He now works as a research intern at Gross-Wen Technologies in Ames, where he will continue to work as a full-time process engineer after graduation.