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University of California Santa Barbara

Faculty Research Lecturer Award

Joseph G. Polchinski - Physics

The 2013-14 Faculty Research Lecturership, the 59th since the creation of the award in 1955, is awarded to Professor Joseph Polchinski. The Faculty Research Lecturer is the highest honor that UCSB bestows on a member of its faculty. Professor Polchinski has been a Professor in the Department of Physics at UCSB since 1992, at which point he was also appointed as a permanent member of the Institute for Theoretical Physics. After receiving his Ph.D. in Physics from UC Berkeley, Polchinski held appointments at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (Stanford), Harvard University, and the University of Texas at Austin before arriving at UCSB.

Professor Polchinski is a theoretical physicist working on fundamental problems involving elementary particles and forces. These include finding a quantum theory of gravity and a unified theory of all forces and particles. The traditional approach to these problems involves quantum field theory. String theory is a promising approach developed more recently. Professor Polchinski has long been recognized as one of the world leaders in both of these fields. Throughout his career, he has made a series of fundamental contributions to our understanding of quantum field theory and string theory, which has resulted in a steady stream of high impact papers.

Polchinski’s numerous distinctions include membership in the prestigious National Academy of Sciences and appointments as a fellow in: the American Physical Society, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. His awards include the Heinemann Prize in Mathematical Physics from the American Physical Society, the Dirac Medal from the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), and the Milner Foundation’s Physics Frontier Prize. In addition, according to INSPIRE, a data base of high energy theory papers, Professor Polchinski’s 153 papers have been cited over 24,000 times, including 11 “renowned” papers, which have over 500 citations each.

According to his nominator, Professor Polchinski's most important achievement is his discovery of “D-branes” in 1995. This revolutionized our understanding of string theory and played a key role in the development of a nonperturbative formulation of the theory. It sparked a few years of extremely rapid progress which became known as the “second string revolution.” (The first string revolution was in the mid 1980’s when the theory first gained widespread interest.) D-branes are objects extended in more than one dimension, and their discovery showed that string theory was not just a theory of strings. It also led to an entirely new way of thinking about extra spatial dimensions which is now called “brane-worlds.” Professor Polchinski's paper discovering D-branes now has over 2,000 citations.

Professor Polchinski receives a great deal of praise not only from his UCSB colleagues, but also from internationally-recognized fellow physicists outside of the university. A colleague of Polchinski’s at Harvard states, “Joe is in a class of his own. His fundamental contributions range from reformulating renormalization and quantum field theory – the foundations of twentieth century physics – to the celebrated discovery of D-branes: potentially the foundation of twenty-first century physics. In between is a very long list of seminal contributions in a multitude of problems. No one has had a greater impact on modern theoretical physics than Joe.” Another of his supporters at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton states, “Polchinski is one of the deepest thinkers among theoretical physicists. His insightful contributions have completely changed the direction of field theory and string theory several times.”

Furthermore, his work continues to break new ground in the field in exciting ways. One of his supporters notes that there have been some exciting recent advances (during the past 18 months) in our understanding of black holes which Professor Polchinski has been right in the middle of. A paper Polchinski co-authored in 2012 showed that two widely held beliefs about quantum black holes were incompatible. The “AMPS paradox,” as it is now called, is a thought experiment that shows that in the context of black hole physics one of the fundamental principles we believe should be relaxed. Although it is not yet clear what the resolution of this paradox will be, it is widely accepted that it points to crucial and fundamental elements of quantum gravity. According to a colleague, “This paper completely shook up the field. One cannot overstate the impact that it had. In the year and a half since it appeared, it has already received over 150 citations. Four workshops have been held devoted to trying to resolve the issues it raises (at Stanford, CERN, Santa Barbara, and Princeton).”

Finally, Polchinski is – as one of his supporters describes – a “good citizen.” He is praised for participating in many public service activities (mentoring postdocs, writing letters, serving on committees, giving public talks, etc.), and for being a gifted lecturer. One of his UCSB colleagues specifically comments on his extreme concern and support for the students with whom he works: “He spends an immense amount of time talking to his own research students and often encourages them to publish the result of such discussions without listing him as an author. When it comes to courses, the same graduate students will return to his lectures (on the same topics!) year after year in order to glean further levels of insight into what some might consider basic material in the field. Joe is always happy to accommodate these students, and to spend hours after class answering their more advanced questions.”

Distinguished Teaching Award

Andrew Flanagin - Communication

Professor Andrew Flanagin has been on the faculty in the Department of Communication since 1996. According to his department chair, “In his 17 years at UCSB, Professor Flanagin has consistently been among the most highly-regarded, innovative, and effective teachers in our department.”

His record of teaching is very impressive. At the time of nomination, Professor Flanagin had taught 85 courses: 74 undergraduate classes and 11 graduate courses. But most remarkably, he had a teaching assistant for only three of those classes. In his 17 years of teaching at UCSB, Professor Flanagin’s instructor ratings have been ranked as very good and excellent over 97% of the time, a clear indication of his teaching excellence.

His students are extremely generous with their praise, describing his “mind-blowing lectures;” his “unique and innovative teaching style;” his “intelligence and passion for teaching;” and his “inspirational” style. Speaking of a particularly demanding course, one of Professor Flanagin’s students noted: “His teaching has added incredible value to my education.,, he unleashed in me a curiosity about the digital age and a passion for technology.”

Pedagogically, he is an innovator, and he is credited for his efforts to enhance the crucial instruction of students on topics of contemporary communication and information technologies. His department chair notes that “Professor Flanagin has leveraged his interest in technologies to produce some highly novel classroom innovations that meld his research and teaching interests.”

For his dedicated and passionate teaching Professor Andrew Flanagin is awarded a Distinguished Teaching Award. Congratulations!

Tsuyoshi Hasegawa - History

Professor Tsuyoshi “Toshi” Hasegawa is faculty in the Department of History, where he has taught since 1990. He is also an affiliate faculty of East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies. Recognizing his excellence in teaching undergraduates and graduate students alike, his chair notes that while many faculty devote their energy to graduate or undergraduate teaching, “Toshi is among a handful who truly excel in both worlds.”

Professor Hasegawa’s students praise him for the way he challenges and demands much of them. One graduate student writes, “As a lecturer, he frames historical questions in exciting and nuanced ways. But he demands that his students deploy evidence to challenge the tentative answers he provides. Indeed, he demands they challenge the questions themselves. No student can emerge from his courses without having become a more effective thinker and writer.”

A former undergraduate student states, “No other professor I had at UCSB taught their subject with as much enthusiasm, diligence, and care … His commitment to making his students appreciate history and write in a skillful manner and the great deal of individual attention he pays to his students make him an outstanding professor... I cannot imagine anyone is more deserving of [the Distinguished Teaching Award] than him.”

There is widespread consensus on this point -- as one graduate student put it: “No one is more deserving of UC Santa Barbara’s Distinguished Teaching Award than Professor Tsuyoshi Hasegawa. Dynamic and demanding in the classroom, he combines passion, intellectual rigor, and a determination to see his students succeed. As a mentor he exhibits the same qualities, offering incisive critiques, searching questions, and encouraging commentary. He is for his students and for the university nothing less than a treasure.”

For his hard work and dedication to teaching Toshi Hasegawa is awarded a Distinguished Teaching Award. Congratulations!

Gaye Theresa Johnson - Black Studies

Professor Gaye Johnson has been a faculty member in the Department of Black Studies since 2005, and she holds affiliate appointments in Chicana & Chicano Studies and History. Her teaching covers a wide range of topics, ranging from race and racism, to cultural history and social movements.

Her department chair singles her out “without qualification … she is the best teacher I have encountered on this campus.” He goes on to speak of her commitment to teaching, “which is manifested through the most innovative pedagogical interventions that I have seen mounted by a teacher of lower as well as upper division undergraduate courses” noting “the energy she puts into making these classes dialogical learning environments, where students learn through questions rather than direct lecture.”

The superlatives in her evaluations abound, as one colleague notes “Student comments in these courses frequently credit Professor Johnson with being the best instructor the students have ever encountered and with exposing them to ideas and analyses that are genuinely life changing.” One of her graduate student teaching assistants praises the ways in which she creates balance “between providing students with important concepts, frameworks, and the language to understand complex social issues, on the one hand, and inviting them to actively participate in the leaning process, on the other.”

Finally, one of her supporters writes, “The key to Professor Johnson’s eminence as a teacher on this campus is that she inspires her students to become knowledge producers themselves, and to use that knowledge to transform the world in which they live. This is the highest possible calling for a professor, and Dr. Johnson performs that role, reaches those heights, and motivates her students, quarter after quarter.”

For her dedication and excellence in teaching Professor Gaye Theresa Johnson is awarded a Distinguished Teaching Award. Congratulations!

Evelyn Reder - Germanic, Slavic & Semitic Studies

Dr. Evelyn Wade has been a lecturer for the Department of Germanic, Slavic, & Semitic Studies since 2005, and she also serves as the director of the German language program which includes responsibility for all first-, second-, and third-year language courses. Her department chair refers to her as the “driving force behind the success of UCSB’s German program” and credits her “stellar instruction” for consistently high enrollments: “She is the instructor the students seek out actively. Her classes are by far the most popular and actually are often over-enrolled.”

One of her graduate student states that “Evelyn brings a passion for her students and the language into every environment, thus contributing to high morale and camaraderie within the German department.” According to one of her teaching assistants, “Any graduate student learning the ropes of language instruction should be so lucky as to have someone like Evelyn in their corner.”

Her undergraduates are effusive with their praise and single her out as an enthusiastic and inspiring instructor. As one undergraduate put it, “Her approach to teaching, her motivation, and her drive clearly helped her stand out from my past and current professors.” Another student echoes these sentiments: “Evelyn Wade is the most effective, enjoyable, and caring teaching that I have had in both my time at UCSB and in my pre-collegiate education.”

For her commitment to excellent teaching Dr. Evelyn Wade is awarded a Distinguished Teaching Award. Congratulations!

M. Scott Shell - Chemical Engineering

Professor Scott Shell has been a faculty member of the Department of Chemical Engineering since 2007. Recognized by his department chair as “one of the most creative young educators in chemical engineering nationwide,” Professor Shell has demonstrated a deep commitment to education through a number of educational initiatives: for example, he encouraged the students in his Molecular and Cell Biology class to develop a biomolecular “art gallery” comprising their projects for protein visualization software. He organizes his students to work in teams so they can develop projects that emphasize communication skills and leverage software and online resources.

Professor Shell’s course evaluations are consistently excellent and well above the departmental average. This is evidenced when you consider that his course on Thermodynamics averages a striking 87% in the “excellent” category for the overall instructor rating. Not surprisingly, student comments have been overwhelmingly positive. For example, one student states, “He personally inspired me not just ‘get through’ college, but to strive for greatness as a chemical engineer.” And another attests, “I have come to love thermodynamics because of this course.”

His chair notes that “His innovative approach to educational activities in our department and in a number of UCSB programs has already marked him as an outstanding teacher and a future leader in engineering education. He is exactly the kind of faculty member that this award is designed to recognize.”

For his dedication and exemplary teaching Professor Scott Shell is awarded a Distinguished Teaching Award. Congratulations!

Claudia M. Tyler - College of Creative Studies and Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology

Dr. Claudia Tyler has taught and advised in the Biology Major of the College of Creative Studies (CCS) since fall 2004, while also holding a 50% research position in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, & Marine Biology. She has also taught in Environmental Studies and the Bren School and for the Department of Molecular, Cellular, & Development Biology.

According to the Dean of CCS, “Her ongoing research in oak ecology and regeneration has been of great benefit to the students under her tutelage, as she consistently brings the excitement and the challenge of active research to a range of classes, and offers the insights of a researcher who deals with the vagaries of studying natural systems in their element, a perspective that informs her lectures and her field exercises.”

One of her nominators offers the following summary of her qualifications for this award: “Clearly the impact that Claudia Tyler has had upon those students fortunate enough to engage in her classes is phenomenal, on professional, pedagogical and personal levels. She exemplifies the very best ideals of the instruction provided to our students at UC Santa Barbara.”

“To see her bring her passion and wealth of knowledge to the discussion table every day was an absolute inspiration that speaks to her lifetime love of learning and the urgency and vigor with which she brings that learning to her students.”

For her dedication to teaching excellence Claudia Tyler is awarded a Distinguished Teaching Award. Congratulations, Dr. Tyler!

Amber M. VanDerwarker - Anthropology

Professor Amber VanDerwarker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, where she has taught since 2007. Her extraordinary mentoring of undergraduate students is tied to her commitment to involving them in her research projects. This point is underscored by an undergraduate who states “Her level of support and involvement in undergraduate education and research is unparalleled to that of other professors on campus.” She sets a strong pedagogical example, as evidence by a graduate student teaching assistant, who writes that Professor VanDerwarker “provides ample opportunities for undergraduate students to get involved in research beyond the classroom as well, which can often be difficult for undergraduates to find at large universities when they taking are taking classes alongside hundreds of other students.” In fact, many of her undergraduate students have gone on to present their senior honors theses at conferences, received awards, been accepted into prestigious graduate programs, and even gotten published under her guidance.

Another of her former undergraduate students writes, “Dr. VanDerwarker is the most influential person I met during my undergraduate and graduate careers. Her innovative teaching methods and ability to engage students was inspirational. She encouraged me to push myself in academics and was a brilliant instructor and mentor.”

For her dedication to teaching excellence Professor Amber VanDerwarker is awarded a Distinguished Teaching Award. Congratulations!

Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award

Sally Holbrook - Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology

Professor Sally Holbrook is a faculty member of the Department of Ecology, Evolution, & Marine Biology, and she started as an assistant professor here in 1975. She has chaired or co-chaired 21 PhD dissertation committees and 12 Masters theses. She has also served on an additional 21 doctoral and 5 Masters committees.

Professor Holbrook’s success as a mentor can be seen over several metrics: through the financial support that she offers graduate students from her grants or assistance in writing new proposals; in the quality of research that her students generate (reflected by the excellent publication record of her students); and by the professional success of her students. One of her colleagues makes particular note of “the wide range of high profile career positions occupied by her former students including: professors and researchers at major universities, fisheries biologists in government agencies, biological consultants in private industry, educators and directors at public aquaria and non-profit organizations, and government administrators (e.g., the Program Examiner for NOAA in the White House Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C, and the West Coast Regional Director for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries).” In fact, one of her mentees is a departmental colleague (and was the department chair), and another is a recipient of this year’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

Her supporters note the skill with which she provides great research opportunities, encourages students to take ownership of their research, and through personal example ensures rigorous interpretation of findings. One writes, “I have observed the growth in scientific maturity over time of her students is remarkable and [her] students … complete their PhDs with both strong scientific knowledge and the confidence and critical skills to take leadership in future independent work.”

For her dedication and exemplary mentorship of graduate students Professor Sally Holbrook is awarded an Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award. Congratulations, Professor Holbrook!

Sara Poot-Herrera - Spanish & Portuguese

Professor Sara Poot-Herrera has served on the faculty of the Department of Spanish & Portuguese since 1988. In her 25+ years at UCSB, she has directed or supervised 24 PhD dissertations, and served on another 10 doctoral committees. She has also served on 49 Masters thesis committees and directed 50 honors theses. Additionally, she has an impressive publication record both as a writer and as a researcher with over 125 entries, including several books, and she is one of the most prominent figures in Mexican literature today.

According to a colleague of hers, “Sara completely involves and integrates her students in her own work, treats them as professionals in the field, spends countless hours with them (her office is always open with one or several students inside talking to her), and, last but not least, makes them part of the international academic connections in which she is involved, especially in Mexico. There is simply no other professor in the department who has been more successful with graduate students… both at a professional and human level…”

One of her former students, who is currently a professor of Spanish, describes Professor Poot-Herrera as “the single most influential figure in helping me navigate the course of my academic career.”

And another of her supporters offers the following glowing appraisal: “Dr. Sara Poot-Herrera is a true example of an outstanding scholar, admirable professor and an invaluable academic mentor. Her determination to promote her students’ academic and professional success is undeniable, her patience, kindness and ability to see them as individuals and unique human beings is unsurpassed. It has been the greatest honor to have Dr. Poot-Herrera as my professor, mentor and colleague for she has proven to be an outstanding professional, a brilliant intellectual and a compassionate, caring human being and has won respect, love and admiration of her peers, her colleagues and students through the life of dedication and professional excellence.”

For her dedication and exemplary mentorship of graduate students Sara Poot-Herrera is awarded an Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award. Congratulations!

Ram Seshadri - Materials

Professor Ram Seshadri has been on the faculty of the Department of Materials since 1999. He also holds an appointment in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. During his almost 15 years on the faculty at UCSB, Professor Ram Seshadri has a sustained track record of dedication to the teaching and advising of graduate students. Over the past three years alone, Professor Seshadri has served on the graduate committees of 3 Masters students and 50 PhD students, of whom 11 were/are currently supervised by him. He is a passionate advocate for graduate students who inspires them to achieve to the highest levels.

Professor Seshadri is praised for his exceptional record in mentoring graduate students in both his laboratory as well as the greater UCSB community. This focus on the greater scientific community is also evident in Professor Seshadri’s outreach activities, which provide important development opportunities for UCSB students. The end result, according to one of his supporters, is “exposure of his students to a climate which supports a diverse student population and prepares them for critical issues that will be present in whatever career they choose.”

One of his colleagues credits the department’s #1 ranking with “outstanding colleagues who recruit, train, inspire and care about our graduate students,” and states, “At the top of this list is Ram Seshadri, who I use as a role model for how to educate in the broadest sense of the word, graduate students. His passion, enthusiasm, and boundless energy for mentoring are a joy to behold and set a bar that all UCSB faculty can only hope to aspire to.”

Another of his colleagues offers the following summary, “Professor Seshadri is outstanding not just in one or two aspects of graduate student mentorship – he is outstanding across the board in every aspect of student development and education. With his mentorship, students from numerous groups and departments at UCSB have been prepared for careers such as research and teaching as well as non-traditional pathways. Beyond that, Ram has also taught and inspired a generation of UCSB graduate students to be better mentors and to adopt the highest professional and ethical standards. He is a true role model for graduate students and faculty and a real gem that UCSB should cherish and honor.”

For his dedication and exemplary mentorship of graduate students Professor Ram Seshadri is awarded an Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award. Congratulations, Professor Seshadri!

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Meghan N. Corella Morales - Education

Meghan Corella Morales is a PhD candidate in the Department of Education. She received her Bachelor’s degree in 2007 from Occidental College in Spanish Literary and Cultural Studies and her MA in Education in 2013. She has been a Teaching Assistant for three classes numerous times: Culture, Development, & Education; Research on Teaching & Learning in Sociocultural Contexts; and Introduction to the University Experience.

A faculty member with whom she has worked as a TA comments, “Her performance… has been outstanding. She is the best TA I have had in my nearly 30 years of service as a faculty member at UCSB.” Furthermore, “Meghan is committed to advancing educational equity and sees the importance of connecting regular university instructional time and student advising time with grounded experiences in the local community and schools.” And another of her faculty references comments that she “has demonstrated excellent professional qualities that indicate she will continue to succeed as an educational practitioner and scholar,” and she “consistently approached her work with creativity, enthusiasm, and efficiency.”

Regarding her teaching style, Ms. Morales states, “I am always both a student and a leader in my role as TA. This realization alone is powerful because it directly opposes the still widespread transmission model of education, a model that does little to change social inequities since it tends to disempower students, positioning them as empty vessels into which the teacher is to deposit knowledge.” One of her students attests to the effectiveness of this approach: “Meghan’s interactive teaching style creates a learning environment where typical authoritative teacher roles are broken and everyone’s experiences and ideas are acknowledged.”

Finally, another of her faculty references asserts, “I see her to be one of the most deserving TAs that I have had the privilege of working with… She has exceeded my expectations in every aspect from her clear communication skills, her motivation and dedication to her work to her sincerity and thoughtfulness in her interactions with others.”

For her hard work and dedication to excellence in teaching, Meghan Corella Morales is awarded an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Congratulations!

Steven Osuna - Sociology

Steven Osuna is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology. He received a Master’s degree in Mexican-American Studies from Cal State - Los Angeles in 2008, and another Master’s in Sociology from UCSB in 2011. His research interests include comparative and relational ethnic studies; transnationalism, globalization and migration; policing, militarization, and criminalization; and social theory. Since 2009, he has served as a Teaching assistant for 14 different classes at UCSB in the departments of Sociology and Black Studies.

His students praise Mr. Osuna’s teaching style for what he describes as “active learning and participation.” One student who has taken several of Mr. Osuna’s classes writes, “So often, we as students find ourselves in a classroom in which we are merely receivers of knowledge, rather than the creators of it. Steven provides an environment as an educator in which we can participate in the creation of knowledge.” And another of his students states, “Steven does not give you the answers but rather points out questions that push one to look with a critical perspective.”

One of his faculty references, for whom he has worked as a TA for five classes, comments that “Steven is an exemplary mentor to undergraduate students and an excellent instructor in his own right.” He is also praised for his “sharp intellect” and for being “ambitious, hard-working, and creative.” Another of his faculty supporters, who began working with Mr. Osuna in 2010 notes, “What I soon came to find out was that Steven possessed unusual gifts as a teacher and mentor, with the undergraduates in his sections telling me over and over just how good he was, to a degree I have not encountered with any other TA in my 22 years of university teaching…”

Finally, many of his references comment not only on Mr. Osuna’s talent as an instructor, but also on his affable and approachable disposition. As one student notes, “Steven excels in making others feel comfortable around him.” And his faculty advisor writes of Steven, “He is a warm and likable person that makes our undergraduate students feel at ease and leads them to seek him out throughout my courses.”

Steven Osuna is awarded an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for his hard work and dedicated teaching. Congratulations!

Britney O. Pennington - BioMolecular Science and Engineering Program

Britney Pennington is a PhD candidate in BioMolecular Science & Engineering. She received Bachelor’s degrees in both Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the Florida Institute of Technology in 2008. She has served as a Teaching Assistant for General Biochemistry, Neurobiology II, and Introductory Biology laboratory, and volunteered as a TA for Stem Cell Biology in Health & Disease. She is noted not only as an excellent teacher by her students, but also as an accomplished and motivated researcher by her faculty colleagues. As one of her faculty references states, “In my 25 years at UCSB, she ranks at the very top in terms of teaching ability and enthusiasm for science education and teaching. She is also an intelligent and capable researcher with a strong and passionate commitment to science, and she is already making an impact on the field. She is one of a kind!”

One of her students writes of Ms. Pennington, “She is by far the best TA I ever had because of her exceptional enthusiasm and creativity for Biochemistry, her outstanding patience and effectiveness in helping students adjust to upper-division biology courses, and her encouragement of student research and guidance towards finding a good research position.”

Another faculty supporter comments simply, “Her passion and enthusiasm for teaching biology are extraordinary!” She is specifically praised for her “dynamic presentations and interactive exercises she prepares for her students, her thoughtful approach to engage each student as an individual (and how best to turn on his/her critical thinking ‘light bulb’) and her dedication to improving her craft by active participation in teaching workshops.”

Finally, her nominator offers the following summary: “One characteristic about her that I find refreshing is her creativity in thinking of novel and effective ways to teach. The science community needs more educators like Britney!”

For her hard work and excellence in teaching, Britney Pennington is awarded an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Congratulations!

Alison R. Reed - English

Alison Reed is a PhD candidate in the Department of English. She began her studies at UCSB after receiving her Bachelor’s degree from Occidental College in 2008. She received her Master’s in English in 2011. She has served as a Teaching Assistant for several courses in both English as well as the Department of Black Studies, including: Introduction to African American Literature; Transpacific Literature; Global Humanities: Risk & Media; Women & Representation; American Literature; and Introduction to U.S. Minority Literature.

Her references indicate that she has had a powerful impact on her students. One student comments, “Alison was the driving force behind me deciding to pursue a minor in English. As a science student who was pursuing a BS degree in Biopsychology, English was seen as a strange choice for a minor by advisors and peers alike. Alison helped me understand the limitless potential in having a thorough understanding of English, no matter what your future profession.”

And another student also attests to her skill as an educator: “Alison was truly breathtaking. I had taken several ethnic studies courses that focused on intersectionality prior to taking Introduction to U.S. Minority Literature with Alison, but I was astounded by how much groundbreaking material and perspectives were covered in just that one class – especially considering that it was a lower-division class.”

Her faculty references are equally enthusiastic. She is commended not only for designing and teaching her own courses, but also for organizing the department’s TA training. One faculty member writes, “Alison is gifted and diligent in all of the areas a professorship demands—research, writing, teaching, and mentorship… Alison brings this force of intellect to her classroom in addition to her passion for equality and a tectonic approach to social justice in the world.” And another offers the following summary: “Alison is a true gem, rare and brilliant. She is smart and generous, rigorous and kind, sharp and humble.”

Alison Reed is awarded an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in recognition of her hard work and dedicated teaching. Congratulations!

Harold J. Plous Award

Theodore Kim - Media Arts and Technology program

It is with great pleasure that we announce Dr. Theodore Kim as the recipient of the 2013-14 Harold J. Plous Award. An Assistant Professor in the interdisciplinary Media Arts and Technology (MAT) program, Professor Kim has excelled in the criterion of “demonstrated outstanding performance or promise of performance as measured by creative action.”

The breadth of Dr Kim’s research is impressive and a genuine example of the interdisciplinary approach UC Santa Barbara strives to encourage. His work is highly regarded outside of his field as well as by his peers.

Dr. Kim has recently gained recognition in the motion picture art world by receiving one of the highest awards in this arena, a Scientific and Technical ‘Oscar’ Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (“SciTech Oscars”). This acknowledges the tremendous practical impact of Dr. Kim’s work and brings recognition to the campus.

Dr Kim received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2006 and joined the UC Santa Barbara faculty in 2011. He is known internationally for his fluid simulation research, and in particular for designing an algorithm called “wavelet turbulence,” which allows computer simulations of smoke and fire to be intuitively controlled by artists to achieve an intended visual effect. His algorithm is used in film studios around the world, and has appeared in at least 27 feature films. In 2013 Professor Kim earned the NSF Career award for “Enabling Efficient Non-Linearities in Biomechanical Simulations.” The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is one of the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards, given in support of the early career development of teacher-scholars deemed most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.

Dr. Kim demonstrates outstanding student reviews and ESCI scores and has introduced cutting edge courses in MAT. Since arriving at UCSB, Professor Kim has taught a variety of classes that have been consistently highly rated. His redesign of 200C, a core graduate course in the Media Arts and Technology (MAT) Program, has been particularly well received. This course deals with computational methods for media artists, and lies directly at the intersection of art and science.

Dr. Kim has organized UCSB seminars for both academic and industrial guest speakers and has been active in mentoring graduate students, several of whom have already secured highly sought-after internships in the R&D departments of DreamWorks Animation and Pixar Animation Studios. He has served on over a dozen international program committees, and this year, he was appointed as the program co-chair of the ACM SIGGRAPH / Eurographics Symposium on Computer Animation. This is both the top specialist conference and the most influential chairmanship available to junior faculty in Dr. Kim’s research area of computer animation.

We are honored to select Dr. Kim as the 2013-2014 Plous award winner. We are proud to call him a colleague.