Felice Blake is an assistant professor in the department of English, where she teaches 20th Century African American Literature, Afro-Latin American literature, gender and sexuality, and feminist theories. In addition to publishing and teaching, she has directed a number of interdisciplinary research groups, including the Black sexual Economies Project, the Black Studies Project and from 2012-2015 she was the director of the American Cultures and Global Contexts Center in the English Department. In addition to consistently superb student evaluations in all her classes, both large and small, Dr. Blake stood out for commitment to interdisciplinarity, pedagogical innovation, and for engaging students in conversations about some of our most pressing social issues of the day. In all of her classes she examines the multiple forms of literary creation of traditionally underrepresented groups and urges students to think critically about how race and gender contribute to building the borders of genres, disciplines, and measurement of literary value.
Students, colleagues and TAs commented on how Prof. Blake has amazing energy and dedication to her students both inside and outside of the classroom. She has taught an extraordinary number of new courses, volunteers to teach the difficult introductory level courses, as well as advanced seminars, has co-taught overload courses and in general has gone beyond the call of duty. One student commented that her lectures were so dynamic and riveting that her 200 person lecture course felt more like a seminar. Another focused on her mentorship and the way she excels at teaching writing as well as close reading. Indeed, one graduate student wrote that Professor Blake’s “classroom has no walls. She faces each person, whether we are graduate students, undergrads, community members or incarcerated people, with the same openness and willingness to converse. Regardless of the setting, she invites critical discussion, a cornerstone of education, and engages relevant ideas and question.” Dr. Blake is an inspiring teacher, an innovative scholar and a program builder.
James Kearney is an associate professor in the department of English, having arrived here in 2006. He is a scholar of early modern literature and culture; Shakespeare; literature and economics; early modern and postmodern ethics; the history of reading; and literary theory. His recent teaching has focused on various approaches to Shakespeare, including a highly innovative new team-taught course with Irwin Appel in the department of Theater and Dance. The course, entitled, “Experiencing Shakespeare,” was part of the Freshman Summer Start Program and was designed to immerse students into the humanities and arts from the very beginning of their time at UCSB. As undergraduate chair in the department, Kearney also developed the department’s Honors Program, which has now enabled students to delve deeply into advanced literary research. Also, as directory of the Early Modern Center, he has co-taught with graduate fellows, developing fascinating courses, such as one recent one on shipwreck narratives from the Odyssey to Castaway.
Dr. Kearney’s record shows an immense dedication to the department, to the discipline, and to his students. We were especially struck by the very personal comments James received. Virtually all noted his incredible rigor and passion, his wonderful lectures, but also, as one graduate student explained, “Dr. Kearney may be the best and most sincere listener, attuned not only to what I am saying, but also to the things for which I have not yet found words.”
Aashish Mehta is an associate professor in the department of global and international studies, and has been with the department since 2007. He has a PhD in Agriculture and Applied Economics and primarily studies and teaches about global political economy. In particular he is interested in the linkages between education, structural changes in national economies and inequality. Professor Mehta teaches a variety of courses ranging from the Introduction to Global Socioeconomic Processes, to upper-division courses on Global Economic Imbalances and Financial Crises; and graduate courses on Globalization and Markets. Our committee was particularly struck by the way he took up the challenges of teaching in an interdisciplinary department and dedicated himself to teaching microeconomic models, social science research design, and always requires students to engage in hands-on data analysis. While it is very challenging to teach political economy to students lacking the background in economics, Mehta received an Instructional development grant to create a series of online lectures and videos to help build some of the basic skills necessary for students to succeed in his demanding classroom. Basically, he has experimented with what is now being called a “flipped” classroom, which allows him to spend his classroom lectures on more conceptual topics.
Dr. Mehta expects a great deal from his students and himself, for example offering 5 hours of regular office hours a week, for example. Dr. Mehta’s courses have a reputation for their rigor, but as one student put it, “he provided us with the support we needed to thrive as students and scholars.” Summing up, this student wrote: Professor Aashish Mehta is one of the unique brand of academic who can do it all. On top of his innovative political-economy research, Professor Mehta has inspired generations of students to roll up our sleeves and develop complex and nuanced perspectives on the burning issues of the day.”
Dana Driskel has taught at UCSB in Film and Media Studies since 1980. He has produced dozens of film video projects, the most recent being the documentary AN AMERICAN FILM COMPANY (2003) which was one of the early film production companies, based in Santa Barbara from 1912. Driskel’s fascination with film production and history is evident in all his courses. At the same time, students are prepared in his courses to understand the latest media technologies, without fetishizing the latest “thing.” Dana Driskel stands out for having designed the production curriculum and pioneered most of its courses. Students who take his courses are taught every aspect of filmmaking from fund raising, to casting, set building, lighting, sound, shooting, editing, and mixing.
Driskel’ dedication is evident from the fact that he has formed lasting relationships with generations of UCSB students, and these “graduates” then became part of the curriculum. Driskel takes his students on field trips to places such as DreamWorks, Disney, and Pixar, where he introduces students to his former students and professional filmmakers. In addition to this hands-on approach, as one former student wrote: “Professor Driskel’s lectures were legendary.” This student continued: “but I believe the true reason why Dana deserves this award is how much time and effort he invests in each student. Despite teaching multiple classes and overseeing all aspects of film production in the department, his attention was remarkably individualized.” Driskel has an incredible respect for the subject matter and his students, he is a true mentor.
The 2017 Outstanding Graduate Mentor award is awarded to Professor Bhavnani of Sociology. Professor Kum-Kum Bhavnani has been a faculty member at UCSB for the past 25 years. Her interests lie in development, feminism and cultural studies. She not only uses traditional academic publishing to communicate her research, but also has made three films related to her research, and is in the process of making a fourth.
Through her research, she maintains close ties with graduate students. She has previously received awards for mentoring, including the 1999 UCSB Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, and the 2012 Sociologists for Women in Society Mentorship Award.
As part of her teaching philosophy, Professor Bhavnani encourages active and co-operative learning on the part of students. She terms this process as “engaged pedagogy.” As such, she strongly encourages collaborative work.
Professor Bhavnani’s influence on her students is very clear. Two students who have won UCSB’s Lancaster Award (Tim Mechlinkski, 2008; Summer Gray, 2015). Her graduate students have gone on to prestigious faculty positions, including: San Jose State University, Vassar College, CSU Fullerton, CSU LA, and CUNY Staten Island.
Professor Bhavnani’s impact on students is extensive. She has participated in 83 graduate committees, including 56 masters’ committees (member 39, chair 17), and 27 PhD committees (member 22, chair 5).
In the classroom, Professor Bhavnani’s teaching is well recognized by her strong ESCI scores, which often have medians of 1.0 to 1.5.
Nomination letters can be readily summarized by one of her students who states, “I remember walking into her office on countless occasions ready to discuss a fellowship application or a seminar paper, and was always greeted with a sincerely delivered ‘How are you?’ that was graciously received. It is evident from anyone who has a conversation with Professor Bhavnani that she cares for people. She embodies the most beautiful forms of mentorship because of the way she prioritizes her students’ emotional and physical wellbeing in addition to inspiring us to continue making professional and scholarly progress.” Congratulations!
The 2017 Outstanding Graduate Mentor award is awarded to Nancy L. Collins of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Professor Collins joined the UCSB faculty 18 years ago, and conducts research and teaching aimed at understanding the interface of close relationships, social cognition, and health psychology. Her research explores the social and cognitive processes that shape close relationships in adulthood, and the impact that these processes have on health and well-being across the lifespan. Professor Collins has an outstanding record of mentorship at several levels, undergraduate, graduate, after graduation and to students in many different disciplines. She has supervised 8 doctoral students and served on 73 additional doctoral committees and 8 masters committees. Many student nominators note that she puts in as much effort as a committee member as most faculty do as a dissertation supervisor. It is noteworthy that 15 of these doctoral committees have been in departments outside of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Professor Collins contributes as well to graduate training across campus in her role as Director of the Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences Ph.D. emphasis and as Chair of the Human Subjects Committee. She brings the ethics experience from the Human Subjects Committee into her classes, enriching her teaching. One of her students calls her the “perfect academic role model.” Lastly, her outstanding letters of nomination can best be summarized by the statement: “She is an amazing mentor and colleague to graduate students, and she embodies the qualities this award is designed to recognize.” The UCSB Faculty Senate congratulates Professor Collins a worthy recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Graduate Mentor award. Congratulations!
Professor S. Rao Jammalamadaka has been a faculty member at UCSB since 1976. His research interests include nonparameteric statistical inference, limit distribution theory and asymptotic efficiencies of test procedures, directional data analysis and goodness-of-fit tests. He is an extraordinary and productive researcher who has published three books, 152 research papers and 33 book review articles. He has given 300 invited lectures nationally and internationally. Professor Jammalamadaka played a key role in creation of the Department of Statistics and Applied Probability at UCSB and was its first Chair.
During his 41 years of service at UCSB, Professor Jammalamadaka has supervised 41 Ph.D. students. In fact, about 40% of all Ph.D.s in Statistics granted at UCSB were supervised by Professor Jammalamadaka. Professor Jammalamadaka advised many more students as a Ph.D. thesis committee member and external reviewer, and as a faculty adviser in Undergraduate Research and Graduate Research Internship programs. Professor Jammalamadaka was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Swedish Univ. of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, and the citation states that he was being recognized in part because of his help in mentoring students towards their Ph.D.s. Many of Professor Jammalamadaka's students and advisees teach at universities all around the world. However, we do not have to go too far to see the impact of Professor Jammalamadaka’s mentorship. One current UCSB faculty member was an undergraduate advisee of Professor Jammalamadaka, and another, recently hired, UCSB faculty member is a third generation student of Professor Jammalamadaka.
Professor Jammalamadaka is an outstanding teacher who has taught courses in both Statistics and Probability at all levels. He is known for giving his lectures without any lecture notes. His students fondly remember his ability to explain complex concepts with clarity and with many illustrating examples, using just a blackboard, a piece of chalk, and “his seemingly bottomless well of knowledge.”
Current and former Ph.D. students of Professor Jammalamadaka are grateful to him for his outstanding mentorship. A current student of Professor Jammalamadaka states that “I would never be able to achieve what I am today without his help.” Another current student states that “I cannot be more grateful to him for the insightful guidance, the patience and the inspiration he gave me on my way towards the completion of my doctoral degree.” Dr. Martin T. Wells, Charles A. Alexander Professor of Statistical Sciences at Cornell University, states that “Many of my academic contributions are rooted in my days at UCSB and are dividends of JS’s investment in my intellectual development.” Dr. Kaushik Ghosh, Associate Professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas states that "He has been a great inspiration to me and he is the reason for my choice of academic career."
Dr. Michael M. Nava, a first generation college and minority student, and currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at UCSB, states that “constant support from Dr. J allowed me to not only survive the program but to thrive. Being a part of Dr. J's research group was the best intellectual interaction I've ever had.”
To recognize his decades long dedication and excellence in mentoring students, Professor Jammalamadaka is awarded the Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award. Congratulations!
Students of Chicano and Chicana Studies doctoral candidate Ana Barba repeatedly describe the ways she has affected their academic and personal lives, shaping how they think about themselves and questions of race. One student explains, “I used to be ashamed of being Chicana. This class taught me to be proud of my ancestry and to value all the hard work my people had gone through in order to achieve equality.” Another writes, “Ana has taught me the true meaning of attaining knowledge at this institution and to this day, continues giving me life lessons beyond the classroom that have helped me become a better version of who I want to be.” Her mentors and students frequently mention how effective Ana is in navigating complex and difficult course material, noting how she interweaves historical examples with discussions of the current moment in order to enliven the material for her students. In addition to being a skilled and dedicated teacher, Anna is willing to fight for her students’ rights and needs. Speaking powerfully to Ana’s inspiration as a teacher, one student who wants to pursue graduate work wrote glowingly, “Ana is the woman I see myself becoming one day.” On behalf of the UCSB Community and Academic Senate, we are delighted to present Ana Barba with an Outstanding TA award.
Sociology doctoral candidate Corrie Grosse has been an exemplary Teaching Assistant who “brings passion, precision, organization, and openness into the classroom”. In her own words, Corrie states, "I seek out new and creative approaches, cases, activities, and materials to enhance student learning, enthusiasm, and capacity for addressing social injustice. I teach so that [...] students can not only interpret the world, but change it." This dedication is echoed by her student recommenders. One writes: "I was never part of a social justice movement until Corrie inspired me to march down Pardall Street in the spirit of raising awareness to all UCSB students regarding our current climate crisis. I learned the value of organizing with like minded individuals to raise awareness." Another notes: "Corrie not only has the professionalism and maturity to excel in life, but her dedication to creating opportunities and support for her students exemplifies her ability to be a leader in teaching." On behalf of the UCSB Community and Academic Senate, we are delighted to present Corrie Grosse with an Outstanding TA award.
As part of the Philosophy department, Zachary Rentz has set the bar for TA accessibility and open communication with students using a multi-platform approach to ensure students have their questions answered. One of his mentors notes that “his imaginative class preparation works to enliven the material and draw students in to the issues” and underlines his “creative intelligence in building a community of learners”. His student recommenders write: “Throughout the quarter, Zach served not only as a teacher, but a leader and a mentor that thoroughly influenced me”; another adds that he was “the most memorable teacher I’ve had [… ] I would go out of my way to have him again”. Zach’s efforts in fostering a diverse learning environment, putting student education first, and striving to improve his own teaching have been recognized by professors, peers, and students alike. On behalf of the UCSB Community and Academic Senate, we are delighted to present Zachary Rentz with an Outstanding TA award.
As part of the Psychological and Brain Sciences department, Lauren Winczewski “goes out of her way to prepare creative, original materials,” to ensure all her students are able to engage deeply with the course material. Lauren’s teaching philosophy is grounded in empathy, which allows her to “design and tailor course materials that are well-matched to students’ competencies at different levels of their education” and to be “mindful of students’ diverse needs and interests in the classroom.” Her students note Lauren’s “genuine compassion” and “willingness to go the extra mile” and have consistently rated her among their most effective and helpful TAs. Lauren’s faculty mentors emphasize that she “absolutely shines” in a wide array of courses, including those that are notoriously difficult to teach. This dedication extends beyond course assignments as well; she is known for encouraging students to pursue related interests outside of class and for providing them with extra materials that allow for “self-exploration.” On behalf of the UCSB Community and Academic Senate, we are delighted to present Lauren Winczewski with an Outstanding TA Award.
Professor Charles Samuel is the C. A. Storke II Professor and UCSB Distinguished Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. He is an internationally recognized pioneer and leader in the study of antiviral proteins know as interferons, specifically the ways that viruses infect human cells and give rise to disease. Much of this work focuses upon two proteins known as PKR and ADAR1 in which he is the undisputed world’s expert. In this work, Professor Samuel has completely transformed the field’s understanding of interferon action.
As his nominator commented, a scientist can be either a diver or a surfer (an appropriate adage for UCSB). Divers deeply investigate a small area of science. Surfers cover a lot more territory but with much less depth. Professor Samuel is one of the very few scientists who has done both, and with excellence.
His colleagues point out that Professor Samuel is passionately question-driven and employs whatever technical approaches needed to probe deeply into answering these questions. His career and contributions are characterized by insatiable curiosity and uncompromising rigor. Students and postdoctoral scholars have come from far and wide to work with him.
Professor Samuel is an Elected Fellow of the Medical Sciences Section of American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and an Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health for over 29 years straight. He has authored and co-authored over 233 manuscripts in top journals in the field.
In addition to his many research accomplishments, Professor Samuel has given extensive service to UCSB and his research community. He served two terms as Chair of his Department, including when it was formed in the 1990s. He was elected President of the International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research, was the founding Co-President of the International Cytokine and Interferon Society and received an Honorary Lifetime Membership Award from this same Society. He served 36 terms as editor for major journals in the field, including the very prestigious Journal of Biological Chemistry.
One of Professor Samuel’s colleagues summed it up by saying “I consider Chuck to be a true pillar of basic research who has made a staggering number of important contributions over his 45-year career. To me, Chuck represents the pinnacle of what an academic scientist should be: visionary with relentless pursuit of the truth, but with generosity and a commitment to give back to his discipline and institution through training, teaching, and service. He is a remarkable scientist, a wonderful person and he fully deserves this honor and many more. There is no one in this field that matches the breadth of his contributions.”