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Academic Senate Awards

2017-18 Recipients

Distinguished Teaching Award

Donald H. Aue - Chemistry and Biochemistry

A member of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Prof. Donald Aue has taught an incredible number of student since he joined the UCSB faculty in 1968. To maintain passion and high standards in most any form of endeavor is commendable and difficult. To do so over a fifty year span is remarkable. As teachers we can never be sure just how our lectures, our seminars, even our office hours will influence our students. Yet over such a long and distinguished career it is certain that professor Aue has influenced thousands of careers. As one former student writes, “because of his mentorship, I have acquired a deep passion for research and shaped my dream to lead a research laboratory as a professor at an academic institute. Like Dr. Aue, I will seek expertise in my field and spread knowledge by investing in the students I meet throughout my academic journey.” In Prof. Aue’s nomination packet the awards committee found a professor fully dedicated to teaching, to finding new and creative ways to bring that teaching to his students and a person who has truly united teaching and research - the goal of this award. It is our pleasure to award Dr. Donald Aue the 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award.

Sathya Guruswamy - Physics, College of Creative Studies

Sathya Guruswamy is a dedicated, generous, and innovative teacher in the Department of Physics and in the Physics Program of the College of Creative Studies—indeed, a vital link between the two. She has contributed to the enrichment of every aspect of Physics study at UCSB: recruiting new students, creating study-abroad programs, developing new courses that pioneer interactive and collaborative learning methods, mentoring graduate students and helping them secure awards and fellowships. Dr. Guruswamy’s commitment to teaching is an inspiration to her students and her TAs. As one physics graduate student wrote, “her drive and dedication to the students is infectious, making me want to put in the same level of dedication and care myself…she is a teacher whom I would have been happy to take a class from and whom I seek to imitate in my own teaching.” And, as one of her undergraduate students succinctly put it: “she has made pedagogy an art.” Dr. Guruswamy devotes a great deal of time to her students outside of the classroom as well, from offering extended office hours and supplemental lectures to discussing career plans and checking in on the well-being of her students. In all of these endeavors, Dr. Guruswamy has nurtured an abiding spirit of inquiry and has had a profound impact on her students. As one former student wrote: “Learning from Dr. Guruswamy has been one of the most profound academic experiences I have ever had…Every day that we had class, I would look forward to learning from her. I wish that she taught every Physics class I had taken.” In recognition of her excellence in teaching and commitment to her students in all stages of their careers, it is our pleasure to award Dr. Guruswamy the 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award.

Joseph P. McFadden - Geography

Joseph McFadden is an associate professor in the Geography Department where his research focuses on biogeosciences. Professor McFadden has demonstrated excellence in teaching across the curriculum: teaching large enrollment undergraduate courses, smaller upper-division courses, and graduate courses, performing exceptionally at all levels. One of many the things that distinguishes Professor McFadden’s teaching is his commitment to pedagogical innovation, especially in his lecture course addressing Remote Sensing of the Environment and his upper-division course on The Urban Environment. Whether he is employing “artist Abelardo Morell’s camera obscura photographs,” his son’s Lego’s blocks, or the empirical data his students gather at visits to field sites, Professor McFadden finds creative ways to teach his students what it means to see differently, to assess evidence rigorously, and to pose and answer critical questions concerning the “ecology and climatology” of the environments in which they and others live. Professor McFadden’s teaching is also distinguished by the care and attention he gives to his students. As one might imagine, students’ insights weigh heavily in the conferring of such awards. And it is clear that Professor McFadden’s students love him. Words that came up with some frequency in student letters written on his behalf were passion, enthusiasm, creativity, and care. As one student writes: “Prof. McFadden is fantastic - he genuinely cares about his students.” Another writes that Professor McFadden’s “teaching capabilities are a prime example of what university professors should strive towards.” And finally: “I cannot think of any other professor who is more deserving of this honor.” The Teaching Award committee thanks Professor McFadden for his distinguished service.

John W. Mohr - Sociology

Professor John Mohr is a professor in the Sociology Department and his main research interest is in the empirical study of meaning systems. Students describe Prof. Mohr’s courses as “life changing,” “great and inspiring,” and movingly describe how he has profoundly touched their lives in a way that no other professor has --- how he is “kind” and a “gentlemen” and the “standard-bearer of the intellectual” that they aspired to be when applying to graduate school --- how they are where they are today, as scholar-practitioners or academics, because of his support and encouragement. Prof. Mohr’s students and peers commend his hands-on, innovative, and path-breaking approach to the classroom, where students learn cutting-edge techniques and actually engage in research, pursuing projects related to their interests and through group collaboration. In all of his courses, Prof. Mohr finds “ways of linking the substance of the course to students’ current experiences or contemporary events, developing innovative ways of connecting advanced course materials and cutting-edge research methods with students’ lives and experiences.” Prof. Mohr successfully integrates research and teaching in a way that few academics manage to do. This teaching style “empowers students to take risks in their learning and thus expands their knowledge of topics that otherwise may seem daunting” and “makes learning more meaningful.” He has also excelled at teaching a range of courses --- undergraduate and graduate, small and large, core theory and methods --- over his career, including some of the most challenging and labor-intensive ones in the major; developed a number of new courses (such as one on “big data” [computational sociology]); and has gone out of his way to involve his graduate students in his advanced research projects, such as his NSF-funded “Big Data” project. In sum, his excellence in all of the areas considered for the Distinguished Teaching Award, from innovativeness in the classroom to student mentorship, makes him a most deserving recipient of the award. Prof. Mohr is truly an inspiration to us all.

Sherene R. Seikaly - History

Sherene Seikaly is an associate professor in the History Department, where her research focuses on capitalism, consumption, and development in the modern Middle East. Students commend her unique and innovative teaching style that allows space for open discussion. Instead of simply lecturing, Professor Seikaly challenges students to think critically and with nuance about historical evidence and historical narratives through techniques ranging from having students create interactive lessons for the class based on the readings to dividing even large lectures into groups to discuss questions about the readings and “rac[ing] up and down the aisles with a microphone so students could voice opinions.” Students commented that her “tireless efforts to include diverse voices empowered students to create a powerful learning experience where students also educate each other.” What is particularly striking is how Professor Seikaly manages to create a “safe space for collective learning” in large courses dealing with controversial, politically and emotionally charged subjects, such as courses about Israel/Palestine. Students also commend her “unwavering dedication to her students,” from editing and commenting upon weekly student work without a TA to her extensive and in-demand office hours to learning the names of each and every student, personally greeting them during the first class meeting. She has mentored both undergraduate and graduate students outside of the classroom, providing advice and support through personal crises and guiding their progression through their academic studies. As a testament to her success as a mentor, Professor Seikaly serves on an impressive number of Ph.D. and master’s committees for a scholar only two years tenured. Moreover, Professor Seikaly has demonstrated excellence in teaching a wide range of classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, from the small to the large. She successfully integrates research and teaching in all of these classes, such as through her willingness to share her research ideas with her classes and to listen to her students’ feedback on her own work. In conclusion, to summarize what makes Professor Seikaly such an exemplary professor, in her students’ words: she “nurtures both mind and heart.” As such, Professor Seikaly excels in all of the areas considered for the Distinguished Teaching Award, despite still being at a relatively early stage of her career. The Committee on Distinguished Teaching is thrilled to be able to recognize Sherene Seikaly’s inspiring dedication to her students and her excellence in the classroom.

Scott P. Price

A lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Dr. Scott Price is a dedicated and engaging teacher and mentor both in and outside the classroom. As an instructor who teaches mainly large, introductory-level general chemistry courses, he often encounters students at the beginning of their college careers and it is clear that he has had a lasting impact on many students. His commitment to teaching is readily apparent to his students. As one former student commented, “Dr. Price put meticulous care into his lectures and teaching, and more importantly, did so because he loved it. His engagement with chemistry led to our engagement with chemistry, and I’m still astounded by how diligently I worked in his classes.” In addition to his outstanding teaching, Dr. Price devotes time to advising and mentoring his students even after they are no longer in his classes. One student, who is now in her first year of medical school, describes the profound impact Dr. Price had on her, writing that “he guided me through my educational and career options, and encouraged me when I felt overwhelmed…He is a great role model and I feel so fortunate to have had his support and guidance during my four years at UCSB.” Dr. Price is an exemplary educator, and we are very happy to award him the 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award.

Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award

Michael T. Bowers - Chemistry and Biochemistry

Michael Bowers is Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, specializing in mass spectroscopy to study the structures of proteins, peptides and other biomolecules. A UCSB faculty member since 1968, Professor Bowers has supervised 40 Ph.D. students, with another 5 currently working under his guidance. Bowers is renowned for emphasizing teamwork in his laboratory and for building close relationships with the graduate and undergraduate students that work with him. One noted that “Mike makes every interaction a learning experience, where he challenges you to think of the big picture and fundamentally understand every result.” Another wrote that "Mike has consistently challenged me, but not in any overbearing way; [rather he does so] by having high expectations while allowing me to produce work in a way that doesn’t hinder my creativity." A former student, Dr. Gert von Helden, Senior research group leader at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society observed that "My firsthand experience in Mike's labs was invaluable for my development as a scientist and I am extremely grateful for having had (and still having) the chance to benefit from Mike’s mentorship." In recognition of this extended record of excellence, we are happy to present the 2018 Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award to Professor Michael Bowers.

Richard P. Duran - Education

Professor Richard Duran has been a faculty member in the Department of Education for the past 33 years, specializing in the study of literacy, learning, cognitive psychology, and educational assessment. During his career he has worked with 125 doctoral and 72 masters students—many of them from under-represented populations—who have gone on to careers in research, teaching, administration, and service.

One of his former students wrote that Professor Duran “taught me how to take numbers and make them humane and how to take personal needs and yield systemic change… He showed us what it means to be a good steward… It is unfathomable at times that as an immigrant who grew up in poverty I can be in the position of influence and service that I am today. I can confidently say that I would not be here today if it was not for Dr. Duran’s mentorship.”

The committee was not only impressed by Richard’s mentorship of graduate students but also his work with undergraduates, elementary school populations, and digital learning initiatives. In reviewing his dossier it became clear that Dr. Duran not only mentors his students, he creates networks of mutual support. He not only educates, he organizes and advocates. We are therefore delighted to present him with the 2018 Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award.

Harold J. Plous Award

Terence D. Keel

It is with great pleasure that we announce Dr. Terence Keel as the recipient of the 2017-18 Harold J. Plous Memorial Award. This is the highest honor the College of Letters and Science bestows on an Assistant Professor. It honors outstanding contributions to the intellectual life of the campus community. Currently Professor Keel is an Assistant Professor in two departments, Black Studies and History, and he has established himself as an exemplary interdisciplinary scholar whose unique research interests span the history of science, the study of religion, Western intellectual history, and African American studies. Alongside this scholarly productivity is an outstanding record of teaching, mentoring, and service to the profession and the university.

Dr. Terence Keel received his B.A. from Xavier University of Louisiana, Master of Theological Studies and PhD from Harvard University. At UCSB he has established himself a truly interdisciplinary scholar; he is a historian of science, race and religion with research interests that range across a number of fields of study. Keel has published four articles and a book review in major journals, and one book chapter. Most significantly, his forthcoming monograph will be published in 2017 by Stanford University Press, titled The Religious Pursuit of Race: Christian Thought and the Formation of Racial Science. In it, Keel challenges conventional narratives of secularization and science/religion conflict that continue to influence historical accounts of the evolution of modern science to argue that modern racial science is rooted in ideas, conceptual frameworks, and theological and cultural imperatives inherited from Christian intellectual history. In a narrative that takes us from eighteenth-century German ethnology to the contemporary revival and commercialization of genetic research, Keel shows how some of the defining features of modern race science—including its commitment to theories of common human ancestry, its obsession with racial difference, and its claim to universality—can be traced to religious ways of thinking about human origins, “otherness,” and Biblical truth. Professor Keel has also had great success in receiving research grants from the UC Consortium on Black Studies and the UC Center for New Racial Studies. The highly prestigious UC President’s Faculty Fellowship in the Humanities was recently awarded to Professor Keel in recognition of his impressive record of accomplishment.

Professor Keel’s teaching record is very impressive and the fact that he excels at teaching in two different departments makes this accomplishment even more remarkable. In both departments he is receiving excellent ESCI scores and written evaluations from students who routinely use such superlatives as “overall my favorite UCSB class so far.” He has also developed new and innovative curricula in both departments and has had an exemplary record of professional and on-campus service. In fact, Professor Keel’s record of professional service is inspirational; he has co-organized a major conference on Critical Race Theory and Health Sciences, held at Boston University School of Law. At UCSB he chairs and provides leadership for the recently created Black Studies Doctoral Emphasis. He also conceived and hosted a widely-subscribed lecture series, The Biopolitics of Reproduction. Drawing inspiration from his interdisciplinary research career, this unique symposium brought together the departments of Black Studies, Feminist Studies, and History. Although still a junior scholar, Professor Keel has already established himself as a leader on campus.

Highly praised by his colleagues as well as his students, Professor Terence Keel embodies all the attributes we hope to recognize with the Plous Award: world-class scholarly research and passion for teaching and public service. With utmost enthusiasm, the selection committee congratulates Professor Keel on behalf of the College of Letters and Science for winning the 2017-18 Harold J. Plous Award.

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Katie M. Adkison - English

Described as a "born teacher," Katie Adkison is a doctoral candidate in the English department. Faculty and student recommenders alike applaud Katie's diligence, dedication, and decorum. One writes, "Her dedication to her role as a teacher and her sincere consideration and love for her students is so real and expressive you can feel it." Another student has high hopes of taking additional classes with Katie; they write, "she is amazing at enhancing and enriching her students’ educational experiences, and I feel like she still has so much knowledge that she would love to share with me." And yet another commends Katie for invigorating her passion for literary study. "Katie," she writes, "is the strong feminine [female] role model I needed at this point in my life." On behalf of the UCSB Community and Academic Senate, we are delighted to present Katie Adkison with an Outstanding TA Award.

Jeremy A. Edwards - Education

In terms of conviction, enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, modesty, and the simple belief that teaching can be transformative, one would be hard-pressed to find Jeremy Edwards’ equal. A doctoral candidate in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and a TA for the Department of Black Studies, Jeremy is dedicated to ensuring students’ understanding of the course content and improving the overall quality of the instruction. One student comments that “Jeremy’s discussion sections were always interesting and stimulating. He showed his creativity as a Teaching Assistant by incorporating class discussions, small group discussions, video clips, music clips, and much more that was relevant to the course.” Jeremy has proven to be committed to providing an environment in which students feel encouraged to examine and think deeply about the coursework. As one student writes, “Jeremy’s interest in our academic progress and understanding of our course material made him one of the most effective teaching assistants that I have had the pleasure of taking a class with.” Jeremy is an exemplary educator, and we are pleased to award him the 2018 Outstanding Teaching Assistant award.

Kai R. Wasson - East Asian Languages & Culture

A member of the East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies department, Kai Wasson is repeatedly praised by his nominators for exceeding the typical duties of a TA. One mentor describes how he helped design new materials for a lecture course to better assist students in understanding the materials. She concludes, "Ultimately, the majority of the students performed quite well and wrapped up the quarter with an innovative, self-designed "Zine" project … for which Kai's support was absolutely critical." Students agree. One comments, "With Kai as my T.A, I felt almost immediately that he genuinely cared and had a huge desire to help everyone who asked for his help." That help extended to extra support during the Thomas Fire. Most of all, students praise his ability to help them think critically about their courses. As one student explains, Kai "empowered the students; he would not just answer questions and get it over with. He would ask the students questions, and by providing hints in the form of facts related to the topic, lead them to the answer." On behalf of the UCSB Community and Academic Senate, we are delighted to present Kai Wasson with an Outstanding TA Award.

Zoe S. Welch - Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology

As doctoral student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, Zoe Welch has demonstrated time and again that she is the epitome of the type of person this award is meant for. Not only have her student evaluations been phenomenal over the years, but both faculty and student letters show that she is held in nothing less than the highest respect as a teacher, and as a person. One faculty member went so far as to say: “I would stand on top of a building and read this letter into a bullhorn.” Zoe has demonstrated not only outstanding teaching prowess, but also the desire and ability to go above and beyond to care for her students. Her students sing nothing but praise: “Zoe is the most caring and memorable teacher I have ever had. Her warm, encouraging attitude is apparent in every conversation we have, and I hope that all students are able to have a teacher like her in their lives.” Zoe’s teaching philosophy particularly stands out, opening with the line: “to believe that teaching is mere information transmission is to miss the point entirely.” Clearly, she brings that point to life through the classroom. We are pleased to award her the 2018 Outstanding Teaching Assistant award.

Faculty Research Lecturer Award

Umesh Mishra - Electrical and Computer Engineering

Professor Umesh Mishra is the Donald W. Whittier Professor and UCSB Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Prof. Mishra was selected as the 2018 Faculty Research Lecturer in recognition of his extraordinary achievements in research and scholarly work in the area of semiconductor devices. His research has had an international impact in his field in ways that have greatly benefited society, for example through energy efficient communication and energy conversion technologies.

Prof. Mishra received his Ph.D. from Cornell University. After completing his Ph.D. he worked in the private sector, with GE, where he worked on the perfection of transistors and the technology necessary for transmission of weak signals over large distances. He then continued his transistor research at Hughes Research Labs, making discoveries key for satellite applications including TV broadcasting and military radars.

Prof. Mishra held academic positions at North Carolina State University and University of Michigan before joining UCSB in the early 1990s where he became globally recognized for his work on high performance electronic devices with novel materials, notably Gallium Nitride (GaN) electronics. As noted by his nominator, this includes GaN transistors declared by the IEEE publication Spectrum as “the toughest transistors yet”, touted for “high power and high frequencies only GaN (gallium nitride) can deliver.”

The practical applications of Prof. Mishra’s discoveries--he is an inventor with more than 100 patents—led to the founding of two companies in Goleta to bring his research achievements into practice. The significance of his research also was noted in 2012 by the Assistant Secretary of Defense before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services.

Prof. Mishra has more than 800 scholarly publications and an H index of more than 100. In addition to his many research and publishing accomplishments, he has also served as Chair of the ECE Department and has mentored more than 60 Ph.D. students now in academia and industry. Two of Prof. Mishra’s former students were Lancaster Award recipients here at UCSB.

Prof. Mishra has received numerous awards including the Aarnoff Award from IEEE (the largest international engineering society), the Welker Medal, and the IEEE Distinguished Educator Award. He is a Fellow of IEEE, a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and a Member of the National Academy of Engineering. Prof. Mishra is a truly distinguished member of our faculty.