Faculty Research Lecturer Award
Alison Butler - Chemistry and Biochemistry
Professor Alison Butler is praised for being, “a ball of fire,” “a brilliant communicator,” and “the perfect role model for scientist[s] young and old.” She has achieved major accomplishments in her career and is recognized as a world leader in the growing field of bioinorganic chemistry. The Committee on Faculty Research Lecturer is pleased to present Dr. Butler, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, as our 2019-20 Faculty Research Lecturer.
Professor Butler has made seminal contributions elucidating how brominated natural products in marine algae are synthesized, and she has expanded the field of siderophore research, discovering new classes of siderophores, and new reactivity of the iron(III)-siderophore complexes. Her results are published in high impact journals, with multiple publications appearing in Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, and the flagship journal of the American Chemical Society, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, over the course of her career. As one of her nominators notes, “her work is foundational for the development of the field and the understanding of biological productivity on Earth.
Professor Butler has received broad recognition for her groundbreaking research. Last year, she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and received its Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms Award. She was also elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The American Chemical Society acknowledged Professor Butler in 2019 with its Cope Scholar Award for outstanding work in organic chemistry. Just one year earlier, the same organization awarded her with its Alfred Bader Award in Bioinorganic or Bioorganic Chemistry. The American Chemical Society is the world's largest professional society with 158,000 members. The ACS generally specifies a 5-year span between awards unless each award recognizes distinct achievements, making Alison's recognition truly exceptional.
Professor Butler has been honored by her peers with their selection of her leadership of three Gordon Research Conferences (internationally recognized as the most cutting-edge research conferences in their fields each year), and by numerous invitations for her Distinguished and Plenary lectures world-wide.
Professor Butler has mentored 37 PhD students and postdocs, many of whom have gone on to develop stellar careers of their own in Academia and National Laboratories. Additionally, she has found time to share her leadership capability with the campus, serving as Vice Chair of the Chemistry department, Associate Dean of Bioengineering, and currently as Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel. Now in her 34th year at UCSB, she is, to quote one of her nominators, “a jewel in the crown of UCSB's science faculty.”
Faculty Diversity Award
Kip Fulbeck - Art
Kip Fulbeck is a Professor in the Department of Art. He is an artist, spoken word performer, and filmmaker who has authored six books and directed a dozen short films. His three decades of work have promoted multiracial awareness, and his work has been performed and exhibited in over 20 countries.
Professor Fulbeck’s “issues of identity and representation formed the roots of [his] artmaking career.” His HAPA Project drew over 1000 people to its opening day at the Japanese American National Museum. One nominator describes Kip as “the nation’s most prominent artist examining issues of multiracial Americans as well as Asian/Pacific Islander identity”.
While Professor Fulbeck has national and international acclaim for his works, at UCSB he serves as a mentor and advocate for students. A former student explains that the way Kip “teaches gives all his students permission to not be ashamed of their stories and to walk in freedom of who they are”. A colleague writes that they “know no fiercer advocate for students, staff and faculty of color, at UCSB or anywhere else”.
Professor Fulbeck’s commitment to diversity can best be summed up by one of his nominators: “The result of his interventions is that we look harder at ourselves and, when we are honest, we become better citizens and may act more redemptively in racial matters”.
Harold J. Plous Award
Alenda Chang - Film and Media Studies
It is with great pleasure that we announce Dr. Alenda Chang as the recipient of the 2019-2020 Harold J. Plous Award. Currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies, Dr. Chang has already achieved a remarkable record of research, teaching, and service.
Dr. Chang joined the UCSB faculty in the Department of Film and Media Studies in 2015, lured away from a tenure track position at the University of Connecticut. She is a model interdisciplinary scholar with a broad intellectual history. She holds a Ph.D. in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley, with emphases in New Media and Film Studies. She earned a Masters from the University of Maryland in English Language and Literature and a B.A. in English from Cornell University, where she was a College Scholar in Biology, English, and Film.
Dr. Chang’s research and creative activities merge the digital and environmental humanities while intersecting with multiple areas of scientific research. A Hellman’s Fellow (2017-18), she is an enterprising humanities scholar with training in critical science and technology studies who is essentially redefining the concept of an environmental media scholar. She extends that work into areas of videogame research and designs videogames herself, while also investigating digital media technologies and forms. Her innovative work brings together the core questions of game studies and environmental studies, probing the relationship between videogames (media) and the environment. Dr. Chang’s Department Chair, Professor Bhaskar Sarkar, states that she is “transforming our sense of the discipline of film and media studies… while materializing a paradigm for the humanities-in-action through her scholarship, creative work, teaching and advocacy.”
Dr. Chang has had a pivotal role in defining the emerging field of environmental media studies, contributing a substantial body of articles and book chapters. Her article “Games as Environmental Texts” (Qui Parle, Duke UP, 2011) is already considered a classic. In this highly cited work, she argues that games can cultivate new modes of cooperative interactions. Indeed, the game Corridors, which Dr. Chang co-developed, is a “green” videogame where players must work to facilitate the movement of wildlife through human-built landscapes via passageways connecting wildlands. In her book, Playing Nature: The Ecology of Video Games (soon to be published by the prestigious Electronic Mediation series at the University of Minnesota Press), Dr. Chang argues that videogames model the relations between organisms and their physical environment, as opposed to serving as mere backdrop. She places natural resources, plants and animals, life and death, and geologic time within a game as the key components affecting the liminal status of the player, the game, and the gaming technologies. This work is sure to be recognized as one of the only book-length works that critically explores how games skirt, distort, or add to ecological knowledge.
In addition to her research scholarship and accomplishments, Dr. Chang is already recognized as an outstanding teacher and mentor. In the short time she has been at UCSB, she has developed and taught seven new undergraduate courses, providing exciting learning opportunities for students. Her ESCI scores are in the 1s and the written evaluations reveal that students find her approachable and effective, conveying her excitement for the material inspiring. Dr. Chang has already been working to improve her courses, applying for and receiving an Instructional Development grant to develop a technically challenging assignment in her “Streaming Media” course. At the graduate level, her re-designed core seminar has been well received and she is a member of seven PhD committees (one has finished) and serves as chair on three more. Her efforts to assist and engage with students extend well beyond her own department, including mentoring graduate students from other departments and in particular a Bren School Masters Project team. Dr. Chang also co-founded Wireframe Studio, a combined laboratory and teaching space open to the campus community, including providing support for Gaucho Gaming and the Alliance of Women in Media Arts and Technology.
Dr. Chang’s professional activities and service are also substantial and reveal her creativity and unique talents. For example, she co-founded an online open access peer-reviewed journal Media+Environment housed at UC Press and serves on the editorial advisory boards of two additional journals. In addition to numerous conference presentations, workshops, and invited talks, Dr. Chang is active in several professional societies, including the Modern Language Association, where she has been nominated to several executive committees. At UCSB, Dr. Chang already serves on campus-wide committees in addition to her departmental service. Her level of contributions in these areas is substantial for this stage in her career.
Dr. Alenda Chang is recognized as a leading scholar in a discipline she is helping to define, as an outstanding teacher, and as an innovative and generous colleague enhancing our campus community. We expect that she will continue to provide significant leadership within the department, university, and profession for many years and is truly deserving of the Harold J. Plous Memorial Award.
Distinguished Teaching Award
Diba Mirza - Computer Science
Professor Diba Mirza is making innovations aimed at two of the most important challenges in computer science education, scaling up teaching methods to serve students in high demand courses, and increasing diversity in the field. Starting in her first year at UCSB, Prof. Mirza designed the Undergraduate Learning Assistants program, underpinned by a training course she teaches as an overload, that provides individual and group mentorship to students in lower division courses. Its benefits have flowed in both directions, to the students being mentored and to the mentors who gain confidence in a challenging curriculum. Prof. Mirza has also created a new undergraduate research program in computer science that is supported by a five-year NSF grant on which she serves as principal investigator. Both her pedagogical and research efforts have been highly effective in engaging and retaining students from underrepresented groups, and her students have won major awards at the departmental and campus levels, as well as secured admission to competitive graduate programs in computer science. For her innovative and effective efforts to make computer science education and research more accessible, we are pleased to recognize Prof. Mirza with the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Claudia Moser - History of Art and Architecture
Dr. Claudia Moser is an outstanding and innovative professor. She sees her courses as more than just an opportunity to give lectures; she has designed them to be fully-immersive and engaging experiences. She brings the history and culture of ancient Rome to life in her classes by hosting hands-on events such as a mock animal sacrifice and Roman dinner party in Storke Plaza. She is currently developing an online course called Rome: The Game, in which students go on a simulated archaeological expedition to Rome. As one former student said, Dr. Moser’s “dedication to opportunities both in and beyond the classroom is unmatched in my department and provides students some of the most innovative educational experiences on campus.” In addition to making extraordinary efforts in teaching, Dr. Moser has been a dedicated mentor for students. Former students have praised Dr. Moser’s accessibility, encouragement, and ability to inspire passion not only for the subject matter itself, but also for teaching it. We commend Dr. Moser’s truly exceptional accomplishments and innovations in teaching and mentorship, and we are pleased to recognize Dr. Moser with a Distinguished Teaching Award.
Matt Rioux - Earth Science
Dr. Matt Rioux develops courses in Earth Science that engage students and provide them with state-of-the-art understanding. His commitments to student engagement and innovative research have inspired his students to become science teachers and created a rich learning experience for all. For example, Prof. Rioux, a leading authority on ophiolites, developed the dual undergraduate-graduate hybrid course “Field Petrology”, which focuses on Oman’s unique geological features and concludes with a two-week field trip to the country. Such on-the-ground research opportunities promote deeper engagement with the field as well as intercultural appreciation and exchange. Students and colleagues affirm that Matt’s intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm have transformed student experience and innovated departmental curricula. As one student writes, Dr. Rioux is highly regarded in the department “not only because of his teaching style, but also because of his genuine and caring attitude towards his students.” For his creation of rigorous learning environments while encouraging the free flow of questions and ideas, we are pleased to recognize Dr. Matt Rioux with the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Tyler Susko - Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Tyler Susko’s excellence in teaching and innovative mentorship through the multidisciplinary senior capstone program are empowering UCSB’s engineering students with real-world skills and mindsets needed for careers in applied engineering and design. Students describe Dr. Susko’s “invariable enthusiasm,” “contagious passion”, and “innovation and creativity” in the classroom as fundamental to their academic and career success, with one student describing his focus on real-world design “a breath of fresh air…absolutely critical for students wishing to pursue careers in industry.” Dr. Susko’s mentorship “gives [students] the confidence to try,” and inspires students to embrace engineering challenges that once seemed daunting. Dr. Susko goes above and beyond to build community and engagement through events like the popular Engineering Design Expo (EDx), which brings together students, industry, and the community to showcase the senior engineering capstone projects. For exceptional teaching, inspiring mentorship, and innovative program development, the UCSB Academic Senate recognizes Dr. Susko with the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Mike Wilton - Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Dr. Mike Wilton’s innovations in the teaching of biology have changed the trajectories for many UCSB students. In biology, typically only 50 percent of matriculating students continue past the first two years. Recognizing the need for more hands-on teaching to improve this statistic, Dr. Wilton instituted a series of first year seminars. These classes guide students in the learning process through the development of time management skills and an introduction to UCSB’s rich educational resources. His creativity stretches to his approach to student involvement in research. His goal is two-fold in this regard: make research opportunities accessible and provide a practical real-world side to research. He accomplishes this through his first year class - Research for Undergraduates Molecular Biology Experience (RUMBLE). For his commitment to mentoring and fostering students in biology early on in their undergraduate career and his innovations on that front, we are pleased to present Mike Wilton with the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Kay Young - English
Over the last 25 years, Professor Kay Young has crafted a teaching style that makes accessible great works of Victorian Literature and Literature of the Mind. At both the graduate and undergraduate levels, Kay's teaching combines an unrivaled warmth with high standards for critical thought, continuously enabling students to engage deeply with material at the intersection of literature and neuroscience. Students collectively praise Kay's ability to draw out their curiosity as well as their confidence; she engages deeply with their analyses, reflecting an interest and care that inspires. Kay's own teaching philosophy unsurprisingly describes, “the study of literature as a living triangulated encounter between text, teacher, and student(s) where meaning-making is a shared experience.” Kay's teaching, one student notes, “embodies the UCSB motto fiat lux;” For her outstanding ability to make our students shine, we are pleased to recognize Kay Young with the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award
Jin Sook Lee - Education
In her 17 years at UCSB, Professor Jin Sook Lee has led an active and vibrant research program that has focused on student’s second language acquisition with a focus on ELS learners. She has served on over an impressive 65 PhD and MA committees for her own department of Education, as well as for the larger campus. Of those, she chaired 13 PhDs and 8 MA committees. In addition to her dissertation and MA committee work, she also served as the Graduate Advisor for the Department of Education. Between 2012- 2016, Professor Lee provided invaluable guidance to over 150 graduate students, both at the M.A. and Ph.D. levels, with empathy, fairness, and grace. Her graduate students, both current and former, all speak to her strong mentoring skills— how she skillfully prepared them for academic and personal challenges, provided them with opportunities for publishing and presenting at conferences, and offered them gentle and caring mentoring throughout their academic career. Dr. Lee’s mentoring reach with is wide and deep and we are honored to recognize her as an Outstanding Graduate Mentor.
Thuc-Quyen Nguyen - Chemistry and Biochemistry
In her 16 years at UCSB, Professor Thuc-Quyen Nguyen has chaired 31 PhD committees, 8 MA committees, mentored 27 postdoctoral scholars, and served as a research advisor for 40 undergraduate students. In addition, 16 PhD students received fellowships during their time at UCSB working under her supervision. Since 2015, Professor Nguyen has been among the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds and the Top 1% Highly Cited Researchers in Materials Science by Thomson Reuters and Clarivate Analytics. The recommendation letters from Professor Nguyen’s current students, former students, and colleagues speak unanimously and strongly about her mentoring achievements. One letter states, “Under her guidance, I have been more productive [than] I could have imagined and pushed myself to achieve better results … I have been a part of multiple national and international conferences and coauthored largely collaborative papers.” Praising her approach to mentoring, another letter states, “Prof. Nguyen is a truly excellent graduate mentor and has been for her entire 16-year career. She provides her students with the opportunity to do cutting-edge research in chemistry, promotes their science and shares the credit, and continues to aid the scientific careers long after they graduate from her group.” The Academic Senate congratulates Prof. Quyen on being one of this year’s Outstanding Graduate Mentors!
Stuart Sweeney - Geography
Stuart Sweeney, a UCSB Professor of Geography since 1998, has developed an impressive record of “stepping up” to mentor graduate students with a unique combination of patience and optimism. He has supervised, as chair or co-chair, 12 Ph.D. and 2 masters students, and been a member of nearly 70 other graduate committees. His advisees note that he consistently takes personal concern regarding their professional development and that his mentoring often begins during recruitment, as he checks in on their decision 'processing,' and continues well after graduation. Students collectively praise Professor Sweeney’s rigorous, exacting guidance and his availability to assist. Many graduate students rely on him for their personal development, and he offers support even to students who are not his formal mentees. A current student notes, "Stuart treats us equally but his mentorship is customized to each student’s abilities and needs. Though this is a difficult task to achieve he succeeds, and because of this (and his personality characteristics), his very diverse research group is a supportive, happy, healthy and effective research unit." Stuart’s former students have gone on to successful careers as faculty members and researchers at top university departments and in federal and major metropolitan agencies. We are delighted to recognize Stuart Sweeney as a winner of the Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award.
Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award
An Bui - Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology
A doctoral student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, An Bui, is highly praised by both faculty and students as an exceptional teacher who is brilliant, creative, and patient. Faculty noted that her wealth of experience, deeply student-centered teaching philosophy, and tireless effort all have contributed to student learning. As mentioned in the nomination letters, she has a remarkable ability to instill intellectual curiosity in her students. Students wrote, for example, weekly field trips as well as a special weekend trip to Morro Bay that she organized gave them incredible opportunities to learn and appreciate the diversity of animal life. They said they had never enjoyed a class so much or gained so much applicable experience in biology as they did with her. Also noted, her passion for the animal sciences was evident in her teaching, which helped them see the value in things that they had never imagined to exist before. Her teaching capabilities and collegiality with students clearly enriched their course experience and provided them with a strong foundation for ecological thought. One wrote, her endless patience and endless kindness helped all students stay engaged in the learning material whether in the lab or out in the field and sparked strong interest in field biology. Students and faculty alike also noted that she always goes above and beyond her duty to insure that students understand the field she cares so much about. We the Committee on Outstanding Teaching Assistants concur. An is clearly an exemplary educator and we are delighted to present her with the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.
Jordan Tudisco - Comparative Literature
Both students and faculty highly praise Jordan Tudisco, a graduate student in Comparative Literature, as an educator of the highest caliber, who has the ability to create an environment in which students feel affirmed and encouraged to explore their interpretations of the material. Jordan’s superior teaching abilities emerge from the words of their faculty nominators, who describe Jordan’s performance in the classroom as “masterful.” One student nominator observes that “Jordan not only provides students the opportunity to give their input on ways in which they can improve, but within the duration of the course they will check in to ensure students are understanding the material effectively.” Jordan’s dedication, knowledge and passion as both an academic and educator also emerge from their teaching philosophy; as part of their teaching techniques, Jordan emphasizes positionality and the value of the diversity and interdisciplinarity of students’ backgrounds and identities, thus encouraging their students to bring their full intersectional selves to class. As Jordan writes, “such a model fosters horizontal learning and ensures that knowledge does not only circulate through the figure of the teacher but that students create ideas with each other.” On behalf of the UCSB Community and Academic Senate, we are delighted to present Jordan Tudisco with an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.
Daniel Martini - Comparative Literature
A doctoral student in comparative literature, Daniel Martini is “wonderful and collegial, a born teacher, and is adored by his students.” Daniel’s abilities as a teaching assistant is described as “quite exceptional.” A professor for whom he has served as a teaching assistant raves that “Mr. Martini is […] gifted by a palpable love of teaching and derives evident vocational satisfaction in guiding the interloper through the networks of meaningfulness that undergird human experience.” One student writes that they “have yet to be in another class with such active and self-motivated discussion… It felt like true teamwork, a team that Daniel coached, as each student was contributing to my own learning.” Daniel’s teaching philosophy only boasts his pedagogical maturity and flexibility indicating that “the production of a teaching statement is an opportunity to dynamically reflect on one’s pedagogy,” indicating that his words are merely “a testament to [his] commitment to life-long learning, and the mutual exchange of ideas between teacher and students.” We are delighted to present such a remarkable educator with the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.
Stephenson Brooks Whitestone - Communication
Communication PhD Student Stephenson Brooks Whitestone is praised by faculty and students alike for her compassion, empathy, and ability to make every student feel "valued and capable." In courses such as Marketing Communication, Social Networks, and Gender and Communication, Stephenson works tirelessly to make students feel welcome and to "see themselves as leaders." A supervising professor describes how, "Students are drawn to her because she has a professional background, and yet, she is completely approachable…they trust her, respect her, and look to her for guidance." Students describe the extra time Stephenson takes to facilitate their understanding of class concepts, including creating detailed study guides, providing resources for free versions of course materials, and overseeing mini internship experiences that take their classwork into the real world. Stephenson's teaching philosophy prizes storytelling and the importance of diverse voices in the classroom. She incorporates a multitude of perspectives that help her students understand the experiences of others and in turn transform themselves. One student noted, "Because of her innovative teaching methods, I got to work with almost every person in my class. As a result, the entire section felt like family by the end of the year." For her dedication to students, using the transformative power of narratives, we are pleased to recognize Stephenson Brooks Whitestone as an Outstanding Teaching Assistant.