The College of Arts & Sciences recognizes excellence in teaching and advising at the end of each academic year; this year’s award winners include Samantha Sheppard, recipient of the 2021 Robert and Helen Appel Fellowship for Humanists and Social Scientists; and Jun “Kelly” Liu and Phillip Milner, recipients of the 2021 Robert A. and Donna B. Paul Academic Advising Award.
“During this challenging year, our faculty have demonstrated exemplary caring and commitment to our students. These awards honor but a few of the fine people who worked so diligently to ensure that our students continued to receive the best possible education,” said Ray Jayawardhana, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “We are deeply grateful to the Appels, the Pauls and our other donors for their generosity, which makes it possible to acknowledge outstanding teaching and advising in the College.”
The Paul Excellence in Advising Award was established in 1992 to honor undergraduate advisers who make a difference in the lives of their students. Recipients receive one-half an academic year’s salary and fringe benefits for a leave that is taken within the next three years. The Robert and Helen Appel Fellowship has recognized faculty excellence since 1995 and gives recipients a semester's study leave, at full salary to write, develop new courses, conduct research or otherwise enrich their teaching and scholarship.
Sheppard, Mary Armstrong Meduski '80 Assistant Professor of performing and media arts, works on issues of race, gender, and representation in cinema and media; her most recent book is “Sporting Blackness: Race, Embodiment, and Critical Muscle Memory on Screen.” As Director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, Sheppard offers outstanding mentorship, advice and guidance to the fellows as well as their faculty mentors, and she has been instrumental in the fellows’ success in both research projects and graduate school applications. Her exemplary scholarship and pedagogy is reflected in her course evaluations, which emphasize both her rigor and high expectations as well as the humor and kindness she consistently demonstrates towards her students.
Liu, professor of molecular biology and genetics, uses the free-living nematode C. elegans as a model system to add to the general understanding of developmental processes, stem cell biology and cellular reprogramming, and fundamental mechanisms involved in cell-cell signaling. Her excellence in advising and willingness to go above-and-beyond has made a huge impact on her students and was previously recognized when she was named a Merrill Outstanding Educator by a 2014 Merrill Scholar and received the 2015 Kendall S. Carpenter Advising Award from the university. Since 2017, she has been co-director of her department’s diversity-focused summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates program; she has served in numerous other student-supporting administrative roles as well.
Milner, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology, works on designing new materials and strategies for effecting challenging synthetic transformations, as well as applying the strategies of synthetic and physical organic chemistry to the development of new porous materials with a broad range of potential applications. An outstanding advisor and caring mentor who always makes time for his students, Milner is dedicated to mentoring young students from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds to pursue scientific careers. He has served on search committees, volunteered for advising seminars, participated in graduate recruiting and is a co-chair and co-founder of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Other College of Arts and Sciences honors:
- The Stephen and Margery Russell Distinguished Teaching Award went to Julia Chang, assistant professor of Romance studies; Elisha Cohn, associate professor of literatures in English; Miloje Despic associate professor of linguistics; Chris Monroe, senior lecturer of Near Eastern studies; Judith Peraino, professor of music; and David Pizarro, associate professor of psychology; and to graduate students Olivia Graham, ecology and evolutionary biology; Aleksandra Maalaoui, mathematics; and Mikaela Spruill, psychology.
- The Morgan Chia-Wen Sze and Bobbi Josephine Hernandez Distinguished Teaching Prize went to David Smith, associate professor of psychology, and Lyrae Van Clief-Stephanon, associate professor of literatures in English.
- The Deanne Gebell Gitner ’66 and Family Annual Prize for Teaching Assistants went to graduate students Daniela Samur, history; Peter Shipman, Literatures in English; Stephanie Tepper, psychology; and Katherine Zaslavsky, sociology.
- The Rosenthal Advancement of College of Arts and Sciences Women Faculty Research Award went to Chiara Formichi, associate professor of Asian studies, and Julilly Kohler-Hausmann, associate professor of history. The Rosenthal Advancement of College of Arts and Sciences Women Graduate Research Award went to Megan Jeffreys, history, and Alec Pollak, literatures in English.
- The Sophie Washburn French Instructorship went to Stephanie Divo, senior lecturer of Asian studies, and Makda Weatherspoon, senior lecturer of Near Eastern studies.
Linda B. Glaser is news and media relations manager for the College of Arts & Sciences.