UCI Honors Teachers


Last Thursday’s 21st Annual Celebration of Teaching honored instructors from UC Irvine that have exhibited devotion and excellence in undergraduate education.
A crowd of over 100 academic appointees, staff faculty, family members and friends attended the awards ceremony. Dr. Rudi Berkelhamer, associate dean for the division of undergraduate education and co-sponsor of the event, welcomed the large attendance which has grown over the years.
The Celebration of Teaching ceremony is an opportunity for students, faculty and deans to nominate amazing instructors who not only show enthusiasm for stellar teaching, but also inspire students to pursue lifelong dreams. Nominated recipients were competitively selected for awards by the Academic Senate Council on Student Experience.
Dean’s honoree awards were presented first during the event. The 11 recipients were acknowledged by their respective school’s dean or associate dean.
Dr. Tesha Sengupta-Irving, from the School of Education, was one of the first 11 honorees awarded.
“Dr. Sengupta-Irving has a tremendous passion for the subject she teaches and cares deeply about student learning,” Dr. Mark Warschauer, associate dean in the School of Education, said. “Her courses are the largest in our school and she consistently earns among the highest student evaluations.”
A tribute to 16 pedagogical fellows followed the first half of Dean’s honoree recipients. Pedagogical fellows are teaching assistant (TA) mentors who volunteer to train more than 400 brand new TAs during the fall. Fellows are selected from a pool of competitive graduate students devoted to teaching.
Edelina Burciaga and Steven Frenda were two graduate students who were specially recognized as Most Promising Future Faculty Members. Edelina is a sociology student and Steven is a psychology & social behavior student. Both have excelled in teaching, research and community service. These students were rewarded a one quarter dissertation fellowship and fee waiver.
The last four awards presented during the evening came with a $1,000 grant for each recipient.
Dr. Joanne Christopherson, a lecturer from the School of Social Sciences, was given the Instructional Technology Innovation award.
“Dr. Christopherson has proven time and again to be a forward thinking instructor,” Shohreh Bozorgmehri, the director of academic & network applications at UC Irvine, said.
“She is one of the first professors to teach online at UCI with well-reviewed courses such as ‘Walking Dead’ — a massive online course that has 65,000 students enrolled.”
The award for TA development and mentoring was given to Dr. Debra Mauzy-Melitz, who hails from the Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences. According to Dr. De Gallow, who is director of the Teaching, Learning and Technology Center (TLTC), Dr. Mauzy-Melitz trains 22 graduate student TAs for classes with an enrollment of 1,200 undergrads. She is so invested in the success of her graduate students that during their TA training she gives them as much effective feedback as possible, observes their lessons and helps them interpret their student evaluations.
Dr. Jeanett Castellanos won the prestigious Lecturer of the Year award. She was recognized by Dr. Berkelhamer, who praised Castellanos for being a powerful mentor and instructor to more than 3,000 undergraduate students.
“To this date she’s placed over 140 students in graduate school — both at the masters and doctoral level,” Dr. Berkelhamer said. “Many of her mentees are professionals in academia, top administrators at flagship universities, tenured track faculty and community leaders. Many of them profess that she was the central person to their pursuit of a graduate education.”
The Professor of the Year award was the final prestigious award of the evening and was bestowed to Dr. Marcelo Wood from the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior. He has demonstrated excellence both in research and teaching. Aside from teaching and mentoring undergraduate students, Dr. Wood also publishes his learning and memory research in top scientific journals around the world.
Dr. De Gallow ended the evening ceremony with an appreciation to all teachers, “One of the things I have learned as a director in TLTC is that so many people here really do care about quality undergraduate education. They put an awful lot of time and effort into it. I really wish that could be acknowledged more. Kudos to all of you.”