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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 17, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 35
The 2004 Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards

Just like coaches on a playing field, teachers sometimes draw on motivational techniques and a hands-on approach to get the most out of their students. The goal is knowledge. The opponent, unrealized potential.

Since 1992, the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association has recognized university faculty who excel in the art of instruction with its Excellence in Teaching Awards. The award allows each academic division of the university to publicly recognize the critical importance of teaching.

The Alumni Association annually provides funds to each school — this year the amount was $2,000 — that can be given to one winner, shared by up to four or attached to another, divisional teaching award. The nomination and selection process differ by school, but students must be involved in the selection process.

The following faculty members are recipients of the 2004 Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards.



Ron Brookmeyer, professor, Biostatistics; medium-size class

Ron Brookmeyer, Public Health

Ron Brookmeyer gets up suddenly from behind his desk, strides to the white board on his office wall and with a marker writes What is statistics? Without thinking, a visitor immediately writes What is statistics? in a notebook.

"See? You wrote it down," says Brookmeyer, a professor of biostatistics, who just won his third Golden Apple Award, as the alumni award is called in the School of Public Health. "And you were probably thinking, 'Hmmm? What's next?' If you're taking notes from the blackboard, from the discussion, you take ownership of the material — it's in your handwriting."

Although he now uses computer simulations and the occasional PowerPoint presentation to teach complicated statistical concepts, Brookmeyer, who has been teaching at the school since 1981, still waxes enthusiastic about the blackboard.

"There's a participation that occurs when you're working through your lecture together with the class. With the blackboard, everybody's on a level playing field, interactive. With PowerPoint, there's not the engagement or interaction — you'd have read the What is statistics? slide and said, 'I'll get the handout.' "

Everything Brookmeyer does in class is aimed at grabbing his students' attention and making sure that the technical concepts he's explaining are made real for them. "It's too easy to hang your hat on a formula," he says. "You have to explain, in a way that's grounded in common sense, why they're using that formula. Equations are helpful, but students need to have a gut understanding of them. Otherwise, the teacher is just hiding behind the equation."

Students must internalize biostatistical concepts if they are ever going to be able to apply a statistical method to new situations, he says. "If the student is only able to plug data into a formula, that's just a cookbook; a computer can do that," explains Brookmeyer, who chairs the school's Master of Public Health Program. "But a computer can't see how you can apply an old concept in a new way. The teacher is always trying to show the overall architecture of the ideas."

And there's an optimal architecture for every message. "There are lots of messages out there, and the instructor's job is not to compress more and more information into a short time or convey a sea of information but rather to show what's important, what's not, and build to that architecture."

Finally, Brookmeyer stresses that all teachers must find their own style, the classroom manner that feels most comfortable. "You can't fake it or force it," he says. "Don't try to be something you're not because what works for some won't work for others. For instance, some are great at humor ... me, I can't tell a joke."

The Department of Biostatistics offers three unique biostatistics curricula. An introductory course gives people the conceptual understanding they'll need to read scientific papers and tell whether the methods employed in a study are appropriate. The mid-level course, more practical and hands-on, is for those who want to analyze their own data. The most intense and theoretical of the three, and the one for which Brookmeyer just won the Golden Apple, is for those who aim to become professional biostatisticians.
— Rod Graham

Thomas Burke, professor, Health Policy and Management; small-size class

Thomas Burke, Public Health

For Thomas Burke, winning this year's Golden Apple was a great honor because it represents recognition from the students. He views teaching as his "fundamental calling," and it was the main reason he left a career in government years ago as a public health official for the state of New Jersey. Since joining the School of Public Health in 1990, Burke has received three Golden Apple awards for his teaching. The latest is for his introductory course on risk science.

"This was a total surprise, but a wonderful surprise," says Burke, who is a professor of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. "It is great to be recognized by the students, and it's so great to teach here because the students are so engaged and motivated. They are the public health leaders of the future."

Burke teaches Introduction to Risk Science, which is the principal tool to assess public health risks and turn that assessment into effective strategies and public policies. To motivate students, Burke designs the course around case studies of current public health problems and issues. This year, students examined the environmental health impacts of the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.

In addition to teaching, Burke serves as associate chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management. He also directs the Center for Excellence in Public Health Practice, the Center for Excellence in Environmental Health Tracking and the Risk Sciences and Public Policy Institute.
— Tim Parsons

John McGready, instructor, Biostatistics; large-size class

John McGready, Public Health

John McGready, this year's winner of the Golden Apple teaching award for the large-sized class category, says he never planned on being a teacher.

Instead, McGready, an instructor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Bloom-berg School of Public Health, began his statistical career working as a quantitative policy analyst at a public policy institute after graduating from Harvard. It was there that he realized what he liked doing most. "What I really enjoyed was communicating with my colleagues and with other agencies," he says. "I wanted to up the communication component of what I did."

Teaching, he says, was the next logical step.

After teaching math at a Washington, D.C., high school for a year, McGready stumbled upon an ad on the American Statistical Association Web site for his current Department of Biostatistics position. "It was just serendipity," he says. "I never went to that site."

That was five years ago, and this is McGready's second Golden Apple. He won his first in 2001, for the medium-sized class category. "Teaching a large class requires more coordination, more energy, more assistance and more time," he says. McGready also won the Teaching Award for Excellence in Distance Education, as voted upon by distance education students, in 2001.

This year's Golden Apple is for McGready's Statistical Reasoning in Public Health class, which he teaches both on campus and online. In addition to time spent teaching class and with students in office hours, McGready spends much of his day answering e-mail from students. The e-mail, he says, is especially important for online students, since it is the only way to get to know them.

"I like interaction with students from different backgrounds. I love turning them on to something they can make germane to what they're working on. I try to explain things in ways that are as intuitive as possible," he says. "Also, teaching keeps my own understanding high," he says.

How high? Ever the statistician, Mc-Gready adds, "I can't quantify how much learning and relearning I've done in the five years I've been at the school."
— Kristi Birch



Jeffrey Brooks, professor, History Department

Jeffrey Brooks, Arts and Sciences

Jeffrey Brooks was one of 18 faculty members in the Krieger School to be nominated for an Excellence in Teaching Award this year, a field that was narrowed to 10 and from which the selection committee chose Brooks.

"One of the things that was really striking was how broad a group the recommendations came from," says Adam Falk, vice dean of faculty and a past winner of an Excellence in Teaching Award. The nominations for Brooks came from history majors and nonmajors, from undergraduates and from graduate students. "They all spoke of his intense commitment to them personally," Falk says. "He brought out in all of them their best abilities."

All those nominating Brooks noted how he managed to help them find the perfect academic project to work on, because he took time to get to know them. "What you see with Professor Brooks is an appreciation for a teaching style focused on relationships," Falk says. "He really got to know his students, not only as people but intellectually."

One student who nominated Brooks wrote that he "masterfully combined close attention to his students' work progress, vigorous training in research and analysis, and encouragement to become an independent scholar capable of choosing one's own agenda and carrying it out."

"I believe that his loyalty to students is his greatest strength as a mentor," wrote another student, recommending Brooks for the award.

Another wrote, "He loves his job, and he loves working with students. Hopkins is very lucky to have such a brilliant mind and genuinely wonderful person."
— Glenn Small

Also recognized by the Krieger School for their skills in the classroom were teaching assistants Caline Karam, Biology; Lars Tonder, Political Science; and Mike Krebs, Mathematics.



JoAnn Kulesza, music director, Opera Department

JoAnn Kulesza, Peabody

"If I had to pick one person on the Peabody campus that has made the greatest contribution to my development as a professional musician and performer, it would be JoAnn." Thus began the flood of accolades for JoAnn Kulesza, this year's recipient for the Excellence in Teaching Award.

Kulesza has been a member of the Peabody faculty since 1990. As music director of the Peabody Opera Department, she has been principal coach for productions ranging from Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio to Wagner's Walkure, from Weil's Three Penny Opera to Zimmermann's Die Weisse Rose, not only coaching but also conducting the latter two. Her experience and creativity have taken her into leadership roles as chair of the faculty assembly, the Self-Report Committee for the National Association of Schools of Music and the Peabody Committee on Community, Cooperation and Civility. She freely gives of her time and energy as a member of these and every other committee on which she serves.

About her teaching philosophy, Kulesza says she believes "people live up to the level of expectation that is given to them" and that she tries to get students to give "the best that they can give and they can be." For example, she says, "Music has an integrity in what the composer wanted," and she doesn't let students lose that integrity just because they are students. "I tell students to get to what the composer intended."

When asked about her enthusiasm for volunteering for nonteaching tasks, she responds, "Peabody is a wonderful environment. I believe in a holistic approach to the place, students and faculty. There is no obstacle that can't be moved with a positive expectation."

To her students, she is not just a provider of information but a mentor, role model and friend. They know, Kulesza says, "that excellence in performance is not just desired but mandatory." At the same time, students commented that they are grateful that Kulesza is "organized, efficient, concerned for the well-being of the students AND a good musician ... a rare combination." She is "not only artistically and musically phenomenal but also a human being who truly cares for all students in the Opera Department."
— Kirsten Lavin



To be announced at commencement.



Theodore M. Bayless, professor, Gastroenterology

Theodore Bayless, Medicine

For Theodore "Ted" Bayless, his ultimate goal in teaching is to encourage patient-oriented care, communication and research.

With humanity and reflection, he teaches students, fellows, junior faculty and even — he might say "above all" — patients. Taking more time than most physicians can spare, Bayless teaches his patients about their disease and its causes, and trainees learn how to interact with patients by watching him.

"The first question I ask of patients is, 'What can I do to help?' and then, 'What else should I know about?'" Bayless says. As a result of this dedication, patients routinely ask if someone can "clone" him.

Bayless, professor of medicine and director of the Meyerhoff Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, has influenced medical education for four decades at Johns Hopkins. He first got hooked on teaching in the 1960s, when friends who were house officers asked him to give a couple of guest lectures. Those lectures led to his co-founding of Hopkins' Human Pathophysiology course in 1977. He also has coordinated the basic medical clerkship and curriculum for many years and is co-director of the continuing medical education course Topics in Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases.

His influence extends beyond Hopkins, as he has edited 11 books for practicing physicians and developed audio-visual teaching materials now used in more than 100 medical schools. "I try to teach as many people as possible, even if it's not in person," he says.

Bayless says that he appreciates the Alumni Association's recognition of a commitment to teaching, which usually comes at the expense of a doctor's family time.

"I was very lucky to have started my career at a time when clinicians had more time to balance teaching, research and patient care," says Bayless, who adds that he's honored to be among the excellent teachers — past and present — recognized by the Excellence in Teaching Awards. "Today, junior faculty almost have to choose between laboratory-focused research or medical practice with a heavy patient roster, but awards that focus on education can encourage junior faculty and fellows to make time to teach."

He advises the graduating medical school class of 2004 to develop relationships with their patients, to listen, learn and educate. "Understand why people have particular symptoms, know which medicines are going to work best and collaborate with basic researchers," he says. "Ask questions."
— Diane Bovenkamp



Susan Appling, assistant professor; baccalaureate level

Lori Edwards, Sue Appling and Gayle Page, Nursing

Susan Appling, a 1973 graduate of the School of Nursing, is now an assistant professor and a nurse practitioner in the Breast Center of The Johns Hopkins Hospital. She teaches Principles and Applications of Nursing Technologies and often can be found moving quickly back and forth between the school's three skills labs, where her baccalaureate students practice essential nursing tasks on manikin "patients." Appling monitors the large group of students as they learn what she describes as the "soup to nuts" of nursing — everything from baths to EKGs.

Appling has the pleasure — and challenge — of working with students from the very beginning of their nursing education. "They're anxious and excited," she says. "I'm teaching the things they classically think of as nursing, though, and it's definitely a hands-on experience, so it's not a hard sell." Working with the new students requires great skill and compassion, and according to her students, Appling has both, earning her her fourth teaching award in her 20 years of teaching. Her students describe her as "warm, welcoming and sensitive to students" and credit her for "bolstering ... confidence and demonstrating great patience, humor and insight."

Appling says she feels her job is to work with her students' strengths, and when she sees their limitations, to help them strategize ways to overcome them. "By the end of the course, I want my students to meet the objectives and learn what they need to know. The bottom line is to get them there but also to have fun, so hopefully they get there feeling good about themselves."
— Ming Tai

Lori Edwards, instructor; baccalaureate level

One of Lori Edwards' greatest joys of teaching is to hear from her former students about their lives after graduation and to find out that she helped them to see the world in a different way. Many alumni contact her after graduation, but her students this year didn't wait to show their appreciation. In April, their nominations earned Edwards a faculty teaching award.

Edwards teaches students through several courses, including the popular Complementary/Alternative Health Care elective, and as coordinator of the school's Community Outreach Program and Peace Corps Fellows Program. Students report that she takes the time to get to know them and "reaches out to and meets each of her students at their level in a sincere and very heartfelt manner."

She displays a deep commitment to the community as well. "Our returned Peace Corps volunteers have worked in remote villages around the world," she explains. "Through community outreach, I help transition them into working in an urban environment." Before placing the students in East Baltimore and the surrounding neighborhoods, she makes sure they have a clear perspective of the community. "That's my commitment to the community."

One of Edwards' life goals is to help people and to inspire them to grow. Her philosophy on teaching is similar. "Teaching is facilitating students on their journey of becoming," she says. "It is inspiring students and leading them to realize their fullest potential.

"We have the best students," she adds. "So it is a wonderful joy to teach them and share the journey with them."

Her students have called Edwards "an inspiration to follow."
— M.T.

Dominique Ashen, assistant professor; graduate level

Dominique Ashen, Nursing

Dominique Ashen wasn't expecting to be named a recipient of this year's faculty teaching awards. "It was a wonderful surprise," she says.

Ashen, an assistant professor, teaches pathophysiology to nurse practitioner students. She works with a diverse group of about 40 students, some of whom have been nurses for a while, others who are coming straight from the baccalaureate program to earn their master's and all with different experiences and different goals.

"Pathophysiology is a difficult class. There is a lot of information to learn and integrate, but the students are very bright and motivated. They are also very oriented to patient care," she notes. "My goal is to help them think at a more cellular and molecular level so that they can understand the basis of disease and the basis of treatment."

Students consider Ashen an excellent role model professionally and academically and cite her "enthusiasm to teach, enhanced by her excellent knowledge of the material."

A nurse practitioner herself, Ashen spends 60 percent of her time in clinical practice at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. She practices both at the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center and Johns Hopkins Heart Health at Timonium. "I've always loved to teach, and I love clinical as well," she says. "I am very lucky I have been given the opportunity to do both."
— M.T.

Gayle Page, associate professor; graduate level

Gayle Page works closely with doctoral candidates on their research and teaches small-size classes such as Philosophy of Science in Nursing. "The interesting thing about teaching Ph.D. students is that we're on equal playing fields, so it really is more of an exchange," says Page, an associate professor. "I learn as much from my students as they learn from me."

Page's own research is in the effects of pain on the immune system. Recent studies have shown the importance of controlling pain in postoperative cancer patients to reduce tumor growth. Her current investigations delve into the implications of perinatal and postnatal pain.

Page's goal for her students is for them not only to think but to be able to support what they think. She acknowledges that that can be perceived as quite challenging. "I like to challenge my students," she says, "so that I can see the wheels churning."

Her students tend to appreciate that challenge. One noted that Page "walks the fine line between the dual missions of accepting students for who they are yet never allowing them to be less than they can be." Another said she "displays a discerning eye for the unique gifts of every student and does everything in her power to facilitate students' achieving their full potential."

Page possesses another attribute so important in teaching doctoral students. Said another student, "She fosters a true passion and excitement for nursing science."
— M.T.



Ann Kaiser Stearns, Division of Public Safety Leadership

Ann Kaiser Stearns, SPSBE

Ann Kaiser Stearns is in the business of resilience — specifically human resilience — and how people overcome and learn from episodes of crisis and loss in their lives.

Kaiser Stearns, with a master of divinity degree from Duke University and a doctorate from Union Institute & University, is in her 34th year of college teaching. She is a professor at the Community College of Baltimore County and teaches for CCBC at the Baltimore County Police Academy. For SPSBE's Police Executive Leadership Program, known as PELP, she has taught 10 separate courses, including Developmental Psychology and Theories of Personality.

"My goal is to take the skills and concepts of psychology and make them work in public service," Kaiser Stearns says. "It's been my experience that the police officers with the best self-understanding and insight into human behavior make the most effective public servants and leaders within their forces."

The bulk of Kaiser Stearns' research has been in the areas of crisis and resilience, specifically studying those individuals who have faced adversity in their lives and who have subsequently grown through it. Law enforcement personnel face "more exposure to extreme events and resultant stress in the first three years of their careers than most people do in their entire lives," she points out.

Kaiser Stearns is the best-selling author of three books, Living Through Personal Crisis, Coming Back: Rebuilding Lives After Crisis and Loss and Living Through Job Loss. Her most recent research on grief management, published in The Maryland Psychologist, includes "Trauma Aftermath: Who is Really at Risk?" and "Resilience in the Aftermath of Trauma and Adversity."

Other recent research centers on the traits police and other emergency responders possess, how they make decisions and what perspectives and attitudes most lead to effective resilience. Components in resiliency that she continues to study include the importance of emotional and community support, feeling needed and the importance of work, finding meaning in suffering, and the strength conveyed through a sense of faith. "I find my classes with PELP's police executives most rewarding and interesting, she says. "Hopkins students are highly motivated, possess great integrity and represent law enforcement leaders from across the state of Maryland as well as Washington, D.C., and other nearby jurisdictions. I definitely learn as much from them as they do from me. The longer I interact with police officers, the more I continue to learn."

Sheldon Greenberg, director of the Division of Public Safety Leadership, says, "Ann continually receives excellent reviews from her students. Her dedication to the law enforcement profession is evidenced by her extensive work with a number of regional and police departments and the Concerns of Police Survivors Organizations. This work directly supports the mental well-being of officers and their families."
— Andy Blumberg

Deborah Fagan, Graduate Division of Education

Deborah Fagan, SPSBE

Deborah Fagan, who has been teaching since 1974, continues to give back to Johns Hopkins.

In 1991, she was selected as a recipient for a Hopkins federally funded grant program focusing on inclusion for students with disabilities. She graduated from the Graduate Division of Education in 1993 with a master's degree in Special Education, then began teaching as a faculty associate.

Ten years later, Fagan is still teaching in the division's Mild to Moderate Disabilities and Inclusion programs. She currently teaches three courses: Instructional Planning and Management in Special Education, Learning Strategies and Differentiating the Secondary Curriculum for Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities.

Fagan's teaching career, which has included 14 years in the Montgomery County public school system, has always involved special education. "I always wanted to teach kids who faced additional challenges," she says. "It proved very fulfilling to me, plus I found that I had discovered a niche area for my talents. Now that I am teaching others the same skills that I learned and practice, it seems to complete the circle."

From 1996 to 1999, Fagan was co-director of the Special Education Teacher-Immersion Training partnership between Hopkins and Montgomery County. The county school system hired Hopkins special education degree students as teaching assistants, then, upon the completion of their studies, promoted them to special education teachers.

In 1999, Fagan became one of a handful of pupil personnel workers for Montgomery County public schools, acting as a liaison between pupils, their families, the schools and the community. Her experiences in the position, she says, enrich her teaching.

"I find my Hopkins students are a pleasure to teach," Fagan says. "They bring many different backgrounds into the classroom. Many times these people have already had very successful careers in business, law or other areas, but they've always had a passion to teach. They're not ambivalent about it."

Edward Pajak, associate dean and director of the Graduate Division of Education, says, "Deborah consistently receives outstanding course evaluations. However, more than any numeric score on course evaluations are the comments that have become standard in describing how her teaching impacts graduate students' learning — and the educational experiences they, in turn, provide for students with disabilities."
— A.B.

Catherine Morrison, Graduate Division of Business

Catherine Morrison, SPSBE

The cornerstone of Catherine Morrison's academic career was cemented in place by her experience on a factory assembly line, a summer job she held to finance part of her undergraduate education. "I learned that I liked to see things come together, and that a disagreement between workers anywhere on the assembly line can disrupt production for the entire plant," she recalls. This interest would develop into a lifelong study of mediation, conflict management and negotiation skills for the practitioner faculty member in the Business of Health's MBA in Medical Services Management program.

In 1981, while working at the University of Texas Medical Branch as the administrator for a microbiology department, she had what she describes as a turning point. "I loved the complexity of working in an academic medical center. I wasn't destined to develop a vaccine for cholera, but every administrative or financial problem that I solved for one of the faculty freed them up to work on things that really could potentially change the world," she says. "I was hooked."

Morrison was also noticing how academic medicine frequently intersected with law. It was then that she had a "career epiphany." Believing that lawyers were going to be the future administrative leaders in health care management, Morrison headed to law school at the University of Pennsylvania. She concentrated on transactional law, learning the legal equivalent of what had captured her interest on the assembly line — "what it took to make things work."

After three years practicing transactional law, Morrison joined the University of Maryland at Baltimore's academic health, human services and law campus, where she managed consulting groups that provided IT, internal audit and management consulting services; served as an adviser to the vice president for administration on policy, planning and contractual matters; and assumed management responsibilities for affirmative action and human resources matters.

At that time, she began to consider what additional skills she would need to become a senior leader at an academic health center. In particular, she sought to gain experience in clinical management. She learned about a position as director of administration and finance for the Department of Pediatrics at Penn State's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and while she was interviewing for the position, which she ultimately took, the chair of the Humanities Department in the College of Medicine approached her about the possibility of teaching part time. "So the two opportunities came together," she says.

By then, 1993, the escalating costs of health care had become a national issue, and the use of mediation in health care was in its early stages. Morrison says she was intrigued. She "fell in love with conflict management," she says, during a course in general mediation at the University of New Mexico Law School. In 1997, she founded Morrison Associates, a consulting practice providing strategic advice, negotiation and conflict management.

For the Business of Health's MBA in Medical Services Management Program, Morrison teaches its required course in negotiation. She also teaches a similar course for the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"I love working with SPSBE students," Morrison says. "I'm so impressed with their energy levels and commitment. These are people on the front lines of leadership in the medical field, and we're helping to equip them with the latest tools they need to do their jobs even more effectively. We constantly learn from each other."

Douglas Hough, chair of the Business of Health, says, "Catherine's course evaluations have been exemplary. Her extraordinary combination of skill, experience and caring shows in every aspect of her teaching."
— A.B.

George Scheper, Division of Undergraduate Studies

George Scheper, SPSBE

George Scheper remembers the first third of his career as an English professor, happily teaching "traditional" courses in literature. Then an event happened that, he recalls, "changed my life."

That event was a 1977 project grant in interdisciplinary studies from the American Association for Higher Education. "It transformed me from a 'typical' English professor to an interdisciplinary humanities academic," he says. In turn, with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he was able to establish the humanities program he coordinates at the Community College of Baltimore County.

Scheper, who earned his doctorate from Princeton, has been teaching for more than 20 years at SPSBE, where he is a faculty associate in the Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies program.

Scheper says he looks at the subject matter he teaches as always interdisciplinary in nature in the sense that what is taught "needs a richer context to be fully appreciated, so my students can visualize the subject matter in a more complex, as well as relevant, social context." His courses have covered a wide range of topics, including comparative religion; Renaissance Florence; the Bible and literature; religion and literature; and religion and art. During his tenure he also has done extensive research on ancient American civilizations, including Meso-American and particularly Mayan culture.

In all, he has received seven grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, taking 24 college instructors at a time to Mexico and Guatemala for six-week seminars that explore archaeological sites, ancient ruins, contemporary traditional villages, schools and universities. "It introduces new areas of the curriculum for us to share among ourselves and with our students."

Scheper says he defines himself as a teacher-scholar. "There is a phrase from Chaucer — 'gladly learn, and gladly teach' — that mirrors my philosophy quite nicely," he says.

Toni Ungaretti, dean of the division, shares some comments from some of Scheper's students: "Can we have a Dr. Scheper University?" "I have never worked so hard or learned so much." "Never let him go."

"These quotes from student evaluations reflect George's impact on our undergraduate students," Ungaretti says. "George is a distinguished scholar in ancient American civilizations, a dedicated faculty member in Interdisciplinary Studies and a beloved teacher of his students. He consistently contributes to efforts to ensure that excellence is the hallmark of our Interdisciplinary Studies program."
— A.B.



Louis Whitcomb, associate professor, Mechanical Engineering

Louis Whitcomb, Engineering

In the classroom, Louis Whitcomb, associate professor in the Whiting School's Department of Mechanical Engineering, must be doing something right. For the second time in four years, he's been honored for his teaching skills.

One of the students who supported his selection for a 2004 Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award said Whitcomb's "interest, enthusiasm and, most importantly, his ability to incite that same interest and excitement in his students make him worthy of this award."

Another student added, "He encourages participation in class, is outwardly cheerful, clear in his teaching and extremely approachable. I had gone to his office a number of times ready to give up on a number of things, and through his encouragement and advice, always left with a new sense of determination."

In 2001, when Whitcomb received the Student Council Excellence in Teaching Award within the Whiting School, he was similarly hailed for his enthusiasm as an instructor and his devotion to students.

Whitcomb, whose specialties include control systems for undersea vehicles and medical robotics, has been participating in a research mission at sea most of this month, so he was unreachable for comment on this newest accolade. When he received his 2001 teaching honor, however, he expressed mild discomfort at being singled out for his instructional skills. "I think there are a lot of people at Hopkins who are more deserving," he said. "Within Mechanical Engineering alone, we have a lot of awesome teachers." Regarding his enthusiastic teaching style, Whitcomb said, "If you're not excited about the subject you're researching and teaching, you should get another job. If you're interested in the material and you show it, then the students will be interested, too."

In 2002, Whitcomb obtained funding for and oversaw the construction of a 43,000-gallon testing tank lab in Maryland Hall for developing oceanographic research technology. Whitcomb, who collaborates with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, involves undergraduates and graduate students in projects within the new lab.

He joined the Hopkins faculty in 1995.
— Phil Sneiderman

Also recognized by the Whiting School for his skills in the classroom was teaching assistant Simil Roupe, Biomedical Engineering.


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