About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 22, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 35
The 2006 Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards

Weapons of mass destruction, music theory and organic chemistry aren't subjects that often find themselves rubbing elbows, but at Johns Hopkins this year, they have much in common: They garnered prestigious awards for the professors who impart knowledge about them to students who clearly appreciate their teachers' classroom talents.

Since 1992, the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association has annually 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 nomination and selection processes differ by school, but students must be involved in the selection.

The funds provided to each school by the Alumni Association can be given to one winner, shared by up to four or attached to another, divisional teaching award; this year, the amount was $2,000.

The following faculty members are recipients of the 2006 Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards.


Bloomberg School of Public Health

Alvaro Muñoz, Epidemiology, small class size

Alvaro Muñoz, Public Health
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

Alvaro Muñoz credits his mother with inspiring his teaching style. "When I became a new teaching assistant in the last years of college," he remembers, "I started worrying about how exactly to teach. My mother — who was not a teacher herself — was listening and finally said, 'When you teach, mimic what you do.' "

That's exactly what Muñoz, a professor of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, has done for the past 15 years in Advanced Methods for Design and Analysis of Cohort Studies, the course for which he's just been awarded a 2006 Golden Apple, as the award is called in the school.

"In this course, we want our students to mimic the way researchers really write a paper," Muñoz says. The students in AMDACS work in teams, as actual scientists do, and they must craft a methods section and a results section of a real scientific manuscript. In this way, the students learn early on how to put together a scientific paper, so they can do it themselves when they become involved with cohort studies.

Moreover, the students are working with real data sets that Muñoz and his research team have gleaned from the studies with which they are directly involved. "The key, of course, is that we bridge research and teaching," Muñoz says.

Each two-hour AMDACS class is divided into two segments: First, the professor delivers a one-and-a-half-hour lecture, then two students talk for 15 minutes each about what they've been doing on their manuscripts. Those students in the audience serve as reviewers, critiquing their classmates' presentations — again, just like bona fide researchers: "Why not try such-and-such?" "That's not right; what about this?" And since they're working with genuine data, the students sometimes pose new questions that eventually germinate new research projects.

AMDACS and its teacher have thrilled Sufia S. Dadabhai, a Ph.D. candidate in epidemiology and a research assistant at the school's Center for Communication Programs. "More than any professor I've ever had, Dr. Muñoz really sees us as the next generation of scientists, and this, I think, motivates him to teach us skills in a way that we will actually be able to go out and use."

Her classmate, Chanelle Howe, a doctoral pre-candidate, stresses her professor's dedication. "A testament to Dr. Muñoz's commitment is the fact that, throughout AMDACS, he spent countless hours outside of class helping students to solidify concepts discussed in lecture, develop research questions for the final project and debug difficult statistical code."

Finally, no profile of Alvaro Muñoz would be complete without mention of his wit. As Dadabhai says, "He is hysterical. He had his students in fits of laughter at times — in a research methods class, which is not an easy task." (When asked by a visitor, "... and this Golden Apple is for the small-group category, right?" Muñoz fires back, "Well, I'm a small guy!"). As small as the AMDACS class is, Muñoz stresses that the joint efforts of colleagues Haitao Chu, Chris Cox, Stephen Cole and Stephen Gange are necessary to bring the research into the classroom.

Orin Levine, an associate professor in International Health, recalls that the paper he wrote for Muñoz's course got a B+ — and a brief note from Muñoz: "Needs more salsa, Maestro!" Says Levine, "That's the best comment I ever received at this school."
— Rod Graham

Jonathan Links, Environmental Health Sciences, medium class size

Jonathan Links, Public Health
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

If the eyes are said to be a window into the soul, then one's office could also be said to give a glimpse into the mind. Walking into Jonathan Links' office, you immediately notice the piles of labeled manila files neatly organized along his desk, the coffee cups on his window sill that are almost perfectly aligned by height and the multiple radiation and toxicology books on his shelves. But you can't help but see the one book that doesn't quite fit in — The Dilbert Principle. Links, who is extremely dedicated to his work, also has a fun side. He admits that he is an oddball at Johns Hopkins, but explains, "I have a lot of energy. I do things fast, and I'm very efficient."

Links, who is director of the Bloomberg School's Center for Public Health Preparedness, received his first Golden Apple this year for teaching Terrorism and Public Health. He says that the secret to successful teaching is that "you have to absolutely love the material and love the students."

Terrorism and Public Health covers weapons of mass destruction and how to prepare for and respond to terrorist attacks. It also covers natural disasters and man-made accidents because many of the principles of terrorism preparedness and response apply to these events as well. The final exam for the course is quirky and not what you might expect for a graduate-level public health course: Write a news release that covers the opening hours of a terrorist event.

"The students think they are coming into a course just to learn about dirty bombs, chemical weapon releases and other terrorism-related events, but really we teach them concepts that apply to any disaster. We especially emphasize the psychological and social aspects, so communication to the public is an important aspect of the course," Links explains.

A professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Links also finds time to act as Baltimore City's expert on radiation, working with the city's health, fire and police departments on preparedness plans. With such an interest in current happenings, it is no wonder his students praise the up-to-the-minute flavor of his teaching.

"Johns Hopkins sets the bar high in terms of faculty performance, and I found Dr. Links to have extensive academic and practical public health experience," says Robert Boucher, a student in Links' most recent Terrorism and Public Health class. "He makes a concerted effort to be up-to-date and thorough when teaching a class. As a mid-career student, I appreciated how informed he was and especially how he was respectful of the various points of view expressed by students."

Although this is Links' first Golden Apple, he has received four Advising, Mentoring and Teaching Recognition Awards since he began teaching at the Bloomberg School in 1983. He acknowledges that being included with the other Bloomberg School Golden Apple awardees was an honor. "I didn't magically know how to be a good teacher," he says. "I learned by observing the fantastic teachers here. I still aspire to be like them."
— Kenna L. Lowe

Scott Zeger, Biostatistics, large class size

Scott Zeger, Public Health
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

When the votes for this year's Golden Apple teaching award were tabulated, the numbers added up in Scott Zeger's favor. He is the 2006 winner in the large class category for Statistical Methods in Public Health, an introductory course that teaches students to understand and conduct biostatistical analyses of public health problems. As the Frank Hurley and Catharine Dorrier Professor in Biostatistics and chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Zeger knows numbers. Here are some to consider:

3: Zeger has received the Golden Apple three times. His other awards came in 1987 and 2002.

4: Over the past five years, four instructors were honored with the Golden Apple for teaching Statistical Methods in Public Health. Following Zeger's award in 2002, James Tonascia, also a professor in the Department of Biostatistics, received the honor in 2003. Marie Diener-West, the Abbey-Merrell Professor of Biostatistics Education, won the Golden Apple in 2005, her fifth overall. Zeger and Diener-West split duties teaching terms one to three of the course; Tonascia teaches the fourth.

"Teaching this course is very much a team effort," Zeger says. "I think the students gave me the award this time because they felt the course was excellent — Marie and the TAs made that so."

12: A complex and demanding course like Statistical Methods in Public Health takes an incredible amount of time and planning. To pull it off, the professors rely on a team of 12 teaching assistants. The course also has its own Web master, Michele Donithan, who manages the online portions of the class, which include downloadable versions of Zeger's, Diener-West's and Tonascia's lectures.

34: To assist students, Zeger and his fellow professors and teaching assistants make themselves available to students up to 34 hours a week.

380: Three hundred eighty students take Statistical Methods in Public Health each session. The course attracts students from all degree programs and from every discipline throughout the Bloomberg School. Zeger describes the course as a basic introduction to biostatistics that teaches students how to interpret biostatistical information and perform and present their own biostatistical analyses.

10: Every 10 days students are given a public health problem to solve using a data set. "The course is taught with an eye towards making the students useful," Zeger says. "It is taught in a way to help students learn skills so they can conduct their own data analyses."

Ming-Wen An, a senior teaching assistant for the course, says Zeger and the other professors are always trying to push the boundaries with their teaching to "take it up a level" by creating the best learning experience.

For example, Zeger says, students were asked to examine how body mass index measurements of the populations had changed over the past several years using data developed through taking an in-class health survey. Students have also analyzed the cost of medical procedures and the survival of children in Nepal using other existing data sets.

20: The students who write the best analysis for each project win a $20 gift certificate to Nacho Mama's. The coveted prize is a long-standing tradition of the course. This year, the students treated Zeger and Diener-West and their spouses to dinner at the popular Baltimore restaurant.

88: The faculty of the Department of Biostatistics has been teaching students for the past 88 years. The department was established as one of the world's first academic departments of statistical science. Zeger notes that the School of Public Health has a long tradition of excellent teaching of quantitative analysis to its students, dating back to Lowell Reed, Margaret Merrill and Helen Abbey.

"One of the department's most important functions is to teach biostatistics ideas and methods to students throughout the school," Zeger says. "Providing students with quantitative skills gives them a leg up in their careers."

Peter Winch, International Health, Internet class

Peter Winch, Public Health
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

For Peter Winch, the live talks in his online course Introduction to International Health can be a "bit of a challenge."

His students are at computer keyboards scattered across the globe, while Winch is in front of a microphone in the Bloomberg School of Public Health's multimedia studio. To cover the points in his talk, he works at a fast pace, stopping frequently to field students' e-mailed questions. By the end of the hourlong session, Winch is, quite frankly, pooped.

"It's very tiring because everybody's asking questions all at once, and you're trying to respond, and that may also involve looking something up," he says. "There's a lot to do."

Apparently the multitasking works. Winch, an associate professor in International Health, received the first Golden Apple for Best Internet Course, a new category in the annual teaching awards sponsored by the Student Assembly to reflect the school's growing number of online course offerings.

"It's a big honor to get a Golden Apple at all because the competition is so intense," says Winch, who twice received the Student Assembly's Advising, Mentoring and Teaching Recognition Award, in 1993 and 1999.

On the faculty since 1988, Winch first taught Introduction to International Health online in 2003. The course — on the Internet and in the classroom — aims to introduce students to approaches used by various countries in solving health problems and to the role of international health organizations. A student's final grade is based mainly on a two-part assignment in which students first do a health assessment on a country of their choice. Winch then asks them to imagine they have $5 million to develop a plan to improve the country's health.

"Students take this course to learn something about the topic, but they also want to get linked into the world of international health," he says. "They want to get involved in work, but they don't know where to start."

That description applied to MSN/MPH candidate Annika Hawkins when she took Winch's Internet course last spring. "The projects that he developed were incredibly effective at teaching us how to do research and synthesize it to come up with an assessment of a country's health," says Hawkins, who researched Haiti. "We were learning it by doing it."

This spring term Winch's online classroom of 65 included students from Asia, Europe, Africa and Canada as well as the Baltimore-Washington area. Although they may be downloading his pre-recorded lectures thousands of miles away, students are able to access course features designed to bridge the distance gap. They can post comments and questions to an online bulletin board system, and an online class roster includes student profiles and photos.

Winch said he "encourages or cajoles" students with similar interests to communicate with each other. And in the next couple of months, a technology upgrade will allow the school's Internet students to talk to instructors in real time during live talks by using headset microphones that attach to their computers.

Despite the physical separation of teacher and student in an online format, Winch made a strong impression on Hawkins. The course assignments, and Winch's comments on her papers, not only contributed to Hawkins' decision to travel to Haiti last winter to provide primary care services in mountain villages but encouraged her to pursue a career in international health. "He was able to generate such interest in the subject and be so inspiring," she says. "It speaks powerfully to his ability as a teacher because he didn't have that face-to-face piece to work with."
— Jackie Powder


Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

David Klein, Chemistry

David Klein, Arts and Sciences
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

When David Klein arrived at Johns Hopkins in the fall of 1991, he had no idea what he wanted to study or what career path he ultimately would take.

"I knew only that I liked science. That's about it," he says.

That all changed during his sophomore year, when the Houston native found himself sitting absolutely spellbound in an organic chemistry class taught by Lawrence Principe, now a professor in the Department of the History of Science and Technology.

"I was just fascinated and found myself looking forward to each and every class," says Klein. "I realized that I had found what I wanted to do and to be. I wanted to be like Professor Principe and teach organic chemistry at a place like Johns Hopkins."

The rest, as they say, is history. Not only is Klein a senior lecturer teaching organic chemistry to premedical students and other undergraduates through the Krieger School's Department of Chemistry, but his Excellence in Teaching Award is proof positive that he also has succeeded in his quest to be an effective, dynamic teacher.

"Teaching is what I am all about, and getting this award is a wonderful honor because it tells me I am on the right track," Klein says. "I love being in front of the students and talking about organic chemistry and getting them as excited about it as I was all those years ago, in Larry's class."

Klein uses frequent jokes, anecdotes and even stories about his growing family (his wife just gave birth to their fifth child) to "keep my students laughing and interested." He also prides himself on being able to concoct clever analogies that help his students understand complex organic chemistry concepts.

The approach works, students say.

"He makes the material — which can be overwhelming in its entirety — very manageable and understandable," commented one student. "His lectures were succinct and extremely coherent. Everyone I have spoken to got something out of the class."

Another reported that "organic chemistry is dreaded by premedical students everywhere. Dr. Klein makes learning organic chemistry a positive and rewarding learning experience."

Klein's passion for explaining his favorite subject to students also prompted him to write a supplemental text titled Organic Chemistry as a Second Language: Translating the Basic Concepts. Published by Wiley Publishing, the book currently is in use by students at 100 universities.

Klein said his goal in writing the text was to help even nonscientists "become fluent in organic chemistry."

Klein often refers to teaching as "his great passion," and his students have proved that his passion is contagious.
— Lisa De Nike

Trina Schroer, Biology

Tina Schroer, Arts and Sciences
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

Ask Trina Schroer what she values most about teaching Johns Hopkins undergraduates, and she doesn't hesitate a second.

"I feel truly privileged to have the opportunity to educate young people of whom a subset will clearly be the leaders of tomorrow," says the professor in the Krieger School's Department of Biology. "To know that they will remember things they learned in my courses forever, just as I still remember some of the things I learned in college, means a lot to me."

Coming from a professor who is known for her frankness and "telling it like it is," such praise means a great deal. Schroer, who came to Johns Hopkins in 1990, has taught literally thousands of undergraduates over the last 16 years but prides herself on keeping her material — and attitude — fresh and new.

"I don't really have a philosophy of teaching other than truly wanting my students to understand and to learn," she says. "It is more important to me that they comprehend and absorb fundamental concepts about how the system works rather than just memorizing petty details. I think learning should be about building a framework upon which details can be hung. My goal is to equip my students with enough key fundamental facts that they can work out the details later from first principles, if necessary."

Schroer teaches Cell Biology, plus a course on AIDS and two graduate level courses. Her ability to impart complex information in a clear and simple way is her best asset as an instructor, she says.

"I use the simplest words possible and no specialty terms unless I have clearly defined them," she says. "When I use an acronym or a word with a foreign word root, I always provide the full phrase and/or the roots. I also use analogies to commonplace objects and behaviors a lot, and I try to get feedback from my audience to make sure they are getting it."

The students say that Schroer's approach works.

"With Dr. Schroer teaching, the concepts were complex and the intensity high, but it never felt confusing or overwhelming, thanks to her unique ability to explain even the most complicated of scientific methods or mechanisms," one student reported.

Another stated that "in an environment where research is emphasized, she is the first to remind us that the best researchers are also exceptional teachers. She is an amazing teacher. She inspires me to become a professional, have high standards and to think."

Schroer finds such praise gratifying because she considers her role as a teacher almost a sacred trust.

"I feel that teaching is a very important part of my mission here," she says. "As I tell my daughter, I really have two jobs: one as a college professor and the other as the head of a research lab. I will admit that it is extremely challenging to juggle — let alone fulfill! — all the expectations that the university places on me. But I do my best."
—L. D. N.


Peabody Institute

Paul Mathews, Music Theory

Paul Mathews, Peabody
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

Paul Mathews is known as a bit of a jokester, which helps him engage students in the somewhat challenging subjects of Music Theory and Orchestration. In the large pile of nominations for this year's Excellence in Teaching Award, one student commented that Mathews "casts the material in such a hilarious way that the knowledge will never leave you — because the joke never will."

Mathews has been a member of the Peabody Conservatory faculty since the fall of 1998, the same year he received his doctorate of musical arts in composition from Peabody. In addition to teaching graduate courses in Music Theory and Orchestration, Mathews serves the greater good of Peabody through numerous committee and administrative roles. He has served as chair of the Music Theory Department, was the music theory curriculum consultant for the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of the National University of Singapore, co-chaired the D.M.A. Committee and served on the Academic Council, the Steering Committee for Information Services and on seven search committees over the last five years. He is currently director of the Peabody Institute at Homewood, administering the music minor for the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

Students as well as colleagues commented over and over again on how organized, clear and extremely knowledgeable Mathews is in multiple areas. "Without hesitation, I can say that Dr. Mathews is not only the best theory instructor with whom I've studied but also one of the best educators I've ever encountered," one student wrote.

Another colleague and former pupil commented on Mathews' service to Peabody above and beyond his teaching obligations. When Mathews noted the need for a new theory course, he created it himself for the next academic year. "When Paul sees a way to improve the students' education, he devotes his energies to make it a reality, regardless of his many other obligations."

Mathews extends that creativity and zest into his roles within the Baltimore cultural community. He is an artistic director of the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival and has been a member of the Maryland State Arts Council. He is currently working on two books — Orchestration: An Anthology of Writings, to be published by Routledge later this year, and, in collaboration with Peabody Voice Department faculty member Phyllis Bryn-Julson, a book about Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire.

Somehow he manages to be "the sage on the stage" as well as the "guide on the side," students say, and his performance in class is judged to be "better than improv theater." Mathews' "wit and humor add to the educational experience," and his commitment to growth as a music professional enables him to teach with fresh excitement year after year.
— Kirsten Lavin and Wolfgang Justen



To be announced at diploma ceremony.


School of Medicine

John Flynn, Medicine

John Flynn, Medicine
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

To say that John Flynn, the D. William Schlott, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, is a hands-on guy just couldn't be a truer statement.

As his Hopkins training came to a close in the early '90s, Flynn briefly considered searching for an academic job elsewhere. But he was offered a position at Hopkins that he could not refuse.

A traditional faculty position at Hopkins would primarily mean research hours spent behind a desk or at the bench, rather than interacting with patients. And students. It turns out he had developed not only a love for patient care but for teaching, too.

So he was given the charge to create a core group of "clinician educators," doctors who would teach medical residents and students while practicing medicine in the exam rooms of outpatient clinics more often than from the inpatient bedside.

"At the time, this concept was pretty unique," says Flynn, who holds an M.B.A. as well as his M.D. and maintains joint appointments in Rheumatology, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the School of Nursing. "Many forecasted our demise."

The program he helped found was hardly a doomed notion. The original group of three clinician educators grew to a staff of 20. And the hospitalist program, developed with his leadership, "increased in size to 28."

A decade after his arrival at Hopkins, Flynn's influence on students was apparent. As a new faculty member in 1996, Stephen Sisson shared Flynn's belief: that teaching in an outpatient clinical setting offers learners patient care skills and insight into an array of ailments they simply would not experience from a traditional hospital-based training program. Sisson wanted to create an online training curriculum that could be used by other institutions to educate young physicians in outpatient care.

Like his more senior colleague had 10 years earlier, Sisson encountered some institutional resistance. But he found a friend in Flynn.

"John was very protective of my academic time," Sisson says. "He saw the value in creating a Web-based world-class curriculum in outpatient medicine, and he was able to steer gift money toward my academic efforts."

Today, thanks to Flynn's support, 60 residency programs around the country are using Sisson's online curriculum. And, inside Johns Hopkins, his hands-on approach to patients and teaching continues to inspire a still younger generation of doctors.

Chris Frank, a third-year medical student, took an elective taught by Flynn: the Advanced Ambulatory Clinical Clerkship in Musculoskeletal Medicine. Frank said he was drawn to the course because it emphasized physical exam skills, which he believes are a dying art in the days of scanners and other advanced imaging devices. On a national level, Flynn has been recognized and supported for this work by the American College of Rheumatology with its prestigious Clinician-Scholar-Educator Award.

Ultimately Frank found the character of his instructor to be as compelling as the content of the course.

"He treats students very much like colleagues," says Frank, who hopes to use the exam skills Flynn has taught him in a planned career in family medicine. "He always gives you the opportunity to say what you are thinking and clearly hasn't bought into medicine's strict hierarchical system."

When Frederick Brancati, director of the Division of Internal Medicine, began looking for someone to nominate for the teaching award, his desk was soon strewn with letters of praise and complimentary notes about Flynn, as both a doctor and an educator.

"Organizing the spiritual underpinnings of the culture" is the phrase Brancati uses to describe how instrumental Flynn has been in infusing his students with passion and positive morale during their educational journeys. That, and the fact that he has managed to "carry on his back for 15 years" an outpatient educational program that has sometimes struggled with "modest resources" but persevered nonetheless, is yet another reason why Brancati nominated Flynn for the Excellence in Teaching Award.

"A lot of what he has built, he has done so quietly behind the scenes," Brancati adds. "He is not the guy in the limelight. He is the naturally quiet guy who makes everyone else look better.
— Jeff Ventura


School of Nursing

Kathleen White, graduate level

Kathleen White, Nursing
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

Through her teaching and guidance, Kathleen White shows immense dedication to both the academic and career development of her students. "Lecture experiences with Dr. White have been intellectually stimulating and inspiring encounters," noted one student. "Her personal career, academic experiences and involvement in nursing, health care management and policy, as well as health system improvement, have created career and nursing pathways for her students to follow."

White has high expectations of the students she teaches and says she admires the perception of students who ask questions based on the understanding of concepts taught in class. "I can always ask those questions myself, but I get excited when they come from the students because they are making the connections that I want them to make."

Her philosophy as an educator, she says, is to create a challenging class environment. She is known for assigning readings that are not always the traditional nursing readings but get the students thinking about health care in different ways. "My teaching style is to involve the students in some type of integrative exercise about the material and have questions and discussion."

Always looking for more opportunities, White constantly seeks to learn more about students' interests and to provide career mentorship. "The most important piece of advice I can give new nurses is to get involved in the profession. Don't sit by and let others make the decisions for you," White says. "I encourage my students to be members of professional organizations and to know the issues facing the profession."

White received her doctorate in health policy in 1995 from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and holds a certification as a Certified Nursing Administrator, Advanced from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
— Ron Supan

Nancy Woods, baccalaureate level

Nancy Woods, Nursing
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

According to her baccalaureate students, Nancy Woods' excitement for teaching is exhibited by her energy level and effective teaching methods. "She has gained the respect of all her students, and the enthusiasm she conveys for the nursing profession is inspiring," says one student.

Woods says she believes teaching is both a privilege and a responsibility. She praises all her students as a remarkable group of adults who bring to the classroom a wealth of diversity in education, past experience and culture. "It is also an awesome responsibility recognizing that we, as educators, lay the foundation for their professional careers. And in these days of the nursing shortage, I also feel a personal responsibility to the profession to contribute to a solution to this crisis."

One key aspect of Woods' teaching style is how she continually finds new ways to incorporate interesting themes into the classes she teaches. "I try to be creative with presentations and lectures," Woods says. "We utilize a variety of modalities." Assignments include performing skits based on TV shows (American Idol goes to Labor and Delivery; CSI: OB Triage; Deal or No Deal for research) and real-life simulations (poster, podium or manuscript presentations as would be required for professional presentations at conferences). Woods wants her students to love learning and to carry this through their professional careers. Many of her students, current and past, look to her as a role model and seek her encouragement and guidance.

Teaching allows Woods to blend her interests in nursing research and professional practice as a certified nurse-midwife in a way that reaches into the future. "We touch not only our students' lives but also the lives of countless patients they will care for during their careers, as well as contributing to the profession as a whole," she says. "Teaching at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing is exciting, invigorating and challenging. I can't imagine being any happier."

Woods urges all prospective nursing students to consider applying to Johns Hopkins. "Nursing is the greatest profession," she says. "You will touch so many lives. You will impact your patients, their families, your colleagues and co-workers. Often, you will never know the strength of your impact. But you will touch the future, and you will change the world!"

Nancy Woods received her doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in 2004 and is coordinator of the baccalaureate Nursing the Childbearing Family course and the Research Process in Nursing Course.
— R.S.


School of Professional Studies in Business and Education

Michael Kubik, Division of Undergraduate Studies

Michael Kubik, SPSBE
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

After earning his M.B.A. from SPSBE in 2000, Michael Kubik was challenged by one of the school's career counselors. "I remember being asked, 'Where do you see yourself in five years?'" says Kubik, an assistant vice president at T. Rowe Price who has worked as an investment analyst for the past 10 years. "I knew then that, as an adjunct to my career, I wanted to teach."

Kubik teaches Financial Statement Analysis, Business Development and several graduate-level courses for SPSBE, including Business Transitions and Business Planning and Operations. While the subject matter may appear dry at times, he enhances his teaching with real-life examples, issues and trends within the business world.

"It's analogous to the movie and entertainment industry," Kubik explains. "I'm trying to battle for a share of my students' minds. I want to engage them, along with their other responsibilities. They know all about the 'media' available and will 'change the channel' if a professor loses their interest. The consumer always has the power."

In his Business Development class, Kubik invites a panel of professionals including CEOs of start-ups, portfolio managers, tax accountants and others to judge his students' entrepreneurial ideas. "I encourage my students to generate that initial spark of creativity. I tell them to interview entrepreneurs [and] read the best books on the subject, including Art of the Start, as well as case studies and articles on local businesses making good. I want them to understand that there are different ways to recognize successful patterns and best practices of emerging businesses."

Kubik puts much of that self-starting philosophy into his own job. One of his duties is to write recommendations for the investments offered by T. Rowe Price, in addition to conducting extensive research on mutual funds. "In essence, I'm defending my company's investment thesis," he explains.

"I like to think that my efforts, inside the classroom and out, focus on how to build a community, by engaging people in lively debate, looking at business and industry in new, progressive ways. I look at the big picture."

His can-do attitude extends to his personal life as well. He recently received T. Rowe Price's Volunteer Recognition Award for his work at Baltimore's Ronald McDonald House. Before that, Kubik was involved with Grant-a-Wish. He also is an ongoing participant in the work of Catholic Charities.

"Mike brings to the classroom much more than his professional knowledge and ability to teach," says John Baker, director of Technology and Business programs for the Division of Undergraduate Studies and an instructor within the division. "He brings passion, care and a willingness to learn himself. He is always looking to improve what he brings to his students, and finding better ways to help them learn."
— Andy Blumberg

Anne Lauer, Graduate Division of Business

Anne Lauer, SPSBE
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

For Anne Lauer, teaching for SPSBE was, in a sense, "coming home." The retired government analyst and manager in the nation's intelligence community received her master of science in marketing degree from the school in 1997, complementing a first master's degree, in English literature from Georgetown.

Today, besides her SPSBE teaching duties, Lauer works as an independent consultant in adult education, with her client roster encompassing a number of government organizations and private groups.

Several years after her SPSBE graduation, Lauer, who was helping with testimonials for the marketing degree, was approached by the program's interim director, Kathy Wilson, about becoming a practitioner faculty member. In 2000, she started teaching one of the program's core courses, Consumer Behavior Analysis. Shortly thereafter, she became an instructor in two additional program offerings, International Marketing and Marketing of Services.

In particular, Lauer enjoys teaching International Marketing, since much of the subject matter touches on her professional experience. "As globalization has set in, the issues raised in the course become more and more relevant," she says. "For example, it's hard to define what a U.S. company truly is anymore. How do you classify a Japanese car company that is building its product in the state of Kentucky, among other U.S. locations?"

Another theme Lauer stresses to her students is the changing way U.S. companies compete and align themselves, and the new risks and opportunities they therefore face in the wake of 9/11.

"I love to push my students and see the attendant results," Lauer says. "I've found that I learn so much from all of them in the process. I've had such a rich mix of all kinds of folks with different experiences in their professional and personal lives, as well as the richness our international students bring to class.

"I want our students to be as passionate about learning as I am about teaching," Lauer adds. "I don't want anybody to have the option of not learning a lot." One of Lauer's favorite stories concerns a student, seemingly indifferent to the course material, who was about to start his final paper on an international marketing subject. "I asked him what he was passionate about, and he replied, 'Soccer,'" she remembers. "So I recommended that he do his paper on the international soccer industry. He did, and the thoroughness of his research landed him a job in the industry. I find out what motivates my students to learn and add that to their learning environment."

Pete Petersen, professor of management in the Graduate Division of Business and the division's original director, says of Lauer, "Anne is a real live wire, absolutely dedicated to teaching and to her students. She endeavors to make learning an adventure and to help her students in any way that she can."
— A.B.

Carol Ann Baglin, Graduate Division of Education

Carol Ann Baglin, SPSBE
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

Carol Ann Baglin's SPSBE roots run deep. Her father graduated from the school when it was known as McCoy College, back in the 1960s. He believed in advanced education so strongly, and SPSBE in particular, that he paid for her doctor of education degree, which she received from SPSBE in 2001. Meanwhile, though, her teaching career had already begun.

"I was in the doctoral program, and one of the instructors was taking a sabbatical," she recalls. "He asked that I teach his Legal Aspects and Issues in Special Education class for him, since my 'real job' was basically about these issues."

Baglin's "real job" is as assistant state superintendent, Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services, for the Maryland public school system. She administers and supervises special education and early intervention programs throughout the state, making sure such programs are in compliance with both Maryland and federal laws and codes. Among her varied duties, Baglin coordinates program funding from the federal to the local level, manages medical assistance reimbursement for school services and sets foster care rates for group homes.

She also works with local school systems for non-public school placements, if the public school in question can't handle the special needs of a particular child.

Baglin, who teaches three courses — Legal Aspects, Collaborative Programming for Parents of Children With Disabilities and Development of the Young Child With Disabilities — sees her SPSBE teaching function as a direct link to performing her job. "[The teaching] is an important reason why I am able to continue in my role as assistant state superintendent," she says. "In my classes, I have ongoing contact with special educators who are engaged each and every day in implementing the policies and regulations enacted by Congress, the federal Department of Education and the state Department of Education. It helps me to keep current in the field and translate and put into practice ideas discussed with my students."

Baglin's position also lets her bring in state experts to help teach special aspects of her courses. "I feel that this is a real asset to my students, but then they give me so much to bring back to my job. I can bring this feedback to my department and in so doing help gauge what is needed in the field."

Satisfaction also plays a key element in Baglin's continuing in the classroom. "I derive a great deal of satisfaction in finding out what students know coming into the class, what they hope to get out of class for the future, what their long-term goals are. I also enjoy the fact that I get to instruct a very diverse student body, including career changers and experienced teachers looking to move into the field of special educa-tion, plus those updating their certification."

Jackie Nunn, director of SPSBE's Center for Technology in Education and a frequent collaborator with Baglin, says of her colleague, "Carol brings a wealth of knowledge and in-depth experience to her classes. She is a seasoned educator and leader in her field, and her students all benefit greatly because of that."
— A.B.

David Mitchell, Division of Public Safety Leadership

David Mitchell, SPSBE
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

When asked to describe how he feels about the teaching dynamic, David Mitchell quotes a line from a popular movie of a few years ago, I Am Sam. "I think I'm getting more out of this relationship than I'm putting in," he says.

Mitchell, who received a master's degree in public policy from the University of Maryland in 1986, started teaching for SPSBE's Division of Public Safety Leadership in its Police Executive Leadership Program in 1994, the program's first year of existence. Today, he teaches Crisis Management and Communications and team teaches the program's capstone project with another faculty associate, Doug Krug.

Mitchell is well-versed in the subject matter he shares with his students. He was appointed secretary of the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security in May 2004, after a long and distinguished career in law enforcement that saw him as chief of police in Prince Georges County, Md., from 1991 to 1995, and superintendent of the Maryland State Police from 1995 to 2003.

In his present position, Mitchell takes what he calls an "all hazards approach" to homeland security, constantly monitoring and evaluating potential danger. "Terrorism and natural disasters are a constantly moving threat," he explains. "For example, the National Weather Service predicts another unusually active hurricane season with even more of an impact on the East Coast of the United States than last year. Then there is the H5N1 avian flu threat. There are 110 million chickens on the Delmarva Peninsula every day, with Sussex County the largest poultry-producing county in the United States. We have to be keenly aware of that."

Delaware, Mitchell says, may be small in size but is huge in infrastructure, with the port of Wilmington, Dover Air Force Base, chemical plants, major bank headquarters, a thriving poultry industry and some of the most popular beaches in the country. It is also, he adds, "within the plume of three nuclear power plants."

From the federal government on down to state and local jurisdictions, in addition to businesses of all sizes, "everyone needs a security and disaster response plan in place," he emphasizes.

Mitchell describes as "so rewarding" the teaching of law enforcement, fire and emergency management professionals carefully selected for the program. "I get to see students apply lessons learned in a real-time setting in ways that demonstrate their time and my time have been a worthwhile investment," he says. "They use the course methods and models with success. They acquire the knowledge and tools needed to avert a crisis, or to employ pre-disaster mitigation if a crisis cannot be averted."

Doug Ward, deputy director of Public Safety Leadership, says, "David Mitchell is one of only a handful of truly inspirational national public safety leaders. He has dedicated his entire adult life to serving others. Through his excellent teaching, our students are immediately able to employ David's wisdom in their own organizations. David's teaching style, knowledge and selfless dedication to our students are tremendous contributions to the success of our program."
— A.B.


Whiting School of Engineering

Jeffrey Gray, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Jeffrey Gray, Engineering
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

When Jeffrey Gray joined the Whiting School faculty in 2002, his department was undergoing a change of name and focus, and he was asked to revamp and teach a required course for seniors. The Department of Chemical Engineering had just become the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Gray needed to reconfigure a classic course on how chemical plants work to include biological models as well.

Gray's course tinkering over the past four years and his unflagging efforts to guide students through this demanding subject have paid off. This spring he was singled out for the Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award in the School of Engineering.

"His dedication and genuine concern for the students is an unparalleled quality that every professor should possess," one student wrote in support of the honor. "Dr. Gray utilized things like group projects, labs, presentations and class sections with guest speakers in order to have his students get firsthand experience in learning the material."

A fellow faculty member added, "Without hesitation I would say that Jeff is the person most of my colleagues would ask for advice/opinions when a teaching issue is at hand."

Gray is an assistant professor whose research focuses on protein modeling and the study of therapeutic antibodies that may someday be used to treat cancer.

He usually works from home in the morning to focus on his research. Most afternoons, he's in his Homewood office and lab, handling a steady stream of questions and project concerns from undergraduates and graduate students. "Some afternoons, I get nothing accomplished on my own research," Gray says, "but I have a great time,"

He adds, "Teaching takes a lot of time, and sometimes I find myself resenting all the time it takes. But I love doing it. It's a crucial function of what we do at this university, to empower the students to build their own body of knowledge and to improve their ability to solve problems."

In the undergraduate course he's been reconfiguring, now dubbed Modeling, Dynamics and Control of Chemical and Biological Systems, Gray tries to avoid long, dry lectures. Instead, he stops every 10 or 15 minutes to break the students into small groups, then asks them to solve problems based on the material he's just presented. Gray walks among the groups, offering assistance.

"I want the students to be active and thinking in class," he says. "The key is getting students interested in their own learning."

Beyond his work with Hopkins students, Gray is a board member of the Ingenuity Project, which helps Baltimore City public school students achieve at nationally competitive levels in mathematics and science. Through this project, Gray mentored Ryan Harrison, a Baltimore Polytechnic Institute student who was recognized as one of the nation's top high school science scholars in a prestigious competition last year. Harrison, who enrolled at Johns Hopkins last fall through the Baltimore Scholars program, just finished his freshman year as a biomedical engineering major and continues to work in Gray's lab.

"This is all fun stuff," Gray said, "so I make time for it."
— Phil Sneiderman


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |