Lindback Awards: Sketches of the 1999 Winners

At the Provost's Reception Thursday, April 22 (to which all are invited--4-6 p.m. at the Veranda on Locust Walk), the faculty members cited for distinguished teaching in 1999 are:

In the Non-Health Schools



Chung-Pei Ma

Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Dr. Ma took her Ph.D. in Physics from MIT and joined the Penn faculty in 1996. Holder of a new Sloan Fellowship as well as the Annie Jump Cameron Award for a distinguished woman astronomer, Dr. Ma is known especially for course development after the merger of the Physics and Astronomy departments, and the revised Astrophysics 1 has been extremely successful with enrollments increasing over the past three years. A colleague calls her teaching "truly exciting," engaging the class with her mastery of the subject and a fine sense of humor. One student predicts her course will "accompany me always, both in my scientific career and as a human being" while another says, "I am not a science person but Professor Ma demystified astronomy for me. She truly loves astronomy and it is this love that she effectively conveys to her students."

 Bruce Mann

Professor of Law and History

A J.D. holder from Yale, Professor Mann joined Penn in 1988 after teaching at the University of Washington, where he was selected as Outstanding Professor at the School of Law. He is also the recipient of the Harvey Levin Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching at Penn's Law School. Students cite him for his lasting influence ("In a school with outstanding teachers, Professor Mann was without question, one of the best....I know that if I am successful as an attorney, I will owe a portion of that success to Professor Mann") and also for his accessibility by phone, e-mail and even playing clarinet in the pit for the Light Opera Company. A Law School colleague adds, "The faculty at the Law School prides itself on its extensive student contact, but Bruce has clearly brought this effort to a new level. . . . if the criteria of an excellent teacher is one who challenges students to expand their intellectual horizons and who inspires as well as instructs, I know of no more deserving professor than Bruce Mann."


Brent Shaw

Professor of Classical Studies

After taking his Ph.D. from Cambridge University, Dr. Shaw taught at the University of Lethbridge and at Princeton before joining Penn in 1996. Students call him an outstanding teacher who has "an incredible ability to paint vivid pictures of the past" --and the undergraduate Roman History course has doubled in enrollment since he began teaching it two years ago. Graduate students are equally enthusiastic, "Professor Shaw uses his encyclopedic knowledge of the subject to guide the student's individual research in such a way that the student can move quickly to an advanced level of study. It is certainly no coincidence that so many of the papers written for his seminars eventually become conference papers and even publications." Another says simply, "Dr. Shaw is the best professor I have ever had at Penn." Colleagues also praise Dr. Shaw,"In Brent Shaw one witnesses at every turn the perfect blend of the keenest intellect with the most committed and effective pedagogy."


Robert St. George

Associate Professor of Folklore and Folklife

An alumnus of Penn's Ph.D. program in Folklore and Folklife, Dr. St. George joined the faculty in 1989 and has served as both the undergraduate and graduate chair of the Folklore Department and as the Director/Chair of the American Studies Department. Peers describe him as "a path blazer in Folklore scholarship," "a charismatic teacher who engages his students with his scholarship and professionalism," "a teacher whose purpose is not to entertain in order to get high ratings, but rather to draw students into his own fascination with the world." Students praise him as "a brilliant teacher, writer, scholar and mentor." Though he "holds the bar high" for students and his challenges have positive results, they say, and his teaching has influenced even their career choices, fostering a new generation of academics. One graduate student wrote, "Professor St. George has contributed greatly to the way this generation of scholars will think about Folklore, History, Art History and the preservation of the built environment."

The Provost's Award

Janet Tighe

Lecturer, History and Sociology of Science

A lecturer in H&SS since 1993, Dr. Tighe came to the program with a Penn Ph.D. in American Civilization. Students nominated her for her energy and enthusiasm, and her availability to students outside of the classroom. Some elected History and Sociology of Science as a major because of her influence. Former students, now themselves successful academics, credit her with influencing their career choice, and add "much of what I use in teaching undergraduates I learned from Dr. Tighe." In a daily post-mortem of her undergraduate classes-what lectures worked and why; what readings captured the students' interest; and which questions produced thoughtful answers-she helps educate future teachers. An undergraduate says "a faculty advising system would be a resounding success if all faculty had Janet's ability to listen, to understand young adults and to treat undergraduates as serious learners." A grad student adds, "Janet Tighe is the educator we would all like to become."

In the Health Schools

Robert R. Gaiser

Asistant Professor of Anesthesia

With a B.S.E. from SEAS and an M.D. from Columbia, Dr. Gaiser came to the Department of Anesthesia in 1992 as a Fellow in Obstetrical Anesthesia, and joined the faculty in 1993. Twice named Teacher of the Year in Anesthesia, he has also received the Penn Pearls Teaching Award and the Robert Dripps Memorial Teaching Award of PennMed. Students call their rotations with him one of the high points of the medical school experience, and one said, "I can honestly say that part of the initial reason I became interested in anesthesia was due to Dr. Gaiser's enthusiasm for the field and for medical education." Again and again Dr. Gaiser is cited as a role model, and "the rare combination...a gifted academic, skilled teacher, and a truly decent human being." Adds a colleague, "Dr. Gaiser's teaching has not been matched by anyone that I have seen during my professional career."


 John Hansen-Flaschen, M.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine

Dr. Hansen-Flaschen began his teaching career at HUP in 1976, and under his direction, the fellowship-training program in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division is now considered one of the best in the country. His lectures consistently receive the highest evaluations from students and colleagues, and his success has been recognized by the Department of Medicine's highest teaching honor, the Donna McCurdy Award. Sixty-four letters in Dr. Hansen-Flaschen's Lindback dossier document the depth and quality of his teaching, and the effect he has on students at all levels of medical training. Many speak of his sensitivity to the needs of patients and their families; others of his impeccable judgment, skill, dedication and compassion in unusual measure. One former student calls him "a model of professionalism;" another says that he "exemplifies the highest standards of teaching and patient care." Among the several physicians who trained under Dr. Hansen-Flaschen and refer to him as the person they try to emulate one writes that when he confronts a difficult medical and ethical question, he asks himself,"How would Dr. Hansen-Flaschen have approached this situation?"


James Barron Lok

Associate Professor of Parasitology Pathobiology/Vet

Since coming to Penn as a post-doctoral fellow in 1981, Dr. Lok has become known as a superlative teacher, his lectures consistently receiving the highest ratings. In addition, he played a leading role in reorganizing his School's curriculum to improving the educational experience. One colleagues writes, "to put it simply, he is a fabulous teacher," and wished for "more instructors like him when I was a student." His many student supporters emphasize that Dr. Lok is unusually generous with his time, and eager to give support to those who need able guide and mentor to generations of Veterinary School students. Noting that he already holds the Norden Distinguished Teaching Award, one adds, "The Lindback Award gives the rest of the University the chance to join in acknowledging the important contributions of this exemplary faculty member."


David Manning

Professor of Pharmacology

A member of the faculty since 1984, Dr. Manning gives lectures that are consistently highly rated, and has done exceptionally valuable service as director of several graduate courses and in training postdoctoral students. In an unusually stimulating introductory course, one student said, Dr. Manning went "beyond the fundamentals to discuss the scientific method that underlies medical research"-a comment typical of others that praise the care and respect with which Dr. Manning addresses the education of his students. Demanding and at the same time supportive, he instills high standards, along with a sense of excitement about his work. Both students and colleagues speak of his accessibility, summing up that he is always willing to take time out from his own demanding schedule to offer advice and guidance on research, teaching, or professional development.

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 28, April 13, 1999