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School of Arts and Sciences Teaching Awards

April 26, 2011, Volume 57, No. 31

Dr. Rebecca W. Bushnell, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Dennis DeTurck, dean of the College, announced the following recipients of the School’s 2011 teaching awards, to be presented on Thursday, April 28 at an awards reception that is open to the University community. The reception will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Upper Egyptian Gallery of the University Museum.

Ira H. Abrams Memorial Award for Distinguished Teaching

mcleod Urban

This year’s recipients of SAS’s highest teaching honor are Catriona MacLeod, associate professor and chair of Germanic languages and literatures, and Gregory Urban, the Arthur Hobson Quinn Professor in the department of anthropology. Created in 1983, the Ira H. Abrams Award recognizes teaching that is intellectually challenging and exceptionally coherent and honors faculty who embody high standards of integrity and fairness, have a strong commitment to learning, and are open to new ideas.

Dr. MacLeod teaches courses on 18th- and 19th-century German literature, aesthetics, and film studies. A student writes that, “In the classroom and out, Dr. MacLeod is as approachable as she is clear and inspiring.” She is also considered the “consummate mentor” by undergraduate and graduate students alike and has “exerted a formative influence on generations of Penn students.”

Dr. Urban is also the recipient of a Lindback Award this year (Almanac April 12, 2011). As a teacher of cultural and linguistic anthropology, he is hailed for “his infectious enthusiasm for learning as a means of inspiring his students to achieve their potential,” whether in large introductory lectures, small graduate seminars, or his many newly-developed courses like Psychoanalysis and Anthropology or Anthropology of Corporations. 



Dean’s Award for Innovation in Teaching


This award, which recognizes exceptional creativity and innovation in instruction, goes to Paul Heiney, professor of physics, for his effective integration of peer-instruction technology into his undergraduate physics courses. One colleague explains that Dr. Heiney’s “use of ‘clickers’ and in-class demonstrations [have built] a truly interactive classroom experience, something that all of us aspire to in our teaching, but few manage to achieve.”







Dean’s Award for Mentorship of Undergraduate Research


This award recognizes faculty members who have excelled in nurturing undergraduate students’ desires and abilities to conduct meaningful research. This year SAS honors Alan T. Johnson, professor of physics, whose mentees routinely publish their work, win national awards, and go on to top graduate programs. A faculty member comments that Dr. Johnson “lights the flame and also provides the fuel that launches his students to truly important scientific results.”







Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching by an Assistant Professor


This award recognizes a member of the junior faculty who demonstrates unusual promise as an educator. This year’s recipient is Andreea Nicoara, assistant professor of mathematics. Her teaching is lauded in a number of settings, but particularly in Math 180 for non-math students interested in law, medicine, and economics, which many students describe as one of their favorite courses at Penn.







Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching by Affiliated Faculty


This award recognizes the contributions to undergraduate education made by the School’s non-standing faculty. This year’s recipient is Jennifer Heerding, associate director of the Biological Basis of Behavior Program (BBB), who earns praise for the clarity of her lecture style, her promotion of undergraduate research, and her successful development of important BBB courses like Autonomic Physiology and Developmental Neurobiology.







LPS Distinguished Teaching Award

Sil Dixon

This award honors outstanding teaching and advising in the College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS). This year’s recipient of the award for standing faculty is Rudra Sil, associate professor of political science. One observer writes that through Dr. Sil’s courses in globalization, development, and politics, he “gains the respect of each [LPS] population and has the great ability to bring out the best in each student be they an 18 year-old freshman or a 50 year-old Master of Liberal Arts candidate.”

The non-standing faculty recipient is Edward Dixon, technology director for the Penn Language Center, who teaches elementary German language courses in LPS and has developed Penn’s first online language course. One student describes him simply as “the best language instructor I have ever had,” while others applaud his passion and use of creative multi-media techniques.






Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching by Graduate Students

This award recognizes graduate students for teaching that is intellectually rigorous and has a considerable impact on undergraduate students. This year’s awardees are:

Natalia Bauer, ancient history

James Fiumara, English

Glenn Holtzman, music

Lee Kennard, mathematics

Christopher Melenovsky, philosophy

Rebecca Pardo, anthropology

Stephan Stohler, political science

Isabel Suchanek, history of art

Caroline Weist, German

Noor Zaidi, history


Almanac - April 26, 2011, Volume 57, No. 31