First-ever winners of College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Awards for Excellence in Teaching

The Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time regular faculty members of College of Arts and Sciences who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching.

The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time regular faculty members of College of Arts and Sciences who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching. The individual must have held faculty status at UAB for a minimum of three years and may receive the award only once in any three-year period. The 2018 winners were chosen from these three distinctive areas:

  • Arts and Humanities: Art and Art History, Music, Theatre, Communication Studies, English, Foreign Languages, History, and Philosophy
  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Physics, and Mathematics
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences: African American Studies, Anthropology, Criminal Justice, Political Science and Public Administration, Psychology, Social Work, and Sociology

The awards were based outstanding accomplishments in teaching as demonstrated by any or all of the following:

  • Broad, thorough knowledge of the subject area and the ability to effectively convey difficult concepts to students
  • Exemplary classroom instruction as evidenced by student and peer evaluations
  • Fairness, open-mindedness, and accessibility to students in and out of the classroom setting
  • An objective, analytical approach to information; clear portrayal of conceptual interrelationships; and intellectually stimulating classroom presentations
  • Ability to inspire and mentor students through advising and publication of their work
  • Effective use of innovative teaching methods and assurance that his/her courses stay abreast of current theory and use of modern technology
  • Promotion of ethical and professional values and behavior among students
  • Ability to infuse students with a commitment to life-long learning and professional development
  • Service and scholarly activities that provide excellent role models for students

The three winners, who were selected by the CAS President's Award for Excellence in Teaching Committee, will be considered for the final College of Arts and Sciences nominee for the President's Award of Excellence in Teaching. Congratulations again to all of our winners, and we'll see you all at the Book Party on Thursday, February 15 from 3:30-5:30pm

From the Arts and Humanities, Dr. Cassandra Ellis, Associate Professor in the Department of English

""Dr. Ellis' scholarship focuses on American and African-American Literature, Reception Studies, Literature and Film, Narrative Theory, Engaged Scholarship, and Service-learning Pedagogy.

She received her undergraduate degree from Syracuse University and her Ph.D. from Columbia. She's been at UAB since 1998.

In her own bio, she says, "As a teacher, I enjoy studying and teaching literature because it allows us to reimagine ourselves and trains us to empathize more with others. For the past few years, I have been developing courses through which my students and I can connect our readings and our writing with real world experiences by our service to the Birmingham community. I take inspiration from what James Baldwin, one of my favorite authors, claimed: 'Literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way a person looks at reality, then you can change it.'"

Her nominator said, "Cassandra Ellis has made teaching the 100- and 200-level courses her life's work. We often think of innovative teaching as something that happens inside the major. Cassandra has proved that assumption wrong by her remarkable innovations in Core classes. She is a model of principled commitment to her students' intellectual development."

Congratulations to Cassandra.

From the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Rajesh Kana, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, Co-Director of the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program, and Director of the Cognition, Brain, and Autism Laboratory

""Dr. Kana's interest is in autism spectrum disorders, specifically social cognitive and affective neuroscience, neuroimaging, and brain and language.

After earning Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, India, he completed his postdoctoral training at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2001 he was awarded the William Fulbright pre-doctoral research fellow to do research at University of California Los Angeles. He joined UAB in 2007.

Dr. Kana's nominator said that, "He is incredibly invested in his students' learning and growth, whether in the classroom or in the research laboratory. He creates a dynamic, collaborative and relaxed environment in which students feel comfortable asking questions and sharing ideas. He uses a combination of teaching styles and each method ensures that students learn and understand a different facet of the subject. He also stays highly involved in his mentees' professional development and meets regularly with them to offer his guidance. He is not just a professor and mentor to me; he has also become a role model."

Congratulations to Rajesh.

From the Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Dr. Samiksha Raut, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology

""Dr. Raut's interests include undergraduate STEM Education, future STEM faculty training via the CIRTL Lab in the Graduate School, service learning, and sustainability.

She received her undergraduate and masters degrees in biology from Nagpur University in India and her Ph.D. in environmental toxicology from UAB.

She started at UAB in 2012 as one of the primary course masters for introductory biology, and according to her, her teaching philosophy is focused on creating an all-inclusive classroom by emphasizing team-based learning, sustainability, and service-learning. Outside the classroom, she enjoys interacting with undergraduate students and serves as a faculty advisor for Phi Sigma Biological Honors Society; she was also recently and named to advise the Disabilities Advocates Club, a new student organization. She was the spring 2017 recipient of the outstanding faculty award given by the UAB Office of Disability Support Services.

Her nominator said, "Dr. Raut consistently puts forth the effort in ensuring the best learning outcomes for students through her clear and engaging lectures, her thorough and straightforward notes, and her interactive questions and videos. One of her strengths is her ability to provide real-world applications of the course content; consequently she inspires students to explore all of the possible career paths."

Congratulations to Sami.

  • Michele Forman profiled in Harvard alumni magazine

    Michele Forman, director of the UAB Media Studies program, was recently profiled in Harvard University's alumni magazine. Forman graduated from Harvard with a B.A. in 1993 and then received her M.A. from UAB in 2009.

    Michele Forman, director of the UAB Media Studies program, was recently profiled in Harvard University's alumni magazine. Forman graduated from Harvard with a B.A. in 1993 and then received her M.A. from UAB in 2009.

    Forman is well-known for a number of short films and documentaries, including Alabama Bound, which she produced in 2017. The documentary, which tells the story of lesbian families in Alabama, was an official selection at the prestigious Frameline 41 San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival; Out on Film Atlanta LGBT Film Festival, and NewFest, New York's LGBT Film Festival, where it also received the Grand Jury Award.

    Forman is the immediate past-president of Birmingham's Sidewalk Film Festival, where she remains an advisory board member. She co-founded the Media Studies program in 2003.

    Read the profile in Harvard University's alumni magazine.

    Read more...
  • Biology Faculty Secure NSF Grant to Investigate Dwindling Macroalgae Community

    UAB Department of Biology professors Dr. Charles Amsler and Dr. Jim McClintock, along with co-PIs Dr. Katrin Iken (University of Alaska, Fairbanks), Dr. Aaron Galloway (University of Oregon), and Dr. Andrew Klein (Texas A&M University), secured a $880,000 NSF grant to investigate brown macroalgae in the northern portion of the western Antarctic Peninsula region.

    UAB Department of Biology professors Dr. Charles Amsler and Dr. Jim McClintock, along with co-PIs Dr. Katrin Iken (University of Alaska, Fairbanks), Dr. Aaron Galloway (University of Oregon), and Dr. Andrew Klein (Texas A&M University), secured a $880,000 NSF grant to investigate brown macroalgae in the northern portion of the western Antarctic Peninsula region.

    Brown macroalgae form extensive undersea forests in the northern part of the western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) and play a key role in providing both physical structure and energy sources in shallow water communities. Further south on the WAP, these macroalgae become markedly less abundant and diverse, presumably because increased sea ice to the south reduces light available to the algae. This creates a fundamental change in ocean floor community processes and organization which impacts nutrition and food chain levels. As climate change has resulted in drastically reduced sea ice coverage in the southern WAP over the past 30 to 50 years, macroalgal communities typical of the northern part of the region should be expanding southward. In an effort to identify the extent and ramifications of the impact of this shift on the seafloor communities, a nine-person field team will travel to Antarctica in April and May 2019 to document the macroalgal communities and test hypotheses about the cause and consequences of the alteration of macroalgal communities. The field team consists of 3 UAB researchers - Dr. Charles Amsler, Maggie Amsler, and Sabrina Heiser, - as well 2 researchers with academic roots at UAB – Dr. Julie Schram and Dr. Katrin Iken. They hypothesize that increased sea ice cover along the region from north to south plays an important role in decreasing light available to the macroalgal communities. The team will use satellite data to choose study sites where variation in light due to differences in annual sea ice cover will be a major environmental variable. Their research should ultimately allow them to predict what community-level impacts might result from further changes in sea ice cover as a result of global climate change, which is already having other major impacts in the region.

    Read more...
  • Faculty honored at 2018 Fall Awards Convocation

    President Ray Watts and Provost Pam Benoit honored faculty across UAB during the annual Faculty Convocation on October 22.

    Award winners Scott Phillips, Ph.D., Cassandra Ellis, Ph.D., and Michael Sloane, Ph.D., with Robert Palazzo, Ph.D., dean of the UAB College of Arts and Sciences.President Ray Watts and Provost Pam Benoit honored faculty across UAB during the annual Faculty Convocation on October 22.

    Scott Phillips, Ph.D., director of the UAB Center for Teaching and Learning and associate professor of Music Technology, received the 2018 Sam Brown Bridge Builder Award for his deep and abiding commitment to collaborating across campus that enhances the research and teaching activities of the University.

    Michael Sloane, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychology and director of the University Honors Program, is the recipient of the 2018 Ellen Gregg Ingalls/UAB National Alumni Society Award for Lifetime Achievement in Teaching. This award is presented annually to a full-time regular UAB faculty member who, throughout his/her career at UAB, has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to teaching.

    The President's Award for Excellence in Support of UAB and Shared Governance was presented to Professor Mike Wyss, Ph.D., immediate past chair of the UAB Faculty Senate. Dr. Wyss also directs UAB's Center for Community Outreach Development and has been a longtime champion for interdisciplinary collaboration across campus, as well as developing strong partnerships with the City of Birmingham.

    The President's Award for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Cassandra Ellis, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of English. Ellis has a long history of high scores on her evaluations from students and was honored with the Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching in early 2018.

    Congratulations to our College of Arts and Sciences faculty!

    Dr. Michael Wyss (right) with Dr. Brad Yoder, Chair of the Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology in the School of Medicine

    Read more...
  • Laurel Hitchcock receives Provost’s Award for Faculty Excellence in Service Learning

    The 2018 Provost’s Award for Faculty Excellence in Service Learning goes to Dr. Laurel Hitchcock, Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work.

    The 2018 Provost’s Award for Faculty Excellence in Service Learning goes to Dr. Laurel Hitchcock, Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work.

    Dr. Hitchcock deservedly receives this award for:

    • She has worked to incorporate service learning activities for the online and face to face courses in her area to enrich the experience of her social work students.
    • She organizes activities within the service learning opportunities to help her students reach out to the community and to help her students experience authentic social work challenges as part of their studies.
    • She also works to assist other faculty in her department to have the same activities and online resources to be successful in their sections as well.
    • She has collaborated with people across campus to gather the most effective resources for her students.

    Read more...
  • Keeping Halloween safe: Tips from UAB experts

    UAB experts offer ways to keep your little ghosts and goblins safe this Halloween.

    Read more...
  • Dr. Stacy Krueger-Hadfield named Norma J. Lang Fellow

    Dr. Stacy Krueger-Hadfield, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, was selected as the 2018 Norma J. Lang Early Career Fellow from the Phycological Society of America.

    Dr. Stacy Krueger-Hadfield, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, was selected as the 2018 Norma J. Lang Early Career Fellow from the Phycological Society of America ($10,000) for her proposal "Spatiotemporal adaptation in the rocky intertidal: evolutionary responses of intertidal Chondrus crispus populations to climate change." Dr. Krueger-Hadfield is only the second Lang Fellow and was chosen from a very competitive pool of 31 applicants.

    "Seaweeds are critical ecosystem engineers in near-shore marine ecosystems worldwide, and form the basis of lucrative aquaculture," says Dr. Krueger-Hadfield, summarizing the project. "Yet, these diverse eukaryotes have received collectively less attention, despite their ecological and economic importance. With the Norma J. Lang Early Career Fellowship, I will investigate genome-wide patterns of divergence and genetic diversity at small spatial scales across a gradient of rapid change in the red seaweed Chondrus crispus." Her research will allow her to see if there are changes between time points (which was also associated with several degrees Celsius temp increase) and along the French Atlantic coastline as they have spatial sampling in 2008 and 2018.

    Read more...
  • Online communities see large growth in anti-Semitic comments, memes

    Large-scale quantitative analysis details the rise of anti-Semitism and how anti-Semitic content flows across mainstream and fringe web communities.

    Read more...
  • Dione Moultrie King appointed to diversity council

    Dr. Dione Moultrie King was recently appointed to a three-year term on the Council on Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Diversity.

    Dr. Dione Moultrie King of the UAB Department of Social Work was recently appointed to a three-year term on the Council on Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Diversity through the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This council promotes expanding the knowledge base for educators, students, and alumni through education and research about members of historically and emerging underrepresented groups.

    Dr. King is honored to serve the profession and work collaboratively with this council in the challenging times that lie ahead. Dr. King asserts “it is critical that social work educators demonstrate our commitment to social justice, service, dignity, and competence ensuring social work professionals understand these are truly the core values of our profession.”

    Read more...
  • Faculty receive honors for their commitment to disability support

    UAB Disability Support Services (DSS) named this year’s winners of the Spring 2018 Faculty Awards. They are Mickie Powell (Ph.D.) and Robin Lorenz (M.D., Ph.D.).

    Read more...
  • Study reveals misuse of archive services by fringe communities on the web

    In a large-scale analysis, Jeremy Blackburn, Ph.D., and collaborators found that the misuse of web archive services cause loss of ad revenue for popular news websites. 

    Read more...
  • Art historian recognized for scholarly research and teaching

    Heather McPherson, Ph.D., was awarded the 2018 Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction.

    Read more...
  • Stephen Watts to chair organizing committee for NIH workshop

    Stephen A Watts, Ph.D, a professor in the Department of Biology, has been selected to chair the organizing committee for the ORIP/DPCPSI/OD-NIH workshop on “Defining Nutrition in Zebrafish and other Biomedical Research Diets: Needs and Challenges.”

    Stephen A Watts, Ph.D, a professor in the Department of Biology, has been selected to chair the organizing committee for the ORIP/DPCPSI/OD-NIH workshop on “Defining Nutrition in Zebrafish and other Biomedical Research Diets: Needs and Challenges.”

    The Office of Research Infrastructure (ORIP) at NIH is supporting research community efforts to improve lab animal nutrition and increase rigor and reproducibility in biomedical research. Watts and the committee will address further development of standardized diets and feed management strategies which promote healthy animal husbandry, thus improving experimental design and outcomes.

    A workshop will be held at NIH in July 2018 to develop a roadmap for enhancing nutritional competency in biomedical research.

    Read more...
  • Bicycle safety: Know the laws, prepare accordingly before you ride

    Riding bicycles is a fun and healthy way to get around efficiently. Know the rules and keep yourself safe while riding.

    Read more...
  • “Alabama Reckoner” by Doug Baulos on exhibition in Dothan

    For the exhibition, Baulos will present portraits of artists who inspire him, many of whom are also from Alabama.

    Read more...
  • Stacy Moak recognized as a Faculty Fellow in Engaged Scholarship

    Dr. Stacy Moak was recognized as a Faculty Fellow in Engaged Scholarship on March 23, 2018.

    Dr. Stacy Moak was recognized as a Faculty Fellow in Engaged Scholarship on March 23, 2018. Dr. Moak's class "Women's Rights and Health in Kenya" helps students make connections between women's health and educational opportunities in a global context. This class was partnered with With My Own 2 Hands in Laguna Beach, California.

    Read more...
  • Facebook privacy settings: How to make your account more secure

    Gary Warner, cybersecurity expert and director of Research in Computer Forensics, offers tips on which Facebook settings to pay close attention to.

    Read more...
  • Restoring turtle population in Alabama salt marshes is focus of newly received grant

    Diamondback terrapin population, a staple in Alabama salt marshes, continues to decline. UAB researchers look to reverse conservation concerns.

    Read more...
  • Three Questions: Award-winning poet Tina Mozelle Braziel

    Tina Mozelle Braziel, program director of the Ada Long Creative Writing Workshop, is the recent recipient of the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry.

    Tina Mozelle Braziel, program director of the Ada Long Creative Writing Workshop, is the recent recipient of the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, which includes the publication of her debut full-length book, Known By Salt. Hailing from Pell City, Alabama, Braziel is a first-generation college student. In 1995, she received her bachelor’s degree at the University of Montevallo, then her master’s degree in English at UAB in 2002. She earned her master of fine arts degree in poetry at the University of Oregon in 2013.

    We spoke to Braziel about the inspiration for her upcoming book and her experience working with the high school students in the Ada Long Creative Writing Workshop in the UAB Department of English.

    A&S: The final judge called Known By Salt a “book of celebrations.” What inspired your book?

    TMB: For one thing, living in Alabama. For another, the biodiversity here. Then there are things that I think are sometimes maligned, such as people that are part of the working class. My dad’s a construction worker and probably the most intelligent person I’ve met. He started out as a laborer’s helper. From there, he worked his way into a position where [his peers] were all educated as engineers. He was self-taught, and I like to celebrate that, too.

    Also, my husband and I built our house ourselves—we had to teach ourselves. I wanted to celebrate that and what I learned from that experience. [These poems] are a culmination of celebrating where I come from and what I value from this Alabama life.

    A&S: After earning your master’s degree from UAB, where did your career path take you and why did you decide to come back to UAB?

    TMB: Between my M.A. and M.F.A., I taught at UAB as an instructor of English for a total of seven years…but I wanted more time to write and more instruction, so I decided to get the M.F.A. The Workshop drew me back to UAB. It is what I am most interested in doing—teaching creative writing and opening doors for students. As a first-generation college student, I know how important it is for kids to go to college. It was huge for me, so I enjoy trying to open the door to UAB and other schools.

    A&S: Tell us about the Ada Long Creative Writing Workshop.

    TMB: I’ve been involved with [the Workshop] in some capacity since its inception; I kind of think of it as my baby. It’s a wonderful program that brings a diverse group of [high school-age] students together. There’s a really nice synergy that happens. [The students] all become very invested in each other’s writing and in each other. That’s the best outcome: the connections that happen between students. They create wonderful work, but I enjoy that they find new friends and are exposed to different people.


    Learn more about the Ada Long Creative Writing Workshop for high school students and read the latest student-published anthology, The Writers' Block.

    Note: This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Photo: James Braziel, courtesy of Tina Mozelle Braziel.

    Read more...