Faculty to be honored for excellence in teaching March 18

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Twelve faculty will be honored with the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching during the annual Faculty Awards Convocation 4 p.m. March 18 in the UAB National Alumni Society House.

Other faculty to be honored during the ceremonies are James McClintock, Ph.D., marine biologist and endowed professor of polar and marine biology, who will receive the 2015 Odessa Woolfolk Community Service Award, and Pauline Jolly, Ph.D., professor in public health in the Department of Epidemiology and director of the UAB Minority Health International Research Training program, who received the 2014 Ellen Gregg Ingalls/UAB National Alumni Society Award for Lifetime Achievement in Teaching.

The 2015 honorees for the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching represent each school, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Honors College and the Joint Health Sciences departments.

Scott Boyar sizedScott Boyar, Ph.D.


Boyar, associate professor of management, has been described by students as diligent, thorough and innovative. Although he has been at UAB for only five years, Boyar has made his mark by adopting new technologies and developing courses for classroom and online delivery. Since 2009, Boyar has interacted with more than 530 students in the Collat School of Business. “Teaching at the university level requires more than expert knowledge, it encompasses a level of responsibility to both students and the community who expect and need our graduates to be ready to meet the challenges of organizational life,” Boyar said. Students say Boyar’s human resource management and organizational behavior classes are both the hardest and most rewarding classes they’ve taken. In the past few years, Boyar has published and presented papers on personality, work-family balance, turnover and social support. He uses his research to keep his courses up-to-date on management thought and best practices.

Martha Dawson sizedMartha Dawson, DNP


Dawson, assistant professor of nursing, has more than 30 years of experience in health-care leadership roles in community and academic medical centers. Although she conducts research and is a clinician, teaching is her major strength, as evidenced in her student and faculty evaluations. “She cares about her students and she teaches them to truly care about the work they are doing beyond the grade that follows,” said Rebecca Howard, a former student. “She helps her students to see it is really about the learning experience, the material that is retained and the new knowledge gained that means the most.” During her tenure as coordinator for the Master of Science in Nursing and Health Systems Administration (NHSA) program, Dawson helped lead curriculum revisions that resulted in nine new courses and a program of study redesign. “Indeed because of her tremendous work, the UAB NHSA program has been recognized in the top 10 of NHSA programs nationally,” said Patricia Patrician, Ph.D., professor of nursing.

martha earwood sizedMartha Earwood

College of Arts and Sciences

Earwood, assistant professor of justice sciences, began teaching at UAB in 1999 and has since helped develop seven courses. Her students say she is challenging, encouraging and devoted to her field. “I would not have realized my own potential, nor identified what I am destined to do with my future if it had not been for her dedication to push me toward it,” said Brooklyn Trahan, a former student. Earwood routinely pursues professional development opportunities and incorporates technology into her classes. In addition to teaching, Earwood is the internship coordinator for the internship/capstone experience required for all criminal justice and computer forensics majors. “For Earwood, integration of scholarship and experience is essential for student learning,” said John Sloan, Ph.D., professor and chair of justice sciences. “As a former juvenile probation officer, she has credibility with her students as she integrates scholarship and practice.”

James Ernest sizedJames Ernest, Ph.D.


Ernest, associate professor of early childhood education, uses his previous experience and his research to guide his teaching and mentoring. Ernest completed his doctorate at UAB in 1999 and returned in 2010 as an associate professor to work with graduate programs in early childhood and elementary education. He assumed the administrative and advising duties of the doctoral program in 2011, and, with help from his colleagues, coordinated the re-organization of the program. He advises all of the doctoral students for the first year of their program and teaches two of the four core classes plus other speciality classes. “He is highly respected by his students and is routinely praised by his students for modeling best practice, exemplifying ethical and professional values such as fairness and open-mindedness and challenging them to think outside the box,” said Kay Emfinger, Ph.D., who directs the elementary, early childhood and special education program.

Michele Forman sizedMichele Forman

Honors College

Forman, an instructor and director of the media studies program, got her start as an executive in feature films. She has taught courses since 2000, and through her courses she shares her love of media and film history. Using the methods of documentary filmmaking, digital storytelling, oral history and multimedia-based research, she enables students to connect what they learn in the classroom with real-world experience. In 2003, Forman helped co-found the UAB Media Studies Program, giving students the chance to connect with community issues in the Greater Birmingham Area using new media technologies. Comments from honors students underscore the impact of Forman’s teaching: “Michele Forman teaches so much more than film techniques or how to story board. She trains us to tell stories that jump out of the screen and permanently land in your audience's minds. Her ability to adapt to the situation around her is incredible.” Another says, "Michele Forman has taught me to make a difference in the world using nothing but a mic, a camera and a dream."

Robinna Lorenz sizedRobinna Lorenz, M.D., Ph.D.

Joint Health Sciences

Lorenz, professor of laboratory medicine, joined UAB in 2002 and has since been recognized for teaching and mentorship. During her tenure as associate director of the Laboratory Medicine Residency Training Program (2002-08), Lorenz helped to develop a set of “Laboratory Medicine Resident’s Survival Manuals,” which continue to be updated and distributed to incoming pathology residents. Her colleagues say she is most well known at UAB for her leadership of the Medical Scientist Training Program. She has designed and implemented systemic changes in the MSTP curriculum and extracurricular activities that strengthen the program. Her successful leadership of the program led her to be named assistant dean for physician scientist education, which enables her to build other physician scientist pipeline programs. “Robin has outstanding accomplishments in teaching as demonstrated by her involvement in multiple programs that impact physician and scientist training, as well as helping to increase the pipeline into these graduate and medical education programs,” said Jay McDonald, M.D., professor emeritus of pathology. “She inspires students through her own research and clinical activities and also through her excitement for and love of academic medicine.”

John Lowman sizedJohn D. Lowman, Ph.D.

Health Professions

Lowman, assistant professor of physical therapy, was an early adopter of the Team-Based Learning™ teaching method and has mentored faculty converting their coursework into a TBL format. Using the method, students learn to function as part of a team and solve problems. In addition, Lowman is a member of the Effective Teaching Practice cohort in the UAB Center for Teaching and Learning. Jonathan Waugh, Ph.D., director of the center, said Lowman is committed to teaching excellence and his student-learning outcomes are evidence. Since Lowman joined UAB, student performance on the cardiopulmonary system of their licensure exam, which Lowman exclusively teaches, has gone from their lowest performing system to their highest. “John holds his students and himself to a very high standard not only for excellence in knowledge but applying it ethically and connecting it to professional values,” Waugh said.

Paul Muntner sizedPaul Muntner, Ph.D.

Public Health

Muntner, professor of epidemiology and medicine, began his career at UAB in 2009 and is known for his mentorship and teaching ability. Muntner said he spends considerable time advising students on ways to apply classroom material into their daily work. “The goal is for students to have the knowledge, skills, ability and confidence to subsequently apply this knowledge in their future work,” Muntner said. His students say Muntner makes himself available outside class to answer questions and gives students the opportunity to collaborate on presentations and peer-reviewed manuscripts. In 2013 and 2014, he collaborated with graduate students to publish 10 manuscripts with the student as the first author. “Dr. Muntner is dedicated to teaching in all areas of his work, not just the classroom,” said John N. Booth III, a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology. “He has an uncanny and excellent ability to explain complex ideas as simple concepts. Additionally, he provides a platform to combine and practice advanced research methods.”

Tony Nicholas sizedAnthony Nicholas, M.D., Ph.D.


Nicholas, professor of neurology, studied at UAB before joining the faculty in 1996. In his nearly 19 years here, Nicholas has delivered more than 700 formal lectures and presentations on more than 40 different topics. He embraces new technologies, including webcasts and his YouTube channel. The five-video series on how to properly perform and document the neurological exam has been viewed more than 35,000 times since 2012, and they now are prerequisite viewing for all third-year medical students starting the neurology clerkship at all four UAB campuses. “Tony is a highly regarded lecturer and small-group facilitator,” said Craig Hoesley, M.D., professor of medicine. “He is a highly engaged and enthusiastic educator who designs and implements his materials in a detail-oriented and thought-provoking manner.”

nada souccar sizedNada Souccar, D.D.S.


Souccar, assistant professor of orthodontics, began her career at UAB in 2011 and already has built a strong reputation for teaching in the classroom and in the clinic. Her students say she understands her subject so well she can answer any questions they have and is a great motivator while mentoring. “While she demands excellence from those she works with, she also finds a way to be understanding, patient and willing to do whatever she can to aid in the growth of the individual,” said Don F. Norris, DMD, a former student. Souccar is known for her open-door policy and for never being too busy to answer questions. Her students say she is innovative in her teaching methods and content and expects excellence from her students. “Dr. Souccar is extremely knowledgeable and is able to articulate this information to help students understand and excel, clinically and academically,” said Katie Haynie, DMD, an orthodontic resident.

Christianne Strang sizedChristianne Strang, Ph.D.


Strang, research instructor in vision sciences, completed her doctorate in behavioral neuroscience at UAB, worked in research for seven years and moved into her current position in 2011. Her research background is evident in her teaching, and her students say she is one of the more effective professors they’ve had. “Her lectures are clear and engaging,” said Lori McMahon, Ph.D., professor in cell, development and integrative biology. Colleagues say the success of the introduction to neurobiology course at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, a 2.5-week course taken by all entering behavioral neuroscience students, is largely because of Strang’s hard work. “Dr. Strang is far and away one of the strongest teachers on the faculty in the School of Optometry,” said Timothy Gawne, Ph.D., associate professor of vision sciences. “She combines a large quantity of teaching over a wide range of venues, with high skill and professionalism.”

christopher waldron sizedChristopher Waldron, Ph.D.


Waldron, assistant professor of engineering, joined UAB in 2008 and has taught at the undergraduate and graduate level. Before coming to UAB, Waldron worked in the private engineering field, which enables him to give real-world examples to his students. “By utilizing his practical experience and background in teaching, the students can immediately apply the knowledge gained in Dr. Waldron’s classes,” said Fouad H. Fouad, Ph.D., professor of engineering. Students say he makes himself available to answer questions outside the classroom and takes a genuine interest in their success. “He personally invests in his students’ professional aspirations, and is active in helping them reach their goals; his relatable demeanor makes him approachable for questions about classes or professional development,” said Rachael Thompson, a civil engineering student. Andrew J. Sullivan, assistant professor of engineering, said while Waldron teaches some of the most difficult courses in the curriculum, he is widely regarded as one of the department’s best teachers.