Ten Professors Honored With Faculty Awards

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Ten faculty members have been recognized for exceptional achievement in scholarship, teaching, and mentoring for 2012. Among the honors bestowed was the Jerome Goldstein Award for Distinguished Teaching, decided each year through a vote by members of the graduating senior class.

The awards are announced annually by the Office of the Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

“The accomplishments of these professors, as teachers and as scholars, are inspiring to students and faculty alike,” says Michael Mastanduno, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “I am proud to call them my colleagues.”

Vicki May

Vicki May, a professor at Thayer School of Engineering, was voted an outstanding teacher by the Class of 2012. (photo by Eli Burak ’00)

Vicki May, associate professor of engineering

The Jerome Goldstein Award for Distinguished Teaching, chosen by a vote of the class of 2012

May’s research focuses on engineering education, inquiry-based learning, and seismic engineering. She is currently co-leading a program in which Dartmouth graduate students work with middle school teachers and students to develop lessons that cultivate interest in science, math, and engineering. She also works with the $300 House Project, a joint effort across departments—including Tuck School of Business, Studio Art, and the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science—to create affordable housing. May came to Dartmouth in 2005 and joined the full-time faculty at Thayer School of Engineering in 2010.

“Teaching has been my passion for many years, and I find teaching at Dartmouth to be very rewarding,” she says. “I’m amazed at Dartmouth students’ ability to tackle challenging projects and their level of intellectual curiosity and creativity.”

May looks to further her teaching by developing new strategies of instruction.

“Teaching, to me, is about the students, connecting with them in ways that encourage them to learn and grow. I enjoy experimenting with different teaching approaches and hope to continue to evolve as a teacher.”

Marc Dixon

Marc Dixon, an associate professor of sociology, researches the effectiveness of social movements. (photo by Eli Burak ’00)

Marc Dixon, associate professor of sociology

The John M. Manley Huntington Award for Newly Tenured Faculty, in recognition of outstanding merit

Dixon’s research concentrates on the politics of social movements and how those movements interact with state policy. He has written about protests, strikes, and the trajectory of the American labor movement and labor policy following the New Deal. Currently, Dixon researches social movement coalition effectiveness and the impact of protests targeting corporations. Dixon, who joined the faculty in 2008, believes that intimate class sizes at Dartmouth benefit both students and professors.

“I routinely work with undergraduates as research assistants but also bring research into the classroom. Small classes and engaged students encourage this integration,” Dixon says. He adds that this benefits his students and also his research, as students help “clarify my own ideas and perspectives.”

“Dartmouth has provided me with the perfect academic environment,” Dixon says, “from the terrific colleagues and students to the institutional support needed to undertake more ambitious research projects.”

Nathaniel Dominy

Nathaniel Dominy studies hunter-gatherer populations in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Uganda as part of his evolutionary research. (photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Nathaniel Dominy, associate professor of anthropology

The Karen E. Wetterhahn Memorial Award for Distinguished Creative or Scholarly Achievement, in recognition of the role of scholarship and creative work in undergraduate liberal arts education

Dominy became a member of the Dartmouth faculty in 2010 and has conducted award-winning research on primate behavior, ecology, and evolution. Currently, Dominy is studying the human pygmy phenotype, an adaptive trait acquired by those hunting and gathering limited food resources. He works with modern-day hunter-gatherer populations in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Uganda to try to understand how, why, and when this phenotype evolved in parallel fashion across the tropics.

“I am privileged to be able to support undergraduate research in the lab as well as in remote field settings,” he says.

Dominy believes that the learning process is vital to student growth, no matter what answers are uncovered.

“I enjoy working with talented students and, often, disappointing them by emphasizing the things we don’t know,” adds Dominy. “The mysteries of human evolution and behavior are profound, and much work is needed. One of the great things about Dartmouth is that students have opportunities to engage with and pursue these mysteries.”

Dominy has also previously studied Aboriginal rattles and their role in shark hunting in Western Australia.

Cecilia Gaposchkin

Cecilia Gaposchkin is a cultural historian of the Middle Ages; she also serves as the assistant dean of faculty for pre-major advising. (photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Cecilia Gaposchkin, associate professor of history and assistant dean of faculty for pre-major advising

The Dean of the Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentoring and Advising, in recognition of outstanding contributions to Dartmouth and career distinction

Gaposchkin is a cultural historian of the Middle Ages; her studies focus on France. Currently, Gaposchkin is researching the influence of ritual and ceremony on the crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries. Gaposchkin has two roles at Dartmouth, as a professor of medieval history and as the assistant dean of the faculty for pre-major advising; both, she says, have proved rewarding.

“My administrative work in advising has utterly transformed my understanding of the function and value of liberal education in the purest sense, and has also convinced me of the critical role that we as teachers have shaping the larger academic experience of our students,” Gaposchkin says, “I have often found the most gratifying work I do is the one-to-one engagement with students as they try to navigate their way through their Dartmouth education.”

Gaposchkin enjoys shaping students’ academic experience through her mentoring role, and says that Dartmouth students have a similar influence on her own scholarship.

“My research program would be immeasurably impoverished if I weren’t at the same time trying to incorporate my findings into my teaching,” she says. “Not only does the process of engaging with students over the material force me to understand the larger analytical contexts for my own analysis, but the students are extraordinary resources, as they themselves engage the material and my ideas about it.”

Amy Gladfelter

Amy Gladfelter is a cell biologist and assistant professor of biological sciences. (photo by Eli Burak ’00)

Amy Gladfelter, assistant professor of biological sciences

The Karen E. Wetterhahn Memorial Award for Distinguished Creative or Scholarly Achievement, in recognition of the role of scholarship and creative work in undergraduate liberal arts education

Gladfelter is a cell biologist whose research examines cell organization and division. When a cell divides, genetic material is replicated and chromosomes are precisely segregated to create two new cells. If this process is not exact, cancer or defects can develop. The time period for this division procedure varies for each cell. Gladfelter seeks to explain why there is a time disparity for individual cells to replicate. Additionally, Gladfelter analyzes a family of proteins called “septins,” which act as dividers, restricting other proteins to specific areas of the cell. Little is known about how cells organize septins, but neurodegenerative disorders and cancers have been linked to septin malfunctions. Gladfelter takes on these problems through an interdisciplinary approach, working at the interface of biophysics and applied math. She says the collaborative spirit at Dartmouth and students’ eagerness to learn have enhanced her research.

“The intimate community at Dartmouth has greatly nurtured and facilitated the interdisciplinary approach in my research program,” she says. “I came to Dartmouth because I felt it was a place that valued research and quality graduate and undergraduate education. What I didn’t realize is how fantastic the students are at all levels—the degree of curiosity, tenacity and drive that I have seen from undergraduates and graduate students has been refreshing and energizing for me.”

“When undergraduate researchers are found on the microscope at all hours of the night gathering data,” Gladfelter says, “you know that this is an engaged and motivated pool of people.”

Kevin Peterson

Kevin Peterson is a leading scholar on the Cambrian Explosion, an evolutionary event occurring 530 million years ago. (photo courtesy of Kevin Peterson)

Kevin Peterson, associate professor of biological sciences and adjunct professor of earth sciences

The John M. Manley Huntington Award for Newly Promoted Faculty, in recognition of faculty who have been made full professors and have outstanding teaching and research records

Peterson is a paleontologist; his work focuses on the Cambrian Explosion—an evolutionary event 530 million years ago when complex animals appeared and evolved rapidly out of relatively simple organisms. Peterson analyzes the era through a molecular paleobiological approach: he examines the molecular makeup of animals on earth today to reconstruct interrelationships between species throughout geologic eras, to date the appearance of major animal groups and to unravel how animals evolved from simple into complex creatures.

Peterson values the academic environment at Dartmouth, where he works with his students on a range of questions.

“To me, working at Dartmouth College has been such a rewarding experience, a place that allows me to teach and interact with some of the most outstanding students in the country,” Peterson says. “I have always treasured the holistic approach Dartmouth takes to the academic experience—learning the answers to old questions while at the same time asking and attacking new ones. It is a wonderful way to spend a day … and a life.”

Peterson’s research was recently featured in the journal Nature.

Elizabeth Polli

Elizabeth Polli, the Spanish Language Program director, creates real-life speaking situations in her classrooms. (photo courtesy of Elizabeth Polli)

Elizabeth Polli, Spanish language program director

The Dean of the Faculty Award for Visiting and Adjunct Faculty

Polli has taught language in the United States and Spain since 1982, and at Dartmouth since 1997. Polli creates a learning environment that balances instruction with practice. She believes it is vital to create communication situations in the classroom that students will encounter in daily life. Polli also incorporates art and literature into her teaching to keep students engaged. Polli’s research interests include second language acquisition, contemporary Spanish literature, and translation.

“Teaching has always been at the heart of what I do at Dartmouth,” says Polli. “Year after year, students comment that their in-class language study and study abroad experiences are one of the most powerful of their Dartmouth career; my fellow colleagues and I continually work together to assure that the language learning experience forms an integral part of study at Dartmouth.”

Jeremy Rutter

Jeremy Rutter conducts research with his students at archaeological sites in Greece and Turkey. (photo by Eli Burak ’00)

Jeremy Rutter, professor of classical studies and the Sherman Fairchild Professorship in the Humanities (Emeritus)

The Elizabeth Howland Hand-Otis Norton Pierce Award, for a faculty member who is an outstanding teacher of undergraduates

Rutter is an Aegean archaeologist; his research is dedicated to analyzing, reconstructing, and explaining the material culture of the Greeks over a 3,500-year period. This field is constantly changing, but new technology in the classroom has made his research more immediately accessible to students. He cites the Greek Foreign Study Program (FSP), a ten-week program in Greece and Turkey with 15 of his students, as an optimal way to teach students both on site and in the classroom.

“PowerPoint presentations and the archived student-generated blogs of previous Greek FSP’s now make possible recreating many aspects of that experience in a classroom in Hanover,” Rutter says.

“There’s no substitute for the excitement of learning,” he says, “Teaching at Dartmouth has provided me with all the research support I needed for my own learning—and also with more than 35 years’ worth of smart and talented students who challenged me daily to make their learning as fun and rewarding for them as mine has been for me.”

Rutter, who came to Dartmouth in 1976, was recently named a recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Gold Medal.

Melanie Benson Taylor is a literary critic focusing on Native American writing whose work centers on the U.S. Southeast. (photo by Eli Burak ’00)

Melanie Benson Taylor, assistant professor of English and Native American studies

The John M. Manley Huntington Award for Newly Tenured Faculty, in recognition of outstanding merit

Benson Taylor is a critic of Native American literature whose research is often centered on the Native Southeast. Benson Taylor focuses on “exploring the colonial-capitalist forces” and how these forces influence communities, cultures, and geographic regions.

Benson Taylor believes students are attracted to her courses because of a “dark romance” surrounding Native history, but she tries to expose them to unseen patterns and unexpected narratives of the past.

“I hope that my students leave my courses realizing how fragile and fractional are the cultural narratives we tell and inhabit, and in particular, how profoundly the Indian experience haunts them all,” says Benson Taylor. “Each day that I am privileged to live and work in Dartmouth’s Native-centered community, we write a new page of that story together.”

Benson Taylor joined the Dartmouth faculty in the fall of 2009.

Richard Winters

Richard Winters, who retired after the academic year, has taught government at Dartmouth since 1969. (photo by Eli Burak ’00)

Richard Winters, the William Clinton Story Remsen 1943 Professor of Government

The Robert A. Fish 1918 Memorial Prize, for outstanding contributions to undergraduate teaching

Winters specializes in the fields of American state politics, political economy, and the budgetary process at the state and federal level. He has been at Dartmouth since 1969. Winters retired at the end of the academic year; he says teaching students has been increasingly gratifying over his four decades at Dartmouth.

“After forty-three years at Dartmouth, I concluded that this work gets better, more interesting, and more enjoyable with each passing year,” Winters says, “I will sorely miss the work with my honors students, students in the Washington, D.C., program, and, most of all, those students in my fall term ‘Intro to American Politics’ course. What a joy it was to have first-term students in class.”