2012 Faculty Awardees

The Italia-Eire Foundation Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award
Matthew Mackie, Assistant Professor (Teaching/Instructional), Department of Physics

Mackie, who joined the physics department in 2005, teaches undergraduate general physics. A patient and tireless teacher, he is highly regarded by his colleagues and by his students. He has been a mentor in the Diamond Peer Teaching program since 2006 and has supervised many undergraduate students in research. Mackie also is carrying out research in atomic and molecular optics. In 2009, he was awarded a one-year research grant from the National Science Foundation.

“Matthew played a big role in my journey to find myself. He is a fantastic educator and has the ability to help his students see what they are capable of. He expects a lot from his students because he himself works just as hard. He sets the bar high, knowing that his students have the potential to meet it and even go beyond.”

The Steven Petchon Distinguished Excellence in Teaching Award
Alexander Yates, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer & Information Sciences

Yates, who came to CST in 2007, demonstrates teaching excellence in every aspect of the profession. He is always well-prepared, develops hands-on practices that are inspiring and continually innovates to enhance the classroom experience, always engaging students to think. Yates also is the primary professor for the department’s initial undergraduate programming course. His commitment to classroom teaching is complemented by working one-on-one with PhD, MS and undergraduate students, who have been very productive in research output.

“With his excellent guidance, I went from choosing a project in which I had no background knowledge to publishing a research paper and presenting it at a conference. From the beginning, Alex allowed me to experiment with my own ideas to determine a method that we would use. I was impressed by his professionalism, willingness to explain concepts to me and openness to reframing the whole project into something I could still accomplish given our limited time.”

The William Caldwell Memorial Distinguished Teaching Award
Richard Waring, Associate Professor, Department of Biology

Since joining the biology department in 1987, Waring has been a highly effective and caring teacher at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. His style fosters the development of critical thinking, training students to analyze data and to integrate concepts and facts. Waring maintains the highest instructional standards in the introductory biology foundation course sequence for biology majors. He has also developed and co-taught a graduate seminar in a new area of molecular biology, served as graduate chair and led efforts to revise the graduate curriculum.

“Richard had the patience to teach me, from the simplest things in a lab to the most complicated ones. No matter what he was explaining, there was always passion in his voice. In class, everybody was at ease with his elegant way of exposing knowledge. Like a tree full with fruits, each class was abundant with substance. He had stringent quality requirements. Every exam grade was hard earned. The exam felt like climbing a tall mountain, followed by a deep satisfaction when reaching the top.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
James Bloxton, Assistant Professor (Teaching/Instructional), Department of Chemistry

Bloxton joined the chemistry department in 1991, and is responsible for one of its most challenging courses to teach, Introductory Chemistry for pre-health professionals. The course combines general, organic and biochemistry and requires a well-rounded and flexible teaching style. Several years ago, Bloxton completely rewrote the course’s laboratory and lecture content. That effort is now a model for similar course developments in the department. Understanding that successful chemistry students share many traits and practices, Bloxton led the department’s ‘learning to learn’ program and developed a presentation that is discussed in all general chemistry classes.

“James’ passion and enthusiasm for both the subject of chemistry and his students were apparent in his classroom. His teaching methods invited all levels of students to excel. He was able to take complex material and make it both understandable and interesting. This was shown by his references to outside environmental, medical and other
real-life situations that involved chemistry. James clearly cared very deeply about his students. He was happy to spend as much time as was needed to teach a student a concept. He went above and beyond.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Natalie Flynn, Instructor, Department of Earth & Environmental Science

Natalie Flynn has been with the department since 1997, covering core and general education classes as well as petrology to students within the major. She
cares deeply about teaching, as evidenced by outstanding student reviews year after year. She has also been actively involved in curricular development, continually creating new demonstrations, labs and in-class activities. Most recently, she redesigned the petrology course to be writing intensive, shepherding the course proposal through the writing committee.

“Natalie’s friendly and approachable demeanor puts students in the position to learn comfortably and at a pace that keeps up with the syllabus yet leaves no one behind. If there are students in the class who seem to have an issue with some of the material she makes sure they get caught up while not holding back the rest of the class. Her assigned class projects and group presentations are fun, informative and a great exercise that bring class lectures and discussion to life, really giving the highest opportunity for students to succeed. I truly believe my ability to recall so much material is due to Natalie’s exceptional teaching.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Nahed Hamid, Instructor, Department of Mathematics

Joining the math department in 2001, Hamid is the course coordinator for College Algebra, which typically has a highly diverse student population with varying skill levels. This course is critical to student success in pre-calculus and calculus as well as a variety of science courses. The impressive results Hamid achieves each year are a tribute to her ability as a teacher and skilled communicator. She is a knowledgeable, enthusiastic, concerned and efficient instructor and a well-organized course coordinator that provides timely materials and resources, caring support, and focused guidance to the instructors working under her leadership.

“What makes an exceptional professor? Kindness? Intelligence? Compassion? I believe it is a combination of all three, with an extraordinary emphasis on the development of the entire individual. Nahed can be said to be the personification of every trait listed above and so much more. Her traits are very rare, which allow any of her students with a desire to learn a chance to excel. A quality that helped me conquer anxiety. Her caring and hard work allowed me to turn my grade from a D+ into an A.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Excellence in Mentoring Award
Eric Borguet, Professor, Department of Chemistry

Borguet, since arriving at Temple in 2004, has advised both undergraduate and graduate students. He served as the faculty advisor to Temple’s undergraduate affiliate of the American Chemical Society for four years. He mentors from three to five undergraduate research students per year, with approximately half going on to graduate school. At the graduate level, Borguet typically works with a group of eight students. He interacts with each member several times a day, in the lab, in his office and in the laboratory. The result is that each student has a deep understanding of nanoscience, laser science and ultrafast spectroscopy.

“There were many times when I wanted to quit working, bowing under the pressure of excessive class load, the GRE and applying to graduate schools. Yet, Eric pushed me without pressuring me, explaining to me at every step how very valuable an NSF fellowship would be if I won it. I subsequently went on to win that fellowship and, indeed, it has proven invaluable for my graduate education and career. He went out of his way to guide me, he recognized my potential and pointed me in the right direction and encouraged me to keep going.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Excellence in Mentoring Award
Nicholas Davatzes, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth & Environmental Science

Since joining CST in 2008, Davatzes has worked with Temple undergraduate and graduate students as well graduate students from The School of Renewable Energy Science in Iceland conducting research at Temple and other young researchers. With such a range of student experiences and skills, Davatzes continually adjusts and improves his approaches to mentoring. At the same time, he has developed an effective core set of materials that teach critical scientific skills. Many of his student researchers have presented at professional meetings, completed manuscripts of original research, gone on to top graduate programs or found jobs with industry leaders.

“The trait I respect the most in Nicholas is his drive for success for both himself and his students. I came to him after beginning my thesis research to ask him a few seemingly basic questions. He quickly realized the project was more complicated than I had thought and offered to advise my project. This project had no funding and we were on different continents, yet he offered himself as an advisor to the project. Nicholas is continually helping past, present and potential students further their knowledge and their careers through his connections and expertise.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Award for Excellence in Research
Igor Rivin, Professor, Department of Mathematics

A faculty member in the math department since 1999, Igor Rivin is a worldrenowned mathematician who has been successful in proving many outstanding theorems. His research interests include solutions of long-outstanding problems in geometry of polyhedral, differential geometry, low-dimension topology, probability theory, graph theory, combinatorics and other fields to which he has made major contributions. He also has extensive experience in quantitative finance, including statistical arbitrage, derivatives and risk analysis. Rivin has held visiting faculty positions at Stanford University, Ecole Polytechnique, the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge and other institutions.

“Igor has made so many important contributions to computing, computer science and various areas of applied mathematics. He worked on the Macsyma system for symbolic and mathematical computation, was a director of the Qlisp project at Stanford and was a principal developer and Director of Advanced Development of the Mathematica system for mathematical computation. He recently added Berlin Mathematical School professorship to the long list of his well-deserved honors and awards.”