2013 Faculty Awardees

The Italia-Eire Foundation Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award
Jacqueline C. Tanaka, Associate Professor, Department of Biology

Dr. Tanaka, who joined Temple University in 1999, is director of the
NIH-funded Minority Access to Research Careers program, which
supports promising young researchers interested in pursing doctorates in
biomedical and related science fields. She also serves on the steering
committee for the Professional Science Master’s in biotechnology. Her
research interests include ion channels, especially the energetics and
biophysical properties of channel opening and closing and ion selectivity.

“Dr. Tanaka is a students’ teacher—highly approachable, while
effectively leading the class towards well-defined, challenging but
attainable goals. She sets extremely high standards for herself and
this enables her to expect high standards from her students.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Alexandra Davatzes, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth & Environmental Science

Davatzes joined Temple University in 2008. Her research focuses on
building temporal and scale constraints of geologic processes on Mars;
early Earth atmosphere, crust and oceans; and meteorite impact plume
formation and evolution. Her courses include “Sedimentary Petrology”
and “Planetary Geology.” She also serves as a faculty member at Temple’s
Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center.

“Rather than simply lecture and assign readings, Alix thinks long
and hard about how to layer her assignments to prepare students
to make t heir own discoveries. Over and over you hear her
students talk about experiencing an “Ah ha!” moment toward the
end of the semester, a moment of clarity when suddenly everything
they have been learning coalesces. Designing lesson plans to
culminate in a flash of student insight requires exceptionally hard
work and more than a touch of teaching genius.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Roy A. Keyer, Associate Professor (Instructional), Department of Chemistry

After an earlier appointment as visiting assistant professor, Dr. Keyer
returned to Temple University in 2001. He has taught general chemistry,
analytical chemistry, inorganic synthesis lab and a writing intensive
instrumental analysis course. He has developed improved laboratory
experiments for the analytical and forensic courses, and serves on the
department’s undergraduate advising committee.

“Dr. Keyer’s dedication to teaching is proven by his contribution to
our overall professional development. After taking his course, I
came to realize his passion for teaching comes from his awareness
of what challenges lie after graduation. I enjoyed every lesson,
every assignment and every test because I could take the ideas
learned with me as a future scientist.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
James F. Korsh, Professor, Department of Computer & Information Sciences

Dr. Korsh came to Temple University in 1972. He was instrumental in
developing the original content for the course that would become the
second course in computer programming for students in the major. He is
widely published in his field and has served on numerous departmental,
college and university committees.

“Korsh’s teaching style is focused on bringing the best out of
students and allowing students to reach their full potential. His
class taught me more than programming in Java, more than the
data structures involved in programming. I learned how to apply
logic to everyday processes. He used history and conversation to
illuminate the principals he taught. He made learning about
binary search trees, stacks and linked lists exciting and relevant.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Rhonda Nicholson, Assistant Professor (Instructional), Department of Biology

Dr. Nicholson joined Temple University in 2003. She currently teaches
“Introduction to Biology,” but has taught several other courses including
“Biology of Cancer” and “Biochemistry of Embryogenesis.” With
research interests in ribonuclease activity and regulation, she advises
students in CST’s Undergraduate Research Program.

“Working with Dr. Nicholson in the lab has proven to be just as
rewarding as having her as a professor. She is meticulous about her
methods, and goes out of her way to explain the details, no matter
how complex the particular process is. She makes us want to learn
and develops a curiosity within us about the subjects we are
studying. I have come across no other professor who is so
enthusiastic in spirit, so passionate about her subject and so
dedicated to her profession.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Tsvetelin D. Tsankov, Assistant Professor (Instructional), Department of Physics

Dr. Tsankov came to Temple University in 2006, and teaches
introductory and advanced physics courses and labs as well as the
general education course “Powering the Future.” His research interests
include resonance structure of the solar system, the nature of time and
alternative energy technologies, and he has several publications and
international conference presentations in these areas.

“Tsvetelin is not only a conscientious teacher, but a serious scientist
concerned with wider implications of science and education. He
has invested a great deal of effort in preparing himself to teach
“Powering the Future” and “Teaching in Higher Education:
Physical Science.” He is one of the most successful of our faculty
who regularly teach traditional introductory physics courses and
our General Education offerings.

The William Caldwell Memorial Distinguished Mentoring Award
Brent Sewall, Assistant Professor (Instructional), Department of Biology

At Temple University since 2009, Dr. Sewall has served as a doctoral
advisor, graduate research mentor and graduate dissertation committee
member. In his role as an undergraduate research mentor, several of his
students have earned university awards and national recognition. Sewall
also plays a key role in efforts to enhance biology instruction in lowerlevel
courses by bringing current material as well as teaching expertise
into the curriculum.

“Dr. Sewall’s dedication to his students and research is
unprecedented. His persistence in engaging his students in
research, and exposing them to all aspects of the research process
(from data collection to cover letters), is what makes him stand
out as a professor. His knowledge and enthusiasm for his work
makes him a successful scientist and mentor.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Excellence in Mentoring Award
Maria E. Lorenz, Associate Professor (Instructional), Department of Mathematics

At Temple University since 1998, Dr. Lorenz is currently the
department’s undergraduate chair and Math Club advisor. In
coordination with the Teaching and Learning Center, she has been
developing and teaching the graduate course “Teaching in Higher
Education.” She is also involved in K-12 outreach efforts as assistant
director of the Girls and Mathematics Summer Program and co-organizer
of both Math Circle and Sonia Kovalevsky Day.

“Dr. Lorenz was very good at reading her classes. She continually
assessed learning by calling on students to answer questions midlecture
and asking her audience if ideas made sense, providing
supplementary examples as needed. The clarity with which her
content was presented has been unmatched in my experiences so
far. She was able to present the most abstract of ideas in concrete
and relatable ways.”

The Dean’s Distinguished Award for Excellence in Research
Frank C. Spano, Professor, Department of Chemistry

Dr. Spano came to Temple University in 1990. He earned the university’s
Honors Professor of the Year in 2008 and the college’s Italia-Eire
Foundation Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award in 2012. His
most recent NSF grant is titled “Modeling the Optical Properties of
Conjugated Polymer Assemblies: Interchain vs. Intrachain Interactions.”

“Frank Spano is a gifted scientist, scholar and leader who has
made pioneering contributions to the field of organic electronics.
In short, Frank has developed the theoretical basis for
understanding the impact of intermolecular interactions in
solid-phase assemblies of vibrating organic molecules. The work
led to breakthroughs in our appreciation of the basic photophysical
processes occurring in thin polymer films used to create solar
cells and light-emitting devices.”