2017 Faculty Awardees
THE ITALIA-EIRE FOUNDATION DISTINGUISHED TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Funded by Dr. Joseph C. Allegra (BA ’70, Chem), Chair of the college’s Board of Visitors
Charles Osborne, Assistant Professor (Instructional), Department of Mathematics
Known for his versatility, Dr. Osborne is one of the very few mathematics faculty members who is capable of teaching any level of undergraduate course and garnering excellent student feedback. In each course he creates a relaxed, yet professional, environment where students feel supported, encouraged and mentored. In fall 2016, he helped design a protocol for peer teaching observations and evaluations to ensure math faculty continue to use best teaching practices. In spring 2017, he earned the Department of Mathematics Teaching Award.
THE WILLIAM CALDWELL MEMORIAL DISTINGUISHED TEACHING AWARD
Funded by Seda K. Tarzian (BA ‘48, Bio), member of the college’s Board of Visitors
Rachel Spigler, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
Dr. Spigler joined Temple University in 2013, bringing research expertise in the interplay between evolutionary processes in organisms and the environment. She developed a new evolutionary ecology course, filling a significant gap in the department’s course offerings. Her graduate seminars include Sexual System Evolution, Conservation Genetics and Ecology and Evolution of Flowers. Dr. Spigler also serves as research advisor to doctoral and master’s students and as a mentor to undergraduates working on independent research projects.
THE DEAN’S DISTINGUISHED TEACHING AWARD
Ola Ajaj, Assistant Professor (Instructional) Department of Computer & Information Sciences
Joining Temple University in 2013, Dr. Ajaj’s areas of expertise include cloud computing, secure systems, web services and mobile programming and software architecture. A versatile and effective teacher, he is responsible for core undergraduate courses within the department: Introduction to Programming, Introduction to Computer Systems and Discrete Mathematics as well as courses in cloud computing and data-intensive computing within the CIS Department’s new data science major.
THE DEAN’S DISTINGUISHED TEACHING AWARD
Jessica Babcock, Instructor Department of Mathematics
Ms. Babcock serves as the Mathematics Department’s precalculus coordinator, where she develops course materials, manages instructors and maintains close contacts with student and faculty. Dedicated to continual improvement in her own teaching and to sharing innovative teaching methods with her colleagues, Babcock served on the universitywide Student-Oriented Active Redesign (SOAR) initiative, which aims to integrate research-based active teaching methods in precalculus.
THE DEAN’S DISTINGUISHED EXCELLENCE IN MENTORING AWARD
Michael Zdilla, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
Dr. Zdilla joined Temple University in 2009, and was named Robert L. Smith Early Career Professor from 2013 to 2015. He has taught courses at every level, from General Chemistry and Honors Chemistry to Inorganic Chemistry and Crystallography and Diffraction. With one of the most successful research programs within the Chemistry Department, he has mentored 12 undergraduate researchers in his lab. Of these, seven have gone on to graduate studies at top chemistry programs. His passion for teaching extends into the community, with presentations to high school students and local organizations.
THE DEAN’S DISTINGUISHED AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN RESEARCH
Shiferaw Berhanu, Professor, Department of Mathematics
Joining Temple University in 1987, Dr. Berhanu’s research areas include microlocal analysis, several complex variables, systems of vector fields and semilinear partial differential equations. He has a dynamic research record of nearly fifty papers in top journals and a monograph published by Cambridge University Press. In 2015, Dr. Berhanu was elected a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. He has earned substantial funding from the National Science Foundation and other agencies; is well-known for organizing international conferences; and serves as a mentor for junior faculty within the Mathematics Department.