Valerie S. Ashby, Ph.D., Dean of Trinity College

Celebrating 2018 Teaching, Leadership & Mentoring Awards

April 5, 2018

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I am pleased to present the winners of the 2018 Trinity College of Arts & Sciences Teaching, Diversity & Leadership Awards. Earlier this week we recognized these faculty members in the presence of their peers, family and friends at the Doris Duke Center. Listening to remarks of department colleagues was genuinely inspiring. Each of these individuals has made a difference in the lives of his or her students, and that is excellence worth celebrating!


Valerie S. Ashby, Dean of Trinity College of Arts & Science

Trinity Teaching Awards

The Trinity College of Arts & Sciences Teaching Awards recognize teaching excellence in the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences.

Ashwin MachanavajjhalaDavid and Janet Vaughan Brooks Teaching Award
Ashwin Machanavajjhala
Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science

“One remarkable thing about Ashwin’s teaching record is that every single one of the three courses he has taught at Duke has been a new creation," said Pankaj Agarwal, chair of the Department of Computer Science.

"Several students wrote nomination letters for Ashwin, and they are unequivocal in their praise for the quality of his courses, his teaching style and effectiveness, and his accessibility and dedication to students," said Agarwal.  "He is deeply involved in undergraduate research and also serves as mentor to students at the North Carolina School for Science & Math. In addition, he is an extremely talented and productive researcher, recognized as a leader of his research area, and an outspoken and engaging member of our department with vision and ideas.”

Kimberly LammRobert B. Cox Teaching Award
Kimberly Lamm
Associate Professor of the Practice, Program in Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies

“Professor Lamm is an extraordinarily gifted and creative teacher,” said Priscilla Wald, chair of the Program in Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies. “She stands out for her enrollments, her excellent evaluations, the number of honors theses she directs, and the number of students who request her as an advisor.

"In a group of exceptionally dedicated teachers, she is the one I most often see in her office talking to students and at student activities, and the one who most often brings ideas for undergraduate student activities and outreach to our meetings," said Wald. "I routinely hear from students about her passion for her material, the excitement she generates in class, and her availability to work with them outside of class and office hours.”

Peter FeaverHoward D. Johnson Teaching Award
Peter Feaver
Professor, Department of Political Science

“Professor Feaver embodies all that is great about Duke’s educational mission: he is an internationally-known scholar, an outstanding teacher, and an educational entrepreneur,” said Georg Vanberg, chair of the Department of Political Science.

“He invests enormous energy in providing a rich educational experience that extends far beyond the formal classroom. For example, as part of his American Grand Strategy Program, he takes students on field trips to destinations that have played a significant role in American foreign policy, diplomacy, and history," said Vanberg. "And he works diligently to foster an academic community of current students and alumni. Within this network, current students are paired with mentors among the alumni–often a significant benefit as students begin to contemplate their careers after Duke.”

Robin KirkRichard K Lublin Teaching Award
Robin Kirk
Lecturer, Department of Cultural Anthropology and International Comparative Studies; Co-Chair, Duke Human Rights Center

“Here at Duke, we pride ourselves on developing innovative, high-impact learning practices like DukeImmerse, Focus, Humanities Labs, and Bass Connections. Robin Kirk has been a leader in just about every one of these endeavors,” said nominator Lee D. Baker, chair of the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Director of the International Comparative Studies Program. “She demonstrates how students can learn without limits by creatively teaching about human rights, memory, and the creation of borders and borderlands."

"In addition to teaching, she directs the popular Belfast program for DukeEngage and co-created the Human Rights Certificate Program. She continually innovates her pedagogical practices and collaborates with faculty throughout the humanities and social sciences. Her ability to leverage the Franklin Humanities Institute, Bass Connections, and DukeEngage has been extraordinary for our students.," said Baker.

Dean's Diversity and Leadership Awards

The Dean's Diversity Award, first presented in 2016, recognizes how diversity drives excellence in research, teaching, advising, mentoring and service.

Priscilla WaldDean’s Diversity Award
Priscilla Wald
R. Florence Brinkley Professor of English, Chair of Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies

“Professor Priscilla Wald has been a strong leader in advocating for a more diverse faculty at Duke. She always steps up to lead when issues of diversity are at stake,” said nominator Kevin Moore, vice dean for Faculty, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.

“We have seen sustained evidence for this in her home department (English) as well as in Gender, Sexuality & Feminist (GSF) Studies where Priscilla has been chair for the last three years," said Moore. "In GSF she led the targeted recruitment of a scholar of color and this effort led to an open search this academic year in Black Feminism and the successful hire of a very promising junior scholar.”

The Dean's Leadership Award, first presented in 2013, recognizes a group or individual in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences who has demonstrated leadership through a project involving teaching, research or service.

Paul BendichDean’s Leadership Award
Paul Bendich
Assistant Research Professor in Mathematics, Duke Information Initiative

“Paul has shown real leadership in developing Data+ into a university model, in developing the new joint Mathematics/Pratt data course, and in advocating for our STEM students,” said Jonathan Mattingly, chair of the Department of Mathematics. “With the Data+ program, he has masterfully worked with students, mentors and sponsors alike. He identified and developed projects, helped students with the research and secured funding. He has turned Data+ into a hugely successful program, with a national reputation and clones across campus. Equally impressive is the fact that he centered many Data+ projects on social justice and social issues relevant to the Durham community.

"He has also been very involved in developing a new Data Science course between mathematics and Pratt," said Mattingly. "And, when the department developed a pathways program for the weakest mathematics students, Paul advocated for these students' needs and helped to design a summer research experience."

Excellence in Advising Awards

The Award for Excellence in Advising, first presented in 2007, honors faculty and staff advisers who have helped guide undergraduates in the first two years at Duke.

Franca AlphinExcellence in Advising Award
Franca Alphin
Volunteer College Advisor for 11 years; Associate Professor in Community and Family Medicine

“Franca loves getting to know our amazing young men and women, and supporting their dreams by offering direction and support,” said David Rabiner, director of the Academic Advising Center.

Her student nominators each noted Alphin’s interest in their well-being in addition to their academic performance. “She’s helped me to take a breath and reevaluate what I want with my education…I can be successful regardless of the setbacks I face,” noted one student.

Another said he appreciates that Alphin reaches out to other faculty members and administrators to ensure that she is giving him a consolidated, informed answer to his questions. And, that when he told her life was getting really hard, she recommended multiple things to help and kept in touch with him.

Rann Bar-onExcellence in Advising Award
Rann Bar-On
Volunteer College Advisor for 12 years; Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics

“Rann is especially interested in advising first-generation and minority students at Duke. He works to address issues of poverty, race and discrimination, both seen and unseen,” said Rabiner. “He has found that facing such challenges head-on allows disadvantaged students to be open and forthright about issues they are faced with that they often find hostile and intimidating in an environment such as Duke.”

One student nominator said that Bar-On has simply been fundamental to his Duke experience. “He genuinely cares about my college career and has encouraged me to think outside my traditional views of education by taking courses outside my major and requirements.”

Award for Excellence in Teaching Writing

The Award for Excellence in Teaching Writing recognizes exceptionally strong teachers of academic writing in the Thompson Writing Program. The award is made possible by the generosity of the Karen Blumenthal and Scott McCartney Endowment. Read about past winners.

Emily ParksAward for Excellence in Teaching Writing
Emily Parks
Lecturer, Thompson Writing Program

"From a very strong pool of nominations, Lecturing Fellow Emily Parks emerged as this year's award winner," said Clare Woods, director of the Thompson Writing Program.

"For her course, titled Neurolaw, she draws on her own background in Cognitive Neuroscience to explore complex and topical questions e.g. can advances in neuroscience inform our modern justice system? All the while," said Woods, "Emily creates a welcoming, innovative, and intellectually rigorous classroom environment that builds her students' confidence as writers and critical thinkers."

Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award

The Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award (ADUTA) is the highest recognition that students can bestow on a teacher. The award was established by the Duke Alumni Association in 1970; a student committee makes the final determination of recipients. Read more about past winners.

Karin ShapiroAlumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award
Karin Shapiro
Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of African & African American Studies

There is a common thread of appreciation in the student nominations for Dr. Shapiro: her classroom is not a place where she lectures facts at a group of silent students.

“She sees the classroom as rich soil to create new ideas, to play intellectual tug of war with students, to think and share freely. The classroom is where people are peers, with a unified mission toward truth,” notes one student.

Nominators appreciated Shapiro’s dedication to getting to know each of them individually, inside and outside of the classroom. They valued her ethos for openness, curiosity and compassion, and for giving rich context to modern events by connecting them to the concepts and histories discussed in class.

The Graduate School Mentoring Awards

The Graduate School has announced the recipients of its annual Dean's Awards recognizing outstanding efforts in mentoring, teaching, and creating an inclusive environment for graduate education at Duke. Two Trinity faculty members are among the honorees for 2018. To see the full list of Graduate School award winners, read more.

Anna Gassman-PinesDean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring
Anna Gassman-Pines
Associate Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience and Public Policy

“For me, the way that I’ve created inclusion goes back to the idea of valuing each student as an individual and understanding his or her own unique life experiences, perspectives, what he or she is bringing to the research enterprise, and really trying to demonstrate in all my interactions with students how much I value them as people," said Gassman-Pines. "I think we are, as faculty members, responsible for making sure the next generation of scholars is more diverse.”

Read what her student nominators had to say.

Elizabeth MarshDean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring
Elizabeth Marsh
Professor and Associate Chair, Psychology and Neuroscience

“Graduate school really should be about community...students have to get depth in a lab and they have to develop very careful ideas and test them, but at the same time, they need to go to talks that aren’t related to things they’re interested in," said Marsh. "They need to know whom to go to when they have a question about stats or whom to go to when they need advice about a particular conference. Anything you can do to encourage graduate students to have a larger community and to feel like they can ask questions is a good thing.”

Read what her student nominators had to say.