Distinguished Honors Faculty Award

The duties of a teacher are neither few nor small, but they elevate the mind and give energy to the character.

Dorothea Dix, Educator and Social Reformer, 1802-1887

The Distinguished Honors Faculty Award

Each year, the L&S Honors Program solicits student nominations of faculty members (or instructional academic staff) who have had a special impact as teachers of Honors courses, as supervisors of Honors theses, or as teachers and mentors of Honors students. The Faculty Honors Committee reviews these nominations and votes to confer Distinguished Honors Faculty status on the strongest nominees for these awards each spring. Below, we recognize each of these incredible educators and thank them for their contributions to the lives of all students, but particularly those in the Honors program.

2020 Awardees

William Bement

Position title: Integrative Biology, Center for Quantitative Cell Imaging


Professor Bement’s Departmental Webpage. 


One student described Professor Bement’s capacity to maintain an engaging learning environment despite this year’s challenges. The student wrote, “[Professor Bement] made a topic that I didn’t think I would enjoy very fun by being super upbeat and engaging. He made the transition to this new [way of] learning absolutely wonderful! I found he deeply cared about all of the students and is very friendly and approachable!”

Karen Britland

Position title: English


Professor Britland’s Departmental Webpage


One student highlighted the lengths to which Professor Britland went when she was under stress. The student wrote, “One day, I was crying in my English class. I sat in the corner so that no classmate would notice me, […] but Professor Britland did. She stopped me before I was able to leave the lecture [and] took the time to get to know my situation. […] She always took the time for us to figure out a plan.” The student then concluded, “I am not one to fill out forms like this but Professor Britland is truly deserving of some recognition. She is kind-hearted, compassionate, [and] absolutely hilarious.”

Mario Ortiz-Robles

Position title: English


Professor Ortiz-Robles’ Departmental Webpage


One student called attention to the impact Professor Ortiz-Robles had on their undergraduate path. That student shared that “[Professor Ortiz-Robles] was open and incredibly helpful, guiding me to the Honors Program in the English department. He encouraged me to take some of his courses, which I did, and eventually, he supported my Senior Honors Thesis in animal studies. I have been surprised at every turn how supportive and willing he is to help me [with] my projects. He has truly gone above and beyond to improve my undergraduate experience. He is deserving of this honor and many others.”

Song Gao

Position title: Geography


Professor Gao’s Departmental Webpage


One student underscored the appreciation and emphasis Professor Gao places on undergraduate education. The student shared that “Professor Gao is hands down the most caring and passionate professor I have had. Even though I was an undergraduate over the two years I spent [in] his courses, he did not treat me differently compared to his graduate students. Rather, he encouraged me to share my ideas and to have critical discussions with all his students in and out of class.”

Patrick Iber

Position title: History


Professor Iber’s Departmental Webpage


One student emphasized the impact Professor Iber’s course had on encouraging personal intellectual and social growth. That student noted that “my experience in History 242: Modern Latin America with Professor Patrick Iber this last fall further taught me the importance of challenging my personal beliefs and worldview through rigorous debate and understanding of new perspectives. While initially taking HIS 242 to fulfill the geography breadth requirement in pursuit of a degree in history, my experience with Professor Iber quickly became hugely impactful.”

Shuchi Chawla

Position title: Computer Sciences


Professor Chawla’s Departmental Webpage


One student stressed the advising role Professor Chawla has played in their undergraduate career, beyond serving as an instructor. That student shared that “[Professor Chawla] has been an amazing academic advisor [for] me. Conducting research on theoretical computer science is hard for undergraduate students, however, she has been there to guide me every step of the way.” The student then wrote, “[my] interest in this area of research has only grown since I started working with her. Notably, with her as my advisor, I received a Welton Summer Sophomore Research Apprenticeship Grant, an Honors Summer Senior Thesis Research Grant, and a Trewartha Senior Honors Thesis Research Award. […] In all, Professor Chawla excels at helping students and I will never be where I am today without her help.”

2020 Honorable Mention

The Faculty Honors Committee singled out the following faculty nominees for an Honorable Mentions as a result of the student recommendations each received for the 2019-20 academic school year.

  • Steven Brooke, Political Science
  • Kristina Huang, English
  • Dan Kapust, Political Science
  • Jonathan Martin, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
  • Steve Nadler, Philosophy
  • Yuri Saalman, Psychology

2019 Awardees

Joseph Austerweil

Position title: Psychology


Professor Austerweil’s Departmental Webpage


One student highlighted Professor Austerweil’s “dedication to providing students with a challenging yet rewarding research experience” and noted how important his help was “throughout the entire graduate school application process.” During this time, he “made sure not only to provide practical advice on finding programs and building a competitive application but also took the time to talk with me about how I was handling the process emotionally.”

Barbara Bendlin

Position title: Medicine


Professor Bendlin’s Departmental Webpage


One student remarked that working in Professor Bendlin’s lab for over three years was “undoubtedly the best experience of my undergraduate years.” The student continued, “I look forward to starting my senior thesis under her advisement this coming fall. I cannot imagine a faculty member more deserving of this honor.”

Thomas Brunold

Position title: Chemistry


Professor Brunold’s Departmental Webpage


One student shared that “[Professor Brunold] has been extremely engaging during class time allowing for a deeper connection than found in a traditional lecture setting.” The student went on to comment that “Professor Brunold has been one of the best professors I have had during my undergraduate experience. He has not only expanded my knowledge of inorganic chemistry but also helped me develop a greater passion for the subject.”

Emily Fletcher

Position title: Philosophy


Professor Fletcher’s Departmental Webpage


One student shared that “[Professor] Fletcher was invaluable during my time applying to Ph.D. programs in philosophy. She continued, even after my thesis was done, to give me advice about places to apply, programs I may be interested in attending, all while reading and commenting on multiple drafts of my writing sample for graduate studies. [Professor] Fletcher continually went above and beyond […]; she selflessly helped me in my pursuit of my own goals.”

Gloria Whiting

Position title: History


Professor Whiting’s Departmental Webpage


One student wrote, “I never pushed myself in high school and I expected to do the same in college, but [Professor] Whiting inspired me to push my intellectual limits.” The degree to which Professor Whiting inspired and encouraged the student to take on extra challenges, including writing a Senior Honors Thesis, was most noted as being particularly significant.

Past Awardees

  • Allyson Bennett, Psychology
  • Kathryn Ciancia, History
  • Chad Goldberg, Sociology
  • Katherine Hustad, Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Seth McGee, Biocore
  • Judith Mitchell, English; Creative Writing
  • Elliott Sober, Philosophy
  • Daniel Quint, Economics
  • M. Thomas Record, Jr., Chemistry
  • Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor, German, Nordic & Slavic
  • Harry Brighouse, Philosophy
  • Eric Carlsson, History
  • Loredana Comparone, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Judith Harackiewicz, Psychology
  • Michelle Harris, Biocore
  • Cora Lee Kluge, German
  • Randall Goldsmith, Chemistry
  • Rita Kaushanskaya, Communication Science and Disorders
  • Mario Ortiz Robles, English
  • Timothy Rogers, Psychology
  • Howard Schweber, Political Science
  • Scott Straus, Political Science
  • Danielle Benden, Anthropology
  • David Danaher, Slavic
  • Raymond Deneckere, Economics
  • Ralph Grunewald, Legal Studies and Comparative Literature
  • Maryellen MacDonald, Psychology
  • Tiziana Serafini, French and Italian
  • Susan Bernstein, English
  • Christopher Wells, Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Janet Hyde, Psychology
  • Carol Lee, Zoology
  • Peiman Hematti, Hematology and Oncology
  • Richard Avramenko, Political Science
  • Charles T. Snowdon, Psychology
  • William Cronon, History
  • Edward Friedman, Political Science
  • Bryan Hendricks, Psychology
  • Susan B. Horwitz, Computer Sciences
  • Jack W. Mitchell, Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Catherine H. Middlecamp, Chemistry
  • Gary G. Weismer, Communicative Disorders
  • Janet C. Batzli, Biology Core Curriculum
  • Richard J. Begam, English
  • Robert Booth Fowler, Political Science
  • Cyrena N. Pondrom, English
  • Jenny R. Saffran, Psychology
  • Kenneth D. West, Economics