Academics & Faculty

UCLA Honors Professors With Distinguished Teaching Awards


The recipients of UCLA's highest teaching award share apassion for teaching and making even the most difficult subjects easier forstudents to understand and enjoy. The UCLA Alumni Association will honor fiveprofessors selected for the 2001–02 Distinguished Teaching Awards on May 18 atits 57th annual awards ceremony.

The Distinguished Teaching Award recipients areProfessors Chris Anderson, mathematics; Steven Clarke, biochemistry; AnneMellor, English; Lee Todd Miller, pediatric medicine; and Grant Nelson, law.

Each year, the Academic Senate Committee on Teaching, inconjunction with the Office of Instructional Development, selects therecipients. Honorees receive praise from students, colleagues, departmentchairs and alumni. Professors, lecturers — which include adjunct and clinicalprofessors — and teaching assistants will be honored in an upcoming ceremony atthe Andrea L. Rich Night to Honor Teaching this fall.

The Distinguished Lecturer Award recipients are ColleenKeenan, an assistant professor of nursing; Steven Hardinger, a guest lecturerof chemistry and biochemistry; and Cynthia Merrill, a lecturer in the WritingProgram.

The Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award recipientsare: Emma Jane Scioli, classics; La'Tonya Rease Miles, English; MargaretScharle, philosophy; Robert Gedeon, sociology; and Christina Yamanaka, history.

Each of the professors who received the high honor wassingled out for excellence in a variety of areas that enhance teaching.

Mathematics Professor Chris Anderson (Calabasas) islauded for his ability to help students grasp the complexities of numericalanalyses and scientific computations. As with other professors who received theaward, Anderson has inspired some of his students to become professors.

"Chris has an uncanny talent for leading his students tothe heart of this intellectually demanding area, to make them see the power andthe beauty of numerical analysis," Mathematics Department Chairman DavidGieseker wrote in a letter nominating Anderson for the award.

Anderson views his role as a teacher as that of "gettingthe students to channel (their) potential into becoming competent and creativepractitioners of applied mathematics."

Biochemistry Professor Steve Clarke (Brentwood) strivesto "convey the beauty of life at the molecular level" to his students. Whilestudents learn about cutting-edge scientific research in his classes, Clarkealso stresses the importance of balancing human ethics with researchadvancements.

"For me, the joy of teaching is to tell a good story thatwill inspire students to go out and learn for themselves," Clarke said. "I wantto get them to be a part of a research experience themselves, to see if theyhave what it takes to make discoveries happen."

William Gelbart, chairman of the Department of Chemistryand Biochemistry, wrote, "A common portrait arising in virtually all of (hisstudents') remarks is one of an incisive, passionate, caring and excitingteacher who has changed the intellectual lives of many."

English Professor Anne Mellor (Los Angeles) is knownamong students for her energy, enthusiasm and intellectual prowess. She teachesundergraduate and graduate courses in Romantic literature and also serves asthe English department's placement director for graduate students.

"Her energy and charisma infused the classroom withexcitement and encouraged participation and active, enthusiastic learning," onestudent wrote. "Her office hours were inevitably crowded, yet she made eachstudent feel welcomed."

Mellor wants her students "to love literature as much asI do."

"I have always felt blessed that I have been paid to dowhat I take the most pleasure in doing, reading and talking about some of thebest-written and most thought-provoking productions of the human mind," shesaid.

Dr. Lee Todd Miller (Los Angeles), based at Cedars-SinaiMedical Center, directs the Pediatric Residency Training Program and co-directsthe UCLA School of Medicine's medical student teaching program in pediatrics.He has received outstanding teacher awards from the American Medical StudentAssociation and the UCLA School of Medicine nine times. In 1998 the medicalschool finally decided to create the Platinum Apple Award in honor of Miller as"The Master Teacher." This also enabled the school to open up its Golden AppleAward to other candidates.

"Dr. Miller's regular teaching activity, widely known as'Miller Rounds,' have become legendary among the medical students for itsability to provide clinical material in an analytical, methodical, stimulatingand non-threatening manner," his colleagues wrote.

As a member of the World Health Organization, Miller alsohas taught classes to medical school students in Egypt, Ethiopia, Zambia andother countries.

Law Professor Grant Nelson (Pacific Palisades) teachescourses in property and real estate finance law and remedies, the study ofinjunctions and damages. He has garnered various teaching awards, includingbeing elected "Outstanding Professor" four times at the University of Missouri,Columbia.

One student praised Nelson this way: "If Nelson were acountry, I would move there."

Jonathan Varat, dean and professor of law, wrote in aletter nominating Nelson for the award that the professor "teaches a broad baseand large number of students to critical acclaim in subject areas that are notusually so popular."

Nelson motivates his students to learn by associatingstories about everyday people to his teachings about complex laws.

"Quite simply, there is little in our professional lifeas academics that is as stimulating and rewarding as when our students succeedin mastering inherently complex material," he said.



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