The recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Awards — UCLA’s highest honor for teaching — were recently honored at the Andrea L. Rich Night to Honor Teaching award ceremony.

The awards, which were presented at a special ceremony on the evening of Oct. 15 at the Chancellor’s Residence, honor individuals who bring respect and admiration to teaching, allowing UCLA to demonstrate its excellence in higher education and provide role models for faculty and students. 

The winners are chosen based on a range of criteria:

  • Impact on students, specifically playing a key role in students’ success, offering advice and guidance on career plans, or serving as a significant influence in students’ lives
  • Efforts to create a learning environment in which diverse students can succeed
  • Using innovative teaching methods and/or curriculum
  • Involvement in community outreach activities
  • Teaching ratings

Recipients were named from three categories: the senate faculty, non-senate faculty and teaching assistants.

The senate faculty awardees were professors Anastassia Alexandrova, Kathleen Bawn, Gregory Grether, Katsuya Hirano, Eric Sheppard and Stephanie White.

Anastassia Alexandrova is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the UCLA College. Her laboratory focuses on computational and theoretical design and multi-scale description of new materials. She received the UCLA Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor Award in 2018.


Kathleen Bawn is a professor of political science in the UCLA College. She studies political parties, focusing on roles they play in stabilizing coalitions and organizing politics. Her current work argues that parties in the United States are best thought of as coalitions of policy-demanding groups whose strongest leverage comes at the stage when candidates seek party nominations.


Gregory Grether is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology in the UCLA College. His research interests involve the ecological and evolutionary effects of the competition between species. His research usually focuses at the level of phenotypes but molecular tools are used as well.


Katsuya Hirano is an associate professor of history in the UCLA College. His research explores the intersection between history and critical theory with a focus on questions of ideology, political economy and subjectivity. He is the author of the book “The Politics of Dialogic Imagination: Power and Popular Culture in Early Modern Japan.”


Eric Sheppard is a professor of geography in the UCLA College. His research interests are geographical political economy, uneven geographies of globalization, neoliberalism, urbanization in the global South, and urban sustainability and environmental justice. He teaches courses in globalization, economic geography and development geographies.


Stephanie White is a professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College. Her research interests are social influences on learning and memory. She directs the undergraduate neuroscience interdepartmental program and co-directs the neural systems and behavioral course at the Marine Biological Labs in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.


The non-senate faculty awardees were lecturers Jennifer Casey, Juliet Falce-Robinson and Jorja Leap.

Jennifer Casey is a professor of chemistry. She specializes in computational chemistry and physical chemistry. She also conducts chemical education research under the advisement of Arlene Russell, a professor of chemistry.


Juliet Falce- Robinson is a professor of Spanish. Her areas of teaching and research are Spanish applied linguistics and motivation as a variable in second language acquisition. She also directs internships in community service learning and summer travel study programs to Mexico.


Jorja Leap is an adjunct professor of social welfare in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Her research examines gangs, high-risk and system-involved youth, prison culture and the dilemmas faced by the formerly incarcerated working to reenter mainstream society. She is also a trained anthropologist and recognized expert in crisis intervention and trauma response, working in violent and post-war settings.  


The teaching assistant awardees were:

Kaitlin Ingraham Dixie – molecular, cellular and integrative physiology
Sean Messarra – history
Samantha Morse – English
Jordan Wallace-Wolf – philosophy
Katherine Winchell – chemistry and biochemistry