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40th Faculty Excellence Awards Honors Outstanding Teaching, Research and Service

As educators, they powerfully inspire student ambition; as researchers, they drive scholarship to new heights; and as citizens, they reach out to the community to expand resources to the underserved. Six UC San Diego faculty members will be honored at the 40th annual Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Excellence Awards for going above and beyond to make a positive impact in their teaching, research and service. The recognition ceremony will be held Thursday, March 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the J.R. Beyster Auditorium at the Rady School of Management.

“I congratulate this year’s Faculty Excellence Award honorees for their commitment to our campus and service to the community,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “These faculty members are exceptional educators, scholars and civic leaders, and their passion for advancing knowledge and dedication to positively impacting our society is remarkable.”

Over the past 40 years, UC San Diego has recognized the contributions of more than 130 faculty members. The annual ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of UC San Diego faculty as a whole, while highlighting the important contributions of the university’s most exemplary teachers and researchers via brief video presentations. Chancellor’s Associates, a program for donors who give an annual leadership gift of $2,500 or more to the university, will recognize the outstanding accomplishments of university faculty members with a citation and $2,500 award.

The recipients of the 2014 Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Excellence Awards include: Lin Chao, professor of biological sciences, for excellence in undergraduate teaching; Leslie J. Carver, associate professor of psychology, for excellence in graduate teaching; Stephan M. Haggard, professor of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), for excellence in research in humanities and social sciences; Susan S. Taylor, professor of pharmacology and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, for excellence in research in science and engineering; Ramamohan Paturi, professor of computer science and engineering, for excellence in community service; and Susan Narucki, professor of music, for excellence in performing and visual arts.

Award candidates are nominated by their academic peers, with final selection by a committee comprising Chancellor’s Associates donors. Criteria for selection are based on faculty member achievements, reputation and impact on students and the academic community.

About the 2014 Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Excellence Awards recipients:

Lin Chao, Professor of Biological Sciences

Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Lin Chao’s commitment to student learning is reflected in the comments made by his undergraduates, who give his approach an outstanding 98 percent approval rating, including many kudos for using a chalkboard instead of PowerPoint. Chao has a reputation for clear, interesting lectures that enable students to absorb tremendous amounts of material, informed by his long research career in experimental evolution. The trajectory of former students, many of whom go on to prestigious research and faculty positions, speaks to his influence as teacher and role model.

“Lin Chao is an outstanding researcher and educator with the rare ability to convey even the most difficult of ideas in a clear, understandable and inspirational manner,” said Joshua Kohn, professor and chair of the section of ecology, behavior and evolution in the Division of Biological Sciences. “He provides the students with the concepts that lead them to be able to reach the proper conclusions by their own reasoning. This is a deep goal of instruction, one that is not easily reached.”

Leslie J. Carver, Associate Professor of Psychology

Excellence in Graduate Teaching

Leslie Carver has effected significant change in graduate teaching across her department by implementing a curriculum that strengthens students’ ability to succeed from the outset. In stellar evaluations, she stands out for giving individualized attention to her students and imparting practical skills as well as for her expertise in the development and plasticity of brain systems in infants. Considered a wise and inspiring leader, Carver has also made meaningful contributions to campus diversity through her outreach and service.

“Leslie Carver has made a lasting impact on our graduate students by providing valuable feedback, one-on-one mentoring and positive reinforcement,” said Victor Ferreira, professor and chair of the department of psychology. “Her intensive and engaging courses prepare students with the foundation they need in writing, presenting and critical thinking.”

Stephan M. Haggard, Professor of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS)

Excellence in Research in Humanities and Social Sciences

Stephan Haggard is lauded by his colleagues for the remarkable productivity, breadth and influence of his teaching, research and publications. Haggard has a global reputation as a leading scholar in the fields of international relations, comparative politics and political economy whose research has greatly expanded our understanding of political change, economic growth and crises, and the dynamics of the Pacific region. Over his 21 years with UC San Diego, his visibility and stature have elevated the university’s reputation.

“Stephan Haggard’s research, teaching and service are inspiring and exemplary. With more than 140 peer-reviewed works translated into five languages, his publication record is both prolific and of the highest quality,” said Peter Cowhey, dean of the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. “Moreover, he has played an integral role in building our school’s reputation, programs and relationships with other research institutions.”

Susan S. Taylor, Professor of Pharmacology and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Excellence in Research in Science and Engineering

Considered one of the world’s preeminent scientists, Susan S. Taylor has made major contributions to modern biology and chemistry. Her seminal work on protein kinase A has defined the structure, function, dynamics and evolution of the protein kinase super-family—crucial for cellular processes such as growth and metabolism. Taylor is considered the antithesis of an ivory-tower scholar and recognized as a collaborative force locally and across the larger scientific community. She is a passionate champion for research nationally and internationally, and has devoted more than 40 years of scholarship to UC San Diego.

“Susan Taylor works diligently to foster partnerships between UC San Diego faculty and community researchers to advance solutions that extend from chemistry to biomedical science,” said David Brenner, M.D., vice chancellor of Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine. “She is both a model scientist and a tireless advocate of multi-disciplinary research collaboration at UC San Diego and beyond.”

Ramamohan Paturi, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering

Excellence in Community Service

Ramamohan Paturi, whose research is focused on algorithms and computational complexity, has been a professor of computer science at UC San Diego since 1986. He recently initiated a program for incoming students from academically and socially disadvantaged schools to develop their passion for computer science and engineering and provide a smooth transition to college. The Summer Program for Incoming Students (SPIS) employs individual attention, experiential learning and rigorous academics to help students succeed and realize their full potential.

“Ramamohan Paturi has put great effort into developing SPIS from scratch on a purely voluntary basis,” said Rajesh Gupta, professor and chair, Computer Science and Engineering. “Utmost on his mind is to show students that UC San Diego is committed to providing them with the best educational opportunities and the tools to ensure success.”

Susan Narucki, Professor of Music

Excellence in the Performing and Visual Arts

Susan Narucki is an award-winning artist who has had a transformative influence on the performing arts at UC San Diego. Trained as an operatic soprano, she is a distinguished interpreter of the music of the past century, and her students benefit from her long, ongoing career of recording and performing in the world’s great venues. Narucki has raised the visibility of the department by developing a chamber opera series, stimulating discussion on diversity and attracting gifted graduate students.

“Susan Narucki has applied her consummate artistry and impeccable musical skills to bringing to life the music of her own time,” said Aleck Karis, professor of music and associate dean, Division of Arts and Humanities. “In her performances in the U.S. and abroad, she is an ambassador for UC San Diego and an embodiment of its reputation for excellence.”