The College of Science celebrated teaching and advising excellence at its annual Winter Awards Ceremony at the Memorial Union on February 3. Guided by the theme of mentorship, students and professors paid heartfelt tributes to cherished mentors who were instrumental in igniting their passion for science and influencing their careers.

“Impactful teaching and mentoring is what transforms good students into leaders of science,” said Sastry G. Pantula, dean of the College of Science who presented the teaching and advising awards. “I cannot thank faculty and advisors enough for the incredible amount of time spent advising, teaching and mentoring. It does indeed take a village to build the next generation of leaders in science.”

The event was enriched by the presence of students who announced the awards for which they had enthusiastically nominated their teachers and advisors.

Statistics senior instructor Jeff Kollath won the Frederick H. Horne Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching Science. His former student Juliann Moore praised him for guiding her career as a student, and, subsequently, as a teacher of statistics.

“Now I teach alongside my mentor. This instructor has shown me that teaching can be so rewarding,” said Moore, who is also a statistics instructor in the College.

Kollath described his own recipe for successfully teaching large undergraduate lecture classes. “You have to remember the audience you have and keep your expectations high as well as realistic.”

Physics Professor Henri Jansen, who won the Olaf Boedtker Undergraduate Advising Award, recalled the “invisible mentoring” he received from his postdoctoral advisor that continues to influence his own approach to student advising.

“The mentee has to be ready. Plant the seed, but don’t push,” said Jansen. “A good mentor should help you figure out what you should be doing, not what the mentor would have done.”

Mathematics Instructor David Wing, who won the Loyd Carter Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching, has a reputation for using Rubik’s Cube puzzles to break the ice with his students and make them fall in love with mathematics.

Biophysics and Biochemistry Professor Tory Hagen was awarded the Loyd Carter Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching.

“Professor Hagen’s inspiring mentorship and teaching reminds me of the famous saying by Plutarch. ‘The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled,’” said Nick Thomas, his graduate student.

“The best way of teaching and mentoring is to give room and allow innately good students to achieve their best,” said Hagen while accepting his award.

 

Congratulations to the College of Science Winter 2015 Teaching and Advising Award Winners

Henri Jansen, Physics Department—Olaf Boedtker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising

David Wing, Mathematics Department—Loyd F. Carter Award for Outstanding and Inspirational Teaching, Undergraduate

Tory Hagen, Biochemistry & Biophysics Department—Loyd F. Carter Award for Outstanding and Inspirational Teaching, Graduate

Jeff Kollath, Statistics Department—Frederick H. Horne Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching

 

The College of Science celebrated academic and administrative excellence at its annual Fall Awards Ceremony at the Linus Pauling Science Center. In addition to kicking off the new academic year, we took the opportunity to reconnect with each other and welcome new colleagues into our community. Congratulations to the following people in the College who received awards at the ceremony:

  • Edward Waymire, Mathematics Department – F.A. Gilfillan Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Science
  • Elisar Barbar, Biochemistry & Biophysics Department – Milton Harris Award in Basic Research in Science
  • Deanne Wilcox, Mathematics Department – Gladys Valley Award for Exemplary Administrative Support
  • Myra Koesdjojo, Chemistry Department – Outstanding Faculty Research Assistant Award
  • LeeAnn McGill and Andy Kuback, Arts & Sciences Business Center – ASBC Exemplary Service Awards

Welcome back and here’s to a wonderful year!

asa175ASA’s 175th Anniversary Breakfast Roundtable with past ASA Presidents and Executive Directors who will reflect on their leadership positions with ASA, including Dean Pantula, who served as the ASA President in 2010. In addition to serving on the World of Statistics Committee, he is also on the ASA Development Committee.

“I enjoy being associated with ASA, and I receive a great deal of satisfaction in serving the profession,” said Pantula.

 

Below are his responses to questions that ASA posed to the panelists.

What was your first thought when you were asked to run for president/be a candidate for executive director? What was your first thought when you learned you had won the election for president/been selected as executive director?

I was shocked when I got the call from Nancy Flourenoy about being nominated for ASA president. Who, me?

I couldn’t believe it. I talked to my dean at that time, Dan Solomon. He definitely said it is a great honor to be asked and that I must say yes. I recall talking to my classmate Sallie Keller, a former ASA President, and she said “how can you turn it down when your association calls you for your leadership help?” So, I accepted the nomination immediately, even without knowing at that time who my opponent may be.

When I found out that my opponent was Xiaoli Meng, I was very excited that at least for the first time, we will have an Asian president.

I was even more surprised, flabbergasted, when Ron Wasserstein called me several months later congratulating me on being elected.  What an honor it was and is!

When I told our daughter Asha that I won the election, she thought I beat Hillary Clinton, since I was talking about what a change it is for an Asian to lead the American Statistical Association. (Obama was talking about “Change we can believe in” at that time).

 

What was the high point of your time as president/executive director of the ASA?

My high point was traveling to various chapters and events and meeting people and talking about the impeccable impact statistical sciences are having on other sciences, engineering, business, and education.

I also enjoyed leading a delegation of 40 to China.

Certainly, I will always remember being the first Asian to be an ASA president (and so far the only one). We can use more diversity in the leadership and on the board.

I am always grateful to Fritz Schueren who gave me the opportunity to be the ASA Treasurer, which opened many doors for me.

 

What surprised you most about being president/executive director of the ASA?

How much our members are eager to volunteer and contribute to promoting the practice and the profession of statistics. It also gave me a sense for how big a tent ASA is and the importance of us paying attention to all of our sectors, not just academia.

I didn’t realize how many other doors (NSF Director for the Division of Mathematical Sciences, Oregon State University Dean of Science) it opened for me.

What surprised me is how well I got to know Ron Wasserstein the Executive Director of ASA and how wonderful he is as a person, and how dedicated he is to ASA’s success and our profession. I am very grateful for his friendship. It is by far one of the best surprising benefits I gained during the presidency and beyond!

Finally, it was such a pleasure to work with ASA staff.  There are more than thirty to name them all!

 

 What accomplishment as president/executive director of the ASA did you find most gratifying?

I truly enjoyed listening to our members. But also for advocating for our profession to youngsters and policy makers was the most gratifying experience.

I focused on “GIVE to ASA,” where GIVE stood for Growth, Impact, Visibility and Education.  We focused on membership growth; we developed mechanisms to explain our impact and to make us more visible; we worked on a tagline and an elevator speech for ASA; and we set in motion a process for studying workforce development, which my successors continued.

We enhanced the PR for ASA!

 

What particularly humorous or unusual incident happened to you while you were president/executive director of the ASA?

Certainly, my daughter thinking that I beat Hilary Clinton was cute.  I recall taking her to listen to Hillary speak, and Hillary getting a kick out of it when Asha handed over her Unicorn book for Hillary to autograph!

The AAAS director characterizing us, statisticians, as tools was unusual. That was a wake up call to recognize that we had a lot of work to do, and we did.  We now have some room at the table.

 

What advice would you share with future candidates for president or executive director of the ASA?

Enjoy!  What an honor it is to be the leader of 20,000 fellow members.

Connect with our members.  Don’t complain that you have to travel too much. Time will fly too fast.  So, start the job the day you get the news of being elected. Don’t wait until you are the president, by then it is too late if you want to see the impact of your vision.

Don’t run for the election if you are not excited about running around the globe! Toot the horn about our profession. Attract young people and future problem solvers.  Collaborate with other professions and other societies.

 

What are your feelings about the future of the ASA? What makes you particularly optimistic about the ASA’s future? What would you like to see addressed?

As you probably see from the Future of Statistical Sciences London workshop report, there is a bright future ahead of us. Data—big or small—will continue to play a role in discoveries and policymaking. We need to emphasize good ethics and trust in science. We are making significant progress in identifying data crooks and misuses of statistical methodologies. Keep being collaborative rather than combative. We have to not only be a part of scientific teams but also be the leaders at the table. Focus on grand challenges related to sustainability, energy, security and health.

As the goals at Oregon State University state: we want to make this a healthy planet for healthy people in a healthy economy. Who else can be a key to these goals besides statisticians?  We enable discoveries in other sciences, engineering, business and education, in addition to fundamental advances in statistical sciences.

Ahern and Rajagopal receive Outreach & Engagement Vice Provost Award for Excellence in Innovation for Open Educational ResourcesKAhern and Indira_Provost awards 2014

Congratulations to Biochemistry & Biophysics professors Kevin Ahern and Indira Rajagopal. Ahern and Rajagopal received the Outreach & Engagement Vice Provost Award for Excellence – Innovation Award for their free online textbook, Biochemistry Free and Easy. The electronic book helps students learn the basics of biochemistry in a fun, engaging format. The book even incorporates original songs, recordings, verses and links to more than 100 video lectures.

Supporting access to knowledge, they have developed a number of free open educational resources:  two online textbooks and three online courses. Open Educational Resources are freely accessible, openly licensed publications and media used for teaching, learning, educational, assessment and research purposes.

The Vice Provost Awards for Excellence recognize outstanding contributions by faculty and staff who significantly advance the OSU’s mission of outreach and engagement.