2021 Faculty Awards: Honoring Exemplary Teaching, Research and Servicecsudhbulletin May 6, 2021 1 COMMENT
Even in a mostly virtual academic world, the work continues, and on April 22, five CSUDH faculty members were formally recognized for their work during the faculty awards ceremony.
Each of the awards has a different focus, but whether chosen for distinction in terms of on-class instruction, research and scholarship, service to the university or the simple fact that they are outstanding teachers, each of the faculty award class of 2021-22 deserves congratulations.
The honorees include: Dr.Cristina Rose Smith, outstanding lecturer; Dr. Donna Nicol, excellence in service; Dr. Joanna Perez, excellence in research; Dr. Kirsten Ellsworth, outstanding teacher; and Dr. Daniel McGlynn, outstanding professor.
Following are mini-profiles on each faculty member, as well as excerpts from responses to questions sent by the Bulletin, as well as comments from others, when available, about their exemplary work.
Catherine H. Jacobs Outstanding Faculty-Lecturer Award
Dr. Cristina Rose Smith
Lecturer, Women’s Studies
Named after its first recipient in 2016, Catherine Jacobs, this is the newest of the five awards. It honors lecturers, also known as adjunct faculty, or non-tenure-track faculty, for excellence in teaching.
Dr. Smith, a Southern California native who has taught at CSUDH since 2014, brings an eclectic mix of interests to her teaching. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees were in English literature with a focus on classic literature at Biola University, and women’s literature at Cal State Long Beach. Her doctorate at the California Institute of Integral Studies was Philosophy and Religion, with a concentration in women’s spirituality.
She is a published poet, creative writer and scholar, a visual artist, is working on two books and, for good measure, co-hosts a podcast, Las Doctoras. We also hear she’s a pretty good teacher, and her teaching and research interests on her CV seem to indicate she is well suited for the kind of interdisciplinary, intersectional thrust of women’s studies, as they encompass a wide range, such as Transformational Multiculturalism and Mestiza Consciousness and Gloria E. Anzaldua, to Decolonial Studies/Decolonization Ecofeminism, and Symbols of Fem Power and Indigenous Tattooing.
Thoughts on being an award recipient: “The words I would use to describe my feeling in receiving the award are honored and thoughtful. Teaching at CSUDH and before that at CIIS and CSULB has been such a journey; I am pleased that my efforts in being a muxer-pin@y profa of nearly now 50 students per classroom in mostly online spaces has made an impact for the better of our community and our students’ well-being. I try my best as a full-time m/other- teacher, and I often feel that so much more can be done if the world supported m/others, teachers, and students of color more particularly in the pandemic. Being a brown m/other lecturer at the university is challenging for many reasons. This award helps me feel seen, and I hope my fellow brown and black m/other- teachers feel this as well. “
Inspirations along her path toward becoming a teacher: “Truly my life is the wildest dreams of my ancestors, and I give gratitude in particular for the survival skills of my lola Concepcion and my bisabuela Rosa.
“Additionally, the people I want to thank for this award are my mentors, colleagues, and teachers. I want to thank Dr. Virginia Doland at my undergrad first. Dr. Doland recently passed, and I was able to speak at her funeral about how life-changing it was to be in her classroom discussions and in her office hours, and how for the first time, I found a calling to be an educator bringing students into conversation and reading amazing books while writing and shifting our realities by asking and living into questions we were afraid to ask before. I believe it is Dr. Doland’s spirit that also guided me to Long Beach State where I met Dr. Tim Caron and it was an immense blessing to have Caron here now at Cal State Dominguez Hills. He has been an advocate and a mentor, and I am grateful. I also want to thank my colleague Cyndi Villanueva for introducing me to the campus and for encouraging me to apply for the teaching position. I want to briefly mention other mentors who have helped in my journey including Dr. Alka Arora and Dr. Sandra Pacheco and Dr. Leny Strobel as well as Ana Castillo and Cherrie Moraga and Faith Adiele. Finally, I want to thank our department chair, Dr. Jenn Brandt. She has radically shifted and helped to grow Women’s Studies at our university. She has been a friend, advocate, and inspiration!”
Excellence in Service Award
Dr. Donna Nicol
Associate professor, chair of Africana Studies
Background: Rather than honoring teaching or research (although she excels in both), this award honors faculty members who go above and beyond what is expected, and who volunteer their time and commitment to advancing the university as a whole. It’s about stepping up to serve on things like committees, task forces and the academic senate, but it’s also about embodying part of the university’s mission: service and partnership, with both other stakeholders in the university as well as the surrounding community.
Dr. Nicol’s service over the past year, which includes being one of the most vocal champions on the Academic Senate for an ethnic studies requirement to be adopted by the CSU, as well as one of the leading figures in the campus’ anti-racism efforts, definitely qualifies her for the award.
Thoughts on being an award recipient: “I was elated when I learned I won the Excellence in Service award because to have your peers recognize your hard work is as gratifying as it is humbling.”
Is there anything in particular that you attribute winning this award? I attribute my service to my department, college, university, and surrounding community to my desire to “being the change I want to see.” In other words, when I see that I can contribute to the development or improvement of an issue or problem, I jump right into facilitate that change. I am not content with being on the sidelines when I know I can help in some way as I was raised in an activist household where just sitting and observing was not an option.”
Comments about Dr. Nicol:
Dr. Anthony Samad, co-chair with Dr. Nicol of the CSUDH Anti-Racism in the
“Dr. Nicol…is a selfless contributor to CSUDH’s scholarship and academic reputation. She easily juggles assignments without sacrificing performance, as Department Chair, a keen researcher, a sharp classroom scholar, a proficient historian and has been an engaging co-chair of the President’s Task Force on Racism in the Academy to improve race relations on our campus and in the larger community. That’s a tough lift, but she does them all well.”
Dr. Tim Caron , Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities:
“Dr. Donna Nicol is the embodiment of a servant leader. She is an inspirational teacher who motivates her students to excel in the classroom; she is an accomplished Chair, leading the Africana Studies Department through a period of unprecedented growth; and she is a scholar whose research has placed her among the leaders of her fields of Black History and U.S. educational history.
Dr. Laura Talamante, History Professor, chair, CSUDH Academic Senate:
“Dr. Donna Nicol is a leader on the campus and in the community who continually advocates for communities of color and underrepresented groups in higher education. She is an impressive educator and anti-racism consultant. As I’ve heard others remark, there is no stronger and more effective advocate for Black communities and for our Black students, staff, and faculty. So it is no surprise that she led the movement on campus to address anti-Blackness, which helped lead to the creation of the Anti-Racism in the Academy Task Force as well as influenced the Academic Senate anti-racism and equity agenda this year. President Parham chose well when he appointed her co-chair alongside Dr. Anthony Samad of this task force.
Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity
Dr. Joanna Perez
Assistant professor, sociology
This award is given to the individual whose research, scholarship and creative activities help further the university’s mission, and whose professional activities foster student engagement and push students to think outside the classroom. For Dr. Perez, her research does both, as it combines the personal experiences of her life, and the practical aspects of her work as a sociologist.
As a Latina and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, Perez has used her life experiences to assist those who face similar problems within the immigrant community. Though her degrees are in sociology, her undergraduate work at UCLA came with a double minor in Labor Workplace Studiers and Civic Engagement, which factor into her research.
Hired at CSUDH in 2016, Dr. Perez has spent the past decade researching young Latinx activists, specifically those who are undocumented and risk so much by challenging structural inequity. For her efforts, in 2019 she was one of 32 people to be named a career enhancement fellow by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
How she felt upon learning she’d received the award:
“I was thrilled, honored, and deeply grateful to be recognized for the work that I love to do.” Perez said. “As a daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, born and raised in Los Angeles, I have witnessed firsthand the limited economic, social, and political opportunities that were available to the members of my community. It is my personal experiences that have shaped what, how, and why I engage in research, scholarship and creative activities.
“My hope is that through my research, scholarship, and creative activities, students are able to recognize the power of their voice and narratives to create knowledge and promote social change.“
Thoughts on her passion for research:
“A strength that has greatly shaped my research, scholarship, and creative activities is my disciplinary training. As sociologists, we aim to critically understand the human experience by accounting for the various social processes, structures, and forces that exist in society across time and space. This includes critiquing systems set in place. My research lies at the intersection of immigration, law, education, social movements, and family. In particular, through qualitative methods, I examine how systems of power and inequality as well as the intersectionality of race, class, gender, sexuality, and immigration status impact Latino undocumented immigrant young adult activists (undocuactivists). Drawing from the experiences Latino undocuactivists, I reveal key pathways by which historically castigated and stigmatized social groups are capable of using activism to rectify and potentially reverse their prescribed positions in society.
“Besides my disciplinary training, a strength I possess is the funds of knowledge that my family has instilled in me which includes the importance of listening, being humble, and building community. Over the past ten years, I have learned from the grassroots organizing, courage, valor, strength, resilience, and wisdom of undocumented immigrants. It is because they have entrusted in me with sharing their life experiences that I am able to do the work that I do. Hence, since my arrival at CSUDH, I have made every effort to carefully analyze their experiences by engaging in writing, publications, presentations, and grants that address various forms of social inequality and advocate for social justice.
“Beyond contributing to academic inquiry, I am deeply invested in public sociology and praxis. Within the discipline, I have collaborated with experts in the field to enhance our critical understanding of the lives of undocumented immigrants to rectify historical, legal, social, and cultural forms in inequality. As a teacher-scholar-advocate, I have secured funding opportunities for students, especially undocumented and first-generation students at CSUDH, to engage in their own research endeavors. Moreover, to bring awareness to our campus and enhance efforts focused on equity, I have used my research, scholarship, and creative activities to advocate for the needs of our students by working closely with student affairs personnel. This includes hosting a series of events, serving as a mentor, and collaborating to create programs as well as academic and professional development opportunities for our students.
Does she feel drawn more to one of those three areas, or is impossible to differentiate between the three?
For me, all three areas go hand in hand. My research informs my scholarship and provides me with the knowledge, tools, and skills to engage in creative activities that make my work accessible to larger audiences. Together, all three grant me the capacity to make contributions in my discipline, classroom, and the larger society.
Many students may not be aware of the work that so many of our instructors do outside the classroom; how do you feel that research, scholarship and/or creative activity makes you a better instructor?
“My research, scholarship, and creative activities makes me a better professor because it provides me with a critical lens to approach curriculum design, facilitate student-centered learning spaces, and engage in culturally relevant assessment. Drawing on what I have learned in the process, I treat students as scholars and together, we deconstruct various social issues as well as discuss the ways in which we can apply what we learn to promote social justice. In the process, students are able to understand how our course content is applicable to the larger society and can create social change. Lastly, my hope is that through my research, scholarship, and creative activities, students are able to recognize the power of their voice and narratives to create knowledge and promote social change.
Comments about Dr. Perez
Carl D. Sneed, interim chair of sociology
“Dr. Perez is a wonderful colleague in the Sociology Department. She has put a great deal of time and energy into her scholarship activities,” “The activities have increased the Department’s visibility and have helped students gain valuable research experience. This award is well deserved.”
Dr. Jose Prado, professor, sociology department:
“Dr. Pérez is a great colleague and very committed. She is a great inspiration to students and faculty alike. I’m proud to be her colleague.”
Dr. Katy Pinto, professor, sociology department: We are all so proud of Dr. Perez and this much-deserved recognition of her research. Dominguez Hills. Her research award recognizes the high quality of her research, which currently is nationally recognized, and also recognizes her role as a teacher-scholar. Dr. Perez uses her research to provide opportunities to students outside of the classroom, but also to engage students in the classroom. Students connect with Dr. Perez’s research and teaching–she is one of the most well-loved and well-respected professors in sociology. Dr. Perez also mentors students and supports them outside of the classroom. She is smart, compassionate, and accessible and is a real role model for our entire campus.”
Dr. La Tanya Skiffer, professor, sociology department: “Dr. Joanna Perez has been a wonderful addition to the Sociology Department and we are extremely proud of her accomplishments since her arrival. Dr. Perez is a very caring, smart, and passionate professor and her students love her. Her research fills a critical void in the literature on Latinx communities and students of color. She is very deserving of this award and I look forward to working with her for many years to come.
Dr. Kirstin L. Ellsworth
Associate professor, Art and Design Department
The award is given in honor of CSUDH’s late founding vice president for Academic Affairs. The award recognizes faculty who demonstrate in their teaching an understanding of broad areas of knowledge, and whose teachings find new and creative ways to engage students.
The fact that Dr. Ellsworth is able to spark engagement in her students while teaching art history, a subject that many might feel is more suited for a stuffy museum than lively conversations, makes her teaching prowess even more extraordinary.
Dr. Ellsworth, who began teaching at CSUDH in 2009, has taught a range of arts classes, from modern architecture to seminars in arts criticism. But she lists her expertise/interest as American Art of the 1960s, African Art, and African-American Art.
She has also hosted nearly two dozen podcasts on the New Books Network, with some about art and the people who create it, and others venturing into spiritual and physical wellness areas.
Thoughts on being an award recipient:
“I felt very honored to receive the Lyle E. Gibson Award and it made me realize that in my life one constant has been my love for teaching.
Teaching inspirations along her journey to becoming a professor:
“I have a saying which is that a teacher is only as good as her teachers!
“I have a saying which is that a teacher is only as good as her teachers!”
Comments about Dr. Ellsworth:
Dr. James Keville, chair of the art and design department: “Dr Krstin Ellsworth is the consummate teacher’s teacher. Her dedication to her students is inspiring and infectious. As a colleague, she is as good as they come. We are fortunate and proud to be able to work with her in our mission to expose our students to the world of Art and Design!”
Dr. James Scarborough, adjunct professor in the art and design department: Kirstin’s award comes as no surprise to me,” said James Scarborough, an adjunct professor in the art and design department. “ She has always been enthusiastic, resourceful, and committed to her students. She helped me when I joined the department. She radiates a halo effect. Students in my class often cite something she taught them or said. It’s clear she’s influenced them in a positive way, in and out of the classroom.”
Dr. Ingrid Steiner, Professor art history: “Kirstin goes beyond being an “instructor,” said Ingrid Steiner, an art history professor. “She is a student guide in the learning process, acting as a facilitator of knowledge acquisition, a mentor, and someone who always encourages you to do better. “
Dr. Gail Arriola-Nickell, professor art history: “Dr. Ellsworth is kind, thoughtful and always takes time to offer her support to a colleague. She is sincerely interested in the education of her students and works to enhance their learning experience. It is a privilege and honor to know Dr. Ellsworth and I truly appreciate the smile in her voice!
Professor, Biology Department
The oldest of the five faculty awards, the first of these was bestowed in 1971. Dr. Abe Ravitz, who chaired the English Department from 1966-1980, was the first recipient. Since then, it has recognized “an individual who has demonstrated outstanding achievements in all areas of faculty performance, i.e., as a teacher, as a member of their profession, and as a member of the campus and community.”
That certainly seems to apply to Dr. McGlynn. Although he’s been a part of CSUDH since 2007, and this award recognizes how exemplary he is as an instructor, his work stretches far beyond the campus.
Dr. McGlynn, who began teaching at CSUDH in 2007, is a biology instructor, scholar and practitioner in the field of biology. A casual look at his academic resume reveals the breadth of his accomplishes so far, including scores of articles in academic journals, seminars he has presented, grants and awards, webinars and podcasts he’s been invited to speak upon and, something that probably factored into his earning the 2011 Excellence in Service award at CSUDH, developing the curriculum for a “suite of suite of discovery-oriented general biology Laboratories for CSUDH, currently serving 500 students annually.”
And then there is his mentoring of CSUDH undergraduate and master’s students, his advising of K-12 pre-service teachers, chairing Student Research day since 2018, his involvement with institutions ranging from the National Science Foundation and the American Museum of National History to the University of Bern Zoological Institute and National History Museum of LA County, where he is a research associate, his editing on two science journals and even a turn as a scientific consultant for a children’s science book, and so much more. (Seriously: that resume runs nearly 20 pages and it’s in very small type).
By any measure he is a hard worker and he’d better be. Because much of his academic work and reputation is based on studying perhaps the hardest workers in all of nature: ants.
He became very interested in ants during grad school and through his program he was able to go to tropical areas and study the evolution of behavior, which then shifted over to ecology. And that has been his main academic focus. He has studied ants in Central America and Australia, his McGlynn Lab is involved in “experimental natural history: we design manipulations to solve puzzles about how animals live in nature,” such as “ trying to understand how and why thieving ants steal from one another so darn much,” and working “on the ecology of insects in our cities, and with community-based science, for a window into the climate of the near future and also because cities may preserve animals that are losing their homes to habitat conversion and climate change.”
He also co-authors a blog, called Small Pond Science, that “focuses on the experimental natural history of ants.
But he’s more than an expert on these fascinating members of the Formicidae family, as he’s taught classes at CSUDH ranging from principles of biology and environmental biology, to Advances and Misconceptions in Science and Science Teaching.
Most recently, Dr. McGlynn authored a book, “The Chicago Guide to College Science Teaching,” a guide for anyone who is teaching STEM disciplines at the college level that can also be found in his blog.
Little wonder that he is one of the few CSUDH professors to win multiple distinguished faculty awards.
How he felt upon learning he’d received the award:
‘I feel humbled. I have had the privilege to work alongside and learn from some of the most talented, committed, and generous professors, who are student-centered and are heavily invested in the mission of CSUDH. To think this year I’m considered among the most outstanding in this crowd? I can’t possibly find the words.”
Words about him:
Dr. H.K. Choi, chair, biology department”: Dr. McGlynn is a valued member of the Biology Department, and this award is a recognition of the great work he has done in supporting our students, communicating their concerns, celebrating their successes, and advocating for our university to the outside world. “