Exemplary faculty named President's Professors

By

Britt Lewis

Six outstanding ASU professors were named 2011 and 2012 President's Professors at the 2012 Faculty Excellence Awards ceremony, hosted by ASU President Michael Crow and Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth D. Capaldi, in the Memorial Union, on the Tempe campus, April 17.

The 2011 President's Professors are: Brad Allenby, a Lincoln Professor of Engineering and Ethics and a professor of civil, environmental and sustainable engineering, and of law; Eric Kostelich, a professor of mathematics; and Manfred Laubichler, a professor of theoretical biology and the history of biology.

The 2012 President's Professors are: Jennifer Fewell, a professor of biology and animal behavior, and associate dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College; Glenn H. Hurlbert, a professor of mathematics; and Ileana Alexandra Orlich, a professor of Romanian studies.

President’s Professor awards honor those faculty who have made substantial contributions to undergraduate education at ASU. The awardees are chosen based on a variety of criteria: mastery of subject matter, enthusiasm and innovation in the learning and teaching process, ability to engage students both within and outside the classroom, ability to inspire independent and original thinking in students and to stimulate students to do creative work, innovation in course and curriculum design, and scholarly contributions.

Brad Allenby

School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

For his unique ability to bridge engineers, scientists, policymakers, students and the broader public, and engage, challenge and excite undergraduate students, Allenby has been named a 2011 President's Professor. His award nominators praise his expertise – he is among the pioneers of modern industrial ecology – and his eloquence and passion for his scholarly interests – the environmental and societal implications of developing technologies. Allenby has developed a Sustainable Engineering Suite consisting of three courses intended to educate students on sustainable engineering and earth systems engineering/management.

“Several themes run through the entire set of courses (I have designed)," Allenby wrote in his personal statement for the award nomination. "Most broadly, leadership of any kind these days requires a deep understanding of technology systems, not as collections of physical artifacts, but as deeply cultural, social and institutional phenomena. The challenge is to develop courses that are able to open students up to the risks and opportunities of the world in front of them.”

Allenby also is a Distinguished Sustainability Scientist in ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability.

Eric Kostelich

School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Known for his research in dynamical systems and chaos, Kostelich has expanded his work into climate modeling applications and evaluation, and treatment of brain cancer. The newly appointed 2011 President's Professor is noted for his effective and inspiring teaching and mentorship, and his successful work with a National Science Foundation training grant that provides research opportunities for students beginning their junior year. 

In his personal statement, Kostelich wrote: “My pedagogical interests are twofold: first, to implement compelling, 21st-century undergraduate programs in mathematics, and second, to create national models for undergraduate research programs that involve our best students in cutting-edge problems in atmospheric science, cancer modeling and prediction, medical imaging, and others. Additional funding from the National Science Foundation will expand our efforts to mentor outstanding mathematics students in the Maricopa County community colleges and facilitate their transfer to ASU.”

Manfred Laubichler

School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

In Laubichler's classes, students show up early. Students also praise his unique ability to get them to think in new ways, to participate and make discoveries, and to develop strong ties between each other and with their teachers and the science community.  For these classroom achievements, Laubichler has been named a 2011 President's Professor. His students not only admire his lecture style, but they remark that his teaching approach emphasizes collaboration and accessibility. 

“I motivate my students with Clarence Darrow’s statement, ‘To think is to differ,’ and Lenin’s recognition that ‘Learning is never done without errors and defeat,’" wrote Laubichler in his personal statement. "Though some of my classes are large, I see teaching mostly as a personal mentorship between student and teacher, with the roles often reversed. I am fortunate that I have encountered many wonderful groups of students, who make teaching at ASU a very gratifying experience.”

Laubichler also is a Senior Sustainability Scientist in ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability.

Jennifer Fewell

School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

An outstanding mentor, Fewell has led her students to undergraduate research opportunities, often in her own lab; sought and obtained funding for her students to travel abroad to gain significant research experience and cultural education; and, in large part, initiated a targeted revision of the General Biology curriculum to make it more effective. She also has extended her mentoring to faculty through her involvement as president of the Faculty Women's Association. 

In her personal statement, Fewell wrote: “Mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in research is one of the most important and rewarding aspects of my career, because it gives me the opportunity to form a long-term connection with my students. Research mentoring is a critical part of undergraduate training; it is the best way for students to truly understand science as a process rather than a collection of concepts. I also benefit from it, because the enthusiasm of my students is infectious. I am continuously reminded that research and discovery is exciting business.”

Glenn H. Hurlbert

School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Newly appointed 2012 President's Professor, Hurlbert is known for the frequency in which computer science majors required to take his "Discrete Structures" math class consider switching their majors. Working tirelessly with students and faculty to ensure the mathematics major at ASU is a desirable course of study, Hurlbert has played a major role in the program's growth, evident in the number of math majors doubling between 2001 and 2004. He is a much sought-after advisor and mentor to students, and with great success he has used his research in discrete mathematics to introduce undergraduates to the concepts of research in mathematics.

“As soon as students enjoy what they are doing, they become ripe for learning," wrote Hurlbert in his personal statement. "The best teacher in the world cannot force anyone to learn, but a willing learner can learn from anyone. It is, therefore, my first task to create willing learners. The challenge then is to create a safe environment for thinking, guessing and questioning in which students can speak freely without fear of ridicule.”

Ileana Alexandra Orlich

School of International Letters and Cultures, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Orlich is highly respected and much beloved by her students in the Romanian studies program, which she built singlehandedly into the largest of its kind in the nation. For this achievement and others, Orlich has been named a 2012 President's Professor. Her students continue on to success in a variety of careers – many of them winning prestigious awards en route. Orlich's courses are noted for their transdisciplinary nature, crossing boundaries between culture and disciplines.

In her personal statement, Orlich wrote: “My mission is to make certain that the ASU Romanian program, which has benefitted so much from ASU’s extraordinary vision of global engagement, empowers our students in an ever-changing world. At the end of the day, I wait to catch up with news from our students. Their world is my world, and my enthusiasm is only a small measure of their rich and rewarding engagement with the challenges for which ASU, the New American University, prepares them.”

Learn more at provost.asu.edu/awards.