Profs receive teaching awards at meeting
Several professors were honored for their teaching in this month’s faculty meeting, which took place on Friday. These professors come from vastly varied backgrounds, from Prof. Claudia Novack (CHEM), who won the Louis D. Brandeis Award for Excellence in Teaching, to Prof. Jasmine Johnson (AAAS), who received the Michael Walzer ’56 Award for Teaching. Additionally, Prof. Sarah Lamb (ANTH) received the Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer and Joseph Neubauer prize for teaching and mentoring.
All three professors were nominated for the awards by students, who had such glowing praise as, “Dr. Novack is one of, if not the, best professor I’ve had at Brandeis”; “Professor Jasmine Johnson has been one of the most phenomenal professors I have encountered in my life”; and “Professor Lamb is an incredible instructor who engages as well as excites,” according to written copies of the nominations provided to the Justice via email by Senior Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences for Undergraduate Education Elaine Wong. The student nominations also included specific strengths of the professors themselves, such as Novack’s “passionate, informative and engaging” nature, Johnson’s attitude treating her students as “responsible adults” and Lamb’s “structuring her assignments so they provide ongoing feedback.”
Novack was honored for her commitment to teaching, with such habits cited as teaching all four of her recitation sections herself and creating a 1,000-slide library of lessons for visual learners in her General Chemistry lecture and lab. She also serves on the Undergraduate Studies Committee in Chemistry, as well as the post-baccalaureate pre-med admissions committee.
Johnson has a similarly impressive resumé, having taught a wide variety of courses from the basic African and Afro-American Studies course, “Introduction to African and Afro-American Studies” to “Black Feminist Thought,” and the “Graduate Foundational Course in Women’s and Gender Studies.” She is also a dancer and a founding member of the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance, a pursuit echoed in her upcoming book, “Rhythm Nation: West African Dance and the Politics of Diaspora.”
Lamb has taught a wide range of courses within the field of Anthropology, from “South Asian Cultures and Societies” to “Gender and Sexuality Seminar.” Her ability to cover a wide variety of subjects — coupled with her sitting on the committees for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies; Sexuality and Queer Studies; South Asian Studies; the Program in Religious Studies; and Health: Science, Society and Policy — have made her a popular choice among administrators and students alike, with many of her classes filling up quickly in registration periods.ww
Also honored on Friday was Prof. David Wright (NEJS), who won the Dean of Arts and Sciences Graduate Student Mentoring Award. Wright has written several books on the subject of religion, such as “Inventing God’s Law: How the Covenant Code of the Bible Used and Revised the Laws of Hammurabi,” and has taught many Near Eastern and Judaica Studies courses, from “The Early History of God” to “Elementary Ugaritic.” Prof. Chad Williams (AAAS) was similarly honored with a service award at Friday’s meeting. Williams has written several books on African-American history, including “Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War 1 Era,” which won the 2011 distinguished book award from the Society of Military History. He also crowdsourced a list of texts he called #CharlestonSyllabus in response to the June 17, 2015 mass shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. — a historic black church.