Science, Math Instructors Receive Excellence in Teaching Honors
The School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at UT Dallas recognized five educators this spring with Outstanding Teacher Awards.
Students nominated instructors in five categories: tenured professor, tenure-track professor, lecturer, and graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants.
“Nearly all UT Dallas students interact with educators in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics — it’s not just those whose majors are in the school, but also those who take required math and science classes,” said Dr. Bruce Novak, dean of the school and holder of the Distinguished Chair in Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “We’re very proud of our instructors and their commitment to provide all students with a top-quality education.”
Each award recipient received a personalized framed certificate, and the student winners also received a cash prize.
Dr. Mustapha Ishak-Boushaki
Tenured professor: Dr. Mustapha Ishak-Boushaki,
professor of physics
Ishak-Boushaki won his first Outstanding Teacher Award from the school in 2007. A theoretical astrophysicist, he teaches courses on mechanics, math methods for physics, cosmology, and general and special relativity.
“Teaching provides me with the opportunity to communicate to my students the joy of learning and the wonder of science,” he said. “I enjoy interacting with my students in the classroom and getting them excited about physics and astrophysics.”
Dr. Zachary Campbell
Tenure-track professor: Dr. Zachary Campbell,
assistant professor of biological sciences
Campbell joined the UT Dallas faculty in 2015. He teaches courses on molecular biology and molecular genetics. His research focuses on understanding the rules that govern RNA function, including interactions between RNA and proteins.
“Working with such enthusiastic and bright students is always the highlight of my day,” he said. “It is a tremendous honor and privilege to be an educator at UTD.”
Dr. Stephanie Taylor BS’06
Lecturer: Dr. Stephanie Taylor BS’06, senior lecturer
in science and mathematics education
Since 2013, Taylor has taught a variety of courses, including general chemistry, environmental science for non-majors and graduate courses for the Master of Arts in Teaching program.
“For me, teaching is about enthusiasm and relating the topic back to the everyday world,” she said. “It is easy for students to get bogged down in details or only see the next exam coming, so even small voyages to incorporate present-day research, biology, history or engineering allows chemistry to have context and meaning outside of a single semester.”
Jordan Newman BS’16
Graduate teaching assistant: Jordan Newman BS’16, geosciences
Newman, a doctoral student in geosciences, has taught courses on rocks and minerals and petrology.
“I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy teaching at all. I’m not a great public speaker and don’t really like the spotlight,” he said. “But I love teaching. I get a real sense of contribution and accomplishment from seeing talented students succeed. Geology students tend to be passionate about their major, and that passion exudes from the classroom.”
Gino Occhialini BS’18
Undergraduate teaching assistant: Gino Occhialini BS’18, chemistry
Occhialini, who won a Goldwater Scholarship in 2017, taught several sections of honors organic chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and biochemistry.
“I think teaching is a really enriching experience. I do not feel that I truly understand something until I can teach it to someone else,” he said. “As I am teaching a concept to another student, I have to think about it from many different perspectives, which really tests and pushes my own understanding. I find helping others to be incredibly fulfilling, especially in a subject like organic chemistry.”
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