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Chemistry faculty and graduate student receive 2020 University Teaching Awards

April 08, 2020 

Image (left) sourced from The Well

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Four faculty members and one graduate student in the Department of Chemistry are among the 25 who have been named winners of Carolina’s 2020 University Teaching Awards. The recipients, from the Department of Chemistry, are Marcey Waters, David Lawrence, Thomas Freeman, Leslie Hicks, and Zander Deetz. The University Committee on Teaching Awards, which oversees the selection process, encouraged students to nominate deserving faculty and graduate teaching assistants for the awards. The University Teaching Awards are awarded to faculty and teaching assistants that demonstrate teaching excellence, especially in their care for students, mentorship, or effective use of classroom methods.  

“Our award winners have the opportunity to change student lives every day,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert A. Blouin. “These recipients recognize and accept the incredible responsibility to prepare our students to become critical thinkers and problem solvers and inspire them to take on the most important challenges facing society. The winners deserve this important recognition and our thanks for their dedication.” 

Marcey Waters, Glen H. Elder Jr., Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, is UNC Chapel Hill’s recipient for the 2020 Board of Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. “She is continuously interacting with students and groups, providing the personalized hints and daily encouragement that each needs. Many students comment on how Waters makes the course content relevant to their daily lives.” The annual award was established by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors in 1994 to underscore the importance of teaching and to reward good teaching across the UNC System.  

David S. Lawrence, Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor, is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Awards for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction. When asked about what it takes to be a good professor in 2020, Professor Lawrence responds with, “The same thing that it took in 1920 and will take in 2120: providing students with opportunities that inspire creativity.” 

Thomas C. Freeman, teaching assistant professor of chemistry, is the recipient of the Tanner Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. In recalling his time as a student, Professor Freeman discusses his most influential teacher, Dr. Tuajuanda Jordan, “She was my second semester biochemistry professor at Xavier University of Louisiana and was one of the most engaging and thorough teachers I ever had. Her command of the subject matter, her humor and dedication to her students have greatly influenced how I conduct myself as an instructor.” 

Leslie Hicks, associate professor of chemistry, is the recipient of the William C. Friday/Class of 1986 Award for Excellence in Teaching. Professor Hicks talks about the most creative thing she’s done to engage her students, “I built a research-based CURE (course-based undergraduate research experience) laboratory course and “Taylor Swift” Chromatography.”  

Zander Deetz, graduate teaching assistant, is the recipient of the Tanner Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching by Graduate Teaching Assistants. Deetz indicated that students inspire the approach he takes to teaching “Students have helped me make connections to other nodes of information they’ve learned from other coursework that can be incorporated into our class material. Even some interesting research ideas have arisen from interactions I’ve had with students that have forced me to think through or explain a concept in a slightly different way.”  

The recipients were recognized on March 03 during halftime of the men’s basketball game against Wake Forest University.  

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