Faculty Awards 2020

Before each academic year begins, we take a moment to recognize and celebrate our faculty—the teachers, researchers, scholars, and artists who are at the heart of the Puget Sound experience. 

President's Excellence in Teaching Award

Professor John WesleyJohn Wesley, English

Focusing on close reading, what Professor of English John Wesley describes as the act of “slowing down and paying attention to what is on the page,” students learn to appreciate the “otherness” of texts and cultures that are different from their own and yet find what they have in common with those texts. Such pedagogy is highly successful at all levels, as both students and colleagues attest: students across all classes comment on the enthusiasm that Wesley brings to reading difficult, dense texts and how that enthusiasm inspires them, even making postmodern theory current for everyday life. In perhaps the highest of praise, one student notes “when I become an English teacher, I want to model myself after Professor Wesley.”

Colleagues comment that Wesley teaches in a way that “exemplifies the transformational capacity of the liberal arts,” and his classrooms are “dynamic places where learning is exciting, collaborative, and deeply humanitarian.”  His classes are “not designed to merely convey content nor to teach students to apply criticism to texts, but to inculcate in students the tendency to think critically about how and why they think the way they do, to question their assumptions, and thus to be circumspect about the social and political ends of their own critical perspectives.” Even teaching exceedingly difficult material, he has “waitlists for his courses despite the subject material.”

John Milton wrote that “books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.” For Wesley, in his medieval and Renaissance literature courses, books and other writings from long ago, indeed, are full of life. 

Bartanen Research Awards

The junior and senior awards in research, scholarship, and creative work were created five years ago, at the initiative of the University Enrichment Committee and recommendation by the Faculty Advancement Committee. The awards are designed to “find new ways to promote consciousness of [and celebrate] the remarkable accomplishments in research and professional development that are an important component of our intellectual community” and to “bring publicity to the accomplishments of our faculty, thereby helping to cement Puget Sound’s reputation as an outstanding liberal arts college.”

This year, the Advancement Committee recognizes one junior colleague who was evaluated for tenure, and two senior colleagues who were evaluated for promotion to full professor. 

Megan Gessel, chemistry

The first Bartanen Award recipient is Megan Gessel, associate professor of chemistry, a researcher who focuses on the biological applications of mass spectrometry. While this work originally focused on the protein complexes in lipid membranes, it also has shifted to encompass a new line of research on the expression and regulation of lipids. Gessel garnered a major instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation with which she was able to purchase the mass spectrometer that forms the center of her own work and that of growing Puget Sound student and faculty research community. As the co-investigator on a successful Murdock Trust Partners in Science Grant, she received funds to extend curricular development work to the local School of Math and Science (SAMI). In addition to these grant successes, she is the first author on a 2019 article on lipid expression that appears in the journal Lipids, as well as third author on two 2017 articles in BMC Genomics and International Journal of Mass Spectrometry that extend work published in her 2015 article, "Decellularization." She also has directed the undergraduate research of 10 distinct students in academic year, summer, and thesis work, resulting in 14 student research presentations at both internal and national conferences since 2015, promoting students' growth as scientists.

Kena Fox-Dobbs, geology and environmental policy and decision making

The first senior faculty member recognized for a Bartanen Award is Kena Fox-Dobbs, professor of geology and environmental policy and decision making. Fox-Dobbs uses biogeochemical techniques to illuminate and quantify trophic interactions, patterns of community level dietary niche partitioning, and energy flow and nutrient dynamics in modern and ancient ecosystems. Over the past six years, she has co-authored eight peer-reviewed journal articles in publications such as Journal of Sedimentary Research and Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, and Paleoecology. And in 2019, she published "Predator-influenced Collapse of Niche Structure and Species Coexistence" in Nature. In addition, she has been the lead on eight conference presentations and advised 26 research students while pursuing five different research projects that range from biogeochemical research to paleoecology. She has $122,000 in external funding and contributed conference abstracts for nearly 50 of her own or her students' projects at 28 different venues in the past 10 years, demonstrating for her colleagues and students the collaborative nature of her work.

Jennifer Utrata, sociology and anthropology

The second senior faculty Bartanen Award recipient is Jennifer Utrata, professor of sociology, who is interested in the ways in which economic, political, and cultural transformations shape gender and intimate relationships in families, particularly with regard to how women's unpaid labor influences gender inequality and family dynamics. Utrata's book, Women Without Men: Single Mothers and Family Change in the New Russia (Cornell, UP 2015), earned the Distinguished Scholarship Award (2017) from the Pacific Sociological Association and the Mirra Komarovsky Best Book Award (2016) from the Eastern Sociological Society. One of her three articles, "Invisible Labor and Women's Double Binds: Collusive Femininity and Masculine Drinking in Russia," was published in Gender & Society, the top journal in the field. In the 2018–19 academic year, Utrata accepted the prestigious American Council of Learned Societies Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars in the Humanities. She has also presented work at multiple American Sociological Association (ASA) conferences, has given numerous invited lectures, and recently began conducting interviews toward a new book project on American families tentatively titled The 'Third Shift': Intensive Grandparenting and Family Inequality.

Davis Teaching Awards

At the end of the year, when all evaluation files for the year have been considered, the Faculty Advancement Committee turns to the discussion of teaching awards. Those faculty members in the ranks of instructor, assistant professor, and associate professor (including those considered for promotion to full professor in 2019–20) are eligible for Thomas A. Davis teaching awards. The awards are named for Professor and Dean Emeritus Tom Davis, who served as dean of the university from 1973 to 1994. Davis worked carefully and thoughtfully with President Phillip Phibbs and faculty leaders to build a strong educational program and has always been an advocate for teacher-scholars on this campus. This year’s five awardees join more than 55 current Davis teaching awardees—all engaged and creative teachers and learners—across the campus.

Andrew Gomez, history

The first Davis Award winner is Andrew Gomez, associate professor of history. Gomez teaches across a broad range of courses in United States and Latin American history, with a common thread being the "presentation of an inclusive vision of Latin American and United States history." Colleagues are effusive in their praise of Gomez's teaching, as he "expands the reach of the liberal arts" and, more locally, demonstrates "an expansion of the university's role as a contributing member of our South Sound community." Students, too, are over-the-top enthusiastic about their experiences, even saying that "I wish I could take this class all four years"; he's a "phenomenal professor ... (who) helped me to improve my critical thinking skills, pushed me hard ... in one of those classes that has completely changed my outlook forever." Or, as one student notes, Gomez is "one of the most influential UPS professors I've had to date!"

Chris Kendall, politics and government

The second Davis teaching award winner is Chris Kendall, associate professor of politics and government. Students consistently expressed gratitude for the effort he puts into his classes and overwhelmingly praised his organization, clear expectations, and support for their work. As one student noted, "This course was challenging, but the kind of challenging that makes you feel accomplished." Kendall is "excellent at cultivating interesting discussions that pose new ideas to students," making them "think about things in a new light and provide deeper understanding of course material." Known for pushing students to think outside the box, students respond positively to this approach and "take their work to the next level so that he isn't disappointed." A colleague says, simply, that "Chris Kendall is a stellar teacher, a present, powerful, and positive force in the lives of his students."

Dawn Padula, music

Our next Davis award recipient is Dawn Padula, professor of music. Padula teaches classes on singing, vocal technique, and opera, and seeks to "instill a firm basis for a lifetime of learning and vocal maturity." She also encourages her students to "focus less on the product of performance," instead pushing them to pay attention to "what they are learning about their own process through preparation for performance." Colleagues in the School of Music are effusive about Padula's teaching. One sums up the sentiment, noting that her "students are transformed, becoming more efficient and organized in their own approach to study, music making, and life." Students exult that Padula helps them with technique and also demonstrates support and challenge. Padula, a student summarizes, is "one of the most positive, superlative, funny, talented, and pedagogically excellent instructors I've ever had."

Laura Krughoff, English

Our next Davis teaching award recipient is Laura Krughoff, associate professor of English, who teaches courses in both literature and creative writing. Kurghoff's teaching in motivated by the question, "Who gets to do what with words?" Her English department colleagues call her "a versatile, creative, and accomplished teacher across an impressive variety of programs, course types, topics, and student levels." Students comment on how much they have learned in their courses, as well as how much their writing has improved as a result. Students note that Krughoff "presented the material in a clear and very organized and useful way that challenged us to think deeper about the texts and about how we could use this in our own writing." Or, as a student offers in a succinct summary, "Laura is a stellar instructor that we all respect and value."

Rachel Pepper, physics

The fifth Davis award recipient is Rachel Pepper, associate professor of physics. Pepper's teaching seeks to foster a growth mindset in which practice plays a key role in students' self-improvement. One student offers that Pepper is "the best teacher I've had at UPS," while another notes that "she makes a course that, at face value is discouraging and demoralizing, and transforms it into one that's engaging and self-motivating." Faculty colleagues are equally enthusiastic about her multifaceted, adaptive teaching, and describe her teaching evaluations as "glowing." Her educational methodology is based on the ongoing efforts in the physics education community, with a special emphasis on undergraduates. The results? "Dazzling."

Distinguished Professors

Distinguished professors are those among our senior faculty who, in the five-year evaluation process, are identified by the Faculty Advancement Committee for high accomplishment across the dimensions of teaching, scholarship, and service. In response to the broad question Which were the strongest professor files we read? the committee suggests, discusses, and then recommends. The following five faculty members are an affirmation to, and are representative of, strengths as teachers, advisors, scholars, and citizens of the campus, profession, and community.  As individuals and collectively, they have demonstrated in this five-year period impressive productivity, scholarly visibility, and leadership  on campus, in the community, and in their disciplines. Congratulations to these five faculty members named distinguished professors!

Lisa Johnson, business and leadership

Lisa Johnson, professor of business and leadership, focuses her scholarship to address fundamental questions about law in its relationship to ethics, non-human animals, business, and the natural environment. And in this review period, she has been remarkably productive. She twice revised her initially co-authored textbook The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business (3rd & 4th Eds., 2017, 2019), and a second edition of her textbook Environmental Law: Legal Students of the Environment and National Resources (2018). She published two book-length monographs: Seniors and Squalor: The Mistake of Forced Intervention (2018), and Law, Cultural Diversity, and Criminal Defense (2018), with co-author C.L. Carr. She served as a section editor for The Polgrave Handbook of Practical Animal Ethics (2018), and contributed a chapter to it ("The Ethics of Control"). She published a book chapter in Writing for Animals: New Perspectives for Writers and Instructors to Education and Inspire, titled "Animals that Work in Stores" (2018), and two papers in the Journal of Animal Ethics titled "On the Suffering of Animals in Nature: Legal Barriers and the Moral Duty to Intervene" (2017) and "The Religion of Ethical Veganism" (2015). And in service to the larger community, she has served as a bar examiner and is a community member at the Centre for Animal Ethics. 

Nick Kontogeorgopoulos, international political economy

Nick Kontogeorgopoulos, professor of international political economy, is a geographer by training who studies how individual tourists' beliefs and values motivate particular forms of travel, with a specialty in "alternative tourism," focusing originally on elephant tourism and more recently on volunteer tourism, especially to Southeast Asia. During this review period, Kontogeorgopoulos has published two new single-authored peer-reviewed articles, including one ("Finding Oneself While Discovering Others") in one of tourism studies' foremost venues, The Annals of Tourism Research. In addition to these works, he published a book chapter on tourism to Thailand in 2017, had a 2009 article ("Making the Best of a Bad Situation") reprinted as a book chapter, and saw one previously submitted article come to print in 2015. Kontogeorgopoulos also presented original work on topics ranging from short-term study abroad to volunteer tourism at five conferences, in addition to giving 11 invited talks. His status within his field is further affirmed by the fact that he reviewed 18 articles for relevant academic journals in this review period. At the university, Kontogeorgopoulos occupies several important leadership roles, including his directorship of the Asian Studies Program, with oversight of the PacRim program and the Global Development Studies Program.

John Lear, history

John Lear, professor of history, is a historian of Mexico (and Latin America more broadly) with particular interest in the history of labor, politics, and visual art and culture. In this review period, he published a book titled Picturing the Proletariat: Artists and Labor in Revolutionary Mexico: 1908–1940, which came out in English in 2017 from the University of Texas Press. It was also released in Spanish in 2019 by a different publisher. Picturing the Proletariat has been reviewed eight times so far with "uniformly positive and often celebratory" assessments by the reviewers. It won the 2017 Thomas McGann Prize for best book on modern Latin American history from the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies, and an honorable mention for a humanities book in 2018 from the Mexican section of the Latin American Studies Association. He began another book project—Los Dos Diegos—a dual biography of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera and his United States "comrade, collaborator, biographer, and eventual critic," Bertram Wolfe. For his fall 2020 sabbatical leave, he was awarded a Resident Research Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Nantes, France, in order to finish the Diegos book. In addition, Lear presented on panels at seven national and international conferences during this period and published a book chapter in a 2017 volume on the history of communism in Mexico. Since 2005, he has helped to direct a joint study abroad program with Pacific Lutheran University in Oaxaca, Mexico, and he led the student study tour in fall 2019.

George Tomlin, occupational therapy

George Tomlin, professor of occupational therapy, describes himself as a "measurement, research design, and statistics person" who explores the intersection of "big issues for [occupational therapy] ... with design questions and statistics." For the last 12 years, he has worked to get the pyramid model of evidence for OT into broader use in his profession, and his 2011 translation and extension of the original model has been cited 56 times; the model itself has appeared in two 2017 OT textbooks. His more recent work seeks to expand access to and use of the model. He published two co-written articles in 2015 on the value of qualitative research and a book chapter on single-case experimental students in 2019, and presented on the use of case reports at several conferences. Additional, Tomlin helped establish a professional group for scholars interested in the use of evidence. This work resulted in a 2017 co-written article in the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy. Similarly, he was invited by the World Federation of Occupational Therapy to write a position paper on the use of evidence in practice. Nationally, he serves the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy by sitting on the board of directors as well as on the Qualifications and Compliance Review Committee, and was named the Fellow of the Year by the American Occupational Therapy Association. 

Peter Wimberger, biology

Peter Wimberger, professor of biology and director of the Slater Museum of Natural History, has research interests that lie in the processes of diversification and speciation, as well as in conservation biology and restoration ecology. He describes his research program as "eclectic," and currently has active projects on ice worm ecology and phylogeography, sparrow hybridization, beavers as restoration tools, mercury and other heavy metals in feathers, feather morphology, and rapid evolution in Anna's hummingbirds. The beaver restoration project resulted in a publication in Northwest Science in 2018 ("Reintroduced Beavers Rapidly Influence the Storage and Biochemistry of Sediments in Headwater Streams"). The ice worm project, "Macroinvertebrates on glaciers: a key resource for terrestrial food webs?" is forthcoming in Ecology; he's also received a grant from a sequencing firm (PacBio) to have the ice worm genome sequenced. Wimberger's service as director of the Slater Museum for the past 15 years has led the museum's reach to increase dramatically in size and in service to the community through its Night at the Museum series and work in public schools. The program now reaches between 15,000 and 20,000 people per year. And over the last 10 years, the number of Nature in the Classroom kits used by children rose from just under 900 to about 8,400.

Welcome, new faculty members!

Jordan Carroll, English

Jordan Carroll joins Puget Sound as visiting assistant professor in the Department of English, having completed his Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis. Many of Carroll's projects center around controversial novels written after 1900, with his current project examining the alt-right and racial dimensions of science fiction. Carroll enjoys using graphic novels in his courses and wants students to feel like they are obtaining insider knowledge about their course topic that comes from passionate engagement with the subject matter. He can be found playing table-top roleplaying games and is eagerly taking suggestions for how to entertain his toddler during quarantine times!

Tracy Doyle, music

Tracy Doyle serves as our new School of Music director and a professor of music. With a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, Doyle is a professional flutist. Much of her creative work is performance based, in which the development of knowledge and skill culminates with research into the historical, technical, and cultural aspects of each musical piece. When Doyle is not performing, you can find her enjoying time with her husband and pets, jewelry making, cooking up a delicious vegetarian meal, and enjoying the outdoors.

Amy Kashiwa, occupational therapy

Amy Kashiwa joins the School of Occupational Therapy as a clinical assistant professor, having earned her Doctor of Occupational Therapy at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. She is excited to continue the practice of problem-based group learning in the Puget Sound classroom. Since 2015, Kashiwa has been a strong advocate for a larger professional role in occupational therapy for suicide prevention. Hailing originally from England, she enjoys her time in the Pacific Northwest by playing board games, writing poetry, watching minor league baseball in her hometown of Bellingham, and pickling cucumbers.

Ian Randall, archaeology

We welcome Ian Randall, with a Ph.D. from Brown University, as the Lora Bryning Redford Postdoctoral Fellow in Archaeology. Randall brings history to life, asking students to develop their own characters to live throughout the times they study to draw critical connections between one republic and our own nation. His archaeological focus is on pots (broken ones, primarily) on the island of Cyprus. A Japanese archery enthusiast, he sees the academic and life journey much like the journey of the bow to the target: You can be perfect and still never hit the target. Randall is joined in Tacoma by his judgmental feline named "Cat."

Kimberlee Ratliff, education counseling

Kimberlee Ratliff is an addition to our Master of Educational Counseling Program as a clinical assistant professor, joining Puget Sound with an Ed.D. from Argosy University. Multiracial identity development and cultural competencies for counseling multiracial individuals are her core areas of scholarship, inspired by her own children and intersecting with her personal passions. Her other area of research is personal experience surviving suicide loss. Ratliff has a history of living abroad in a military family, enjoying the opportunity to move and adapt to new cultures. She enjoys outdoor activities, spending time with her husband and children, and dabbling in landscape photography. One of her personal goals is to run a long-distance race in every state.

Nagore Sedano Naveira, Hispanic studies

Nagore Sedano Naveira, with a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies. Her work examines the intersections of gender, post colonialism, and peripheral nationalism within the context of memory politics in contemporary Spain. Her current project studies the memoirs of women who went into exile in Latin America after losing the Spanish Civil War. A firm believer in hands-on learning, her favorite classroom moments are those that have empowered students to collaboratively reimagine the walls of the classroom. The Pacific Northwest offers the perfect environment for Sedano Naveira to pursue her hobbies of swimming, hiking, shoreline walks, reading, and skiing.

Aimee Sidhu, occupational therapy

Aimee Sidhu joins us as a clinical assistant professor and fieldwork and capstone coordinator for the School of Occupational Therapy, after receiving her O.T.D. from Mount Mary University. Sidhu is excited about research around reflection and reflective practices, seeing the powerful impact these practices have in a teaching-learning process. In the classroom, students will be exposed to a variety of hands-on activities during her labs as a means and an end to the occupational therapy process—there is always one student that has never used a drill, she has discovered. In her spare time, Sidhu enjoys indoor and outdoor activities spanning hiking, reading, traveling, and cooking.

Rachel Silverstein, art and art history

Rache Silverstein joins Puget Sound as a visiting assistant professor of art and art history, joining us with her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford. Her forthcoming monograph, A Fashionable Century: Textile Artistry and Commerce in the Late Qing, is an investigation of fashion, commercial embroidery, and urban culture in 19th-century China. In the classroom, one of her favorite topics is cultural appropriation, taught through a group research method. Born in London, Silverstein has a sense of humor that is distinctly British and is often in need of a cup of tea. Her hobbies include knitting, gardening, and hiking. Her husband is Russian, so she has gained a love of Russian culture, particularly art and music.

Suneel Udpa, business and leadership

Suneel Udpa serves as an associate professor in the School of Business and Leadership, having earned his Ph.D. at Washington University at St. Louis. Udpa's research focus is on how accounting and finance theory is used and misused in U.S. courts. He is currently working on a research paper on how event studies are used in securities fraud litigation, its limitations, and possible solutions. In his courses, Udpa writes organizational case studies based on his consulting experience for student discussions. He believes students come to the classroom with their collective experiences, giving each discussion a different outcome. Outside of the classroom, Udpa can be found engaging the senior population through teaching chess and also coordinating a Book-to-Movie club.

Congratulations to faculty members who join the tenure track in 2020–21!

Sun Young Ahn, business and leadership

Sun Young Ahn is in the School of Business and Leadership, with a focus on marketing and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. Ahn wants us to know that "we are all consumers!" Her research focuses on understanding why we purchase certain brands in particular stores, noting that consumers do not always engage in rational behavior. Her favorite teaching assignment is the "garbology" project in the Consumer Behavior course. Students were asked to bring their own trash bags—based on an image of a person's trash, students developed a consumer profile. Students were surprised that the trash-based consumer profile is so accurate in getting to know the consumer! In her spare time, Ahn is enjoying exploring the Pacific Northwest, a perfect place for her, given her love of coffee.

LaToya Brackett, African American studies

LaToya Brackett is in the Department of African American Studies, with a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. Brackett also teaches in the School of Education and proactively works with campus and the community as a member of the Race and Pedagogy Institute leadership team. Her primary focus areas are to extend Black studies beyond the classroom and cross-cultural communication, demonstrated by her recent successful program abroad with students in Ghana. The pandemic has not slowed her down, instead offering her an uptick in her scholarship. She enjoys travel, using the experience to engage with her own identity as an African American abroad.

Kristopher Imbrigotta, German studies

Kristopher Imbrigotta is in the Department of German Studies, having earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin. His research focuses on a wide range of areas, including drama pedagogy, visual culture, and environmental humanities. Students in of his favorite drama courses will find themselves out of their seats, working to produce a play in German. You will find Imbrigotta out of his seat, enjoying a variety of outdoor activities like cycling, hiking, and traveling.