Major Division Awards Announced

To: Social Sciences Faculty and Staff

From: Sheldon Kamieniecki, Dean

June 29, 2012

Dear Social Sciences Faculty and Staff:

I hope that your summer is off to a good start. I am delighted to announce three major division-wide awards, including the Staff Recognition Award for Social Sciences, the Golden Apple Teaching Award, and the Martin M. Chemers Award for Outstanding Research in the Division of Social Sciences. Please join us when we honor these award recipients at the Annual Division of Social Sciences Fall Breakfast on Thursday, October 11, 2012, 8:00-10:15am in the Colleges Nine and Ten Dining Hall and Multipurpose Room. 

The Staff Recognition Award for Social Sciences


Selection Committee:  Professors Eva Bertram (Chair, Politics), David Sonnenberg (Assistant Dean, Social Sciences), and Jill Esteras (Department Manager, Latin American and Latino Studies)

Dana Rolf, Department Manager, Department of Politics

In reviewing the nominations, the members of the committee were struck by the range and depth of the contributions that staff are making across the division, and appreciated the opportunity to learn about their extraordinary work and dedication. Dana Rohlf stood out among these nominees in several respects. The committee was deeply impressed by what her nominator termed the “work ethic, organizational talent and time management skills . . . strategic vision and keen sense of timing . . . [and] great intelligence and energy” she brings as a manager. He notes, "Her ability to anticipate and think through the possible unintended consequences of the many policy, curricular and organizational changes that we regularly discuss is nothing short of remarkable." Even more significant, in the committee's judgment, were the initiatives she has taken above and beyond her core responsibilities as Department Manager. These range from her contributions to the department's recent fundraising and alumni outreach efforts to her leadership in organizing a memorial service to honor the passing of emeritus Professor Jack Schaar last December. Beyond the department, Dana has assumed a wide range of leadership roles on committees and boards at the division-wide, campus-wide, and system-wide levels. With this record of service and accomplishments, Dana Rohlf richly deserves the division's staff award and acknowledgment.

The Golden Apple Teaching Award

Selection Committee:  Professors Andrew Matthews (Chair, Anthropology), Jeff Bury (Environmental Studies), Miriam Greenberg (Sociology), and Eleonora Pasotti (Politics)

Eileen Zurbriggen, Department of Psychology

The Golden Apple Award Selection Committee unanimously agree that this year’s recipient is Professor Eileen Zurbriggen from the Department of Psychology. Professor Zurbriggen is a social/personality psychologist whose research engages the intersections of power, sexuality, and gender. She studies extraordinarily difficult topics which connect power and sexuality, including sexualized torture and rape, as well as the sexual objectification of women. These are difficult subjects to teach: in large and small undergraduate classes which engage with these topics, she monitors the impact of reading about and watching films while simultaneously addressing the course material in a rigorous and thorough fashion. Students clearly appreciated the high intellectual level of this class, even as they remarked that she provided a high level of care to the students exposed to this disturbing material. As one student remarked, “She never let her students leave without getting support.” The tenor of this remark is reflected across many written evaluations. Students repeatedly commented not only upon the rigor and quality of her teaching, but also on her inspiring presence in the classroom.

The selection committee was also struck by the range of Professor Zurbriggen’s teaching: she taught classes on statistics and experimental methods and classes on psychology of trauma and gender aggression with equal verve and success, as recorded in student evaluations. To give but one example, she is able to make such apparently dry and difficult topics as multivariate statistics accessible to large groups of graduate students who appreciated her “unparalleled” ability to convey the steps of complex statistical analysis. She is clearly able to make the classroom a safe space for students to learn difficult material in all of her classes. In addition, Professor Zurbriggen models the best kind of tough minded and caring intellectual, with an impact upon students that clearly reaches beyond the classroom. She is just finishing her term as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Educational Policy.

The Martin M. Chemers Award for Outstanding Research in the Division of Social Sciences

Selection Committee:  Professors Anna Tsing (Chair, Anthropology), Joshua Aizenman (Economics), Deborah Gould (Sociology), Dean Mathiowetz (Politics), and Barbara Rogoff (Psychology)

Deborah Letourneau, Department of Environmental Studies

The Chemers Award committee is pleased to recommend that Professor Deborah Letourneau, Department of Environmental Studies, receive this year's Martin M. Chemers Award for Outstanding Research in the Division of Social Sciences. Professor Letourneau has a distinguished record of research as shown in her publications, grants, and invitations to serve on national advisory committees related to her research. The high quality and widespread impact of her research makes her a highly worthy recipient of the Chemers Award.

Professor Letourneau has made internationally recognized contributions to the study of trophic interactions in forest ecosystems, the study of biodiversity and ecosystems services, and the study of environmental risk-assessment of genetically engineered crops.  Her research on trophic cascades and inter-specific mutualisms has become the classic guide for students and scholars in the field.  Melding theory, experiments, and chemical ecology, her work has repeatedly changed the way ecologists think about species interactions in complex communities.  In the field of biodiversity and ecosystems services, Professor Letourneau created an influential intellectual framework and established the research agenda—as well as contributing careful empirical work.  Her intellectual leadership has pioneered new understandings of the role of biodiversity in pest control. Here, too, she has played a critical role in helping frame the role that ecologists could play in designing quarantine standards to safeguard the public from health and safety risks from the escape of genetically modified organisms.  In this regard, she served on an expert panel for the Environmental Protection Agency to design monitoring schemes for environmental impacts of genetically modified crops.  In each of these separate but interconnected fields, Professor Letourneau has become known for her distinguished research and her intellectual leadership. Her research offers an exemplary model for social scientists across the division.

Please join me in congratulating this year's outstanding recipients of the Staff Recognition Award for Social Sciences, the Golden Apple Teaching Award, and the Martin M. Chemers Award for Outstanding Research in the Division of Social Sciences.