Brandeis honors three professors with teaching awards
Professors Sarah Lamb, Jasmine Johnson and Claudia Novack recognized by the College of Arts and Sciences
Brandeis University's College of Arts and Sciences presented its annual faculty awards at a special meeting on Friday, April 22, 2016.
Dean of Arts and Sciences Susan Birren announced the winners of three awards: the Lerman-Neubauer ’69 Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring, the Michael L. Walzer ’56 Award for Teaching, and the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
Sarah Lamb: Lerman-Neubauer ’69 Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring
Anthropology professor Sarah Lamb received the Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer ’69 and Joseph Neubauer Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. The prize, established by former Trustee Jeanette Lerman at the time of her marriage to Joseph Neubauer, requires its recipient to be not just an exceptional teacher, but more importantly, a person who has had a significant impact on students’ lives as a mentor, adviser and friend.
Lamb’s research focuses on the ways people construct their social-cultural worlds and identities, particularly around aging, gender, the body, family and nation. She has conducted primary ethnographic research in West Bengal, India, and among Indian immigrants in the San Francisco and Boston areas.
Lamb has published in numerous journals and written three books. Her next volume, “Successful Aging? Global Perspectives on a Contemporary Obsession,” will be published by Rutgers University Press in 2017.
Lamb also serves on the steering or executive committees of women's, gender and sexuality studies, sexuality and queer studies, South Asian studies, the program in religious studies, and Health: Science, Society and Policy, and is also a member of Brandeis’ Lifespan Initiative on Healthy Aging. She is currently head of the Division of Social Sciences, and sits on the University Advisory Council.
“She listens to each and every student’s ideas and responds with constructive criticism,” wrote one of Lamb’s students in nominating the anthropologist. “Her demeanor is soft-spoken and humble, yet friendly and enthusiastic, and she always has a smile on her face.
“She makes being a student in her class a fun and interesting journey. I have come to also know her as a friend. I have discussed my future with her and she is always interested in hearing about my progress and experiences.”
Jasmine Johnson: Michael L. Walzer ’56 Award for Teaching
The award is given every year to a tenure track faculty member who “combines superlative scholarship with inspired teaching.”
Johnson’s research expertise is in the field of Afro-diasporic dance, black performance studies, theories of diaspora, black feminisms, ethnography, West African politics and culture, and urban renewal and gentrification. Johnson joined the Brandeis faculty in fall 2014, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University.
Johnson’s interdisciplinary work examines the politics of black movement, including dance, diasporic travel and gentrification. Her forthcoming book, “Rhythm Nation: West African Dance and the Politics of Diaspora,” focuses on the industry of West African dance in the United States and Guinea.
“Professor Johnson has changed the lives of many students and I know that I will remember my time with her for the rest of my life,” wrote one of her students. “She pushes us to confront the realities that students of color must face every day and encourages us to become the best representations of ourselves.
“Professor Johnson has created a beautiful space that brings together passionate citizens who genuinely want to create a better world regardless of society’s preconceived notions and stereotypes.”
Claudia Novack: Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching
Assistant professor of chemistry Claudia Novack is the 31st recipient of the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
Novack has supported chemistry lab instruction at Brandeis since 1997, serving as supplementary instruction coordinator since 2006. She teaches General Chemistry I and II and the General Chemistry Laboratory. Her teaching innovations include the creation of a library of 1000 slides for visual learners and the use of classroom demonstrations involving student participation.
Novack also selects, trains and supervises the student leaders of seven weekly supplemental instruction sessions per semester. In addition to writing up to 150 letters of recommendation each year, she serves as a member of the undergraduate studies committee in chemistry, and on the post-bac pre-medical program admissions committee, and has participated in the Davis Teaching and Learning Fellows program.
“Professor Novack is an outstanding educator,” said one of her students. “She goes out of her way to make sure that her students have all the tools to succeed in her class. Professor Novack also teaches all her recitations, and has office hours about four times a week.
“She is understanding, compassionate and quick to recognize students that make an effort to understand the curriculum. She is also passionate about the material, and very organized in her lectures.”
Along with the teaching awards, David Wright, professor of Bible and Ancient Near East was recognized with the Dean of Arts and Sciences Mentoring Award, and Chad Williams, associate professor of African and Afro-American studies, was given the inaugural Faculty Service Award.