Hickey, Thomas, Dubinina, Cadge honored for teaching

Dean Birren announces awards at April faculty meeting

Dean of Arts and Sciences Susan Birren announced the four 2012 winners of major teaching and mentoring awards in the School of Arts and Sciences at the faculty meeting today:

  • Timothy J. Hickey, professor of computer science, was awarded the Lerman-Neubauer '69 Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring.
  • Assistant Professor of Chemistry Christine Thomas won the Michael L. Walzer '56 Award for Teaching.
  • Irina Dubinina, director of the Russian Language Program, won the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
  • Sociology Professor Wendy Cadge received the Dean's Mentoring Award for Outstanding Mentoring of Students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Timothy J. Hickey

tim hickey
                                             Photos/Mike Lovett

Hickey, the 2012 recipient of the Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer ‘69 and Joseph Neubauer Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring, is a professor of computer science. This prize, established by Trustee Jeanette Lerman at the time of her marriage to Joseph Neubauer, requires its recipient to be not just an exceptional teacher, but also one who has had a significant impact on students’ lives as a mentor, advisor and friend.

Hickey began teaching at Brandeis in 1984. He earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Chicago after graduating summa cum laude from Brandeis in 1977. For eight years, he chaired the Brandeis Computer Science Department, and he has also chaired the School of Science Council, the Internet Studies program and the Faculty Senate. He serves on the current Strategic Planning Committee, and previously served on the Curriculum and Academic Restructuring Committee, the Brandeis 2020 Committee, the University Advisory Committee, the Library and Technology Advisory Committee, the Experiential Learning Committee, the Justice Brandeis Semester Committee, and the search committee for the current Chief Information Officer. In 2008, he created the New England Computer Science Chairs Committee, which established an annual New England Undergraduate Computing Symposium at which students from a dozen computer science departments in the region present posters and talks at an event co-sponsored by the NSF Empowering Leadership Alliance.

His Brandeis courses include “Introduction to Computers,” “Introduction to Scientific Computing,” “Programming in Java and C,” “Discrete Structures,” “Introduction to 3-D Animation” and “Internet and Society.” For the last two summers, he has taught Justice Brandeis Semesters with Pito Salas, first on the topic of “Web and Mobile Applications,” and this past summer on “Mobile Game Design.” This year he created an experiential learning practicum for his 3-D animation course, through which students teach 3-D game design to Waltham High school students and K to 12 students at the Waltham Boys and Girls Club.

“When I first met Professor Hickey in the fall of my first year during my COSI 2A class, he was incredibly knowledgeable, patient, encouraging and caring about our progress in his class, as well as the sometimes difficult adjustment to college life. Even in a class of over one hundred people, he took the time to learn our names and we got to see how passionate he was about the subject. His enthusiasm shined through – putting a smile on everyone’s face,” a student nominator wrote.

Christine Thomas

christine thomasThomas, assistant professor of chemistry, is the 30th recipient of the Michael L. Walzer ’56 Award for Teaching, which is given to a tenure track faculty member who combines superlative scholarship with inspired teaching.

Her expertise is in synthetic inorganic, bioinorganic and organometallic chemistry and her research focuses on the synthesis of new ligands and transition metal complexes with the goal of uncovering new approaches to the catalytic activation and functionalization of small molecules and organic substrates. She has received grants from the Department of Energy, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the American Chemical Society, and her articles have been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Inorganic Chemistry, Chemical Communications and Organometallics. This spring she participated in the filming of a segment of the NOVA special, “Hunting the Elements.”

Thomas has been teaching “Intermediate Chemistry Laboratory,” “Inorganic Chemistry” and “Organic Chemistry” graduate level seminars at Brandeis since 2008.

One of her student nominators said: “Professor Christine Thomas might be the most dedicated, passionate teacher I have ever had. In the lab, she always wants to be updated on the progress of my research and offers any assistance or material resources I need. This enthusiastic involvement shows the value she ascribes to my project, which in turn motivates me to work hard."

Irina Dubinina

irina dubininaDubinina is the 26th recipient of the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching. She has served as the director of the Russian Language Program at Brandeis since the fall of 2007, after teaching at Bryn Mawr College and the University of Alaska. Her areas of research expertise include bilingual code-switching and heritage language and second language acquisition in Russian.

Dubinina offers courses in beginning and intermediate Russian, and "Advanced Russian Language through Literature, Through Film, and Through Contemporary Culture." She also teaches numerous independent studies to accommodate both heritage speakers and students new to Russian.

“Professor Dubinina has single-handedly taught me how to read and write in Russian. In one semester, I went from not knowing the alphabet to being able to recite 19th-century poetry and to write my grandparents a letter,” one student nominator wrote.

Her teaching innovations this past year include organizing a series of teleconferences with Russian students at Brandeis, Mt. Holyoke, and the Khabarovsk Academy of Law and Economics, and creating a teleconferenced “film club” for these students to discuss “coming of age” films from different countries. Every year, she works closely with the Russian Club to co-organize Brandeis Russian Culture Week, which this spring attracted more than 200 participants to the Student Talent Show.

Wendy Cadge

wendy cadgeCadge, an associate professor of sociology at Brandeis since 2006, is the 2012 recipient of the Dean of Arts and Sciences Mentoring Award, which is given for outstanding ability as a mentor by a faculty member who supervises students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

She teaches and writes about religion in the contemporary United States, especially as related to healthcare, immigration and sexuality. She has taught a variety of courses including "Living and Dying in America: The Sociology of Birth and Death," "Praying for a Cure: Religion, Health and Healing in America" and "Issues in Sexuality."

The graduate students who nominated Cadge for the award noted how she has the utmost faith in her students’ academic and professional success.

One student explained, “When I come out of a meeting with Wendy, I always feel more confident that I know what to do and that I can do it. She has a great way of being a calming presence, while still upholding rigorous standards.”

Another student commented, “Wendy has been an incredible mentor to me over the past three years that I've been at Brandeis. Wendy is always responsive to my emails and is always willing to meet and talk through any ideas I have. I know that I can go to Wendy with any question –academic, intellectual, or even personal – and she is always willing to listen and help me think through different possible solutions.”

Categories: General

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage