NSM Awards Recognize Exemplary Teaching and Staff Service

David Taylor, winner of this year's Dean's Award for Excellence

The inaugural Dean’s Award for Excellence went to David Taylor, laboratory services supervisor in the Department of Physics.

The School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics recently honored three individuals for teaching excellence and service.

The 2013 Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award went to Dr. Mohammad Akbar, senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. Rodrigo Vinluan, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry, received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.

Dr. Bruce Novak, dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, introduced a new honor this year, the Dean’s Award for Excellence. The inaugural award went to David Taylor, laboratory services supervisor in the Department of Physics.

Recipients of the teaching awards were nominated by students. Each received a plaque with an engraved quote from one of their nominating letters. Vinluan also received a cash award.

The citation for Akbar, who teaches advanced calculus, read: “He puts his heart into teaching.  He cares for his students, he cares about math and he loves teaching.”

Dr. Mohammad Akbar and Dr. Bruce Novak

Dr. Mohammad Akbar (left) is congratulated by Dean Bruce Novak on receiving the Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award.

Chemistry doctoral student Vinluan works with students in a general chemistry laboratory class. His citation read:  “One of the rare individuals … who is actually able to explain and troubleshoot any problem that arises in the lab and make it a great learning experience.”

Novak, who holds the Distinguished Chair in Natural Sciences and Mathematics, said that it is important to recognize talented and committed teachers.

“The ability to engage students in active learning is something that we should celebrate. I’m so proud of our faculty and TAs and their dedication to our students. It’s clear from the nomination comments that our students also recognize and appreciate their time and efforts.”

Taylor received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in part for his leadership in managing a $2 million in-kind donation from aerospace defense contractor L-3 Communications. The company donated a wide range of equipment to the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, including state-of-the-art night-vision goggles and professional-grade lab equipment.

Rodrigo Vinluan and Dr. Bruce Novak

Rodrigo Vinluan, shown with Dean Novak, received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for his work in the Chemistry Department.

“I was shocked,” Taylor said of receiving the dean’s award. A member of the UT Dallas staff for three years, Taylor is responsible for maintaining and repairing lab equipment in research and teaching labs.

“It’s been amazing to me to see how much of the donated items from L-3 have already been put to good use across the school’s departments by a wide variety of faculty,” Taylor said. “I’m glad to be a part of the effort.”

“David took over complete management of this project, and it has been a monumental task,” Novak said. “He established a delivery system, collected and distributed equipment to labs, and he’s cataloging all the items and how they are being used by students and faculty. He really went above and beyond, and his efforts have been invaluable.”

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