School of Behavioral, Brain Sciences Recognizes Outstanding Teachers

Two weeks before the beginning of the fall 2012 semester, Dr. Melanie Spence suddenly found herself without a child development instructor. The emergency provided an opportunity that has worked out wonderfully for all concerned.

Moller and Touchstone

Dr. Aage Møller and senior lecturer Emily Touchstone MS’99, PhD’08, who received the teaching award named for Møller.

The one-time short-notice instructor Spence found —  senior lecturer Emily Touchstone MS’99, PhD’08 — was recognized with the 2018 Aage Møller Teaching Award by the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS), an honor that reflects her impact on students.

“I am thrilled to have received the Aage Møller Teaching Award, established by a man who continues to set standards of excellence in academia,” Touchstone said. “It brings me great joy to teach the students at UT Dallas, to share in their process of learning, and to watch as they create and accomplish goals for their own success.”

The award was established in 2011 by Møller, Founders Professor, to promote and recognize outstanding teaching, and is given based on nominations by the faculty’s peers and students. Spence, associate dean for undergraduate studies in BBS, described Touchstone as having “a truly unique ability to engage students that is extremely valuable to our teaching missions.”

“I was familiar with Emily’s work as a clinical assistant professor for the Center for Children and Families and her research activities, so I called her — on a Sunday afternoon — and asked if she might possibly be willing to take on the class on short notice,” Spence said. “Thankfully, she enthusiastically accepted, and her willingness to step up in challenging circumstances, as she did in 2012, is typical of her collegial spirit that many of us have experienced working with her.”

Touchstone, recipient of the 2016 BBS Seniors' Choice Award and the 2015 UT Southwestern Medical Center Outstanding Educator Award for Clinical Instructors of Rehabilitation Counseling, was praised for her roles in mentoring students in teaching assistantships and research activities, serving on program and student committees, in addition to teaching four courses per semester.

“The students at UT Dallas are motivated within and beyond the classroom, and it has been while getting to know them in both contexts that I have realized the importance of our role as teachers,” Touchstone said. “In shaping my personal methods for student instruction, I rely on the lessons I have learned from my own mentors and colleagues here at UT Dallas.”


Dr. Hanna Ulatowska

Distinguished Lecturer Award

The Distinguished Lecturer Award went to Dr. Hanna Ulatowska, an employee of the University for 45 years. The honor, established in 2011, recognizes a faculty member for a sustained record of scholarly contribution in her field.

A concentration camp survivor, Ulatowska received the Copernicus Prize from the Polish Neuropsychological Society for her work with Auschwitz survivors. She was named a Champion of Diversity by the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement in 2011, and gave the Polykarp Kusch Lecture in 1998 on “Narrative in Human Experience.”

Ulatowska describes her motivation to study narratives of World War II testimonials via a quotation from Dr. Oliver Sacks’ essay collection, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

“Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, through, and in us — through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations.”

Ulatowska’s work has taken her to her native Poland to conduct research on how people deal with traumatic events and how it affects their ability to communicate.

“Many of these ‘wounded storytellers’ have amazing stories that they’ve never been able to tell,” she said when discussing her Copernicus Prize in 2010. “I want to do whatever I can to enable them to share with us.”

Her work with stroke patients is similarly focused on their ability to tell their stories, overcoming the hurdles created by the condition.

“Once you lose your ability to communicate, your identity changes completely,” Ulatowska told The Dallas Morning News in 2011. “But the stroke victims I know, most of them are fighters.”

Dr. Robert Stillman, BBS associate dean for graduate studies, singled out Ulatowska for her teaching style and ability to connect to her students both in and beyond the classroom, as well as for her work with World War II veterans.

“Dr. Ulatowska is very humble, and she is the perfect exemplar of the type of gifted speaker we seek to recognize with the BBS Distinguished Lecturer Award,” Stillman said.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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