Honor Roles for Top Faculty
Alumni Association salutes those who excel in the art of
Special to The Gazette
Photos by Will Kirk / HIPS
Gigi the Clone helps teach pathophysiology to future
nurses. YouTube videos pop up in a public
health course. Students in another class hear songs with
biostatistics lyrics. And biomedical
engineering students compare their professor's
instructional talks (about the history, mechanisms and
applications of ion channels, no less) to a summer
But not all teaching techniques that earned students'
praises — and garnered 2009 Alumni
Association Excellence in Teaching Awards for their
purveyors — were of the newfangled variety.
Many of the winning ways were decidedly more
traditional: a commitment to mentoring, access
to professors and material, the ability to convey tough
subject matter, a class atmosphere conducive
to asking questions.
Since 1992, the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association has
annually recognized university faculty
who excel in the art of instruction with its Excellence in
Teaching Award. The award allows each
academic division of the university to publicly recognize
the critical importance of teaching. The
nomination and selection processes differ by school, but
students must be involved in the selection.
The $2,000 provided to each school by the Alumni
Association can be given to one winner,
shared by up to four or attached to another, divisional
On these pages, the university salutes the faculty
members who are recipients of the 2009
Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards.
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Marie Diener-West, Biostatistics, large class
Bloomberg School of Public Health:
Homayoon Farzadegan, Amy Tsui, Marie Diener-West and
Upon receiving her sixth Golden Apple Award, Marie
Diener-West suggests a statistical
principle to partially account for her multiple honors.
"I think that there is a correlation with the length
of time I've been teaching as well as the size
of the class," says Diener-West, the Helen Abbey-Margaret
Merrell Professor of Biostatistics
Education and chair of the Bloomberg School's Master of
Public Health program.
Although it's her sixth time around — this year,
for the course Statistical Methods in Public
Health — Diener-West says that the recognition is
still a "thrill."
"It really is a vote of confidence from the students,
which I greatly appreciate," she says.
Since Diener-West became MPH chair last year, she has
had to cut back on research projects
but has maintained her teaching responsibilities.
"Teaching a large class while being chair of the MPH
program helps me to have a better idea of
what's going on with the student body," she says. "I would
dreadfully miss teaching and seeing the
Diener-West began teaching introductory biostatistics
courses in 1990. Since then, the course
material has evolved to reflect changes in the field, and
she says that students enter the class with a
greater level of sophistication with the subject matter.
Still, Diener-West says she's aware that the topic of
biostatistics strikes fear in the heart of
many a public health student.
"A common sentiment [among students] is that math is
the subject they hated the most, or they
have an innate fear of math because of a bad experience
with a class or they don't yet see the utility
of the skills," she says. "This course is not a math course
per se; rather it uses math to develop
statistical skills both in critical review of the public
health and scientific literature, as well as data
This year, Diener-West and her co-instructor,
chair Karen Bandeen-Roche — with
support from a team of teaching assistants and lab
instructors — taught Statistical Methods in Public
Health to approximately 500 students split into two lecture
sections. For labs, students met in smaller
groups of 35 to 50.
"The goal is that students feel comfortable in the
classroom, and that they know it is an open
environment in which questions can be asked and concerns
expressed," Diener-West says. In her years
of teaching the course, she says, she has noticed that it
seems to inspire some students to undertake
surprising feats of creativity.
"What has been really remarkable to me is that many
students taking statistics find that they
use the other side of their brain to connect with it," she
says. "We've had a number of what we call
'biostatistics art contributions.'"
During the 90-minute class lectures — "far too
long to keep going in one stretch" — she typically
takes a short break to share artistic projects that
students have sent in — "stat-istics poetry, art, a
one-act play, songs with statistics lyrics," she says. "It
shows you that statistics is not as dry as
people think. It's not just a science, it's also an art,
and spurs some other artistic tendencies."
— Jackie Powder Frank
Homayoon Farzadegan, Epidemiology, Internet class
Connecting with students isn't easy — especially
online — but for four-time Golden Apple recipient
Homayoon Farzadegan, his ability to connect using
technology is the key to his students' success.
"I try to go beyond the standard prerecorded lectures
and encourage the sense of an online
learning community," Farzadegan says.
Farzadegan, a professor in the Bloomberg School's
Epidemiology, is this year's
winner for an Internet-based course. Epidemiology and
Public Health Impact of HIV/AIDS is a mix of
lectures, live talks by experts on related topics and group
presentations developed by students.
Farzadegan promotes an online open-door policy to
foster communication with students.
"I encourage my students to talk to me and to each
other — it's the best way to learn,"
Farzadegan says. "All e-mails and questions submitted by
students are answered typically within 48
hours; this ensures my students don't fall behind if they
are confused by a subject or topic. If you are
available to students, they feel it and are more encouraged
Farzadegan is happy to tell anyone that teaching is
his passion, and he works to ensure that his
students learn in a relaxed and stress-free environment.
Whether online or in class, he admits that
he, too, is a student and learns a great deal from his
students and teaching assistants. He credits
them with pushing him to present the most relevant and
up-to-date materials in interesting ways.
"Dr. Farzadegan is one of the most dedicated
professors I know. When it comes to his students,
he spends a lot of time thinking about how to present
material in a way that will be effective and
engaging — this is particularly true of his online
courses," says Meghan Davis, a Bloomberg School
Looking to the future, Farzadegan says he believes
that online courses will become a major
component in education, as the classes give students the
flexibility to view lectures at their own pace
and from various locations. In the past, he has had
students from up to 10 different countries
participating in a course. With this in mind, he now offers
all three of his courses online and on
campus. Over time, he says, he has seen the online courses
gain popularity and open doors to students
with lifestyles that prohibit them from traveling to class
several times a week.
Farzadegan credits the success of Epidemiology and
Public Health Impact of HIV/AIDS to the
many "bright young minds that walk the halls of the
Bloomberg School and my colleagues, who through
state-of-the art lectures, share their expertise and
experience with my students."
— Natalie Wood-Wright
Ann-Michele Gundlach, Health Policy and Management,
The timing couldn't have been better for Ann-Michele
Gundlach's third-term course,
Foundations of Leadership.
The first class met one week after the Jan. 20
inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th
president of the United States, an event that provided the
raw material for class discussions about a
new style of leadership in Washington, D.C.
"Here we had this public model of an individual who
was being held up as a model of leadership,
and it was very useful to have certain events that we could
use as touchstones for discussion
throughout the term," says Gundlach, who won a 2009 Golden
Apple in the small-sized class category
for that course.
An adjunct assistant professor in the Bloomberg School
of Public Health's
Health Policy and Management, Gundlach learned of the
award from a student who came to give her
the news in her office. "I was blown away," she says. "I
had not a clue, so it was very special."
Gundlach says that in the Foundations of Leadership
course she aims to give students a
framework for understanding the process of working with and
leading others in the public and private
"It really is a course on how leaders think and
behave," she says, "and it's designed to get people
thinking about what's required when you take on the mantle
of leadership and all of the attendant
complexities and responsibilities."
For the three main class assignments, students write a
"personal best" leadership case study
from their own experience, interview someone in a formal
leadership role on a specific aspect of
leadership that interests them and develop their own
leadership model, in philosophy and practice.
"One primary goal of the course is to give students
the opportunity for some personal
exploration rather than to study leadership as an
academic," she says.
With health care reform at the top of President
Obama's agenda, some recent class discussions
touched on how leaders in that field must be ready to adapt
to the coming changes.
"What's going to happen in this country will be
daunting, and the old rules of engagement won't
necessarily apply," Gundlach says. "Organizations are much
more networked than ever now, much more
horizontal. There are lots of people in different roles
that you have to motivate and move in the same
direction, without always having traditional formal
"Outside of clinical research, health care is not
known for its experimentation, but we're going
there," she says. "And, of course, younger folks are much
less wedded to traditional models."
Gundlach has a 25-year background in consulting for
health care services organizations, in both
the public and private sectors. In 1982, she began teaching
a class at Johns Hopkins in organizational
development, and in 2000 she joined the Bloomberg School's
Department of Health Policy and
Management, where she serves as the associate director of
the Master of Health Administration
program and co-director of the MPH concentration in health
leadership and management.
According to Gundlach, the transition from consulting
to teaching was a natural one.
"Good consulting is educational. Good consulting is a
learning exchange with your client," she
says. "Client[s] should not just be told what to do. They
should have learned something and be taking
away new ideas and new ways to think."
—Jackie Powder Frank
Amy Tsui, Population, Family and Reproductive Health,
Without a doubt, Amy Tsui says, teaching is one of the
best ways for faculty to shake up their
routines and learn new things. Both substantively and in
terms of teaching, "student interaction grows
faculty," and working with students can also inspire
teachers to "get caught up on technology," says
Tsui, who this year took up text messaging and began using
YouTube videos in the classroom.
A first-time recipient of the Golden Apple, Tsui
attributes her teaching success to her
accessibility. Students know that she'll respond to their
e-mails — even if at odd, jetlag-induced hours
and that she's available for appointments in which she'll
help them find opportunities for internships,
jobs, grants and awards. "I think students are entitled to
access," says Tsui, a professor in Population,
Family and Reproductive Health and director of the
Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population
and Reproductive Health.
"We all know that public health doesn't make anybody
rich," she says. This fact, paired with the
cost of tuition, is part of what compels her to help in any
way that she can.
The one-term Family Planning Policies and Programs
course attracts students whom Tsui finds
diverse, international and great to work with. And even
though there's a lot of material to cover, the
students keep up: "They're on a treadmill, but they're
motivated," she says. The course includes group
presentations and discussions, but students are also
required to calculate, measure and interpret data.
"There's science behind the field," she says, and one of
her goals is to make sure that her students
are armed with up-to-date methods and information. As
testament to the course's popularity, this
year 80 percent of the students took it as an elective.
Some of the course's lessons often surprise its
students, particularly in regard to how
contraception-use profiles vary so greatly around the
world. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example,
where the social climate does not support condom use,
injectable birth control is the most popular. In
China, the younger generation embraces IUDs and
sterilization. And in India, with significant
populations that are poor, the average age of sterilization
for women is 25.
But even after 20 years in the classroom, Tsui has her
share of surprises, too. It's been seven
years since she's taught Family Planning, and this time
around, she says, she felt like she had to catch
up. "The patterns in the U.S. have shifted a lot," she
says. Examples? "Friendship with benefits, for
one." Also, emergency contraception is more popular now,
and long-term continual use of contraception,
such as birth control pills, is being replaced by more
sporadic measures based on relationship status.
In graduate school, Tsui was drawn to the study of
population growth, which was seen as an
emerging international threat. But from there, she became
interested in fertility, and from there
pursued research into contraception and family planning.
The more she learns, the more passionately
she advocates for family planning. "If a woman can't
control her pregnancy, she has no control over her
life," she says. Paraphrasing a colleague, she says that
there's no reason why pregnancy should mean a
woman has to put her life on the line.
"In this school we learn more about death and disease
than we do about birth and life," Tsui
says. But she says she believes that prevention is all
about living a healthy life, and that fertility —
all the debates, discussions and efforts to understand and
manage it — has everything to do with
— Christine Grillo
Carey Business School
Tom Crain, Faculty and Research
Carey Business School: Fred Katz
and Tom Crain
Tom Crain well remembers the sagacious advice once
bestowed upon him by one of his
professors when he was an undergraduate at Williams
College. "He said, 'If you learn to do one thing
well while at Williams, it should be to write,' " Crain
Crain took that counsel to heart, and then some. In a
teaching career spanning his entire adult
life, he has viewed writing as the linchpin of not just
academic but cultural and professional success
and personal growth. Crain, who first taught high school
English literature, says he sees writing as the
conduit leading to an intimate and unequaled understanding
of his students.
"In teaching writing, you get to know students in ways
that no other instructors do," he says.
"Every class is a new class, even if you teach freshman
composition 100 times. You have different
students every time you teach it. In a sense, you're
learning from your students as well."
Crain, a lecturer in the Faculty and Research Unit of
the Carey Business
Foundations of Moral Leadership, providing him the chance
to tap into his training not only in writing
but also in philosophy and ethics. "Students have to put
together a moral compass. For some students,
it's a very revealing course. It forces them to think about
how they make decisions and what their
ethical values are," he says.
In another course he teaches, Managerial
Communications, students identify and address a
specific challenge at their workplaces through research,
surveys, interviews and a written report
delivered to authorities, who review and consider the
report's recommendations. Here, too, issues of
ethics and cultural diversity, as well as communication and
group dynamics, are stressed, all presented
in cogent and persuasive writing.
Crain, who this fall will mark 15 years of teaching at
Johns Hopkins, once ran several of the
school's undergraduate business programs as well as
Odyssey, the perennially popular noncredit series
of courses and events open to the public. Over the years,
he has continued to teach writing courses
that incorporate issues of philosophy, ethics and civic and
personal responsibility. Two courses of
which he is especially fond are Leadership and the
Classics, which he created and designed, and
American Cities: Baltimore, a long-running course on local
history and government, co-taught with City
Council member and fellow Johns Hopkins instructor Mary Pat
Clarke. In the latter class, students
create and promote an actual proposal to modify a city law
of their choosing, with the aid of a sponsor
on the City Council.
"If you want to understand the distinction between
lecturing and teaching, look no further than
Tom Crain," says former student Tyrone Taborn. "He has the
uncanny ability to help students cross
over to critical thinking. No matter where a student
starts, Tom insists that they make a deeper
connection to the materials. More importantly, Tom shows
that learning is a lifelong journey."
No matter the course or the venue, "I love seeing
people develop," says Crain, who holds a
master's in English literature from the University of
Michigan and is set to complete a doctorate from
Johns Hopkins. "I remember a fellow faculty member who said
his definition of an A was when a
student taught him something," Crain says. "In the
Baltimore course, I really did feel that we were a
community of scholars, that I was learning as much as the
students were. I'd say that is true for most
of the courses that I teach. I'm always learning from the
Fred Katz, Marketing/MBA
For Fred Katz, the adage of one door closing while
another is opening has proven especially
prophetic. That latter door would ultimately usher him into
the world of teaching full time.
For more than 22 years, Katz, now a management and
information technology consultant to IT,
food service and other industries nationwide, ran his
family's highly successful snack food company. He
learned the business from the ground up, gaining experience
in production, sales and marketing,
distribution, personnel and management issues and, of
course, all aspects financial. Much of Katz's
consulting efforts focus on the discipline of direct store
Katz well remembers, and says he sometimes still
misses, "the thrill of being an entrepreneur.
You don't know how high the mountain is until you've
visited the valley, and I think every entrepreneur
has visited the valley," he says. "If I walked away with
anything, it was the knowledge of what makes
business tick, and a better understanding of people."
By the time Katz sold his business in 2001, the seeds
of his teaching career, planted more than
a decade earlier, had begun to blossom. He had started
teaching marketing and business courses part
time at the University of Maryland and the University of
Baltimore in 1979, but due to the rapid
growth of his business and his budding consulting career,
had had to suspend his teaching duties. Now,
Katz looked to embrace the profession.
"I always had a passion to keep up on education, to be
a lifelong learner," he says. The classroom
was Katz's modus operandi for accomplishing that, as well
as the venue from which to impart his
knowledge to a new generation of entrepreneurs. "After I
sold the business, I said, Let's get my
fingers back into it [teaching]."
Katz, who holds a bachelor's degree and an MBA from
the University of Maryland, has taught in
the Carey Business School's Master of Science in Marketing
program since 2002, instructing students
in such courses as Marketing Management, Marketing Strategy
I and New Product Development and
Marketing. He's also served as an adviser to numerous
students embarking on the Applied Research
Project, the final, ultimate course of the degree that
synthesizes all newly acquired knowledge for the
purpose of preparing an actual strategic analysis and
marketing plan for an extant organization.
Recently, he has begun instructing students of the MBA
fellows program as well.
Katz, who is also an instructor in business,
technology and computer science at a Montgomery
County high school, defines the marketing discipline as a
dynamic melding of art and science, contained
within a strategic framework. "Half of the discipline is
creative; half is analytical. When you blend the
two, you blossom," he says.
"Fred was there every step of the way driving me
toward excellence, providing amazing
feedback and allowing me to grow both personally and
professionally," says former student Kelly
Gibson. "He expected from students what he was willing to
provide, and that was excellence."
"My number-one goal," Katz says, "is that my students
become strategic thinkers, that they
walk away with the ability to make good decisions based on
proper analysis of the data and try to
remove any type of emotional spectrum from it. When they
reach the ARP project, we let them fly
solo, and they soar. That success I see emerging from the
program is the pinnacle."
— Andrew Blumberg
Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
Elizabeth Rodini, History of Art
Krieger School of Arts and
Sciences: Elizabeth Rodini and Lester Spence
Undergraduates in the
Program in Museums
and Society have come to expect the unexpected
and to embrace it, thanks to Elizabeth Rodini, the
program's associate director and one of this year's
winners of the Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching
Awards in the Krieger School.
Rodini says she likes to offer unusual classes that
push both her students and herself in new
directions. Behind the Scenes at the Walters Art Museum, a
fall 2007 class, is a stellar example of
Rodini's efforts. The course gave Rodini and her student
curators a chance to work with the staff at
the Walters Art Museum and the Space Telescope Science
Institute on the Homewood campus to
develop the first exhibition of images from the Hubble
"I was working with astrophysicists on material that
was absolutely unfamiliar to me," Rodini
says. "It was a process with the students, and that's
what's exciting — figuring it out together. It is
really different than going in with a prepared agenda."
The resulting exhibition, called Mapping the Cosmos,
was a marriage of science and art that
drew national attention along with the accolades of
Rodini's students, who were involved in everything
from selecting the images to writing exhibit guides.
"I have never been so proud of the work I had done,"
wrote one nominating student working
toward a minor in the program. "The spring the exhibit
opened, I would go to the room just to watch
the visitors tour and to read the comment book. It felt
incredible to have people appreciate work I
had done. This collaboration would have never been possible
without Dr. Rodini. After graduating, I
plan to find a career in museums."
Working with Rodini on the exhibition inspired one
psychology major who had little time left
before graduating to apply for a minor in the program.
"Her dedication to serving the specific needs of each
student and her ability to relate to the
real world in practical ways with her course work opened my
eyes in new ways, so much that I now find
myself studying and working in Egypt, thanks in part to her
support in my application to the
Presidential Internship Program at the American University
in Cairo," he wrote.
Another course in relatively uncharted territory took
place at the Baltimore Museum of Art and
focused on just one painting in its collection. Rodini
invited a different speaker each week to talk
about the painting, and the class worked closely with the
BMA staff to turn what they were learning
into something useful to a museum audience.
Both courses taught her students a valuable life
lesson in learning to roll with whatever comes
your way, Rodini says.
"In classes like that, I sort of say the first day
that this is an experiment and I don't know
exactly where it's going to go, and if you are going to be
in this class, be ready to go with the flow,"
Rodini says. "There's a syllabus, of course, so the classes
are not completely open-ended, but they are
unpredictable. I definitely get the sense that they like
Undergraduates who take her courses are majoring in a
variety of unrelated fields, and Rodini
thinks that her program can help break up the
predictability in students' schedules while encouraging
them to appreciate Baltimore.
"Too often, Hopkins students look at the world outside
of Homewood with fear and trepidation,"
wrote an undergraduate majoring in the history of science.
"As sheltered students, we often think of
The Wire and not the Walters when we think of Greater
Baltimore. The first time I really came to
appreciate the variety and diversity of Baltimore was
sophomore year, when I took Professor Rodini's
Museum Matters class. Every week we went out into the city
to experience a completely unique
museum. Over the course of the semester she led a group of
20 students to a dozen museums around
the city and let us see how diverse and wonderful the world
of museums is. Four years ago, you would
have a difficult time finding students at Johns Hopkins
interested in entering the museums field, now
there is a bustling community of us."
Lester Spence, Political Science
A researcher and a writer, Lester Spence didn't always
think of himself as a teacher, too. But
his outlook began to change when the assistant professor in
the Krieger School's
Science Department realized that his presence meant a
great deal to his students, and that he was a positive
influence on their development both inside and outside the
Students who nominated Spence for one of this year's
Alumni Association Excellence in
Teaching Awards wrote that he is an adept lecturer whose
mastery of the course material, vitality,
sense of humor and familiarity with technology and pop
culture ("he knows what phones we use, what
shows we watch") cause his classes in black politics, urban
politics and public opinion to be overbooked
"I enjoyed him because he was a young black professor
and he was straightforward," an alumna
wrote. "Because of his age , he was in tune with what
was going on in today's black society. Even
though the events such as slavery and the civil rights
movement are extremely important to black
history, it is important to look at what is going on today
and what we can do about today's issues.
Professor Spence is deeply interested in exploring these
issues and involved in finding solutions."
Spence's students describe a teacher who not only has
a knack for leading a discussion but for
bringing students together and helping them achieve a
balance between their studies and their lives
outside the classroom.
"Professor Spence not only shows interest in his
students' academic well-being but their
general well-being also," one alumnus wrote in a
nomination. "He always told us that school is only one
part of your life, albeit an important part. He encouraged
us to get involved in campus activities
because, as he put it, 'You need some sort of relief. Life
is about finding a good balance.'"
That's not to say that Spence takes his professorial
duties lightly, though students report that
he does so with a light hand. One alumna described the
first day of the semester when Spence
introduced himself and began to teach É until two students
tiptoed into the lecture hall 10 minutes
"Dr. Spence interrupts himself to greet the two new
students and asks, with a touch of a smile,
whether it was the rest of us who had it all wrong —
and thought that class had started 10 minutes
early," she recalls. "We all laughed, but we all also got
the point: Lateness was not to be tolerated in
his class. I would see Dr. Spence use this same tool,
humor, to make sure that his students never
forgot his high standards as well as to keep class
At the heart of students' affinity for Spence seems to
be the connections he makes with them
as a mentor. They describe a professor who "was always
interested in how we were doing outside of
the classroom," as one former student wrote. "He always
made sure that we were hanging in there, and
was always willing to lend a hand if we were having
A member of the class of 2008 who earned a degree in
political science wrote, "Spence sets
himself apart as a star at the university because of his
ability to excel in his field while also providing
students with the support they need to succeed. He takes on
the role of professor, confidant, mentor,
counselor and friend without missing a beat or voicing any
complaints. It is rare to find professors
that care as much about students as they do about their
research, and Spence is one of the very few
that I have ever encountered."
Reading what his students wrote about him in their
nomination letters was an emotional
experience, Spence says.
"There's a moment in all of our lives when you
actually doubt yourself and you wonder whether
you are where you are supposed to be and are doing what you
are supposed to be doing," Spence says.
"It's easy to look back and say, Man, should I really be
here? Getting this award, I actually teared up
because it affirmed that this is where I am needed to
Spence's manuscript for his book "Stare in the
Darkness: Rap, Hip-hop and Black Politics" will be
published in August 2010 by the University of Minnesota
Yong Hi Moon, piano
Peabody Institute winner Yong Hi
By the door to pianist Yong Hi Moon's spacious
teaching studio, Room 310C (C indicates its
location in Peabody's 19th-century Conservatory building),
is a bulletin board covered with brochures
for competitions and summer festivals. Though Moon has
mixed feelings about competitions — she tells
students that whether they win or lose, "as a pianist you
haven't changed a bit" — her studio has an
impressive record of success.
Last September, one of her DMA students, Hye-Yeon
Park, won first prize at the Hugo Kauder
International Music Competition for Piano, and an MM
student, Kyoo-Hye Hannah Lim, received a
special honorable mention at the Ibiza International Piano
Competition. Another of her DMA students,
Michael Berkovsky, won Peabody's Peggy and Yale Gordon
Concerto Competition in 2008; as the winner,
he performed last month with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra
led by guest conductor Leon Fleisher,
Moon's distinguished Piano Department colleague.
The pros and cons of competitions are familiar to
Moon, who made her debut with the Seoul
Philharmonic at the age of 10 after winning the National
Korean Broadcasting Competition. At 17, she
moved to Vienna to continue her studies. Prizes followed at
competitions in Austria, Italy, Portugal and
These youthful experiences help her empathize with her
students, many of whom — not just the
international students, she points out — must deal
with internal and external pressure to excel, self-
esteem issues and cultural conflict.
As one of the students who nominated Moon for the
teaching award wrote, "Perhaps the
greatest lesson I've learned from her is that your life
experience is just as important as practicing.
She has taught me that our growth as a person will
inevitably have undue effect on our playing and
connection to music."
In Moon's words: "The music they produce is like a
Moon's mentor was Maria Curcio Diamond, with whom she
studied privately in London. The late
Curcio Diamond, a student of the legendary pianist and
composer Artur Schnabel (who also taught
Fleisher), adapted her teaching to each student's
particular needs. "My problem was her problem,"
recalls Moon, who adds that Curcio Diamond combined
complete musicianship with thorough knowledge
of the muscles of the fingers, hand and arm.
Another experience that Moon credits with making her a
better teacher is raising three
children, all musicians (but no pianists). Thanks in part
to motherhood, she has "kind of an insight to
see a student as a whole person and try to É detect what
their needs are and how their mind works."
Prior to joining Peabody in 2002, Moon spent 15 years
on the faculty of Michigan State
University. One of nine
faculty members at Peabody, Moon had 19 students this year,
undergraduate and half graduate. The total number of
Peabody piano majors was 115. Each faculty
member's studio functions as a unit, but classes in chamber
music and contemporary repertoire, for
instance, and master classes (public lessons in which
several students perform) are open to all.
"Students challenge each other a lot more in this
environment," she says, "because most hope to
pursue a performance career."
This summer, Moon will work with students at festivals
and programs in Bowdoin, Maine; New
Paltz, N.Y.; Williamstown, Mass.; and Beijing and Chengdu
in China. In fact, she travels much of the
year to teach and perform, always returning to her Peabody
students. As one of them wrote in a
nomination, "She is someone who comes straight from the
airport to the conservatory on Sunday to
give a makeup lesson because she had to give master classes
in Korea during the week."
The Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award is
given each year to an adjunct professor
at the Bologna Center; the recipient will be announced at
the center's commencement on May 29. The
school's teaching award given to a faculty member in
Washington is known as the Max M. Fisher Prize.
(See story, "Welsh to receive Max M.
Fisher Prize at SAIS," in this issue.)
School of Education
Larry Kimmel, Department of Teacher Preparation
School of Education: Larry
When Larry Kimmel started his first teaching job in
1962, John Kennedy was president and gas
was 25 cents a gallon. The principal at Kenwood High in
Baltimore County was so eager to hire him that
he drove to his home in northeastern Pennsylvania to drop
off copies of the textbooks and school
curriculum. One of Kimmel's most profound learning
experiences during those early years occurred in
1969, when he was selected for a fellowship at the Johns
Hopkins Institute of Southern and Negro
"The institute came on the heels of civil rights
struggles in the '60s and was in the forefront of
a new way of looking at the problems and the historiography
of race in this country," Kimmel says.
"The institute included several great minds as visiting
professors and scholars and institute Director
Hugh Davis Graham. Graham, a noted historian, wrote several
books on the civil rights movement,
including his most influential work, Civil Rights Era:
Origin and Development of National Policy.
"As a new social studies teacher, I felt like I was on
the cutting edge of this new way of
thinking. It was a life-changing experience," he says.
Kimmel went on to spend 30 years with Baltimore
County Public Schools. He taught social studies and retired
after serving as principal of Hereford
In 2000, he joined Johns Hopkins and was appointed
coordinator of a program called Project
Site Support to address the teacher shortage in Baltimore
City. His duties included teaching,
recruitment and mentoring prospective teachers. He retired
from the coordinator position in 2006
but continues to teach and supervise new teachers for the
Kimmel says he greatly enjoys teaching his class
Special Topics in Secondary Social Studies, for
which he was a co-recipient of this year's Alumni
Association Excellence in Teaching Award. The
course is designed to enrich prospective teachers' content
knowledge in social studies. His students
come mostly from Teach for America and the Baltimore City
Teacher Residency program and are
teaching in some of Baltimore's highest-need schools.
Like most students in Kimmel's class, Jared Solomon
teaches full time during the day (in his
case, as a social studies teacher at Northwest High School)
and takes classes several evenings a week.
Speaking of Kimmel, he says, "There are two things that
make him an especially effective teacher.
First, most of what we learn in class is directly
applicable to our classrooms. This is especially helpful
to us new teachers who deal with students on a daily basis.
Secondly, he is very aware of his impact on
his students. Larry is constantly assessing his
effectiveness and adapting his class to the needs of his
students. He's a very responsive professor. His is one of
the best classes I've taken."
Kimmel says he was very surprised at receiving the
award. "I was very happy and humbled about
being recognized for the Excellence in Teaching Award, as
there are so many talented teachers in the
School of Education," he says. "But I am even happier that
JHU has continued to recognize the
importance of effective teaching at the university level.
I'm honored to a part of this mix."
Frank Masci, chair of the Department of Teacher
Preparation, praises Kimmel's dedication to
preparing new teachers. "Larry brings over 30 years of
working in public schools to the classroom. He
is a great resource who brings much passion to his
Bob Kline, Public Safety Leadership Program
School of Education: Bob
Bob Kline believes that to be a good teacher you
prepare hard for each class, do not lose sight
of who your students are and use examples from your
professional experience to demonstrate a point.
His students obviously agree, having nominated him for an
Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching
Kline brings more than 30 years of experience to the
classroom in the School of Education's
Public Safety Leadership Program, where he teaches
Organizational Change, and Leadership and
Organizational Behavior. Kline's background includes
working as a trainer and consultant with public
and private agencies to improve their performance and
assist their employees in aligning their efforts
with the goals of the organization.
Kline tells his students that change can happen at any
level in an organization, and that they
should always be looking for an opportunity to demonstrate
leadership. He says he especially enjoys
discussing the role that resistance plays in making change
happen, and he refers to the work of Rick
Maurer, a change-management expert and author of Beyond the
Wall of Resistance. "Many leaders
don't understand resistance and fight those who resist
change," Kline says. "Leaders need to
understand how to embrace employee resistance and make it
work for them."
Most of Kline's students work as first responders for
police and fire departments, emergency
agencies and federal law enforcement agencies.
"I'm fortunate to have students with such diverse
backgrounds to complement my class
presentations. They bring a rich variety of unique and
compelling experiences to the classroom," he
says. His assurance of confidentiality in class encourages
students to be more open in sharing
concerns, he says. "This sharing is important because we
have students from different agencies and
jurisdictions which can lead to very useful dialogue."
Pat Hawes, emergency manager at Suburban Hospital in
Montgomery County, is one of the
students who have high praise for Kline. "What separates
Bob are his work ethic and commitment to
the professional growth of his students. He can take
complex concepts and present them in simplified
terms that are easy to understand," she says.
Kline says he feels honored teaching professionals who
are on the front lines every day. "These
are people who are really trying to make this a better and
safer world. It is a privilege for me to help
them in some way," he says. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins,
Kline was a full-time faculty member at the
National Defense University, where he taught at the
National War College. He co-authored
Intelligence and the National Security Strategist, which
has been used at all the senior service
schools in the Department of Defense.
Sheldon Greenberg, associate dean and director of the
Division of Public Safety Leadership,
says, "Bob is extremely knowledgeable, caring, supportive,
collegial and dedicated to his students.
Students love him. I immensely appreciate all he does for
The division, considered one of the most comprehensive
interdisciplinary public safety programs
in the country, offers public safety personnel
undergraduate and graduate degrees in management.
School of Medicine
Sarah Clever, Internal Medicine
School of Medicine: Sarah
Sarah Clever knows how hard it is to be a med student.
After all, she once was one herself.
That's what she keeps in mind when it comes time to teach
her students. "One thing that I have tried
to remember throughout all my teaching is how challenging
the material is, and how stressful it can be
as a med student trying to learn all of it," Clever says.
"I just try to remember that feeling to help
students navigate that, but at the same time I also want to
share my enthusiasm for how amazing the
human body is."
That enthusiasm for spreading knowledge paired with
her sympathy for the plight of the
common med student is what earned Clever this year's Alumni
Association Award for Excellence in
Teaching. Clever, associate director of the Clinical Skills
Program and an assistant professor in the
Department of Medicine, joined the General Internal
Medicine faculty in August 2003 and ever since
has been impressing students and teachers alike with her
creativity and dedication.
Clever got started at Johns Hopkins by co-developing
An Integrated Medical Encounter
curriculum, which focuses on introducing second-year
medical students to issues of patient-doctor
communication. After being asked to serve as director of
the Ambulatory Clerkship in Medicine for
the 2004-2005 academic year, Clever then began to teach
Healer's Art, a course designed to help
medical students identify and strengthen their reasons for
going into medicine, and featuring small
and large group discussions on topics such as Discovering
and Nurturing Your Wholeness and Sharing
Grief and Honoring Loss. Effects of the course were clear:
Students who enroll in Healer's Art are
less likely to be burnt out, and have higher scores on
Always on the lookout to introduce new and interesting
ways to develop the medical school
curriculum, Clever has most recently collaborated with the
Baltimore Museum of Art. Medicine in the
Arts includes organized weekend outings to the museum and
uses art to develop and sharpen students'
visual observation skills. This approach to learning has
proved to be quite popular, with nearly one-
quarter of the entire student body participating in the
elective in the first year alone.
"One of the things I love most is watching really
bright students start to integrate information
and start to understand that what they've learned in the
classroom can really be used to help other
people. I just think it's wonderful to watch that spark
happen," Clever says. She is also a firm believer
that the teacher/student relationship is reciprocal: "I
enjoy the enthusiasm and commitment they
bring to it, and they ask great questions that help me
become a better doctor. I'm sure that my care
of patients has improved because of my students and
The future of Johns Hopkins will no doubt include
Clever; she is scheduled to become assistant
dean for student affairs on June 1. David Nichols, vice
dean for education, is confident about this
appointment. "Dr. Clever is widely recognized as a
remarkable teacher and student advocate," he says.
"In addition to her admirable interpersonal skills, Dr.
Clever has extensive education and experience in
curriculum design that will bring additional perspective to
the Office of Student Affairs as we launch
our new curriculum."
Clever was pleasantly surprised to learn that she had
won this year's award. "I wasn't really
expecting it. I knew that my boss had put me up for
something, but I didn't know what. It's just a
wonderful honor to be recognized for something that is so
important to me."
— Hope Marijan
School of Nursing
Laura Taylor, Health Systems and Outcomes, baccalaureate
School of Nursing: Shirley Van
Zandt and Laura Taylor
"Hi, Gigi!" shouts Laura Taylor from the aisle of her
classroom. She's waving hello to a woman
who appears on the projection screen at the front of the
"Oh, hi, Dr. Taylor," Gigi says with a smile. She
looks into the camera, seemingly peering at the
roomful of students. "How's it going?"
Despite Gigi's wild pigtails and outrageous clothing,
the students quickly get the feeling that
there's something disconcertingly familiar about her.
"I'm great," Taylor says. "How are you feeling
"I'm feeling a little old today," complains Gigi, "but
that's what happens with us clones."
Creating Gigi the Clone is just one of many creative
techniques Taylor uses to engage her
undergraduate students. Recorded at home with the help of
her teenage sons and featuring a short
"Rock Band" guitar solo, the video allows Taylor to
entertain as well as inform. And her students
certainly pay attention.
"Dr. Taylor accomplished the amazing feat of making
pathophysiology fun," wrote one student
who nominated Taylor for the Excellence in Teaching Award.
Though the subject of patho is
notoriously unpopular, the student "can honestly say that I
have retained more knowledge from her
class than any other."
Taylor, who also teaches courses in health assessment
informatics, isn't new to
innovative teaching strategies. As a child, she learned
from her father, who was a professor of
dentistry at Howard University. "He was bringing home
teaching awards all the time," Taylor recalls. "I
learned many of my teaching techniques, like putting family
photos in my presentations, from him." (A
presentation on diuresis features a photo of her son,
strategically and proudly posed in front of a
streaming fountain of water.) "Like my father, I am
enjoying both my career and my family — and I'm
showing my students that it's possible to meld the two."
Other teaching techniques include making podcasts as
study guides, recording herself dancing
to simulate heart rhythms and asking students to use
Twitter during class. Whether it's chewing gum
like a dog while learning about jawbones, doing aerobics
and breathing through a straw to mimic
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or holding a
candlelight vigil for Jerry Garcia during a coronary
disease lecture, Taylor is full of ideas to create
"teachable moments" that the students will not soon
"I'm not afraid to have fun, to try new things,"
Taylor says. "My classes aren't easy, but
students will accept difficult course work as long as I am
fair and accessible."
And she gives the students credit for mastering the
challenging course work. "Hopkins is the
best place to be, because our students are so very bright,"
she says. "Yes, I have expertise in nursing,
but they have different skill sets in which they're the
expert. I value the brainpower that's sitting in
my classroom. I always want to convey respect for the
students' time and their knowledge. I think
they see that."
Shirley Van Zandt, Community and Public Health, graduate
"Everyone wants to be like Shirley," wrote a student
as she nominated Shirley Van Zandt for an
Excellence in Teaching Award. "There are some nurse
practitioners who you just know are excellent
clinicians and thoughtful health care providers. Shirley is
one of them."
"I like to provide encouragement and mentoring," says
Van Zandt, an instructor at the School of
Nursing. "I especially enjoy working with students who are
struggling a bit with the content, struggling
to find their way. I like to help them evolve as a nurse or
Throughout the school, Van Zandt has a reputation for
challenging students. And among the
graduate student population, she is known for her tough
take-home exams and hands-on mentoring.
"No advisee of Shirley's is going to slide through the
program," wrote another nominating
student. "And you wouldn't want to since Shirley is so
excited for your potential and helping to
motivate you along!" She is described as "an inspiration"
and "a patient mentor, who always encouraged
me to improve my skills and think critically."
Before joining the School of Nursing in 1993, Van
Zandt worked at Wyman Park Medical Center
as the clinical manager for Internal Medicine. It was an
administrative job with a small clinical
component, she says, but "what I enjoyed about working with
both patients and nurses was the ability
to teach, mentor and encourage people to develop their
skills and practice."
Today, she teaches nursing graduate students in
advanced health assessment and adult primary
care, which includes coordinating the courses Advanced
Health Assessment; Diagnosis, Symptom and
Illness Management; and a capstone for MSN/MPH students who
are also becoming nurse
practitioners. She also is a nurse practitioner at the JHH
Employee Health and Wellness Center.
Her philosophy is that "people learn best when they
are least threatened and most confident. I
like to create an environment where students feel safe to
ask questions and offer their own
She helps to create a safe environment through
thoughtful questioning and unwavering respect
for her students. "We are all learners," she says. "I learn
alongside every student I've ever taught.
And we have exceptional students here. They are strong
academically, and so inspired to make a
difference in the world."
In the classroom, Van Zandt strives to challenge these
exceptional students, raising questions
to make them think beyond just one patient or one clinical
situation and look at how nursing care will
impact an entire population or health care system. "I want
students to understand the role they will
assume in the very complex health care system as
advanced-practice nurses," she says. "It's a rapidly
changing environment, so nurses need to have a broad view
of their role in order to remain flexible."
Despite the rigorous demands she places on her
students, many of them claim her to be among
their favorite professors. On a recent spring break trip, a
group of eight students even sent her a
"wish you were here" postcard.
"She is never without enthusiasm or a smile," says one
of her students. "She brings energy and
hope to students that their work will pay off. And to her I
am grateful that I am where I am today."
Whiting School of Engineering
David Yue, Biomedical Engineering
Whiting School of Engineering:
The students who sit through David Yue's lectures have
learned to expect anything but a dull
drone. Several of the engineering students who nominated
him for this year's Alumni Excellence in
Teaching Award in the Whiting School likened Yue's
instructional talks to a summer blockbuster film.
"He transforms his lectures into something like a
thriller movie — you don't want to miss a second
of it," one student says. "His lectures are 90-minute
marvels covering the history, mechanisms and
applications of ion channel study."
Another student added, "The material excites him so
much that it excites all of us."
A third student's assessment resembled a literature
review: "Topics that at first seem
detached and abstract come to life under the vivid
metaphors and colorful language that have become
Professor Yue's trademarks."
Yue, a professor in the Department of Biomedical
Engineering, teaches systems bioengineering —
a core course for majors in this field — and an
elective course in ion channels. He insists that, as a
teacher, he was not an overnight sensation. "I've put a
steady amount of work into my classes over the
past 20 years. The cumulative effect is sort of like water
torture," he says with a laugh. "It allows you
to improve the way you communicate as the years go by."
His gift for language is evident in a section of his
Web site where he reflects on the challenges
and rewards of medical research and teaching.
In a post titled "The privilege of discovery," Yue
writes, "Every so often, the veil of confusing
experimental results is parted, and something deep and
beautiful about how biological life works is
revealed. It is as if a syllable that God spoke becomes
suddenly audible. The thrill of unearthing such
'God speak' is one of the special rewards of my
As a course instructor, Yue says he has benefited from
being in a department associated with
both the School of Medicine, with its rigorous training for
physicians, and the Whiting School, where
undergraduates complete their basic engineering studies.
Educating both medical students and
undergraduates "has helped me develop as a better teacher
overall," he says. "It's turned into a
blessing instead of an obligation."
Yue grew up in Southern California with a great
fascination for science. He earned his
bachelor's degree in biochemical science at Harvard, where
one of his own favorite teachers was
Edward Purcell, a Nobel laureate in physics.
He then entered the demanding MD/PhD program in the
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
After receiving his degrees, he joined the School of
Medicine's Biomedical Engineering faculty in 1989.
Today, he is director of the department's Calcium Signals
Lab and co-director of its PhD program. He
has a secondary appointment in the school's Department of
"Both research and teaching have been a high priority
for me over the past 20 years," Yue says.
"Being able to teach well and find out new things in
science are both important parts of being a
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