The University of Wisconsin–Madison employs over 2,000 teaching assistants across a wide variety of disciplines. The contributions of TAs in the classroom, lab, studio and field are essential to the University’s education mission. In order to recognize excellence on the part of TAs across campus, each year the College of Letters & Science, with support from the Graduate School, administers awards for exceptional teaching by graduate students.
The Campus-wide TA Awards Committee is happy to announce that the winners for the 2016 awards are as follows.
Early Excellence in Teaching Award
Raed Al Kontar, Industrial and Systems Engineering
Brooke Barnhart, Gender and Women’s Studies
Rebecca Moorman, Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Exceptional Service Award
Chloe Drummond, Botany
Tor Odden, Curriculum and Instruction
Amanda Siebert-Evenstone, Educational Psychology
Innovation in Teaching Award
Brandee Easter, English
Lauren Goodspeed, French & Italian
Tyler Lark, Nelson Institute for Environment Studies
Ian Santino, Landscape Architecture
Capstone PhD Teaching Award
Rachel Herzl-Betz, English
Taylor Cole Miller, Communication Arts
Alison Paulson, Botany
Jillian Slaight, History
Guiming Zhang, Geography
Read below for more about the 2016 award winners.
Early Excellence in Teaching Award
Raed Al Kontar
Raed is a PhD student in Industrial and Systems Engineering and MS student in Statistics. His research focuses on data analytics for uncertainty quantification and decision making in cloud-enabled smart service systems. His research seeks to make sense of data and utilize it for better decisions.
Al Kontar has taught as a teaching assistant for computer integrated manufacturing. He believes that learning should be fun and assisting student’s learning process is something he greatly enjoys. In his free time, Raed likes to play soccer and read about new advances in statistical methods.
Brooke is a second year MA student in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. She received a BS in politics and government from Illinois State University. Her research interests are on the ethics of care and its relation to race, class, disability, and imperialism.
Barnhart has worked as a teaching assistant for Introduction to GWS, Women and Their Bodies in Health and Disease, and Introduction to LGBTQ+ Studies. She loves working with students and helping them think critically about issues of gender, race, class, disability, sexuality, and their intersections.
Rebecca is a PhD student in the Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies (CANES). She holds a BA in classics with a minor in philosophy from Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minnesota, and an MA in classics from UW–Madison. Rebecca’s research interests include late Republican and Imperial Latin literature, critical theory, gender and sexuality, and Roman historiography.
Moorman has taught several courses in the CANES department, including Elementary Latin, Classical Mythology, and the Greeks. She enjoys teaching students both to appreciate ancient texts in their original context and to make meaningful connections between antiquity and our modern world.
Exceptional Service Award
Chloe is a PhD candidate in the Department of Botany. Her dissertation focuses on North American plants that split geographic distribution between western North America and the Great Lakes region. She is taking an integrative approach to investigate the historical biogeography of these plants, and is also interested in their potential persistence in the Great Lakes region given recent rapid climate change.
Drummond has been a teaching assistant in Plant Systematics, Vascular Flora of Wisconsin, Evolutionary Biology, and introductory botany courses. She has served as chair of education outreach for the Crow Institute for the Study of Evolution at UW–Madison for three years. Through this work, she facilitates K-12 teacher workshops across Wisconsin and co-organizes Darwin Day, a public outreach event. She is a plant science mentor through the Planting Science program, and is pursuing her Delta teaching certificate to improve student learning in the undergraduate classroom.
Tor is a PhD candidate in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, focusing on undergraduate physics education. His dissertation is on the strategies that students use to make sense of abstract or difficult physics concepts and how instructors can support them in their sensemaking.
Odden has taught six semesters of introductory physics during his time at UW–Madison. He has also been heavily involved in helping to improve the algebra-based introductory physics courses through the REACH initiative. As an instructor, Odden aims to put his research into practice by helping students create connections between their own ideas and the physics concepts they are learning.
Amanda is a PhD candidate in learning sciences in the Department of Educational Psychology. She has worked on projects analyzing group work in computer-supported learning environments, modeling and scripting for group discussions, measuring complex thinking, and temporal segmentation methods in discourse analysis. Her dissertation research will investigate the role of context in online educational experiences, particularly the relationship between the location of play and game context.
Siebert-Evenstone has taught environmental studies, facilitated biology boot camps, and mentored a peer facilitation internship. As the lead instructor of the interactive large lecture course, “How People Learn,” she has worked to build a teaching team where all instructors can share resources, best practices, and common frustrations.
Innovation in Teaching Award
Brandee is a PhD student in composition and rhetoric in the Department of English. Her research focuses on gender and digital rhetoric, and her most recent project explores the rhetorical strategies of an antifeminist programming language.
In teaching literature and composition courses, Easter is invested in exploring the pedagogical affordances of digital technologies. She focuses her writing courses on multimodal composition and had the opportunity to pilot the English department’s first online large lecture course last summer.
Lauren is a PhD candidate in the Second Language Acquisition program. Her research is on second language writing in the instructed setting, focusing on the interplay of reading and writing in genre-based pedagogical approaches.
Since 2011, Goodspeed has taught beginning and intermediate French in the Department of French and Italian and has also taught French in Continuing Studies. She has also held positions within the Continuing Studies that have allowed her to reflect on language study at a curricular level. She is a strong advocate for literacy-based teaching approaches due to their ability to integrate language instruction with literary and cultural content, as well as their ability to equip learners with skills they need to navigate an ever-evolving multilingual, multicultural society.
Tyler is a PhD candidate in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies researching agricultural land-use change across the United States. He is passionate about finding solutions to the challenges facing our food and agricultural systems and identifying opportunities to reconcile production with conservation and climate goals.
In the classroom, Tyler encourages students to implement their ideas into action and supports them in creating meaningful change on campus and beyond. He recently developed a new Environmental Studies capstone section focused on reducing food waste and helped integrate new project-based learning components into existing Geography and Environmental Studies courses.
Ian studies restoration ecology through the Department of Landscape Architecture. With his research on the endangered prairie forb prairie bush-clover, he hopes to shed some light on the factors contributing to its decline to find methods to allow the populations to rebound.
Santino has taught introductory biology since 2013. He loves learning and likes looking for novel approaches to learning science.
Capstone PhD Teaching Award
Rachel is a PhD candidate in the English department. Her research interests are in Victorian literature, disability studies, and writing center pedagogy. Her dissertation examines how cutting-edge forms of technology were used to represent sensory perception by disabled characters.
Currently, Herzl-Betz is an Assistant Director of the undergraduate Writing Fellows program, where she has taught English 403, the honors seminar on tutoring writing across the curriculum, and mentored more than one-hundred undergraduates. Before joining the Fellows program, she taught composition and literature courses, including British and Anglophone Literature from 1750 to the Present, The Early Works of Shakespeare, and Introduction to College Composition. She spent two years teaching and designing curriculum with the Pre–College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE).
Taylor Cole Miller
Taylor is a PhD candidate in media and cultural studies in the Department of Communication Arts. His dissertation explores television syndication, highlighting its queer and feminist potential, and includes collaborations with TV icons like Norman Lear, Roseanne Barr, and Louise Lasser.
While at UW–Madison, Miller has taught numerous courses including Digital Media Production, Introduction to TV, Critical Internet Studies, and Television Criticism. He produced a short film on homosexuality in 1950s TV that premiered at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. And he recently accepted a tenure-track position at the University of Georgia where he will also work with the Peabody Awards.
Alison is a PhD candidate in the Department of Botany. Her dissertation research explores fire suppression, climate change, white-tailed deer herbivory, and land use/landscape change as drivers of plant species diversity and community composition in the Great Lakes Region.
Paulson has taught laboratory and discussion sections in General Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Introductory Biology at UW–Madison. Through teaching, outreach, and mentorship, Alison seeks to create a comfortable yet challenging learning environment, to foster connections between students and the land, and to help students prepare for their future careers.
Jillian is a PhD candidate in the Department of History, where she focuses on eighteenth-century Europe, as well as gender and women’s history. Her dissertation examines the crime of seduction to understand whether, and how, men and women exercised control over decisions about marriage and sexuality on the eve of the French Revolution.
Since 2011, Slaight has served as a teaching assistant for various courses in European and Atlantic World history. This semester, she is lecturing a self-designed course entitled “Pirates, Nuns, and Refugees: Europeans on the Move in the Early Modern Period (1450-1815).” She also looks forward to co-teaching “History of Labor & Capitalism,” a class at Oakhill Correctional Institution.
Guiming a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography, focusing on Geographic Information Science (GIS). His research focuses on spatial modeling and prediction using geospatial big data and the enabling high-performance computing technologies. He is very interested in the impacts of geospatial big data on society.
Zhang has been a teaching assistant for GIScience courses at both introductory and advanced levels. He taught an introductory course as a lecturer in 2015. Currently, he is the lecturer for a course for the Online Professional Master’s program in GIScience and web map programming.