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May 23, 2012

Commencement 2012 teaching award recipients

Karen DeAngelis Lane Hemaspaandra Gautam Mitra Robert Wason

The G. Graydon Curtis ’58 and Jane W. Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Nontenured Member of the Faculty

Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Lifetime Achievement Award in Graduate Education

The William H. Riker University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching

Karen DeAngelis, assistant professor in educational leadership, Warner School

Lane Hemaspaandra, professor of computer science

Gautam Mitra, professor of geology

Robert Wason, professor of music theory

Karen DeAngelis, assistant professor in educational leadership at the Warner School, is an emerging master teacher and scholar, admired for her commitment to engaging students both inside and outside of the classroom through teaching, research, and mentoring. DeAngelis’s exemplary teaching extends across seven courses, each of which she created or revised, and her commitment to academic advising is demonstrated by her involvement on 26 doctoral dissertation committees over the past five years. DeAngelis’s research focuses on the recruitment, distribution, and retention of teachers and administrators. She recently was awarded a Spencer Foundation grant to study the academic skills and racial/ethnic diversity of teachers entering K–12 public schools in Illinois. Her research has been published in a number of academic journals, such as Journal of Education Finance, Educational Administration Quarterly, Leadership and Policy in Schools, Education and Urban Society, and Education Policy Analysis Archives.

DeAngelis has taken a lead role in redesigning the Warner School’s offerings in quantitative research methods to include new courses and consulting support services consisting of monthly workshops and one-on-one consultations offered by advanced doctoral students. With Warner colleague Martin Lynch, DeAngelis established the Quantitative Consulting Services initiative, where graduate students can receive extra support in this area. Before joining the Warner faculty, DeAngelis conducted pre-kindergarten through postsecondary policy research for the Illinois Education Research Council. She has also done educational consulting and evaluation work for a number of organizations, including the American Institutes for Research, the Danforth Foundation, the St. Louis Desegregation Task Force, and the St. Louis Public School District. DeAngelis received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Colby College and both her master’s in economics and doctorate in economics of education/policy analysis from Stanford University.

In his computer theory courses, Lane Hemaspaandra is known for making difficult, abstract material fun and accessible. He helped create—and frequently teaches—the department’s undergraduate research-immersion course. In that course, he helps teams of students attack open scientific questions whose answers initially are as unknown to him and the field as they are to the students.

Hemaspaandra, who is in his 24th year at the University, is a specialist in the theory of computation and its uses in protecting elections from manipulation. He and his research collaborators have determined the computational complexity of Lewis Carroll’s 1876 election system, have constructed election systems that computationally resist all standard attacks, and have proven that in some settings quantum computers are almost everywhere exponentially faster than classical computers. He is an author of two books and over 250 publications and has coauthored works with more than 50 undergraduate and graduate students.

Hemaspaandra was named an NSF Presidential Young Investigator in 1989, was awarded a Bridging Fellowship from the University in 1994, won the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 2006, was made an Association for Computing Machinery Distinguished Scientist in 2007, and currently serves on four editorial boards. He received a BS in computer science and mathematics and physics from Yale University in 1981, an MS in computer science from Stanford University in 1982, and a PhD in computer science from Cornell University in 1987.

Known for his outstanding teaching and research in the field of structural geology, Guatam Mitra focuses his work on deformed rocks, ranging in scale from field-based analysis to laboratory microstructural studies. He coauthored a widely used textbook, Basic Methods of Structural Geology, and has published numerous scientific papers. His research focuses on the origin and evolution of mountain belts, which has led him to undertake field expeditions to both modern and ancient mountain belts around the world. With his students, Mitra has studied the Appalachian belt in the eastern United States, the North American Cordillera in the western U.S., the Scottish Caledonides, the Spanish Pyrenees, the Swiss Alps, the Atlas mountains in Morocco, the Himalayas in India, and the Imjingang-Okcheon collision belt in Korea.

Born in India, Mitra earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Presidency College at the University of Calcutta. For his PhD from Johns Hopkins University, he undertook one of the early studies on the mechanisms by which continental crust is deformed. After spending a few years teaching at the University of Wyoming, he joined the Rochester faculty in 1981. Described as both an excellent role model and a caring mentor, Mitra has had a profound impact on his students’ careers. Seventy-five percent of Mitra’s PhD students have entered tenure track positions at colleges or universities, with all of them receiving tenure. Mitra is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and a member of the American Geophysical Union, the International Association of Structural and Tectonic Geologists, and the executive council of the Structural and Tectonics Studies Group (India).

Robert Wason is a professor of music theory and affiliate faculty in the department of jazz studies and contemporary media at the Eastman School of Music. A noted musical scholar, Wason is also a performing musician and composer across a surprising breadth of genres. Early in his career he worked as a jazz pianist. His book on Viennese harmonic theory in the 19th and early 20th centuries remains an essential reference in that area. His compositions include vocal, solo instrumental, and chamber works. Wason has written on the history of music theory, 20th-century music, and jazz, on subjects ranging from 12-tone music to the songs of Alec Wilder.

An advocate for turn-of-the-century lieder, he has lectured on the topic and given recitals with soprano Valerie Errante. Wason was a University Bridging Fellow in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures. Wason has received Guggenheim and NEH Fellowships, Paul Sacher Foundation and German Academic Exchange grants, and two ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Publishers) Deems Taylor writing awards. He has served on several boards and committees for the Society for Music Theory and on the editorial boards of Music Theory Spectrum and the Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute, and, currently, Theoria, and Eastman Studies in Music. Appointed to the Eastman faculty in 1983, Wason has advised students who now hold positions at institutions in Canada, the Netherlands, Brazil, and the United States. Besides teaching doctoral courses in theory, keyboard skills, and advanced harmony and composition, he was an advisor on the design of the jazz DMA program and developed diverse seminars on the music of Bill Evans, Bela Bartok, J. S. Bach, and Anton Webern. Wason was on the faculty of the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Wason received his master of philosophy and PhD from Yale University. He has also taught at Trinity College in Hartford, Clark University, and the University of North Texas, and been a guest professor at the University of Basel in Switzerland, the University of British Columbia, and SUNY Buffalo.

Learn more about other Commencement 2012 honorees at

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