May 14, 2014
2014 faculty teaching awards
Lifetime Achievement Award in Graduate Education
For more than 35 years, Douglas Turner, professor of chemistry, has been a world leader in understanding the structure of RNA. He has an active research program in the area of chemical, structural, and computational studies of RNA and has authored more than 200 publications, which have been cited more than 15,000 times. He joined the chemistry faculty in 1975.
Together with his collaborators, Turner has discovered many of the fundamental principles that determine RNA structure. The principles are used in almost every RNA structure prediction algorithm. His research has helped advance methods for predicting both structure and RNA-RNA interactions from sequence. These methods are widely used by biochemists and biologists.
Turner trains his students to think deeply about their research and involves them in projects as true equals. He played a key role in establishing the biological chemistry cluster and provided leadership as cluster chair for the first eight years. Turner’s work has been recognized with Sloan and Guggenheim Fellowships, election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, selection by the American Chemical Society as a Gordon Hammes Lecturer, and continuous funding of an NIH grant that started in 1976. He teaches courses from first-year chemistry to graduate-level laboratories, as well as serves on several NIH Study Sections, the advisory board of the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry in Poznan, Poland, and the editorial board of the Biophysical Journal. He holds a PhD in physical chemistry from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard.
William H. Riker University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching
Eric Phizicky is professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the School of Medicine and Dentistry. His fascination with genetics, biochemistry, and functional genomics has transformed the field of transfer RNA (tRNA) research.
He has served as either director or codirector of the biochemistry PhD program since 1995. During this time, he has developed a rigorous course curriculum, set up the current system for carrying out qualifying exams, and instituted a student seminar course in which every student in the program participates and presents an annual seminar.
Phizicky has served on more than 130 thesis advisory committees, a testament to his dedication to the mentoring of all students, regardless of the lab in which they are doing their doctoral research. He has received the departmental teaching award six times and the University Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Education during his tenure at the University. He holds a PhD in biochemistry from Cornell University and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from McGill University. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology.
Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
William Marvin ’02E (PhD) is associate professor of music theory at the Eastman School of Music. He joined the Eastman faculty in 2002 after having taught music theory and aural skills at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.
Marvin’s work in theory has focused on problems of tonality according to Schenkerian definitions. His published work can be found at Music Theory Online, Journal of Musicology, Intégral, Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy, Theory and Practice, Nineteenth-Century Music Review, and in several books. Marvin is president of the Music Theory Society of New York State.
From 1997 through 2001, Marvin worked individually with blind students, teaching aural skills and overseeing the rehearsal and performance of an ensemble work for 12 student performers, written by a blind composer and taught completely without notation. He oversees the undergraduate aural musicianship curriculum at Eastman. His curriculum emphasizes immediate recognition, apprehension, and expressive performance of musical material as heard and seen. His reputation as an outstanding theory teacher has been longstanding among undergraduate students.
Marvin completed his PhD in music theory at Eastman in 2002. He received his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton.
G. Graydon Curtis ’58 and Jane W. Curtis Award for Nontenured Faculty Teaching Excellence
Elizabeth Colantoni and Vasilii Petrenko are each receiving the G. Graydon Curtis ’58 and Jane W. Curtis Award for Nontenured Faculty Teaching Excellence.
Colantoni is an assistant professor of classics who joined the University faculty in 2008. In her first two and a half years at Rochester, Colantoni introduced 12 new courses. She teaches a range of courses on the archaeology, history, and literature of the classical world.
Colantoni’s primary area of research is ancient Roman religion, in particular studying physical evidence for ancient religious practices.
She is director of the University’s archaeological excavations at the San Martino site in Torano di Borgorose, Rieti, Italy. She and the students she supervises on the excavation project in the summer have recovered pre-Roman and Roman artifacts and have found archaeological evidence that will help determine the sixth-century border between what remained of the Roman Empire and Lombard incursions. As part of the archaeological project, Colantoni teaches a course on field methods in archaeology, and last summer she added a new course on the ancient Roman aqueduct in Arezzo, Italy.
Colantoni holds a PhD and master’s degree in classical art and archaeology from the University of Michigan; a master’s degree in Latin, also from Michigan; a master’s degree in anthropology from Florida State University; and a bachelor’s degree in classics and French from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Petrenko is assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. His primary area of research is natural and anthropogenic climate and environmental change, particularly from the perspective of atmospheric composition and chemistry. In his research, Petrenko uses records from ancient glacial ice to answer questions about the Earth’s climate system.
Petrenko’s work is highly relevant to the understanding of modern global warming and projections of future warming associated with greenhouse gas emissions.
He was a 2013 recipient of a Packard Foundation Fellowship, which provides the nation’s most promising early career scientists and engineers with flexible funding to explore new frontiers in their fields of study.
He teaches a wide range of classes, including Introduction to Climate Change—an advanced undergraduate core class on atmospheric geochemistry—and focused graduate and advanced undergraduate level courses on paleoclimate and ice core records. He engages students in hands-on learning, using computer models to help understand various aspects of the climate system.
Petrenko holds a PhD in earth sciences from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a master’s degree in education with an individualized focus on science teaching from Harvard University, and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of New Hampshire.