Good, better, best: The winners of the 2022 Distinguished Teaching Award

They garden, they read, they cook and they dream of becoming dentists. Teacher: You are just like us! But these six are the crème de la crème.

Stefanie Iverson-Cabral
Assistant Professor, UW Bothell

Specialty: Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Global Health, School of Nursing & Health Studies
Your dreams after the pandemic: travel, after all. “At this point, just going out for dinner would be a real treat.”
Hobbies outside of class: Crochet, garden, go for walks and visit museums.
What she reads: The Bridgerton books. “The author’s husband is an infectious disease doctor who I was shooting with in a lab.”
Your dream job as a child: “Oh, it’s varied. My mother will tell the story that the very first thing I said was that I wanted to be a frontier guard.” Other ideas included a costume or set designer for historical plays.
What she finds surprising: “Something I tell myself [students] It’s been a lot lately that college is hard. College is challenging, and that’s true even at the best of times. It became so clear that they are so incredibly resilient. Especially our students at UW Bothell who [at the beginning of the pandemic] were these first responders, the paramedics who dealt with the outbreak and transported the patients out of the life care center. Our students are the nurses who work in these COVID clinics. And then, on top of that, they all had family commitments and the stress and trauma that we all experience, and yet they showed up.”

Samuel Jaffee
Associate Teaching Professor, UW Seattle

Specialty: Studies in Spanish and Portuguese, College of Arts and Sciences
Favorite place on earth: The Andes region – Peru, Colombia, Ecuador.
What meal he cooks: Ash-e Reshteh, a Persian stew.
What kind of student was he? “I was a curious reader…yet I rarely spoke and often fell asleep in class. I think it’s good for students to know that their professors weren’t always the best students in the room, and yet here we are. They still have a bright future ahead of them.”
Two people he would invite to Kane Hall: Junot Diaz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and Ruth Behar, anthropologist, poet, historian and community champion.
What he reads (again): Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami. “I really like how he has such a deep understanding of his characters… When you’re done, you feel like you’ve gotten to know the whole person.”
How he encourages discussion in the classroom: “I like to give space. If you don’t fill the whole room with your own voice and ideas, [students] will fill this space. I try not to be overbearing and let the students draw their own conclusions and ask their own questions.
I try to support unstructured discussions in a structured way and give it a theater for unstructured ideas.”

Ines Jurcevic
Assistant Professor, UW Seattle

Specialty: Social Psychology and Public Policy, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance
Her mentors: Jenessa Shapiro at UCLA, Cheryl Kaiser at UW, and Sophie Trawalter at the University of Virginia.
Hobbies outside of class: Cooking (vegetarian enchiladas) and gardening (flowers and strawberries).
Your dream job as a child: “I really wanted to be a dentist because they always make people smile.”
Your pets: Two black cats named Rafiki Bombardier and Calypso Java Kelly.
What she reads: A Potty Training Book for Your Toddler and The Wheel of Time
(in the series “The Eye of the World”).
Their reputation: trick your students. “I keep the students on their toes in relation to the demonstrations I do. I put you in positions where you are likely to make the wrong, less desirable, less preferred choice. And then we’ll talk about why.”
What she finds surprising: “The amount of resilience our students had. They have done more than we could reasonably have asked for, anything we could have asked students to do, especially in the last two years. [I have] a real credit for their ability to show up in the classroom each week and engage with each other in a really productive way. We all try, right? Whatever role we are in.”

Adam Leache
Professor, UW Seattle

Specialty: Biology, College of Arts and Sciences
If he’s not in the Life Sciences building, you can find him: Behind the glass walls of the Burke Museum, he works as a curator of genetic resources and herpetology.
Hobbies outside of class: Surfing, “but mostly dreaming of surfing because it’s not an option in Seattle.” He also builds RC car models, LEGOs and more with his kids.
Job aptitude tests told him: He would be a bus driver or a systems analyst.
Someone he would like to see at Kane Hall: Julie Stein, the recently retired executive director of the Burke Museum. “She is an inspirational teacher and leader.”
A revelation during quarantine: “Early on during the pandemic, I discovered I could turn off my Zoom camera and multitask during meetings. That was a joyful moment.”
Former professions: “Shipping Clerk, Packer, Hotel Porter and Office Assistant,
to name a few.”
favorite books: “Dune”, “The Lord of the Rings”.
A lesson observation: “Students are able to produce quality work when given the right tools, but the most rewarding part is when they combine their new skills with their personal creativity. This is where the most extraordinary work is created.”

Mikelle Nuwer
Senior Instructor, UW Seattle

Specialty: Oceanography and Marine Sciences, College of the Environment
UW student since: 1995! She is a triple dawg with a BS (1999), MS (2004) and Ph.D. (2008), all in Oceanography.
Someone She Admires: “I’m kind of a fan girl of President Cauce.”
Your teaching method: “I approach teaching as a scientist looking for observations and observations
trends and patterns and evidence.”
Your personality at school: “Being a good student was my identity and I took it very seriously. And the worst part is my poor eldest son picked up some of it! Don’t worry, he’s in therapy for it.”
Two people she would invite to Kane Hall: Eddie Vedder and Martha Graham.
Your favorite hobby: “I like long walks on the beach. My absolute favorite spot is probably Whidbey Island on Double Bluff Dog Beach.”
Something she picked up on during quarantine: “We have a book about stairs in Seattle,
So we explored all the different stairways in our city, which are amazing.”
Advice for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics: “Research is slow and not immediately rewarding. And always frustrating. It’s hard work. What sets you apart is the amount of work you are willing to put in. Work hard, find your people, rely on them. And don’t be afraid. You will make mistakes.”

Claudia Sellmaier
Assistant Professor, UW Tacoma

Specialty: Social Work and Criminal Justice
Outside the classroom you might find you at: Priest Point Park, the Olympia farmers’ market or a Berlin nightclub.
Your dog’s name: Jack. “He’s very cute. That’s why I’m keeping him.”
Former occupation: Cook.
What she reads: “I like to read my German novels before going to bed. This is my ‘shutdown’ literature.”
A few people she admires: dr Erin Casey, Dr. JaeRan Kim, Dr. Janice Laakso and
(of course) Sinead O’Connor.
What is different about your teaching? Students practice hands-on advocacy with organizations such as the National Association of Social Workers, Planned Parenthood, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, the Statewide Poverty Action Network, Interfaith Works, and with various legislatures in Olympia.
What she finds surprising: “Students who show up and are totally committed. They don’t just say, “OK, I have to do these four things to pass the class,” but they take the material and really run with it. And then I hear, ‘My letter to the editor was published in the Seattle Times!’ Or: ‘I developed this training!’ I shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but it’s always exciting to watch. They really did it all. And not because of grades, but because they know it matters.”

Comments are closed.