Five UC Berkeley Professors Awarded for Success in Teaching





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Note to instructors: To make your students happy, teach them games and tell them family stories-it worked for Tyrone Hayes and Leslie Kurke, two professors honored Tuesday with the Distinguished Teacher Award.

Tyrone Hayes

Usha Jain

Jeffrey Knapp

Leslie Kurke

Stephen Welter

The two were joined at a ceremony at Zellerbach Playhouse by fellow honorees Usha Jain, Jeffrey Knapp and Stephen Welter-all recipients of the university's highest honor for teachers.

The winners were selected by the Committee on Teaching, comprised of five instructors and two students. They were nominated by their respective department heads and praised in evaluations by students, graduate student instructors and colleagues. They also wowed committee members during randomly selected lectures.

The professors were deemed the most able to inspire independent thinking in students, exude enthusiasm in learning and teaching and guide graduate student instructors.

"It's obviously a great honor, and I'm very flattered and humbled by it," Welter said.

The five award recipients receive a certificate, $10,000 from the university and $1,000 from the California Alumni Association.

They join 205 other faculty who have won the award since its introduction in 1959. Current faculty members who have also received the award in the past include history professor Leon Litwack and astronomy professor Alex Filippenko.

Associate Professor Hayes, who teaches integrative biology, was recognized for his methods of applying biology to the real lives of his students and himself. For example, his class learned about water retention by discussing his children's experience on a vacation to the desert.

"When you're talking about osmoregulation, its not some distant concept," Hayes said. "It's about how much you drink, how much you sweat, how much you urinate and why every time you go to a party and drink too much alcohol, you dehydrate."

Hayes also works with undergraduate students in biological research, and has about 10 students working in his lab each year. He recently made national headlines for a study that shows a pesticide stunts sexual development in frogs.

Kurke, an associate professor, is described as "very dedicated" by one of her students, junior Steven Wong.

"I remember her once teaching a room full of people how to play ancient Greek games," Wong said. "That's how much she's into her work."

She teaches classics and comparative literature with an emphasis on ancient Greece. She uses Greek texts to analyze other historical documents from ancient China and the Renaissance, and to analyze issues of gender and sexuality.

Jain has taught Hindi language and literature at Berkeley since 1971. She combines discussion of contemporary social and political subject matter in her classes.

"I love the way she incorporates cultural matter into literature," said French graduate student Jennifer Takhar. "I've taken three classes with her. She has a unique combination of rigor and enthusiasm."

Jain, a senior lecturer, has also written two Hindi textbooks that are widely used in universities throughout the United States, Canada and Australia.

Welter teaches environmental issues and is also chair of the division of insect biology. He teaches classes about insects as well as the multidisciplinary environmental issues class.

Welter explores scientific, cultural and political topics by focusing on students and facilitating discussion.

Knapp teaches Shakespeare, Renaissance literature and British literature. The associate english professor leads his class by addressing the literature from the student's point of view.

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