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President's Professors to be honored at 2013 Faculty Excellence Awards

April 04, 2013

Three outstanding faculty members will be honored as President’s Professors at the 2013 Faculty Excellence Awards on April 16, at the Memorial Union Ventana Ballroom on the Tempe campus.

The 2013 President’s Professors are: Ricardo Alarcon, professor in the Physics Department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Ariel Anbar, professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Alexandra Brewis Slade, director and professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and ASU-Mayo Clinic Obesity Solutions director of operations in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.

President’s Professorships honor faculty members who have made substantial contributions to undergraduate education at ASU. The awardees are chosen based on a variety of criteria: mastery of subject matter, enthusiasm and innovation in the learning and teaching process, ability to engage students both within and outside the classroom, ability to inspire independent and original thinking in students and to stimulate students to do creative work, innovation in course and curriculum design, and scholarly contributions.

Alarcon has made a substantial contribution to excellence in teaching, particularly through general studies and physics with more than 2,500 students benefiting from his instruction and research mentorship. He is a pioneer in the use of digital teaching technologies in lecture classes and he consistently earns favorable student evaluation scores.

Known to share his knowledge, Alarcon improves the overall instructional tools available to others, thereby enhancing educational effectiveness. Of particular note is the innovative and engaging online format that he has developed in introductory physics and in general studies that feature the richness of in-class sections. 

His research is a crucial component of several high profile projects where experiments are conducted at national laboratories. Alarcon is a fellow of the American Physics Society, a leader in the field of nuclear physics and recently served on the National Research Council committee on the “Assessment and Outlook for Nuclear Physics.” He is currently the Physics’ Associate Chair of Academics at ASU.

Anbar has made a sustained and substantial contribution to earth science and chemistry general curricula from the introductory to the specialized level. Most recently, Anbar led the development of the innovative Habitable Worlds online course. Engaging to students across the board, they learn about the search for life on other worlds as a context for learning basic concepts in biology, chemistry, geology and physics in an integrative manner. More than 1,000 students have taken the class, learning through inquiry-driven exploration that science is not just a body of facts but is the process by which important questions are explored.

Habitable Worlds utilizes teaching tools such as the “Habitable Hunt” – where students search for an inhabited world in a personalized, randomized field of stars, as well as an intelligent tutoring system and virtual field trips. Anbar was asked to do a TED-Ed video about the class and recently received National Science Foundation funding to enhance the course as a platform for teaching scientific reasoning. In addition to Habitable Worlds, his student evaluations and the opinion of his peers hold Anbar in the highest regard as he seamlessly integrates his research and teaching portfolios.

Brewis Slade is a key force in the creation of multiple extremely successful experiential education initiatives in the School of Social Evolution and Social Change. This includes current study abroad programs in seven nations, all of which she has lead herself. More than 500 undergraduate students have been able to participate in hands-on, transformative experiences as they travel internationally with School of Human Evolution and Social Change faculty ASU faculty in the summers. In addition, she facilitated the establishment of undergraduate global internships in India, Costa Rica and many other countries, and a school-wide research apprenticeship program that offers undergraduate students multiple and diverse opportunities to engage in intensive, real-world research.

Brewis Slade spearheaded the creation of the popular interdisciplinary bachelor's degree in global health that integrates perspectives from a wide array of fields in the life and social sciences to address health inequalities and create sustainable health solutions. Known as an effective and dynamic teacher of global health and anthropology students in both online and in-person classes, as well as a world-renowned scholar in the fields of medical and nutritional anthropology, Brewis Slade inspires students from undergraduates to doctoral candidates.