College of Letters and Science 2021 teaching award winners
Pictured, from left: Eugene Gorsky, Katharine Graf Estes, Ryan Lee Cartwright, Priscilla San Souci and Omnia El Shakry.

College Honors Five Faculty Members With Teaching Awards

Five faculty members have received 2021 College of Letters and Science Teaching Awards. The awards recognize outstanding teaching on the undergraduate and graduate levels, both inside and outside the classroom. The faculty awarded are members of the Academic Senate and Academic Federation who have been at UC Davis for at least three years, and they were nominated for their accomplishments by faculty, students, student organizations, staff, alumni and College departments. A five-person faculty committee selected the winners as follows:

Ryan Lee Cartwright

Assistant Professor of American Studies

Ryan Lee Cartwright's research focuses on disability, gender and sexuality on the social and spatial margins. Cartwright's forthcoming book, Peculiar Places: A Queer Crip History of White Rural Nonconformity, maps racialized queer and disability histories across the rural United States during the 20th century. Cartwright has taught courses on nature and culture, queer and trans history, research methodologies, landscapes and places, and social welfare. Next year he will teach a newly developed course AMS 12: “U.S. Disability Culture and Medicine.” Cartwright is affiliated with the graduate groups in Cultural Studies and Performance Studies, as well as the designated emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research.

“I loved how this class delved into topics that many of us aren't aware of. I learned about the real world essentially. I also loved how we had open discussions about each of the topics and everyone could express their opinions.” — student course evaluation

Omnia El Shakry

Professor of History

Before the pandemic, Omnia El Shakry routinely incorporated film clips, music and visual arts examples into her popular courses to make history accessible to students of all levels and majors. After the pandemic moved nearly all UC Davis instruction online, she added a new teaching aid: her own podcasts created for her students. Colleagues who nominated her for the teaching prize said that was just one example of her standout excellence in teaching. In her in-person classes, El Shakry makes a practice of calling on students by name — even in HIS10C: “The World Since 1850,” one of the history department’s largest classes with enrollment topping 250 students in recent years. She also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on modern history of the Middle East, postcolonial theory and comparative Middle East/South Asia studies.

“Omnia El Shakry is as generous with her colleagues as she is with her students. She is warm, ebullient, a person of integrity and compassion. We take enormous pride in having a colleague so distinguished in her field and so talented in the classroom.” — Sally McKee, professor and chair, Department of History

Eugene Gorsky

Professor of Mathematics

Eugene Gorsky teaches courses for non-majors and majors in the Department of Mathematics, including MAT 17: “Calculus for Biology and Medicine,” MAT 150: “Modern Algebra” and MAT 215: “Algebraic Topology.” His research focuses on knot theory, a field of mathematics that can help us understand how DNA unravels and how particles zip through space.

“Professor Gorsky does his best to help each and every one of us. When any of the students have a question, he'll go over it and give lots of examples until he knows that everyone gets it. He really does care for his students and wants us to succeed.” — student course evaluation

Katharine Graf Estes

Associate Professor of Psychology

Katharine Graf Estes received recognition for her interactive, engaging methods of teaching and for recruiting and mentoring students who are underrepresented in academia. In addition to her appointment in the psychology department, she is a faculty member at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain, where she studies how infants learn language. She teaches PSC 140: “Developmental Psychology,” where enrollment often exceeds 350 undergraduates, and PSC 141: “Cognitive Development.” Colleagues and students who nominated her said she excelled at transitioning her courses online during the pandemic.

“Professor Estes is so knowledgeable about the subject and caring to her students. She recognizes that these are challenging times for her students, and she does a great job helping each student.” — student course evaluation

Priscilla San Souci

Lecturer in Psychology

A UC Davis psychology lecturer since 2015, Priscilla San Souci has earned a reputation for outstanding instruction while teaching some of the most challenging undergraduate courses in the major — PSC 1: “General Psychology,” with enrollments up to 600 students, PSC 41: “Research Methods,” PSC 140 “Developmental Psychology” and PSC 141: “Cognitive Development.” In nominating for the award, colleagues and students said her classes are characterized by clear expectations, student-friendly organization, thoughtfully structured requirements to promote student learning and a welcoming environment. The award also recognizes her capacity to engage diverse student audiences, even during this year of online learning.

“Professor San Souci was one of the most passionate professors I have ever had. She was always engaging and the care she showed for her students was always evident. She is a wonderful human being.” — student course evaluation

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