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April 24, 2022

Teacher-Scholar Awards

Elizabeth Dorrance Hall

Department of Communication
College of Communication Arts and Sciences

Elizabeth Dorrance Hall is an innovative and effective instructor who values diverse opinions in her classroom and creates learning spaces that are welcoming to all students as she designs and teaches her courses with research at the center of classroom interactions. By designing real-world assignments for students to help them integrate the theoretical material from her classes into their own lived experiences, she connects her communication research to students’ personal experiences, a teaching technique that has led many students to explore communication research more closely.

One way in which Hall creates relevance in her classes is by presenting theoretical material and then having students practice what they have learned by engaging in related assignments. In her course on interpersonal communication, for example, students learn about advice and are then asked to seek advice from three different types of people regarding the same problem. The students then analyze the advice they received based on the research and rewrite it to improve it.

Hall’s research focuses on communication processes in close relationships, specifically on difficult conversations and challenging relationships. The contexts of her work spanfrom families to work relationships, older adults, and military members, but all of it has its roots in interpersonal communication. She explores such issues as marginalization in families and at work (and how to combat and overcome it), depression in older adults and how communication networks can mitigate it, and how a family’s cultural beliefs can influence everyday behaviors.

The reach of Hall’s scholarship is extensive. As a director of the Family Communication and Relationships Lab, she collaborates with scholars across the globe in a variety of disciplines. Further, she is committed to not only advancing communication science with her research but also sharing her knowledge with those inside and outside the academy — and writes a blog in Psychology Today that places her in the realm of public pedagogy; these blogs have been viewed almost one million times.

For her dedication to quality scholarship, impactful teaching, and public outreach and engagement, Elizabeth Dorrance Hall is most deserving of the Michigan State University Teacher-Scholar Award.

Bree E. Holtz

Department of Advertising and Public Relations
College of Communication Arts and Sciences

Bree E. Holtz is a recognized teacher and scholar committed to providing quality instruction through innovative teaching and cutting-edge research. Holtz has taught a range of courses, from undergraduate writing to graduate courses, that allow her to bring her research expertise into the classroom. Her signature teaching, however, incorporates experiential learning into her classes, which allows students to see first-hand how to bring in-class concepts together in real-life situations.

When Holtz teaches “Mass Communication and Public Health” and “Public Relations Strategy in a Digital World,” for example, she has students create campaigns for real-world clients, providing them with an opportunity to apply conceptual knowledge from the course. In other courses, she has organized visits by Lansing-area PR professionals and agencies, helping students make successful industry connections and, sometimes, secure jobs.

Holtz’s research focuses on the development and adoption of information technologies for health and health promotion. Her work extends knowledge on how technologies can improve health behaviors and outcomes.

Holtz’s research projects include developing health-based behavioralinterventions for individuals with chronic illnesses, including teenagers. In her recent work focused on adolescents with Type 1 diabetes (T1D), she hypothesized that a mobile phone app could help reduce parent nagging about T1D management and make management more fun for the tweens during the time adolescents transition from parent- to self-management of their condition. Using a grant from the American Diabetes Association, Holtz developed and tested an app, MyTlDHero, to help adolescents with T1D and their parents communicate effectively and positively about diabetes management, resulting in improved health outcomes and parent-child interactions.

Dr. Holtz has published 38 refereed journal articles, five book chapters, and given 63 conference presentations and 29 invited presentations. She serves on the journal editorial boards of Telemedicine and TeleCare, and Telemedicine and e-Health Journal.

In the true spirit of the land-grant university’s mission, Holtz’s research, teaching, and service make a positive difference in people’s lives, locally and internationally. For her passion for teaching, research, and service. Bree Holtz is a most deserving recipient of the Michigan State University Teacher-Scholar Award.

Ning Hsieh

Department of Sociology
College of Social Science

Ning Hsieh is a teacher and scholar committed to fostering an inclusive environment where students from various backgrounds feel welcome to engage in all class activities. She designs her courses to challenge students to reflect on various forms of oppression and privilege and to discuss difficult social issues. Her course materials not only help engage critical thinking but also conversing about marginalizing experiences resulting from structural inequalities linked to gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, class, ability, and the intersection of social identities.

Hsieh is dedicated to mentoring students across disciplines and at different stages of their careers. She has guided many undergraduate, medical, and Ph.D. students through their independent research projects and has collaborated with numerous graduate students on peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.

Hsieh is a widely recognized expert in population health and health disparities. As a medical sociologist and demographer, she has made major contributions to the understanding of health and health care inequities faced by LGBTQ+ populations. Using stress theories, her research showcases how social isolation and poor relationship quality underlie many health disadvantagesamong sexual and gender minority people relative to their straight and cisgender peers. As a pioneer in the field of LGBTQ health, Hsieh bridges intersectionality theories and quantitative approaches to investigate health inequities at the population level. Using national data, her research highlights that sexual, gender, and racial-ethnic identities/positions intersect to influence health care access, health service utilization, and health outcomes. Her research innovation and excellence have been recognized by awards from the American Sociological Association and other national scholarly organizations.

Hsieh is committed to serving the MSU community. In addition to serving her department, she serves on several important committees for centers across the campus, including the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center, the Center for Gender in Global Context, and the Diversity Research Network. These committees are dedicated to strengthening the research or community’s engagement of junior scholars, including undergraduate and graduate students.

Ning Hsieh’s research, teaching, and service align to enhance our understanding of, and solutions to, social inequalities. Accordingly, she is most deserving of the Michigan State University Teacher-Scholar Award.

stef m. shuster

Lyman Briggs College

stef m. shuster is a nationally recognized teacher-scholar who brings their scholarly inquisitiveness into the classroom and asks students to consider how inequalities are perpetuated in medicine and science and the consequences of such inequalities in the lives of marginalized groups. shuster mentors students through the entire social scientific research cycle: locating topics worth studying, field data collection, and analysis of data. Their classrooms encourage students’ creativity to make connections to class concepts. Using podcasts, digital storytelling, poetry, and zines, students conduct independent research and translate their findings into creative projects that further cultivate critical thinking. shuster successfully opens new worlds to their students in ways that make them feel both respected and challenged — not an easy task in these polarizing times.

shuster is making their research contribution using social scientific data to address durable inequalities. Their current research in gender, medicine, and science considers how evidence is constructed, mobilized, and weaponized in transgender medicine, which is the subject of their recently published book, “Trans Medicine: The Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender,” which offers a rare opportunity to understand how providers make decisions given widespread uncertainty while facingchallenges to their expertise. shuster draws attention to the dilemmas regarding the authority of medicine and science and shows how in the process of negotiating these challenges in the “treatment” of gender, providers have acquired authority over gender itself.

shuster’s work has been published in the top interdisciplinary journals in their fields, including Gender and Society, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and Gender Roles. In 2021, shuster was recognized with the American Sociological Association’s Donald W. Light award for the public practice of medical sociology. shuster serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Gender and Society, and Social Science and Medicine.

shuster’s entire portfolio includes accomplishments and activities that have had significant and lasting impacts across the missions of the land-grant research university. An innovative teacher-scholar who makes significant contributions to their fields of inquiry and in the lives of their students, stef m. shuster is a laudable recipient of the Michigan State University Teacher-Scholar Award.

Amy Simon

James Madison College

Amy Simon holds the rare distinction of being an assistant professor, endowed chair, and triple appointee across three colleges. She holds the William and Audrey Farber Family Chair in Holocaust Studies and European Jewish History within the Jewish Studies Program, is a joint appointee in the history department, is a core faculty member in the Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel, and has a tenure home in James Madison College. In each of these roles, she brings a deep dedication to Holocaust and antisemitism research, education, and outreach.

Simon’s innovative research on Jewish perspectives of perpetrators in the ghettos of Nazi-occupied Poland is original in the questions it asks, its use of sources in Yiddish, and its methodology from the emerging field of history of emotions. Through her long-standing relationship with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., regular presentations around the United States and in Israel, and several recent publications, Simon’s influence is international. Her forthcoming book, “Surrounded by the Hunter on All Sides: Jewish Perceptions of Perpetrators in Holocaust Ghetto Diaries,” will further cement that impact and is currently being supported by a Humanities and Arts Research Program grant.

Simon brings expertise and passion to her teaching. In addition to her regularcourses, she annually co-teaches a unique Honors College Seminar that uses Holocaust video testimonies as primary sources for student research. In her classes, she relies on an interdisciplinary curriculum, blending historical, literary, and film sources; assigning creative projects and blog entries; and bringing students on field trips to the Holocaust Museum Center in Farmington Hills. Students find her teaching transformative. As one student wrote, “This course was incredible. I learned valuable information everyday that translates to the real world. Prof. Simon changed my life.”

A commitment to education characterizes all of Simon’s work. She regularly speaks to MSU and community audiences on topics related to Holocaust studies and antisemitism. Since arriving at MSU in 2016, she has given no fewer than 30 such presentations. She has also become a campus leader in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives regarding rising antisemitism. She has created resident advisor trainings, spoken to numerous student groups, co-written an MSU Dialogues module on antisemitism and Islamophobia, and is currently co-writing an extensive guide to antisemitism for the entire MSU community.

An empowering teacher and scholar, Amy Simon is an ideal recipient of the Michigan State University Teacher-Scholar Award.

Marjorie Weber

Department of Plant Biology
College of Natural Science

Marjorie Weber is an evolutionary ecologist who understands the social science theories of how people learn and applies them to the instruction and activities she creates in all her courses, creating classroom environments and student activities that foster interactive, inquiry-based learning and peer instruction.

Weber’s commitment to exemplary student instruction was central to the development of an excellent graduate curriculum in quantitative methods for the Ecology, Evolution and Behavior Program, in which she also teaches. Through this curriculum, students develop a robust quantitative and programing toolbox that empowers them as graduate students and in their careers. She is also an exceptional mentor. Two of Weber’s postdocs have been awarded prestigious fellowships from the National Science Foundation and six of her students and postdocs have published papers in prominent peer-reviewed journals.

Weber has a deep desire to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM, leading her to develop Project Biodiversify, a worldwide project that houses teaching materials and methods aimed at enhancing human diversity and inclusivity in biology courses. For this work, Weber was awarded MSU’s Excellence in Diversity award and has developed an international followingof instructors that utilize the project’s methods and workshops.

Weber’s research focuses on understanding the role of species interactions for the diversity of life on Earth. She has published more than 30 field-defining reviews and empirical studies in top journals and was awarded a major Dimensions of Biodiversity grant from the National Science Foundation to support her research. Weber also received the highest research honor in her field when named an Ecological Society of America Early Career Fellow for 2018-2023.

Weber is the lead PI on a multi-institution NSF grant, “Improving Undergraduate STEM Education,” aimed at understanding the impact of scientist role models on student performance and interest in quantitative learning. This project integrates Weber’s passions for teaching, research, and inclusivity through a nationwide program diversifying and humanizing scientist role models in classrooms across the country.

For her innovative and inclusive teaching, dedication to student mentoring, and excellent scholarship, Marjorie Weber is a most deserving recipient of the Michigan State University Teacher-Scholar Award.

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By: Marguerite Halversen

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