On April 24, UCI will celebrate and honor outstanding faculty, lecturers and graduate students whose contributions to undergraduate education at UCI have put them a step above the rest. Among them are six representatives from the School of Social Sciences who exhibit excellence inside the classroom and out.

“In social sciences, we pride ourselves on our teaching excellence, right alongside with our research strengths,” says Bill Maurer, dean. “These awards recognize the outstanding attention our community gives to innovative pedagogy, hands-on mentoring and the cultivation of the qualities it takes to become a top-notch scholar and teacher in a diverse learning environment. I commend this year's awardees and on behalf the school I thank them for the opportunities they are creating for our students.”

The following honorees were selected by the Academic Senate Council on Student Experience through a competitive nomination process:

Jeanett Castellanos
Social Sciences Lecturer with Security of Employment
Lecturer of the Year

Jeanett Castellanos has been teaching for the social sciences undergraduate program since 1999. She mentors dozens of Latina/o undergraduates each year on how to conduct individual, data-oriented research projects, many of which have resulted in published articles and book chapters. She counts among her numerous accomplishments having helped place hundreds of students in graduate school, with more than a third at the doctoral level. Her efforts have also resulted in thousands of dollars in grant funding that have allowed students – many of whom may not have otherwise been able to afford it – the opportunity to travel to and participate in research conferences and competitive programs across the nation. Her own research focuses on the college experience of racial and ethnic minority students and the psychosociocultural factors that affect their retention. Other research interests include Latina/o student coping, spirituality and wellness. She has co-edited two books which address Latina/o student experiences in higher education. Most recently, she co-authored a chapter on Latinas/os and their communities in the Council of National Psychological Associations for the Advancement of Ethnic Minority Interests. In 2007, she received the Samuel M. Turner Minority Education, Nurturing, Training, Organizational advocacy and Research (MENTOR) award from the American Psychological Association and in 2008, she was awarded the Star Vega Distinguished Service Award from the National Latina/o Psychology Association. Both honors recognize her outstanding commitment to minority education, research and service. Castellanos has a bachelor’s in psychology and sociology from the University of California, Irvine, a master’s of education in counseling, and a doctorate in higher education, both from Washington State University.

Joanne Christopherson
Social Sciences Lecturer
Instructional Technology Award

When she was hired on as a lecturer in social sciences in 2006, Joanne Christopherson became one of UCI’s first instructors to teach online. The UCI grad is a big proponent of the virtual learning format as she says it allows her to get to know her students better than if they were sitting 20 feet away in a large lecture hall. Using voiceover lectures, readings, reflection papers, forums, videos and full length documentary reviews, her students are required to interact and become familiar with course material in a way that they may not in a classroom setting. She has continued to teach three to four courses each year online, including a course she piloted with three others in the fall based on "The Walking Dead" series. Enrollments ended up topping more than 65,000 students and caught the attention of media around the globe. The group was mentioned more than 1,000 times in news stories and three of the four-person teaching crew, along with the course director, got to fly to the Big Apple to take part in a New York Times-sponsored conference on online education. Christopherson has also kept up her on-campus courses which have a large following and include a critical research methods course in the school’s undergraduate Summer Academic Enrichment Program. In January, she was named the 2013 recipient of the R1edu award for online instructors, an honor that recognizes her as an innovator in the distance learning effort. Christopherson is also the co-director of the School of Social Sciences’ demographic and social analysis master’s program. She earned her bachelor’s in sociology, master’s in demographic and social analysis and doctorate in environmental health sciences, all from UCI.

Edelina Burciaga
Sociology Graduate Student
Most Promising Future Faculty Member (one of two recipients)

Edelina Burciaga is interested in the immigrant experience. Her research looks at the integration experiences of the undocumented 1.5-generation - immigrants who came to the United States as children, yet remain without legal authorization. Distinct from the 1st generation who immigrated as adults and the 2nd generation who are similarly children of immigrants but are U.S. citizens, the undocumented 1.5-generation have developed values, identities and aspirations that are influenced by growing up “American” but are also impacted by the practical reality of living “undocumented” in the United States. Her research explains how the undocumented 1.5-generation manage and negotiate this legal and social paradox. The focus makes use of her educational background; she holds a bachelor's in Chicana/o studies and English and master's in social sciences education, both from Stanford, and she earned her J.D. at the Boston University School of Law. She has published findings in the Journal of College Admissions and contributed several encyclopedia entries to the SAGE Sociology of Education: An A-to-Z Guide. Her work has been supported with grants from UC MEXUS, the UC Center for New Racial Studies, the UCI Community Outreach Partnership Community Scholars Program, and the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. For the past year, she has worked as a policy intern with the Community Knowledge Project under Michael Montoya, anthropology and Chicano/Latino studies professor. She has also served as a teaching assistant and instructor for courses in Chicano/Latino studies, education and sociology.

The lecturer awards include $1,000 contributions to each instructor’s professional development account, and the graduate student award includes a one-quarter dissertation fellowship and fee waiver.

Also receiving special recognition at the school-level for his work with undergraduates:

Charles Anthony Smith
Political Science Professor

Smith’s research interests include American and comparative judicial politics, human trafficking, international war crimes, and gay and lesbian politics. He received a B.A. in political science from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, a J.D. from the University of Florida College of Law, an M.S. in political science from Utah State University, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, San Diego. While at UCSD, he received recognition as both a distinguished teacher (2000-01) and as professor of the year (2004). He joined the UC Irvine political science department in 2007 after serving as an assistant professor at the University of Miami. Since joining the UCI faculty, he has taught 14 undergraduate and 5 graduate courses (through spring 2013). In just seven years, he’s reached a total of 2815 undergrads, averaging 469 students per year, a number that is among the highest in the school for a regular member of the faculty. He consistently involves students in his research activities, serves as a mentor to undergrads and grads alike, and receives excellent feedback on end of course evaluations. In 2011, he received the Bailey Award from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus of the American Political Science Association. The honor recognized a paper he co-authored on legislative representation of gays and lesbians.

The UCI Teaching, Learning & Technology Center will be recognizing pedagogical fellows from each school. Fellows are mentor TAs who develop and implement the campus-wide TA Professional Development Program and who offer training workshops throughout the year for their peers. They will also be recognized at the ceremony for their contributions to quality undergraduate education and include two social sciences graduate students:

Mark Bloxsom
Economics Graduate Student

Ken Chaiprasert
Political Science Graduate Student

All awards will be presented at the 21st Annual Celebration of Teaching on the 24th. A full listing of honorees can be found online. The monetary awards are funded by the Division of Undergraduate Education; Teaching, Learning & Technology Center; Graduate Division; and Office of Information Technology. The Teaching, Learning & Technology Center provides recipients of all awards with engraved plaques and hosts the reception.


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