Mackenzie Jenkins, Alyssa Brewer, Brian Jenkins

UCI social sciences is proud to have among its ranks three recipients of recent Celebration of Teaching Awards. The honors, awarded annually by the UCI Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation, recognize faculty, instructors and teaching assistants who have demonstrated excellence in undergraduate teaching at UCI.

Most Promising Future Faculty Member
MacKenzie Christensen, Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology

MacKenzie Christensen is a Ph.D. candidate in the UCI Department of Sociology. As a community college graduate, she went on to receive her bachelor’s in sociology from Washington State University, master’s in sociology from Portland State University, and master’s in demographic and social analysis from UCI. Her research, building on rich traditions of feminist and demographic inquiry, examines the complex role of digital technologies in shaping gender inequality across the life course. As a teacher, she is deeply committed to cultivating more inclusive and accessible environments for all students to engage in the process of doing sociology. She pursues these goals by developing inclusive and student-centered approaches to data analysis and empowering students to become critical consumers and producers of social science research.

Learning Experience Design and Online Education
Alyssa Brewer, Associate Professor, Cognitive Sciences

Alyssa Brewer is an associate professor of cognitive sciences and director of the mindSpace Laboratory at UCI. She completed a dual M.D./Ph.D. at Stanford University to become a physician-scientist. Since joining the UCI faculty in 2007, her research has focused on visual, auditory, and multi-sensory cognitive neuroscience, using behavioral, genetic, and high-resolution neuroimaging techniques to investigate questions ranging from the fundamental organization of human visual cortex, functional plasticity in visuomotor regions, and visual changes in dementia, to the organization and function of human auditory cortex and collaborative studies of human-robot social interactions and decision making. Her current work is delving into the normal structure and function of the human visual and auditory systems, cortical plasticity under abnormal conditions such as stroke, and the neurodegeneration of Alzheimer's disease and stroke. Through her research lab, she’s also expanding into studies of chronic pain and online behavioral studies of visual working memory. In addition, she’s been involved in the development and application of the cutting-edge neuroimaging software from her graduate lab at Stanford that uses population receptive field (pRF) modeling. She applies this software to detailed measurements of pRFs which are then used to define visual field map clusters across human visual cortex and cerebellum.

Social Sciences Dean’s Honoree
Brian Jenkins, Associate Professor of Teaching, Economics

Brian Jenkins is an associate professor of teaching and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Economics. He is also director of the Economics Learning Center and chair of UCI’s Academic Integrity Review Board. His research interests are in macroeconomics, monetary policy, and economics pedagogy. He regularly teaches courses in the principles of macroeconomics, intermediate macroeconomics, money and banking, asymmetric information, and computational macroeconomics. “I design homework assignments that require students to obtain data from internet resources, compute statistics and graphs from the data, and interpret what they find using theory learned in class,” he says. “I think these assignments help them learn economics better while also developing skills that are valued in the job market, like spreadsheet usage and basic data analysis.” Jenkins earned his Ph.D. in economics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He joined the UCI faculty in 2013.

Congratulations to all recipients honored for exhibiting excellence inside and outside the classroom!

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