GW Honors Distinguished Faculty

Awardees stand out for their work in teaching, research, service, mentorship and other academic fields.

Award statuettes at the 2019 Faculty Honors Ceremony. (William Atkins/GW Today)
Award statuettes at the 2019 Faculty Honors Ceremony. (William Atkins/GW Today)
Friday, May 1, 2020 10:19 a.m.

By Ruth Steinhardt

The George Washington University announced the winners of its 10th annual Faculty Honors awards last week, celebrating faculty for teaching, research and service to the university. The annual in-person ceremony honoring awardees has been postponed in light of health and safety concerns stemming from COVID-19.

“These awards recognize a diverse group of talented GW faculty who have shown extraordinary dedication to teaching, scholarship and service to the university,” Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Christopher Bracey and Vice President for Research Robert Miller wrote in an email to the university community. “Through our faculty, the heart of our university, we are educating students to be engaged citizens and leaders in their fields.”

Sarah Binder, a professor of political science in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences who won the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Research, said that as a political scientist the most important thing “is finding good puzzles and asking substantively interesting questions.

“As academics sometimes we get sucked into debates about methods, about data and evidence, and all that is immensely important, but from my perspective none of it really matters if you’re not asking an interesting question,” she said. “Our department at GW is full of people who ask pertinent questions about the world today, and being here in Washington, D.C., has really shaped how I think about good research.”

Forrest Maltzman, also a professor of political science and until last year the provost of the university, won the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Service. He said that for him, university service means not just making the world a better place through teaching and research but also improving the institution itself.

“Without a doubt what I have enjoyed the most about serving GW is working side by side with so many talented staff and faculty to collectively push the institution forward,” he said.

Jason Zara, associate chair for academic affairs and associate professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, won the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence. He said he is honored to receive the recognition.

“I think my favorite part about it is that you have to be nominated by an undergraduate student,” he said.

Dr. Zara said the distance working and learning period has presented challenges, but has also offered opportunities to connect with students who might not otherwise feel empowered to reach out to him one-on-one.

“One of my favorite things about teaching is having office hours, which are an opportunity to sit down with a student and work over topics they’re confused on,” he said. “Watching them figure out how to repackage that information and understand it is really rewarding. And that’s something that has almost gotten easier online.

“Everybody’s giving each other a lot of grace, which is great,” he said.

A partial list of award winners is below. To see the full list of faculty award winners, finalists and distinguished external awardees, including new faculty emeriti and the Silver Anniversary Faculty Awards, please visit the Faculty Affairs website.

Trachtenberg Prizes (Teaching, Service and Research)

  • Sarah Binder, political science, CCAS
    Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Scholarship (Research)
  • Forrest Maltzman, political science, CCAS
    Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Service
  • Jason Zara, biomedical engineering, SEAS
    Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence


Morton A. Bender Teaching Awards

  • Catherine Adoyo, French language and literature, CCAS
  • Kirsten Brown, anatomy and cell biology, School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Catherine Cox, acute and chronic care, School of Nursing
  • Anna Helm, international business, School of Business


Philip J. Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Awards

  • Mahmudul Hasan, civil and environmental engineering, SEAS
  • Kenneth Heidel, chemistry, CCAS
  • Angel Jones, higher education administration, Graduate School of Education and Human Development


Office of the Vice President for Research Faculty Awards

  • Elizabeth Thom, biostatistics and bioinformatics, Milken Institute School of Public Health
    OVPR Distinguished Researcher
  • David J. Silverman, history, CCAS
    OVPR Distinguished Scholar
  • Adelina Voutchkova-Kostal, chemistry, CCAS
    OVPR Early Career Researcher
  • Eric Kramon, political science and international affairs, CCAS
    OVPR Early Career Scholar
  • Arshad Ali, educational research, GSEHD
    OVPR Research Mentorship

Writing in the Disciplines Awards

  • Patricia Hernandez, biological sciences
    WID Distinguished Teaching Award 2020
  • LaKeisha McClary, chemistry
    WID Best Assignment Design Award 2020
  • Joshua Sparks, statistics
    WID Distinguished Graduate Student Teaching Award
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