Four honored with College’s highest faculty awards

Connecticut College’s most prestigious faculty awards were presented at a May 3 ceremony honoring professors who displayed excellence in research, teaching and leadership. The 2017 winners are: 

Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Faculty Award for Excellence in Research: Derek Turner, professor of philosophy 

Professor Derek Turner
Derek Turner is the recipient of the 2017 Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Faculty Research Award, presented annually to a faculty member selected on the basis of outstanding scholarly or artistic accomplishments. The award was established in 1995 in memory of Nancy Rash, the Lucy C. McDannel ’22 Professor of Art History at Connecticut College from 1972 to 1995.

A professor at the College since 2001, Turner specializes in philosophy of biology and environmental philosophy. He has published on a variety of topics, including the ethics of radical environmental activism, the precautionary principle, NIMBY activism and de-extinction technology, and he has spent much of his career working to establish philosophy of paleontology as a subfield of philosophy of biology. 

Turner is the author of two books, Making Prehistory: Historical Science and the Scientific Realism Debate and Paleontology: A Philosophical Introduction, the first and only introductory book on the philosophy of paleontology. A prolific writer, he has also published more than 25 articles and book chapters, and he is the cofounder of the Extinct Blog, which provides a home for philosophical discussion of paleontology online. He has presented his interdisciplinary work in Australia, Finland, France, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Canada, and completed visiting research fellowships at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Philosophy of Science and the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Klosterneuburg, Austria.

Currently, Turner is completing his second Fulbright fellowship, serving as Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Philosophy of Science at the University of Calgary, Canada. There, he is conducting research for his latest book project, Evolution Without Change: The Puzzles of Evolutionary Stasis, which will focus on the important role of stasis in the process of evolution, including exploring the ways scientists have tried to explain stasis and the role stasis plays in certain evolutionary models. 

In a letter recommending Turner for the Rash award, Professor of Philosophy Lawrence Vogel called him “one of the most productive, original and well-respected scholars in multiple emerging subfields in the philosophy of science.” 

John S. King Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching: Warren Johnson, associate professor of mathematics

Professor Warren Johnson
Warren Johnson, a professor at the College since 2004, is the winner of the John S. King Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, established to recognize teacher-scholars with high standards of teaching excellence and concern for students. The award is named for the beloved professor of German whose warmth and humanity touched all who knew him.

With broad mathematical interests, Johnson specializes in calculus, determinants, number theory, special functions, the history of mathematics and—his favorite area of mathematics—q-analysis, which he teaches in his “Selected Topics” course. His other great love within mathematics is techniques of integration, so he enjoys regularly teaching “Calculus C.” 

Johnson’s colleague, Professor of Mathematics Kathleen McKeon, describes him as a low-key, traditional teacher who is sincerely devoted to both the field of mathematics and his students’ learning.

“Warren has a deep knowledge of and appreciation for mathematics that guides his teaching and is evident to his students,” McKeon said. “He is very careful and thoughtful in planning his classes, assignments and exams, and he is exceptionally generous with the time that he spends working with students outside of class.”

Johnson, who serves as an associate editor of Mathematics Magazine, a member of the Basic Library List committee of the Mathematical Association of America and academic liaison to the College’s men’s soccer program, holds regular practice problem-solving sessions for students and helped organize the Connecticut College Math Competition and Integration Bee. 

Helen Brooks Regan Faculty Award for Excellence in Leadership: Marc Forster, Henry B. Plant Professor of History

Professor Marc Forster
Marc Forster is the recipient of the 2017 Helen Brooks Regan Faculty Leadership Award, presented annually to a tenured faculty member whose outstanding service in a leadership role exemplifies the College's commitment to shared governance, democratic process and campus community development. 

Forster, a professor at the College since 1990, is a historian of early modern Germany (1500-1800), with a particular expertise in the development of Catholic identity, primarily in southern and western Germany. He is the author of three books and has been awarded a number of grants and fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship.

On campus, he is known as a go-to servant who has a propensity for “showing up and speaking up.” He has served on several major faculty committees, including the Faculty Steering and Conference Committee, which he chaired in 2007-2009; the Committee on Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure; and the Educational Planning Committee, which he chaired in 2010-2012. He has also served on more than a dozen task forces, search committees and working groups, including a presidential search committee, and was chair of the History Department for five years. 

One of Forster’s central interests at the College has been global and international education. Fluent in German and French, Forster has worked closely with colleagues in the languages to advance initiatives across disciplines and support students interested in Fulbright fellowships. Since 2011, he has served as director of the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, a center for interdisciplinary scholarship that allows students to internationalize their majors through intensive language study and a funded international internship.

Most recently, Forster agreed to serve as the College Marshal. “Not only did Marc say ‘yes,’ but he embraced with enthusiasm the idea of correctly pronouncing the 475+ names of graduating seniors,” said Psychology Professor (and former College Marshal) Ann Sloan Devlin.

Philosophy Professor Lawrence Vogel said Forster’s colleagues appreciate his fair-mindedness, knowledge of the institution and willingness to speak up.

“Marc sets the gold standard of good citizenship; he is a fine example for others to emulate.”

Helen Mulvey Faculty Award for Fostering Student Achievement: Monika Lopez-Anuarbe, assistant professor of economics

Professor Monika Lopez-Anuarbe
Monika Lopez-Anuarbe is the 2017 winner of the Helen Mulvey Faculty Award, presented to an assistant professor who regularly offers classes that challenge students to work harder than they thought they could and to reach unanticipated levels of academic achievement. 

Lopez-Anuarbe, a professor at Conn since 2006, specializes in health economics, microeconomic applications and industrial organization and game theory. She teaches some of the College’s most demanding courses, including “Intermediate Microeconomics” and the math-intensive elective “Game Theory.”

“Monika is both a demanding professor and one who is clearly loved and respected by her students,” said Professor of Economics Edward McKenna. “This is an unusual combination. How is she able to accomplish this? … She clearly has an intense desire that her students do well, and that they succeed not only in her class, but in their future lives.”

The professor students affectionately refer to as “coach” has a unique gift for relating to her students, her colleagues say. She takes a personal interest in their lives, maintaining a relationship with them throughout their four years at the College.

“She designs rigorous classes, always makes herself available to students and gives extraordinarily helpful feedback,” said one former student. “She takes immense pride in her students’ accomplishments, as illustrated by the way she takes photographs with each of her students and former students at the annual awards dinner, and the way she brags to the class every time one of her students wins a sporting event or performs in a concert or play.”

Economics Professor Candace Howes also credits Lopez-Anuarbe with recruiting more women and students of color to the major.

“She employs an inclusive and demanding pedagogic style that should be a model for a fully participatory classroom,” Howes said.

-- Learn more

May 11, 2017