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Professors Honored With 2007 Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award

Four faculty members at CSULB have been honored with 2007 Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award, given to selected faculty in recognition of sustained excellence in teaching.

Jane E. Dabel, Tina Matuchniak, Stephen P. Mezyk and Katherine J. Van Giffen were recently presented with their award at a special end-of-the-year celebration that recognized the outstanding achievements of faculty and staff.

Provost Karen Gould (l), Jane Dabel and College of Liberal Arts Dean Gerry Riposa.

Provost Karen Gould (l), Jane Dabel and College of Liberal Arts Dean Gerry Riposa.

Dabel, an assistant professor of history, strikes a balance between a wide-ranging teaching career and an extensive research agenda. In the classroom, she gives students tools to analyze structural forces and explore the differences between theory and reality. She has practiced these teaching strategies with many different students, ranging from sixth-graders to graduates.

She is a past recipient of the CSULB Enhancing Educational Effectiveness Grant, which allowed her to develop a new course,“Comparative Slavery in the Americas"; Scholarly and Creativity Grants to complete numerous research projects; and a PT3 Teaching with Technology Grant, awarded to instructors to promote the use of technology in the classroom.

Dabel, who received her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and her master’s and Ph.D. from UCLA, is working on the African-Americans in 19th Century New York Database, a research project which includes U.S. Manuscript Census for black New Yorkers 1850-80 and will eventually be available as an Internet-accessable searchable database.

An English Department lecturer, Matuchniak grew up in Bombay, India, where she earned her B.S. in chemistry from Bombay University. As her professional interests turned toward teaching, she earned her B.A. in English and M.A. in literacy studies from Cal State Long Beach. She is now an expert in the field of literacy and, since 2000, has taught in the departments of English and Liberal Studies, helping students develop their critical reading and writing skills and preparing English education majors to become writing teachers.

Provost Karen Gould (l), Katherine Van Giffen and College of Liberal Arts Dean Gerry Riposa.

Provost Karen Gould (l), Katherine Van Giffen and College of Liberal Arts Dean Gerry Riposa.

Matuchniak has also presented conference papers on authority and assessment in university writing centers and worked on a grant that identified the benefits and challenges of putting a freshman composition course online. As a certified techie, she uses Web-based tools such as Blackboard to support and enhance her teaching and encourages her students to similarly integrate technology into their own teaching.

Matuchniak participates on the English Education Curriculum Committee and the English Department Composition Committee, which oversees curriculum and assessment. She is also active in Asian and Asian-American interests on campus, and is fluent in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and Tamil.

Mezyk, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is originally from “down under” (he is a native of Australia with a Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne in 1990), but he has made himself at home at CSULB.

“My teaching philosophy is that I don’t teach; I help the students learn the material and make sure they are ready for the next courses in their degrees,” he noted. “I don’t believe in memorization at all, to the point where I always allow students to bring their own sheet of paper into exams with whatever material they want written on that sheet. My exam questions are based on application and understanding of the material, not memorizing facts out of the textbook.”

This approach ensures that students understand the material, which makes them retain it better. His current research is based in the chemistry of kinetics, of how things change with time, and includes investigating the free-radical chemistry of carcinogenic nitrosamines in water; understanding the toxicity of platinum-based anti-cancer drugs; measuring the kinetics and mechanisms of the removal of trace amounts of pesticides and their residues from drinking water using free-radical chemistry; and the destruction of chemical warfare agents in water using externally generated oxidizing and reducing radicals.

Katherine Van Giffen, an associate professor of human development who joined the university in 1984, is a developmental psychologist with an emphasis on perceptual and cognitive processes. Her research projects are wide-ranging, but all focus on influences in decision making.  A grant recipient from D.A.R.E. for research on the effects of the program, Van Giffen is conducting research on the mentoring experience as well as the role of religion and spirituality on decision making.

She has served as chair and advisor in human development and on thesis committees in educational psychology and psychology as well as anthropology and recreation and leisure studies. Along with sponsoring more than 45 papers in collaboration with undergraduate students, presented at the annual meetings of the Western Psychological Association over the past 20 years, she serves as a mentor with the Partners for Success Program and was a co-founder of the CSULB's Learning Alliance.

Van Giffen received her B.S. degree in psychology in 1970 from the University of Puget Sound and her M.A. in developmental psychology in 1973 from the University of Denver, where she earned her Ph.D. in 1980 with a major in developmental psychology and perception/cognition with minors in computer programming; and electronic instrumentation.

Mezyk, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is originally from “Down Under” (he is a native of Australia with a Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne in 1990), but he has made himself at home at CSULB.

Provost Karen Gould (l), Stephen Mezyk and Chemistry and Biochemistry Chair Douglas D. McAbee.

Provost Karen Gould (l), Stephen Mezyk and Chemistry and Biochemistry Chair Douglas D. McAbee.

“My teaching philosophy is that I don’t teach; I help the students learn the material and make sure they are ready for the next courses in their degrees,” he noted. “I don’t believe in memorization at all, to the point where I always allow students to bring their own sheet of paper into exams with whatever material they want written on that sheet. My exam questions are based on application and understanding of the material, not memorizing facts out of the textbook.”

This approach ensures that students understand the material, which makes them retain it better. His current research is based in the chemistry of kinetics, of how things change with time, and includes investigating the free-radical chemistry of carcinogenic nitrosamines in water; understanding the toxicity of platinum-based anti-cancer drugs; measuring the kinetics and mechanisms of the removal of trace amounts of pesticides and their residues from drinking water using free-radical chemistry; and the destruction of chemical warfare agents in water using externally generated oxidizing and reducing radicals.

Katherine Van Giffen, an associate professor of human development who joined the university in 1984, is a developmental psychologist with an emphasis on perceptual and cognitive processes. Her research projects are wide-ranging, but all focus on influences in decision making.  A grant recipient from D.A.R.E. for research on the effects of the program, Van Giffen is conducting research on the mentoring experience as well as the role of religion and spirituality on decision making.

She has served as chair and advisor in Human Development and on thesis committees in educational psychology and psychology as well as anthropology and recreation and leisure atudies. Along with sponsoring more than 45 papers in collaboration with undergraduate students, presented at the annual meetings of the Western Psychological Association over the past 20 years, she serves as a mentor with the Partners for Success Program and was a co-founder of the Learning Alliance at CSULB.

Provost Karen Gould (l), Tina Matuchniak and College of Liberal Arts Dean Gerry Riposa.

Provost Karen Gould (l), Tina Matuchniak and College of Liberal Arts Dean Gerry Riposa.

Van Giffen received her B.S. degree in psychology in 1970 from the University of Puget Sound, her M.A. in developmental psychology in 1973 from the University of Denver, and her Ph.D. in 1980 from the University of Denver with a major in developmental psychology and perception/cognition with minors in computer programming; and electronic instrumentation.