Previous Awardees


Excellence in Teaching - Kamran Abedini

Kamran AbdeiniKamran Abedini, chair and professor in the Department of Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering, touts more than 34 years of experience. He devised “Puzzles Principles,” a pedagogical approach to teaching that uses cognitive and active-learning methods melded with his own experiences. The approach has been recognized by the National Academy of Engineers. Abedini has earned awards on the local and national stages for his teaching and advising of students. He has an exceptional record of getting his work in major publications and sharing his innovative pedagogical teaching tools. Abedini describes his classroom as a “think tank” where students learn how to strategize, plan and apply. He has mentored numerous students, including underrepresented minorities in engineering, and those students have won awards at regional and national competitions. Abedini is a lifelong learner who continues to hone his teaching and mentoring to achieve maximum effectiveness. His colleagues and students attest to the impact he has made at Cal Poly Pomona.


Excellence in Scholarly and Creative Activities - Nadia Shpachenko-Gottesman

Nadia Shpachenko-GottesmanProfessor of Music, Dr. Nadia Shpachenko-Gottesman elevates Cal Poly Pomona’s prominence in the arts through her outstanding national and international contributions in music performance. Dr. Shpachenko specializes in commissioning, premiering, and recording new works by living composers, and has performed 150 recitals since joining the Cal Poly Pomona faculty. Her recent album “Woman at the New Piano” was awarded three Gold Medals from Global Music Awards and three GRAMMY® nominations. Dr. Shpachenko’s artistry, creativity and skill enhance her abilities to teach Cal Poly Pomona’s students, with whom she often collaborates. In her words, “My work as a teacher is tightly intertwined with my work as a performer. I model my scholarship and creative activities with students every day, as I work with them on improving their craft, striving to find their voice in music and learning firsthand, by my continuously evolving example, what it takes to be a successful musician.”   

Excellence in Service - David Speak

David SpeakPolitical Science Professor David Speak has a long and distinguished record of service, with his work stretching from Cal Poly Pomona to nearby cities to Central America. He is deeply involved with the political science department, the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences and the Academic Senate. Speak also has served as member of the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education and was elected to the California School Boards Association Delegate Assembly. Beyond Cal Poly Pomona, he worked as a credentialed international election observer in Central America. He is co-author of the textbook “American Government.” Speak’s commitment to social justice and equality serves as his motivation. He works with student groups, serves as liaison to the ASI Senate and advises the Political Science Club. Speak has made an indelible impact on Cal Poly Pomona and the community. “We are a service-oriented university system, and I am a most fortunate guy in being able to serve this great campus as it provides first-class university access to the sons and daughters of Everyman.” 



Professor Mariappan Jawaharlal

Mechanical Engineering Professor Mariappan “Jawa” Jawaharlal uses a hands-on approach to help students discover and learn through highly creative projects. His innovative method makes learning complex concepts simple because he relates them to everyday life. He has received numerous honors including the Northrop Grumman Award for Excellence in teaching. His robotics class was the first engineering service-learning course at Cal Poly Pomona; students and faculty visit local K-12 schools to train teachers and mentor students in robotics. The program culminates with the annual Robot Rally, which is the largest program of its kind in the country, and reaches more than 1,000 students. Jawa was instrumental in creating the Femineer program, which was recognized by the White House for increasing educational outcomes and opportunities for female Hispanic K-12 students. He is a pioneer in developing online videos for hard-to-learn concepts in STEM. 

Professor Craig W. LaMunyon

Professor Craig LaMunyon has developed a nationally recognized research program that examines various aspects of biology, from the evolution of sexuality and the mechanisms of vitamin transport to the genetics of sperm development. His current work with nematodes (roundworms) investigates sperm motility and methods to control agricultural parasites. He has published 34 peer-reviewed papers, including several in prestigious journals, and has obtained $2.7 million in grants to support his research. His work is focused on improving the human condition, from shedding light on our understanding of the function of important genes to controlling devastating crop pests. In addition, he has trained 37 graduate and undergraduate students as well as two high school students in innovative research. As evidence of the significance of his research, several of his publications have attracted attention from high-profile media outlets.

Professor Jeffery S. Mio

Jeffery Scott Mio is a professor in the Department of Psychology and Sociology. He joined Cal Poly Pomona in 1994 after earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and spending a decade teaching at other universities. His remarkable scope of service touches Cal Poly Pomona, his profession and the community. His efforts include high-profile contributions and behind-the-scenes work. At Cal Poly Pomona, he served at the department and university levels, with particular contributions to the Asian Pacific Faculty, Staff, and Student Association. At the national level, he made numerous contributions to the American Psychological Association and the Asian American Psychological Association. He was president of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, a media watchdog group. For this wide-ranging and influential service, he is a worthy recipient of the Provost Award for Service.

Read the "Outstanding Faculty Members to Receive Provosts Awards" article on Polycentric


Professor Alison Baker

Professor Jennifer Switkes

Math Professor Jennifer Switkes abides by five values in teaching: “excellence, honor, integrity, love and purpose.” She has taught a wide range of classes, from lower-division service courses to master’s level courses, receiving excellent evaluations in all levels. Switkes has written numerous papers with undergraduate and graduate students that have been published in peer-reviewed journals. She has also given many presentations on the connection between math and teaching to high school teachers, student clubs at other universities and at national professional meetings. Her service extends beyond Cal Poly Pomona. For one semester, she taught differential equations to students at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. She recently finished an introductory calculus class at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco through the Prison Education Project. In 2012, Switkes received the College of Science Distinguished Teaching Award.

Professor Dan Hostetler

Professor Winny Dong

Winny Dong, chemical and materials engineering professor, has taken on a variety of roles during her tenure at Cal Poly Pomona. She is highly regarded for her knowledge, care for students, and commitment to reduce the achievement gap for first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students. To this end, she has secured $13.2 million for scholarships and programs. Dong has led and/or founded several programs at Cal Poly Pomona that encourage student research, provide academic support and ease the path to graduate studies. The programs include the Office of Undergraduate Research, Achieve Scholars Program, Office of Projects and Research for the College of Engineering, Engineering Scholars Program and the McNair Scholars Program. In addition to student support programs, Dong led the development of the Innovation and Commercialization Lab in 2008, which brings together business, engineering, science and social science students to create novel products and introduce them to market. Dong has been named the Provost Teacher-Scholar on three occasions.

Rick Willson

Professor Richard Willson

Richard Willson, professor of urban and regional planning, is a leading expert on transportation, land-use planning and parking policy. He has authored two books, “Parking Reform Made Easy” and “Parking Management for Smart Growth.” Frequently sought out by the media, Willson has commented on planning issues for NPR, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. His research has been used to increase livability, sustainability, and multimodal transportation in numerous communities in the US and beyond. He has written dozens of grant-supported articles, monographs, and conference papers, and frequently collaborates with students in research projects. Willson is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and represents the university on the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. His on-campus leadership roles include three terms as department chair and interim dean, and he serves on the City of Los Angeles re:code LA zoning reform advisory committee.

Read the "Standout Professors Receive 2015 Provost Awards for Excellence" article on Polycentric


Professor Alison Baker

Professor Alison Baker

Teaches medieval literature in the Department of English & Foreign Languages, will receive the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She challenges her students to not only understand the text of a novel or assigned academic reading, but to also “walk away with positive encounters with old stories.” Baker has regularly received excellent teaching evaluations, consistently earning an average rating of ‘very good’ over 11 years. She has inspired many students to pursue careers in higher education. In addition to her work in the classroom, she has developed pedagogy presentations and workshops in basic reading, Medieval English and foreign languages. She has also written articles on effective teaching strategies and offered readings of Middle English works to variety of audiences. Baker serves on numerous committees at Cal Poly Pomona, including the CLASS curriculum committee and the GWT Advisory Committee. She has received the Sigma Tau Delta Honors Society Outstanding Faculty Support and Advising Award four times and is currently serving as the vice president of the Executive Committee of the CSU English Council.

Professor Dan Hostetler

Professor Dan Hostetler

A plant sciences professor, will receive the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Service. He has served as farm supervisor for 38 years and as department chair for 20 years. He was instrumental in developing the Cal Poly Pomona Farm Store and AGRIscapes Center, which is visited by tens of thousands of people every year. He is one of the core developers of Cal Poly Pomona’s Horsehill Vineyards wine and an integral member of the management team for the Pumpkin Festival. Hostetler and his students sell Cal Poly Pomona products at local farmers markets, and he maintains strong relationships with youth organizations throughout Southern California. Hostetler has secured nearly $750,000 for student scholarships and over $3 million in donations to support students and the College of Agriculture’s living laboratories. In addition, he was named a Kika de la Garza Fellow by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2007 and has been invited to serve as a Fellows Advisor in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

Professor Ángel Valdés

Professor Ángel Valdés

An associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, will receive the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Scholarly and Creative Activities. He is internationally known for his research of sea slugs. He uses molecular biology to precisely identify the species of sea slugs, making it possible to track their worldwide distribution, spread, and evolution. He has discovered more than 100 new species and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and four books. In addition, he has received over $3 million in funding from various agencies, including the National Science Foundation. Since 2010, Valdés has published 20 peer-reviewed articles with Cal Poly Pomona students as co-authors, and he has received departmental and college level teaching awards.

Read the "Valdes, Baker, Hostetler to Receive Provost’s Awards" article on Polycentric


Professor Laurie Starkey 

She has developed innovative teaching techniques for organic chemistry and adapted them for online learning. She has authored a textbook and also created a YouTube chemistry channel for teachers and for students of all ages. Starkey includes peer reviews in her courses, making students part of the teaching process. She has won the Distinguished Teaching Award and twice received the Science Council Advisor of the Year award. Starkey also has served on the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching editorial board and the GRE-Chemistry Committee of Examiners. 

Professor Ernie Simpson

He has served as Chemistry Department chairman, graduate studies coordinator, and developer and chief advisor for the industrial chemistry option. He also served on numerous committees and was a reader of the Graduate Writing Test for many years. Simpson founded the College of Science’s Cooperative Education Program in 1978 and oversaw it until 2001, placing 300 students per year at more than 125 companies. He is an American Chemical Society fellow and organized annual conferences for several professional organizations. Simpson was a principal investigator on Cal Poly Pomona contracts, grants and philanthropic funding, totaling more than $4 million. 

Professor Vilupanur Ravi

He is a world-class materials scientist who has pioneered research on the mechanical properties of thermoelectric materials, pack cementation coatings and the environmental resistance of boron-modified titanium alloys. Ravi is co-inventor on 11 U.S. and 13 international patents. He has conducted interdisciplinary research with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Air Force Research Laboratory and many others. Ravi won the Outstanding Advisor of the Year Award in 2006. He served on the  board of trustees of ASM International, the Materials Information Society. Ravi is also past president of Alpha Sigma Mu, the international professional honor society for materials science and engineering. 

Read the "Trio Selected for Provost's Awards for Excellence" article on Polycentric


Biology Professor Jill Adler-Moore, a prolific researcher, is the recipient of the Provost's Award for Scholarship and Creative Activity. During her 38-year tenure, she has been awarded $11.4 million in contracts and grants for basic research, education and research training. Most notably, she helped develop and patent AmBisome, a novel drug delivery system that has become the international gold standard for treating fungal diseases in humans. She is the founder of the biotechnology program, which includes  bachelor’s and professional science master’s degree programs. 

Sociology Professor Faye Wachs is the recipient of the Provost’s Award for Service. She has served on the Academic Senate, the Faculty Affairs Committee of the Senate, and the CLASS curriculum committee. In addition, she is a founding member and current director of the Center for the Study of the Inland Empire. In 2004, she received a three-year grant from the Department of Education to provide physical education resources, staff and training for children in Pomona. Wachs is the current president of the North American Society for Sport Sociology. Professor Ed Walton

Professor Ed Walton, who joined the Chemistry Department in 1987, is the recipient of the Provost’s Award for Teaching. He has gained a national reputation for his innovative teaching methods, especially evident in the chemistry course he developed for pre-service K-8 teachers. Throughout his time at CPP, Walton has partnered with school districts to improve K-12 science teaching. In addition, Walton was instrumental in establishing the Diversity Ambassador Program, where students visit historical sites in the South to gain firsthand knowledge about the civil rights movement.

Second Provost's  Awards Symposium article on Polycentric 


Professor Kristine HartneyTina Hartney, a professor in biological sciences, is the recipient of the Provost's Award for Teaching. She has been a member of the university community since 2001 and is a leader in inquiry-based teaching methodologies. Hartney is credited with developing the Science Learning Portfolio, an electronic database of lab data used in courses across the sciences. One of university's most honored faculty members, Chemistry Professor Barbara Burke is the recipient of the Provost's Award for Service. Burke earned the National Science Foundation Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering, thanks to her groundbreaking work mentoring minority science students. Since 1999, she has served as director of Science Educational Enhancement Services (SEES). A leading expert on the history of 18th century Russia, Elise Wirtschafter is the recipient of the Provost's Award for Scholarship and Creative Activity. A professor in history, Wirtschafter enjoys an outstanding record of publications in top-tiered journals, in addition to writing five books with a sixth book in progress.Provost's Awards Symposium article on Polycentric