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Celebrating excellence in teaching and advising: 2023 College of Science Awards

By Hannah Ashton

The College of Science gathered on Feb. 22 to recognize and celebrate our high-achieving faculty and staff at the 2023 Combined Awards Ceremony. The evening celebrates the best in the college, from excellence in teaching and advising, service and administration to inclusive excellence, to outstanding achievements in research.

During the teaching, advising and mentoring portion of the evening, many of the awards were determined based on student nominations. Mentors were praised for their creative teaching styles, engaging personalities and willingness to go above and beyond for students both inside and outside of the classroom.

Congratulations to all the award recipients!

Loyd F. Carter Award for Outstanding and Inspirational Teaching in Science (Undergraduate)

Paul Cheong in front of black backdrop

Bert & Emelyn Christensen Associate Professor Paul Ha-Yeon Cheong

Bert & Emelyn Christensen Associate Professor Paul Ha-Yeon Cheong won the Loyd F. Carter Award for Outstanding and Inspirational Teaching in Science. Cheong teaches General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry.

Nearly twenty students nominated Cheong for this award, commending his charismatic personality, ability to adjust his teaching style for each student and his focus on mental health. Multiple students called Cheong the best professor they have ever encountered and credited him with their academic success.

“He made the class itself easier when the material was complex,” wrote one student nominator. “When I struggled with mental illness and fell behind, he reached out, met outside of class and worked with my personal barriers to make sure I could succeed and move on in my studies.”

Other students acknowledge the challenging stereotypes associated with chemistry courses and Cheong’s ability to make the content digestible.

“There have been many times within the course that I thought that I didn’t belong in the classroom or failed as a student,” said one nominator. “He has restored my confidence and hasn’t given up on me so that I can pursue my goals within higher education.”

Loyd F. Carter Award for Outstanding and Inspirational Teaching in Science (Graduate)

Marilyn Mackiewicz accepting her award.

Marilyn Mackiewicz receiving her award with Interim Dean Vrushali Bokil and Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Jessica Siegel.

Associate Professor of Chemistry Marilyn Mackiewicz received the Loyd F. Carter Award for her inspirational and caring mentorship and teaching of graduate students.

“I wish I could put in words how much of an inspiration she is to me. Her teaching has a very unique flipped classroom model which felt student-centric and very engaging for me,” wrote one nominator. “She had multiple ways that she helped us but not in a way that would damage our independent thought. I love the fact that the class had grant writing, research project work and presentations on chapters to cover for our course all given by the students.”

Last year Mackiewicz received the College of Science Inclusive Excellence Award, and in January 2023, she presented the inaugural lecture in combination with the award. Watch her lecture, “Empowering Culture of Belonging,” on YouTube.

For both undergraduate and graduate students, Mackiewicz is known for her mentorship, support and advocacy. Many of her courses include a focus on fostering a sense of belonging and inspiring leadership development.

Olaf Boedtker Award for Excellence in Academic Advising

Jessica Seigel and Vrushali Bokil posing with Jesus Vargas holding his award.

Jesus Vargas receiving his award from Interim Dean Vrushali Bokil and Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Jessica Siegel.

Jesus Vargas, academic advisor in the Department of Integrative Biology, received the Olaf Boedtker Award for his knowledgeable support and caring undergraduate advising. Olaf Boedtker was a former professor in the Department of Physics for 23 years and served as head advisor in the College for 14 years from 1973 to 1987.

“Jesus was patient with all of my questions and did a thorough job of preparing to advise me over the summer about my first steps with Oregon State. I was overwhelmed and unsure but his knowledge of the Zoology degree and ECampus platform made his guidance invaluable,” wrote one nominator. “I could tell he had prepared for our advising appointment and that made me feel like the time, money and energy I was putting into my education was respected.”

Another student had similar praises for Vargas. “He was incredibly helpful and knowledgeable, supportive, and helped me really think through the choices I was debating and pick the path that is the best for me. I’ve never felt like an advisor was invested in me personally and truly cared about my specific situation and took the time to look through my transcripts, listen to me and give tailored advice.”

Fred Horne Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching Science

Mary Beisiegel standing in a black shirt and dark pants receiving a plaque.

Mary Beisiegel receiving her award from Interim Dean Vrushali Bokil and Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Jessica Siegel.

Mary Beisiegel, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, received the Fred Horne Award for her exceptional and sustained instructional achievements and high student praise. This award is named after Fred Horne, Oregon State professor emeritus of chemistry and the former College of Science dean for 13 years, from 1986 to 1999.

During Beisiegel’s ten years at Oregon State, student and peer evaluations of her teaching have been consistently positive.

“In addition to teaching content with an excellence and passion that is unmatched by most, Beisiegel also happens to be a personal role model and mentor of mine,” one student nominator wrote. “Being a woman in a STEM field, I have faced adversity and have often felt out of place among classmates. Beisiegel always made sure that each and every student in her class felt safe and welcome regardless of their math learning background or personal experiences.”

Colleagues mentioned her high-quality teaching that prioritizes student voices and use of evidence-based teaching practices. Extending outside of the classroom, Beisiegel runs the Graduate Teaching Assistant orientation for the department and takes an involved role with the Math Education Seminar.

“Her excitement about teaching has a positive impact on her students, certainly, but as her colleague I can also attest to the positive impact it has had on me,” wrote one nominator. “Being surrounded by a passionate educator like Mary, I am motivated to put the same kind of intentionality and energy into my own teaching, which ultimately serves to benefit the students at OSU.”

Beisiegel has a strong track record of Oregon State and national recognition for her teaching excellence. In 2017 she received the national Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning College or University Mathematics Faculty Member. Each year at most three college or university teachers are honored with this award. From 2018 to 2021 she was an Oregon State Ben and Elaine Whitely Faculty Scholar of Teaching Excellence.