Distinguished Faculty Awards

Distinguished Faculty Award recipients are nominated by their colleagues or students.  Nominations that meet eligibility criteria specified for the award are then reviewed by a committee of previous award winners.

2020-21 Faculty Awards


Excellence in Teaching Award for Tenure Track Faculty

Michihiro's bio photo

Michihiro Sugata
Professor of Sociology

Sociology Professor Michihiro Clark Sugata is celebrated by students and faculty for facilitating respectful and inclusive conversations on critical topics in the classroom. As the coordinator of Humboldt's Criminology & Justice Studies program, Sugata has taught courses on law, migration, policing, race, and gender since joining Humboldt's Sociology department in 2016. “As a professor, he connects with students by showing genuine interest and respect,” explains Sociology Professor Joshua Meisel. “He is the kind of colleague that often waits to speak, choosing his words carefully, and then provides impactful contributions that move conversation and action forward in significant ways.”

Sugata believes that continually recalibrating his pedagogical approach in response to world events is essential as an educator. Last year reaffirmed Sugata’s philosophy as his students faced the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the social unrest of 2020. These events presented an increased need, and opportunity, for students to bring their individual experiences into collective conversation.

Students and colleagues praise Sugata for his commitment to justice, learning, and the Humboldt community.

Excellence in Teaching – Lecturer Award

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Lonny Grafman
Instructor of Environmental Resources Engineering

Teaching in the Department of Environmental Resources Engineering since 2003, Lonny Grafman is known by students and colleagues for his profound dedication, his deep commitment, his unwavering humanity, and the extremely positive impact that he has had on his students’ lives.

They describe him as a great teacher and mentor who effectively engages students with the personal guidance one looks for in a college professor. Many current and former students state that he is the most influential instructor they had had during their college education.
What sets Grafman apart, even above his superlative in-classroom teaching, is that he draws the boundary of his work wide enough to envelop each student: their life, their well-being, their confidence, their capabilities, their happiness.

“Lonny Grafman is a force when he is teaching. He is passionate about his craft and one of the most innovative and creative people I have met. He does not do things the way he is ‘supposed’ to and never takes the path of least resistance. He has lit a fire in students that don’t see how they fit into engineering and sustainable development and he pushes his students further than they think they can go,” says Eileen Cashman, Environmental Resources Engineering Chair.

Outstanding Professor Award

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Frank Shaughnessy
Professor of Botany

A cornerstone of Humboldt's Department of Biological Sciences since 1996, Professor Frank Shaughnessy has been instrumental in the development of Klamath River Connection and Rising Tides, two of Humboldt's most successful Place-based Learning Communities. By integrating experiential learning and Indigenous perspectives into the scientific process, Shaughnessy has helped establish Humboldt's reputation as a leader in innovative and inclusive STEM education. An active marine botany and ecology scientist, Shaughnessy has published 15 peer reviewed articles, two manuscripts, and been the lead or co-presenter in nearly 100 scientific presentations during his time at Humboldt. He has also served as the primary thesis advisor of 15 graduate students and been awarded 12 extramural grants, totaling $2,487,805. Shaughnessy has research collaborators from departments across the University, including Chemistry, Oceanography, and Wildlife.

Shaughnessy is active in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) which supports first generation students at Humboldt. “Professor Shaughnessy excels in integrating the experiences of scientists of color, as well as, highlighting the importance of diversity in STEM,” says EOP Director Dan Saveliff.

Scholar of the Year

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Chris Aberson
Professor of Psychology

A beloved Humboldt Psychology professor and accomplished scholar, Chris Aberson is a nationally recognized social psychologist and statistical methods researcher.

Colleagues and students describe Aberson as a dedicated mentor and educator who has positively impacted the lives of countless students.

“Professor Aberson’s work examines barriers for people of color and sexual minorities, which is a major attraction for many of our students who come from diverse backgrounds,” says former student and colleague Professor Amber Gaffney. “His intent is to build his students’ careers, while making academia equitable and inclusive.”

The Department of Psychology’s graduate coordinator for 18 of his 20 years at Humboldt, Aberson has chaired five tenure track searches and two University Faculty Personnel Committees. In professional psychology associations, he holds two editorial roles, serves on three additional editorial boards and the National Science Foundation Social Psychology grant panel, and he is the Statistics Workshop Coordinator for the Western Psychological Association. In the course of his academic career, Aberson’s published work has received over 2,700 citations.

Scholar of the Year

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Sarah Jaquette Ray
Professor of Environmental Studies

Working at the crosshairs of climate change research, psychology, and environmental justice, Environmental Studies Professor Sarah Jaquette Ray has risen to prominence as an international voice in the interdisciplinary climate justice movement. Faculty peers say that Ray is emblematic of Humboldt's scholarly reputation, working at the intersection of sustainability and social justice. Since heading up Humboldt's Environmental Studies program in 2013, Ray has authored two influential books, co-edited three landmark collections, and published nine journal articles and book chapters. After winning a large grant from the University of California Carbon Neutrality Initiative in 2019, Ray led a network of UC and CSU faculty to launch NXTerra, a resource for educators that showcases California’s leadership in climate education.

In 2020, Ray published “A Field Guide for Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet,” which she calls “an existential toolkit for the climate generation.” The book addresses the important issue of climate grief that young people face today; Ray has become a primary source on the topic for national media.

Scholar of the Year

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Andrew Kinziger
Professor of Fisheries Biology

Fisheries Biology Professor Andrew Kinziger has been teaching at Humboldt since 2003, and had an exceptional year for research last year. Kinziger co-authored a ground-breaking paper published in Science (the premier academic journal for STEM fields) which reported revolutionary findings on the genetic control of life history traits in Chinook salmon, among three others in the last year. Through his career at Humboldt, he has published 44 papers in scholarly journals.

Kinziger consistently incorporates both undergraduate and graduate students in research and publications. He serves as a research mentor and nearly all of his recent papers—including his recent paper in Science—include at least one of his graduate students as a co-author.

Kinziger is successful at obtaining external funding, bringing millions in dollars of external funding for student salaries, department equipment, tuition and research expenses. He launched four new grant-funded projects in 2020 alone, and regularly collaborates with NOAA, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Caltrans, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and local Native American Tribes.

Kinziger is aware of the importance of combining Traditional Ecological Knowledge with STEM knowledge in the biological sciences, and continues to support students at all levels. “His personal accomplishments in research have a critical role in creating opportunities for students and identifying good research questions for them to work on. Many of those students have gone on to make important research contributions and build careers in science,” says Bret Harvey, Fisheries Research Biologist with the USDA Forest Service.

 

More About Humboldt's Distinguished Faculty Awards

The annual call for nominations (Nomination Guidelines) goes out in the Fall and nominations are reviewed by a Faculty Awards Committee. Recommendations for awards are made to the University Senate and forwarded to the President of the University. The President affirms and announces the recipients to the campus community. Award recipients are offered the opportunity to engage with the campus and local community by giving a public lecture or performance or a different activity of their choosing. Recipients are presented with gifts of monetary and non-monetary value, awarded by the Office of the President. 

Since 1964, Humboldt has honored a member of the faculty with the Outstanding Professor Award. In 1986, the campus added the Scholar of the Year Award. In Spring, 2009, the University Senate revised the awards process (Resolution #16-08/09-FA (Revised)), increasing the number of awards to five categories, each category is listed below. Click on the award title to see previous recipients.

Excellence in Teaching Award – Lecturer

One of two awards for “Excellence in Teaching,” this award is given for a record of “superlative teaching at Humboldt State University.” Nominees have been teaching faculty for at least three (3) of the previous five (5) years at Humboldt. In cases where nominees are perceived as equally superlative in their teaching, contributions to research, scholarship, and service may be considered, insofar as these activities bear direct relevance to the nominee's primary role as educator.

Excellence in Teaching Award – Tenure-Line

One of two awards for “Excellence in Teaching,” this award is given for a record of “superlative teaching at Humboldt State University.” Nominees have been teaching faculty for at least three (3) of the previous five (5) years at Humboldt and are on a tenure-track. In cases where nominees are perceived as equally superlative in their teaching, contributions to research, scholarship, and service may be considered, insofar as these activities bear direct relevance to the nominee's primary role as educator.

Scholar of the Year Award

The Scholar of the Year Award is conferred on a yearly basis to a member of the Humboldt faculty for a record of superlative research, creative activities, and/or scholarship. No amount of teaching achievement or service to campus, community, or profession, shall substitute for this essential requirement. In cases where nominees are perceived to be equally superlative in their scholarship and creative activities, contributions to teaching and service may be considered insofar as these activities bear direct relevance to the nominee's primary role as scholar.

Nominees have been employees of the University for at least three (3) of the previous five (5) years and the greater part of the activities for which they are nominated have been performed in connection with the nominee's employment at Humboldt.

Outstanding Service Award

The Outstanding Service Award is conferred on an occasional basis, as appropriate, on a member of the Humboldt faculty for a record of superlative service to the university and/or community. In cases where nominees are perceived as equally superlative in their service activities, contributions to teaching and research and creative activites may be considered, insofar as these activities bear direct relevance to the nominee's primary role serving the university and community.

Nominees have been employees of the University for at least three (3) of the previous five (5) years and the greater part of the activities for which they are nominated have been performed in connection with the nominee's employment at Humboldt.

Outstanding Professor Award

The Outstanding Professor Award is conferred on a uniquely outstanding member of the Humboldt faculty for either 1) a long and continuous combined record of superlative teaching, research and creative activities, and service to the university and/or community (demonstrating this superlative performance in at least two of the three areas), or 2) a unique and singularly notable contribution in any of the three areas that has resulted in the significant betterment of humankind.

Nominees have been employees of the University for at least three (3) of the previous five (5) years at and the greater part of the activities for which they are nominated have been performed in connection with the nominee's employment at Humboldt.

Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series

Powerful talks by our award-winning faculty. Free and open to students, faculty, staff and members of the local community.

Event Information