The College recognizes faculty for teaching excellence


May 21, 2020

As Arizona State University’s largest and most diverse college, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers courses that nearly every ASU student takes at some point in their college journey.

These courses delve into a wide variety of topics in the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities and are led by outstanding faculty who strive to go above and beyond for their students.  Armstrong Hall Armstrong Hall on ASU's Tempe campus is home to The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Download Full Image

Annually, one faculty member from each division of The College is selected as a recipient of the Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest recognition of teaching excellence in The College. In addition this year, one faculty member was recognized with the Outstanding Instructor Award and one faculty member was recognized with the Outstanding Lecturer Award.

“These faculty members embody the innovation and dedication occurring in each of our academic units,” said Patrick Kenney, dean of The College. “I, like so many in our community, am grateful for their contributions and look forward to their continued success in their respective fields.”

Meet this year’s awardees:

Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award

Jess Alberts

Alberts joined ASU in 1989 and serves as the President's Professor and director of the online communication master’s degree program for the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. Her research focuses on conflict in personal and professional relationships.

Alberts has published articles on marital conflict, the division of domestic labor and couples’ daily interaction. Over the years, her contributions in teaching and mentoring have been recognized with a number of awards.

As an instructor, she says her primary goal is to spark students’ curiosity about the world while encouraging lifelong learning by promoting critical thinking, analytic writing and the application of classroom concepts to real-life scenarios.

“I strive to provide a classroom that models how we can celebrate diverse others while communicating authentically and compassionately,” Alberts said. “I do this by showing respect for the variety of knowledge, abilities and experiences that students bring to the classroom as well as introducing a classroom code of conduct that recognizes the humanity and gifts of all students.”

Ligia Bezerra

Bezerra is an assistant professor at the School of International Letters and Cultures, where she has taught since 2016. Her research interests include everyday life, consumption and democracy in Latin American literature and culture, with a focus on Brazil and Argentina. 

She authored the forthcoming book, “A Consuming World: Imagining Everyday Life in Twenty-First Century Brazil,” which explores representations of consumption in the work of 21st-century Brazilian writers, examining how they envision more or less hopeful futures in light of how several aspects of consumption impact our present everyday life. 

Throughout her career she has taught a variety of courses on linguistics, English, Portuguese and Spanish. She says she is inspired by all the teachers she’s had in her life including her mother, her colleagues and her students.

“I grew up seeing the difference that education made in my mother’s life and the difference that she, as an educator, makes in her students’ lives,” Bezerra said. “Teaching is something I am very passionate about, so this award means a lot to me.”

Bezerra says that because the material she teaches focuses on contemporary life, it allows her to be in close contact with issues that directly impact the lives of her students, which provides her invaluable opportunities to bring her expertise into the classroom. Her goal as an educator is to guide her students with questions that motivate them to empathize with others, become more informed consumers and more engaged citizens and think creatively in order to tackle the global challenges that lie ahead of them.

Shelley Haydel

Haydel has taught in the School of Life Sciences since 2005, and also works as an associate professor at the Biodesign Center for Immunotherapy, Vaccines and Virotherapy, as well as the Biodesign Institute Center for Bioelectronics and Biosensors. In addition, she serves as the director of the School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research program.

Haydel is an infectious disease microbiologist with active research interests and projects focusing on bacterial pathogenesis, host-pathogen interactions, infectious diseases, medical/clinical microbiology, rapid diagnostics and antimicrobial discovery. She has won several awards for her approach to teaching.

In her classes and research lab, Haydel says she pushes students to aim high and to be champions regardless of their circumstances while promising them that she will teach, mentor and lead with action, advocacy, honesty and compassion. Haydel’s teaching style stimulates collaborative, interactive and holistic learning experiences that value diversity.

“It truly is an honor to receive this award. I could not wait to tell my undergraduate students because I felt like they were nominated with me,” Haydel said. “I would not be the instructor that I am without these wonderful students. My efforts are worth it for these outstanding students. I want to see them learn and succeed in life. I tell them that I will always be a mentor when they need it.”

Outstanding Instructor Award 

Susan Holechek

Holechek is an instructor at the School of Life Sciences with an affiliated appointment at the Simon A. Levin Mathematical, Modeling and Sciences Center. She first joined the university as faculty in 2015.

At ASU, Holechek has formed an interdisciplinary group of biology and math students that is currently studying the role of the immune system in the modulation and transmission of infectious diseases using both experimental and mathematical modeling approaches. In her courses, she works to implement an adaptive learning platform that promotes student engagement while reducing cost of materials. She has received numerous grants to expand her students’ research opportunities and has been recognized with several awards for her teaching and mentoring.

Prior to her work at ASU, she worked at the Molecular Biology Division of the Peruvian National Institute of Health as part of the response team for the first dengue outbreak with hemorrhagic cases in 2000. 

Holechek is excited to share a recognition for teaching with one of her mentors, Shelley Haydel, who is receiving the Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award.

“I have been inspired throughout these years by amazing professors at ASU who are both passionate and knowledgeable,” Holechek said. “It is an honor being awarded the 2019-2020 Outstanding Instructor Award for The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and I hope to continue making my students proud, after all, this award is because of them.”

Outstanding Lecturer Award 

Iuliia Inozemtseva 

Inozemtseva has served as a lecturer at the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences since 2017. Her research interests focus on differential equations and mathematical modeling. 

In the past she has worked on math applications in genetic mutations and predator-prey models as well as math modeling of epidemic spreads in hospitals. Over the years she has been recognized for excellence in teaching.

Inozemtseva is a member of the Association for Women in Mathematics, where she uses her international experience to promote women in STEM careers. In the classroom she takes a unique approach to mathematics by showing students real-world applications in a variety of fields including biology, coding, artificial intelligence, physics, engineering and medicine. Through this approach she has found that many students have a newfound love for the subject once they are able to see it from a new perspective.

“I am extremely grateful for this award and for the recognition,” Inozemtseva said. “I hope that awards like these will motivate more instructors to invest their time and passion into new generations of students. After all, we cannot ignore that we work during interesting times with new technologies and resources available to both students and instructors. By taking time to learn how to use these resources we help students succeed in college and change lives for the better."

Emily Balli

Communications Specialist and Lead Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

ASU applied behavior analysis degree to expand beyond Arizona

New virtual synchronous learning option


May 21, 2020

This fall, the Master of Science in applied behavior analysis (MS ABA) at Arizona State University will be available to students outside of the Phoenix area with the addition of a virtual synchronous learning option.

Applied behavior analysis can assist children and families with developmental or behavioral issues such as autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or learning disabilities. Behavior analysis is also used in competitive sports, organizational psychology, and in many environments that optimize prosocial behavior. Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis Students Students in the 2019-2020 cohort of the Master of Science in applied behavior analysis. Photo by Robert Ewing, ASU Download Full Image

RELATED: What is applied behavior analysis?

Over 92% of the students in ASU’s MS ABA program become certified to work as behavioral analysts. The nationwide average is 65%. The MS ABA program also has a 100% job placement rate in the Phoenix area for its students. The program will add a virtual learning classroom option to allow people located outside of Phoenix to join the program.

“We have always had interest from students and practicum sites outside of the Tempe area and now we can give students an opportunity to experience a synchronous learning environment from the comfort of where they are currently living,” said Adam Hahs, associate clinical professor and director of the MS ABA program. “We have carefully designed our program for a high level of success. Our students are excellent and our practicum supervisors are leaders in the field. We are confident that expanding it will allow the same high-quality instruction and placements for students who are not local.”

The synchronous learning option offers through live-streamed classes the same training that students on the Tempe campus. Additionally, this fall the GRE requirement has been waived.

The MS ABA program is a two-year degree that includes the scientific curriculum and practitioner training required for applied behavior analyst certification and state licensing for Arizona.

One of the key features of the MS ABA program is the practicum experience for students. The students participating in synchronous learning would be matched to practicum sites in their area.

“The combination of the practicum element with the curriculum component is an imperative part of our program. The experience from the practicum sets the tone for the type of behavior analysts our students will become,” said Hahs.

Frequently asked questions about this program can be found on the department website.

Alumni from the program are now enjoying many types of jobs. Jim Jarynowski works as a clinical supervisor at Touchstone Language Services where he teaches children how to communicate. Reyna Rivera works as clinical director at Arion Care Solutions, and Katelin Hobson is working on her doctoral degree at the University of Washington.  

“We are excited to have the opportunity to impact the lives of children and families outside of the Phoenix area, and we are grateful to our extensive practicum network that allows expansion,” said Don Stenhoff, assistant clinical professor.

Video from the ASU Department of Psychology

RELATED: Current student Ahtziry Vasquez translates clinical work for a diverse population

Robert Ewing

Marketing and Communications Manager, Department of Psychology

480-727-5054