Two noted mentors receive distinguished teaching awards

April 19, 2013

Two outstanding faculty members have been chosen to receive this year’s Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award and Outstanding Lecturer or Instructor Award by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.

Award winners Miguel Aguilera and Cornelia Wells will be recognized for their distinguished teaching and mentorship at the college’s two convocation ceremonies at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., on May 10, in the Well Fargo Arena. Miguel Aguilera, 2013 Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award Download Full Image

The Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award was established by the Pearce Family in memory of Zebulon Pearce, who graduated from Territorial Normal School at Tempe (now ASU) with teacher's credentials in 1899.
Aguilera is a professor with ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies and affiliated with ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change and the School of Transborder Studies. Aguilera’s training is in anthropological Mesoamerican ethnography and archeology, as focused on religion. A popular professor and noted mentor, his courses in the school’s religious studies major intersect with issues of race, ethnicity and indigenous populations in the Americas. 

Of his own instructors, Aguilera has said, “My teachers have been my past professors, colleagues, students, relatives and Maya consultants. What I try to bring to my teaching then is what I admire most in many of them, a vivid interest in explaining our world and our place within it.”

“Dr. Aguilera has influenced my scholarship and teaching in profound ways,” noted one student. “While these have been critical to my professional development, my interactions with Dr. Aguilera have resulted in strengthening my character as well. “He has instilled in me a strong sense of ethics, which guide my work and interpersonal relationships. Most of all, he has taught me that honesty and personal accountability are key for being a good researcher, teacher and human being.”

Receiving the Outstanding Lecturer or Instructor Award will be Cornelia “Corri” Wells, a lecturer in ASU's Department of English. The award acknowledges excellence in instruction by a non-tenured faculty member.

Wells teaches a broad array of classes and diverse group of lower division and upper division writing courses. In addition, she also co-leads the Department of English’s Prison Writing program, is the faculty advisor and mentor for the PEAC club (Prison Education Awareness Club) and oversees the Pen Project Internships. Over the last three years, her students have published more than 240 pieces in newspapers, newsletters, magazines and online publications.

"Dr. Wells is an amazing lecturer. She creates the space for her students to voice their stories and opinion and her teaching philosophy centers around her ability to empathize with everyone she meets,” wrote one of her many student nominators. “She deserves recognition not only for the amount of work she does as a teacher, but also for the environment she helps to create and the passion she inspires in all her students.”

“The world we are leaving our students is hardly built to last,” stated Wells, when asked to explain her teaching philosophy. “Empathy, as a necessarily interactive skill, demands and offers students more than any other tool I know…it not only gives students a strategy for getting along with people, but also with other living and nonliving entities.”

“To build a city in a region with heavy rainfall, for instance, to avoid flooding, one must think like water. What does water want? What is it like, and likely to do?” said Wells. “The same goes for fire, atomic energy, or bioengineering as for human relations, whether at the level of nations or nest-door neighbors. Empathy is not simply anthropomorphic exercise wherein things and animals become (in our minds) carbon projections of ourselves. Empathy is an attempt to know the world as best we can, as itself, before we try to alter it. We are just beginning…”

Margaret Coulombe

Director, Executive Communications, Office of the University Provost


Two chosen for inaugural student research award

April 19, 2013

Two law students have been selected for inaugural student research awards given by the Ross-Blakely Law Library.

Lily Yan, who graduates in May, received the first-place award for her paper, Uncharted Domains and the New Land Rush: Indigenous Rights to Top-Level Domain, and Tim Forsman, finishing his second year, earned second-place honors for What the QSA Means for the Salton Sea: California’s Big Blank Check. Download Full Image

The Ross-Blakley Law Library Award for Exemplary Student Research was established by the library this year to encourage students to focus on practical skills and to refine their research skills beyond ordinary proficiency to their personal best. The winner receives $500 and second place $250. The winning papers also will be published in the College of Law Faculty Scholarship Repository and featured in the library display case.

A review panel comprised of librarians Victoria Trotta and Beth DiFelice and Associate Clinical Professor Kimberly Holst selected the winners from the competitive entries.

Yan and Forsman’s papers were selected because they demonstrated sophistication and originality in the use of research materials, exceptional innovation in research strategy, and skillful synthesis of research results into a comprehensive scholarly analysis.

Yan’s topic, indigenous rights to top level domains or TLDs, was obscure so initially she gathered anything she could find on the topic. was obscure so initially she gathered anything she could find on the topic. This spanned from bookmarking blogs and websites that mentioned ICANN’s (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers) opening up of TLDs, to listening to podcasts on how to make money off a registry.

She sought the assistant of the Ross-Blakley Law Librarians who guided her to congressional history documents on ICANN. She also examined the broader issue of intellectual property rights for indigenous groups and spoke with her law professors on these issues.

Through Yan’s research, she found Eric Brunner-Williams, the chief technology officer of Wampumpeag, who offered suggestions on the draft. She also contacted a Māori activist who advocates for indigenous TLDs, who offered his thoughts on the paper.

“The most important lesson that I have learned is to start researching early,” Yan said. “It has taken more than one semester to complete the paper to my satisfaction. Even after I submitted it for class, I had not yet spoken to Mr. Brunner-Williams, who has been a critical contact person.

“I also learned that research papers are not written in silos where one solely sits in solitude for weeks to churn something out. For me, it required reaching out to librarians, professors, attorneys, fellow law students, and activists. Without their help, this paper would not be complete.”

Forsman’s paper originally was written as his Arizona State Law Journal Note submission. The research process involved utilizing a diverse array of sources, including Westlaw, California Statutes, other scholarly papers, as well as numerous internet and other resources. During the research process, he learned how to use Westlaw Next’s folder organization system in order to more effectively catalogue his case law research for the paper. He also found that numerous interested parties, such as the Salton Sea Authority, maintain resources dedicated to the essential components of his topic.

“Writing the paper helped me to hone my research skills by forcing me to draw on a diverse set of research sources, ranging from scientific journals to historical accounts of the Sea’s formation,” Forsman said.