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Oberlin Confers 2005-06 Teaching Excellence Awards

Oberlin faculty members Stephan Mayer, Daniel Styer, and Nanette Yannuzzi-Macias have received the College's 2005-2006 Teaching Excellence Awards in recognition of their innovative, dedicated, and successful teaching, says Harry Hirsch, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Stephan Mayer
Associate Professor of Psychology

A social psychologist, Mayer works in multiple and intersecting areas, principally environmental consciousness, self-awareness, and discrimination. His teaching, central to his department's mission, includes courses in social psychology, cultural psychology, environmental psychology, and the mentoring of many student researchers. Mayer initially designed the environmental psychology course, which primarily examines issues surrounding environmental sustainability, for the 2002 London program with David Orr, Paul Sears Professor and director of environmental studies.

Across the gamut of courses in his department, and particularly in his popular mainstay course Social Psychology, Mayer is known as a skillful teacher of human interactions, who enjoys working with students on discrete research projects. Most recently, the research focus has been in the area of environmental psychology.  Specifically, in collaboration with Cynthia Frantz, assistant professor of psychology, they have focused on the antecedents and consequences of feeling a sense of connectedness to nature. Mayer also works on issues of personal and social identity and how the salience of a particular identity impacts a person's impressions of whether or not discrimination has occurred.

Mayer has also co-authored with Karen Sutton, associate professor and chair of the psychology department, a major psychology text for teaching about personality. He began teaching psychology at Oberlin in 1983 after finishing his doctorate at the University of Southern California.

Daniel Styer
Professor of Physics

A theoretical physicist, Daniel Styer is known as a leader in designing courses based on the premise that physics does not belong only to physicists—poets, musicians, and historians also deserve to know and understand the physical world.

For a general audience, Styer developed and teaches two courses:  The Strange World of Quantum Mechanics and Einstein and Relativity.  From the first course evolved a similarly titled and very successful book published in 2000 by Cambridge University Press that has been translated into Greek, Korean, and Italian. For use in Einstein and Relativity, he is working on a book titled Relativity for the Questioning Mind.

Recently, Styer received a curriculum grant to create an “intelligent” online tutoring system for students in Einstein and Relativity and The Strange World of Quantum Mechanics. In addition, he and department colleague Stephen Fitzgerald have undertaken a major revision of Physics 110, the core course in the physics major sequence.

Styer is also the co-author of Quantum Mechanics Simulations, and his many research articles have appeared in such publications as the American Journal of Physics and the Journal of College Science Teaching.  He joined the Oberlin faculty in 1985, after graduate work at Cornell and a post-doctoral work at Rutgers.

Nanette Yannuzzi-Macias
Associate Professor of Art and Department Co-chair

An artist whose work has been exhibited internationally, Nanette Yannuzzi-Macias works primarily in the mediums of installation art, book making, and sculpture.  Highly successful in terms of student numbers, evaluations, and results, her teaching is broad ranging and inventive. A recent Mellon grant enabled her to develop a new course that is a crucial link between the study of the environment and the creation of art, Art and the Environment, and she has just received a curriculum development grant from the Center for Service and Learning to implement the course within the milieu of a local sustainable agriculture farm.

Yannuzzi-Macias is fully engaged in integrating the creative arts in the context of the liberal arts. Her classes are widely recognized as inspiring and engaging students' creative and intellectual spirit, and she both supports and challenges them to develop on many levels – the visual, the conceptual, the critical, and the cultural, to name only a few. 

Believing that the making of art is a vital part of everyday life, she also encourages students to apply the creative thinking and problem solving skills integral to art to their particular areas of interest. Their work is often 'site specific' and can be seen throughout the College and community. One such piece was by Blaise Freeman's '05. A sociology major with an interest in paleontology and art, he created a startling 40-foot long "dinosaur" that filled the art-building gallery and attracted numerous visitors.

Yannuzzi-Macias joined the Oberlin art faculty in 1993 and holds the MFA degree from the University of California at San Diego. 

Stephan Mayer, Associate Professor of Psychology

Dan Styer, Professor of Physics

Scales Installation
Mixed Media
30'x30' w/sound, 1997
Collaborative work: Nanette Yannuzzi-Macias and Melissa Smedley


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