2015 Distinguished Teaching and Research Awards Announced

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UW Tacoma celebrates the accomplishments of Peter Horak with the 2015 Distinguished Research Award and Ellen Moore with the 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award.

UW Tacoma celebrates its outstanding faculty with the Distinguished Teaching Award, given out for the past 21 years, and the Distinguished Research Award, established 12 years ago. This year, the university honors Professor Peter Horak for his research in mathematics and computer science and Lecturer Ellen Moore for her teaching in communications.

Nominees for each award came from across the campus, from varied units and schools, and from throughout academic ranks, from lecturers to professors. See below for a full list of nominees.

Peter HorakDistinguished Research Award Recipient: Peter Horak

Horak joined the UW Tacoma faculty in 2003 and teaches as part of the Institute of Technology and the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. His research centers on discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science. His most recent work deals with ciphers in the age of advanced computers, relating to a NATO-funded project. Horak has published nearly 90 scientific papers on research interests including graph theory, combinatorics, combinatorial designs, coding theory and theoretical computer science. Horak strives to work on questions that are “central” to a discipline, he says.

The review committee concluded, “It would be more than enough to excel in only one major area.  To produce exceptionally high quality work in two major fields of scholarship is simply extraordinary."

“I am very grateful for excellent conditions for research on our campus,” says Horak, citing access to the UW library system and the ability to schedule courses to allow him to better coordinate instruction and his current research on a NATO grant.

“It is one matter to get recognition from people working in my area, by people who understand details of my work,” says Horak. “To be the recipient of the Distinguished Research Award means for me that my work has been recognized by a wide scholarly community, which I believe is much more difficult to achieve.”

Ellen MooreDistinguished Teaching Award Recipient: Ellen Moore

Moore joined the UW Tacoma faculty in 2009 and has been in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences since 2009, where she teaches a range of classes in critical media studies.  Moore has developed three new courses for UW Tacoma, including environmental communication and qualitative field research methods.  She employs the Socratic method in her classes, fostering critical thinking in students about issues such as climate change, media ethics, and political economy.

Moore’s classes tie coursework to the community. Last year, while serving on the City of Tacoma’s Sustainable Tacoma Commission, Moore involved her students in a contest (called UWT’s Biggest Loser) (http://uwtbiggestloser.drupalgardens.com/) to reduce their carbon footprints. She has received a Green Seed Fund grant (http://green.uw.edu/gsf/project/2410) from the University of Washington to continue the project.

The review committee commended Moore for her “integration of scholarship into her classes, her care for her students, her ability to connect community with the classroom, and her excellence in the classroom.”

As the first lecturer to win the Distinguished Teaching Award, Moore says, “It’s very gratifying to recognize the important work that faulty on all levels do here,” she says.

Moore says she enjoys the small class sizes, attention to student needs and community ties throughout UW Tacoma. “We are a real community with many strong ties, and I would not trade that for anything,”” she says.

A third-generation teacher, Moore says, “I consider teaching a calling, and so being recognized for doing that well resonates on a deep level with me.”


2015 Distinguished Research Award Nominees (in alphabetical order):
Peter Horak, Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (IAS)
Turan Kayaoglu, Associate Professor, IAS
Amos Nascimento, Associate Professor, IAS
Julie Nicoletta, Professor, IAS
Sushil Oswal, Assistant Professor, IAS
Arindam Tripathy, Assistant Professor, Milgard School of Business

2015 Distinguished Teaching Award Nominees (in alphabetical order):
Yan Bai, Associate Professor, Institute of Technology
Marc Dupuis, Lecturer, Institute of Technology
Rich Furman, Professor, Social Work
Chris Knaus, Professor, Education
Craig McBride, Lecturer, IAS
Janie Miller, Lecturer, IAS
Ellen Moore, Lecturer, IAS
Libi Sundermann, Lecturer, IAS

Written by: 
John Burkhardt / April 28, 2015
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu