Current Williams Recipients


Samantha Hopkins , associate professor of Earth Sciences and associate dean, Clark Honors College

Committed to improving scientific learning, Samantha Hopkins teaches and works with students in the Clark Honors College, the Earth Sciences Department, and the Science Literacy Program. She challenges students in her classes to take part in active research by teaching them how to analyze scientific publications critically and then participate in her research projects. Students contributions have ranged from data collection for a study on mammalian diet in a course on evolution to collecting fossils and making maps after spending time doing field research in Eastern Oregon.

In Hopkins’s courses, students learn methods of scientific study and how to conduct their own research. In the course “Geology and Biology of the Tibetan Plateau,” for example, dean Terry Hunt explains that Hopkins “takes students across research from geophysics to history in a place-based approach to science education, offering them a virtual field trip into an exotic location, while giving them the opportunity to read and analyze current research, and to lay hands on UO’s unique collection of fossils from Kyrgyzstan.”

Student comments demonstrate the success of her efforts and her high expectations. One student wrote, “You're definitely thrown into the deep end but eventually you learn how to swim. … Also, she's hilarious. Great at keeping the class engaged.” Another asserted, “Sam's patience for and skill at helping those without prior experience (as long as they are interested and willing to listen, of course) is what really sets her above an average professor and makes her a teacher that I will remember for a long time.”

A highly respected scholar, Hopkins’s research explores patterns and processes of evolution of ecology in mammals. A major research project examines the evolutionary relationships among diet, body size, and natural history among living mammals. She was named a National Academies Education Fellow after participation in a Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching. She is also a curator for the UO’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

Julie Voelker-Morris , senior instructor of Arts and Administration, Architecture and Allied Arts

Dedicated to continuously improving student learning, Julie Voelker-Morris teaches courses in arts and culture management as well as courses for Comics and Cartoon Studies, First-Year Programs, and the Common Reading. Students in her courses learn to analyze methods of arts and creative production and their own roles in contributing to arts and culture management. Her students explore, in the words of past program director, Patricia Lambert, “ways in which creative work and practice both enforce and challenge prevailing norms of and practices around significant social issues.”

Students repeatedly praise Voelker-Morris for challenging them to think and perceive in new and creative ways as well as for taking their opinions seriously. One student wrote about the Art and Gender course, “even though I wasn’t a perfect student, I took a lot away from this class: a better understanding of what it means to be a woman in this complex world. … And how interpreting art can incite change in an individual.” And a student in the Cultural Programming course wrote, “The strength of this class came from the instructor. Her passion, knowledge and desire to connect students to the cultural community were inspiring for arts administrators and future cultural programmers.“

Voelker-Morris is part of the Faculty Working Group for Inclusive and Intercultural Teaching and the Contemplative Pedagogy Working Group. She is also an advisor for Art Core, which supports arts in the public schools. She presents regularly at workshops for the Teaching Engagement Program and at regional and national conferences. She also edits the journal CultureWork for the Center for Community Arts and Cultural Policy.

Patricia Lambert sums up her accomplishments thus: “she challenges undergraduate students through engaged teaching and learning practices, connects extensively to other campus units and community partners, and activates her classrooms and our institution through each iteration of her course work and service contributions.”


Reconstructing Color
Vera Keller, associate professor of history, Clark Honors College

This project, part of a new Clark Honors College seminar on Color in World History, will highlight historical techniques and meanings of color. It will include a visit and public lecture by Marie-France LeMay, a conservator at Yale University Library who specializes in reconstructing historical recipes for inks and pigments. LeMay will bring the Traveling Scriptorium, a teaching resource showcasing the raw ingredients for colors used in illuminated medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. The Traveling Scriptorium, which has never before left Yale, will inform efforts to create a similar teaching resource at UO.

The Catalyst Journalism Project
Nicole Dahmen, assistant professor; Brent Walth, assistant professor; Kathryn Thier, instructor; School of Journalism and Communication

The Catalyst Journalism Project brings together investigative reporting and solutions journalism to spark action and response to Oregon’s most perplexing issues. Investigative reporting identifies social problems and names the people in power who should be held accountable, while solutions journalism is a rigorous and fact-driven approach to reporting credible solutions to societal problems. By combining the two methods, journalists can show the community how to solve problems often dismissed as intractable. Students involved in The Catalyst Journalism Project will learn how to combine these reporting methods, preparing them to become leaders as journalism seeks new ways of engaging audiences who have lost trust in the news media.

Enhancing Experiential Learning: The Archaeology of Wild Foods
Madonna Moss, professor, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences

Williams Council funding is supporting the re-visioning of the new 125-person course, The Archaeology of Wild Foods (ANTH 248). The course raises awareness of how much we take for granted about the agricultural origins of food today, while many indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska still depend on wild foods. In this course students learn about those Northwest wild foods and their importance to Native Americans, First Nations, and Alaska Natives. Moss is using principles of backward design and scientific teaching to develop lectures with more student interaction and work with the Many Nations Longhouse to set up laboratory exercises and demonstrations that reflect the multi-cultural content of the material.

Leverage Mobile Technology to Help Teach Non-Science Majors
Andrew Karduna, professor, Department of Human Physiology, College of Arts and Sciences

Biomechanics has the ability to excite and engage students in science, because it allows for a study of the movement of their own body. This project will take advantage of the enormous sensor and computing technology contained within the smartphones to develop labs for a biomechanics class for non-science majors. This is a crucial component of the class, since best practices in science education call for active learning to increase student retention and success.

The Study Group Initiative
Randy Sullivan, lecture demonstrator, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Arts and Sciences

The Study Group Initiative (SGI) is an innovative program to catalyze freshman learning outside of the classroom at the University of Oregon. The goal of SGI is to get freshman students at the University of Oregon into effective course-specific study groups with other students in their residence hall. SGI will use trained peer facilitators and a custom web interface to help students form and find study groups that work for them. Research has shown that by far the most effective way of mastering knowledge and skills is "re-teaching" it. That is why study groups are so effective; they provide an environment where students can "re-teach" the material to each other in a relatively risk-free environment. Also, the residence halls are an effective incubator to initiate cultural change at a university. This initiative has the potential to transform the "dorm" culture into a learning community. The program will run in the Walton South and North residence halls in collaboration with the student life coordinators and resident assistants.

Sustainable Invention Immersion Week
Kate Harmon, instructor, Lundquist College of Business, and Julie Haack, senior instructor II, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Arts and Sciences

Sustainable Invention Immersion Week is a one-week, co-curricular summer entrepreneurial boot camp for students that integrates sustainability at the point of invention. The program asks interdisciplinary student teams to ideate on an environmental problem to solve while providing students with a framework for assessing the potential impacts on human health and the environment of their ideas and then show them how to use the principles of green chemistry to minimize those impacts early in the ideation and development process while also building a ‘green’ business model around their project. The boot camp is the first-step toward building a wider campus ‘Community of Practice’ around sustainable invention which will allow students to connect to resources, mentorship, competitions and funding sources to further their sustainable venture.  Sustainable Invention Immersion Week is a collaborative program sponsored by the University of Oregon's Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship and Tyler Invention Greenhouse with partners from the School of Journalism and Communication, the Department of Product Design and the Center for Sustainable Business Practices.

Wolves: Conversations in Conservation and Controversy, an Interdisciplinary Field Course
Peg Boulay, senior instructor I, and Kathryn Lynch, instructor, Environmental Studies Program, College of Arts and Sciences

The Environmental Studies Program trains students in creative problem solving, critical thinking and responsible citizenship. Environmental Studies and Science majors gain a strong understanding of current environmental problems; the underlying social, economic and ecological causes; and potential solutions from interdisciplinary viewpoints. Environmental Studies majors are required to take an interdisciplinary capstone course in which they draw upon and synthesize the full range of their academic and personal experiences. The Williams Fund Instructional Grant supports the creation of a new field-based, publically-engaged interdisciplinary capstone course. We will use wolves as a lens to examine the interplay of ecology, sociology and policy in complex, controversial environmental issues.