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Six Win Pomona's Wig Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching

2010 Wig Distinguished Professor Award Winners

Pomona College Professors Elizabeth Crighton, Phyllis Jackson, Michael Kuehlwein, Matthew Sazinsky, Sara Owsley Sood and Margaret (Meg) Worley have received the 2010 Wig Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching. The Award recognizes exceptional teaching, concern for students and service to the College and the community.

The recipients of the Wig Awards are elected by the junior and senior classes and then confirmed by a committee of trustees, faculty and students. The awards were announced at Pomona's 117th Commencement, held on May 16, 2010. They were established by Mr. and Mrs. R.J. Wig in 1955.

Elizabeth Crighton, the William A. Johnson Professor of Government and Professor of Politics, joined the Pomona College faculty in 1975 and teaches Comparative Politics, Comparative Politics of Europe, Gender and Politics, and the Senior Seminar in International and Comparative Politics. This is her sixth Wig Award.

Student comments include:

  • Professor Crighton really inspires students in the classroom. She is kind and caring on a personal level; diligent and rigorous in her commentary and feedback; and above all, a genuinely great person.
  • Professor Crighton leads great discussions. The topics are always robust and nuanced, and she is a great facilitator of student thought.
  • I took Professor Crighton's ID1 class and it changed the course of my academic career and instilled in me a passion for comparative and international politics.
  • She is at once demanding and encouraging, and yet never panders, preferring instead to guide students to deliberate and reach their own conclusions about social capital, global governance, and religious conflict.

Crighton’s research focuses on conflict resolution and peace making. She earned her B.A. from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Phyllis Jackson, associate professor of art history, joined the faculty in 1993.  She teaches Africana Cinema: Through the Documentary Lens; Black Aesthetics and the Politics of (Re)presentation; Black Women, Feminisms & Social Change; Cinema Against War, Imperialism, and Corporate power; Critical Race Theory, Representation and the Rule of Law; Daughters of Africa; Art, Cinema, Theory, LOVE; and Whiteness: Race, Sex and Representation. This is her second Wig Award.

Student comments include:

  • Professor Phyllis Jackson is quite possibly the best professor at Pomona College. Her pedagogy is stunning, effective and crucial given the context of our society and political world.
  • After four years at school, still the teacher whose class I am most likely to think about as I go about my life.
  • Professor Jackson is warm and intense, and can blow your mind in a lecture. But then she takes you along on a critical journey and helps you develop your own analytic perspective in a way that is conscious of social context and systems of power.
  • I have never felt more challenged-- academically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually-- in a classroom setting than I have in Jackson's classroom. She holds her students to enormously high standards, and, as such, we rise to them.

Jackson’s research interests include the arts, cinemas, aesthetics, and discursive strategies of Africa and the African Diaspora in the United States, the Caribbean, and Western Europe. She is working on two books: Bodies of Representation: Art and Aesthetics of Women of African Descent and Black Panther Party Art and Aesthetics. She earned her B.A. from Reed College and her M.A., Ph.D. and graduate certificate from Northwestern University.

Michael Kuehlwein, the George E. and Nancy O. Moss Professor of Economics, joined Pomona in 1987 and teaches Macroeconomic Theory, Principles: Microeconomics, Advanced Microeconomic Analysis, and the Senior Activity in Economics. This is his fifth Wig Award.

Student comments include:

  • Professor Kuehlwein is one of the most inspiring professors I have had at Pomona. He is incredibly available to his students and constantly instills an interest in Economics.
  • Professor Kuehlwein's passion for teaching and love for students is demonstrated by his fun and engaging classes! He is always available for help and is overall, an amazing professor!! Macroeconomics has never been as fun as with Prof. K. He has made even the most challenging material comprehensible and is always available to ask questions.
  • Professor Kuehlwein goes out of his way to make economics exciting and engaging, and he has a fantastic ability to explain concepts in terms that students can understand…. He also cares deeply about his students • His lectures are thought-provoking and upbeat, and his engagement with the class is superb.

Kuehlwein’s research interests include theories of consumer spending and saving, the effects of budget deficits on interest rates, and the impact of railroads on grain market integration and famines in 19th-century India. He earned his B.A. from Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Matthew Sazinsky, assistant professor of chemistry, joined Pomona in 2007 and teaches Biochemistry with Lab and Advanced Biochemistry.

Student comments include:

  • He made Biochemistry and Advanced Biochemistry two of the most stimulating courses I have taken at Pomona, and his enthusiasm for the subject matter is infectious.
  • His teaching style pushes students outside of the typical undergraduate expectations and forces them to explore the subject apart from a simple textbook. This challenge rewards them with a much deeper understanding of the material that would otherwise be impossible.
  • He stood out to me for his ability to relate very detailed biochemistry course material to the college population, using examples that sparked our interest in the subject….
    he encouraged us to take the initiative, apply what we learned to that which each of us found interesting through individual assignments.
  • Terrific with students, both one-on-one and in classroom.

Prof. Sazinsky's research activities employ X-ray crystallography and biochemical techniques as primary tools to answer important questions about the structure and function of proteins. The major research themes are to identify the determinants of metalloenzyme activity and tuning, re-engineer proteins for altered functions and/or expanded catalytic capabilities, and to provide a basis for understanding the biochemical processes in pathogenic bacteria. He earned his B.S. from Haverford College and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sara Owsley Sood, assistant professor of computer science, joined Pomona in 2007. She teaches Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science Seminar, Computing and Cognition with Laboratory, Fundamentals of Computer Science, Machine Learning, and the Senior Seminar in Computer Science.

Student comments include:

  • Professor Sood is a wonderful teacher and a fantastic mentor and role model. She has given me many amazing and important opportunities during my time here, and I know she has done the same for many others.
  • Sood is one of my favorite professors of all time. Her CS30 class, computation and cognition, is hands down the best class I have taken at Pomona. She makes everything interesting and exciting, and she is always around to help out students.
  • This enthusiasm for the material and willingness to share make Professor Sood a very engaging professor. She makes difficult and challenging material more accessible and helps students grasp foreign concepts…. Outside the classroom she is always available and genuinely enjoys talking with students about all topics.

Sood’s two major research goals are creating machines with increased emotional intelligence through text analytics that expose emotional state and how it changes over time, and connecting people within and outside of the blogsphere through the telling of personal stories. She earned her B.A. from DePauw University and M.A. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University.

Margaret (Meg) Worley, assistant professor of English, joined Pomona in 2004 and teaches Chaucer, Graphic Novels, History of the English Language, Introduction to Literary Theory, Scary Monsters and Coy Mistresses, The Bible as Literature and The History of the Book.

Student comments include:

  • She's smart, hip, in touch with her students, sympathetic, understanding and a challenging professor.
  • Meg Worley is a fantastic professor. She assigns interesting readings, gives great lectures, and leads discussions that students can't wait to participate in.
  • She leads extremely insightful and engaging discussions and lectures well. Even more impressively, though, she maintains an exceptional balance between offering her interpretations of a work and helping students to form their own opinions. The way she fosters creativity in her students is amazing.
  • Meg Worley is a wonderful, challenging and inspiring professor. She is incredibly supportive of her students… She also creates truly unique classes.

Her research interests include the medieval roots of the King James Bible; the role of the psalms in developing English nationalism; coins as reverse fetishes; inhumane treatment in The Wind In the Willows; and superheroes, comics and messianism. She earned her B.A. from Emory University and her Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges, is known for the close relationships between students and faculty, providing a range of opportunities for student research, and meeting the full financial aid need of each accepted student.