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Nine UTHealth faculty members honored with Regents’ teaching award

HOUSTON – (Aug. 20, 2014) – Nine faculty members of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have received the University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, which recognizes those who deliver the highest quality of instruction in the classroom, the laboratory, the field or online.

“The UTHealth faculty members who have been honored with this prestigious teaching award exemplify the dedication of UTHealth in providing the highest level of education for our students,” said UTHealth President Giuseppe Colasurdo, M.D.

Faculty members were assessed on criteria including classroom expertise, curricula quality, innovative course development and student learning outcomes. A total of 39 new members from UT health institutions were elected this year.

Nine UTHealth faculty members honored with Regents’ teaching award

“It is the UT System’s responsibility to provide a world-class education for students at our institutions,” said Regent Robert L. Stillwell, who chairs the Health Affairs Committee for the Board of Regents. “Recognizing teaching excellence is an important part of the overall commitment to improving the quality of higher education across the state.”

UTHealth educates more health care professionals than any other health-related institution in Texas. The UTHealth award recipients come from all of its six schools:

Michelle S. Barratt, M.D., M.P.H., is a professor of pediatrics at the UTHealth Medical School. She specializes in pediatrics and adolescent health. She excels in both didactic and clinical teaching for medical students and residents. She is especially passionate about excellence in patient-provider communication.

“I thrive on interacting with learners in all types of educational encounters, but most especially while we care for pediatric patients together,” Barratt wrote about teaching. “I am invigorated by the exchange of ideas and by the enlistment of learner and patient/parent in the therapeutic plan.”

Patricia M. Butler, M.D., is professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and vice dean in the Office of Educational Programs at the UTHealth Medical School. She is responsible for both the undergraduate and graduate medical education programs, as well as the continuing medical education program.

“My role as an educator has afforded me great personal reward and fulfillment. I am fortunate to work with outstanding faculty as we educate and prepare our students to provide exemplary patient care,” Butler wrote.

Margaret O'Brien Caughy, Sc.D., is professor and director of the Maternal and Child Health Training Program in the Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at the UTHealth School of Public Health Dallas Regional Campus. Her research centers on studying how risk and resilience affect young children and factors that impact school readiness in low-income African-American and Latino children.

“I like to involve students with me in my work with public health agencies and practitioners. By seeing public health in action, students see how to use their knowledge from the classroom and become excited about a career in public health,” Caughy wrote. “Witnessing this blossoming of passion for public health in my students is the best part of teaching for me.”

Catherine M. Flaitz, D.D.S., M.S., is the Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences at the UTHealth School of Dentistry. She is the former dean of the school and was instrumental in laying the groundwork for a new dental school building. Her research is centered on the pathogenesis, diagnosis and novel management of oral diseases in children and immunocompromised individuals.

“Teaching can be compared to the performing arts. It demands expertise and immersion into the subject, genuine engagement of the audience, a believable storytelling quality and a passion for creating a stimulating environment,” Flaitz wrote. “The goal is to leave the learners on the edge of their seats so they are hungry for more.”

Joanne V. Hickey, Ph.D., R.N., holds the Patricia L. Starck/PARTNERS
Professorship in Nursing at the UTHealth School of Nursing and is coordinator of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program. The adult neuroscience patient population has been the focus of the advanced practice, research and publications of Hickey.

“Being a teacher, I am privileged to have the opportunity to influence the growth and development of students as critical thinkers and leaders who apply their knowledge to achieve optimal outcomes for countless individuals and populations,” Hickey wrote.

M. Sriram Iyengar, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics. His research interests include clinical informatics, symbolic systems biology and public health informatics. Iyengar is a member of the Gulf Coast Consortia for Quantitative Biomedical Sciences.

“What I try hardest to impart to students is why my subject, biomedical informatics, is wonderful, exciting and important. Also, how they can advance the field, and how their contributions could improve people's lives,” Iyengar wrote.

Lillian S. Kao, M.D, is a professor in the Department of Surgery at the UTHealth Medical School. Her research centers on improving disparities of care. She was recently president of the Association for Academic Surgery, which promotes the development of young academic surgeons through courses on surgical research and career development, research awards and early opportunities for leadership. Kao sees patients at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and Harris Health’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital.

“As a teacher, I feel a responsibility to my students to believe in them and to expect the best from them, to invest my time and energy into their lessons, and to share accountability for their learning. In doing so, I take great joy and pride in their successes and commiserate and learn with them in their failures,” Kao wrote. “It is both empowering and humbling to see the accomplishments of all of those that I have been privileged to teach.”

Kevin A. Morano, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the UTHealth Medical School and a faculty member of The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston. His research seeks to understand how human cells respond to pathophysiological states such as cancer and anoxia, which strongly induce a heat shock response.

“One of the best motivational aspects of teaching is the satisfaction and reward from a learner's accomplishment, whether it be a high grade in class, a great paper in the lab or a junior faculty member getting their first major grant,” Morano wrote.

Beatrice J. Selwyn, Sc.D., is an associate professor in the Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences and in the Division of Management, Policy and Community Health at the UTHealth School of Public Health. Her research interests include perinatal and pediatric epidemiology, international health, rapid epidemiologic assessment methods and the future of public health.

"I enjoy guiding students to walk the path of the unknown, of discovery, developing their competence and responding to their curiosity, so each student can learn to make their unique contribution to their field,” Selwyn wrote. “My philosophy and practice reflect my belief that public health students need knowledge, but they must also acquire practical skills and habits of thinking, to engage in the complexity of issues in population health work and research.”

Award winners will each receive $25,000 and will be honored at a ceremony tonight at the University of Texas at Austin’s Shirley Bird Perry Ballroom in the Texas Union.

The UT System educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for nearly 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. A complete list of winners by institution can be found on the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards website:

Deborah Mann Lake
Media Contact: 713-500-3030