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Rauscher, Speirs Ali, Shon Earn Distinguished Faculty Awards

Published: July 15, 2013

Lauren Rauscher
Distinguished Faculty Advising Award

Since becoming a faculty advisor in the Human Development Department in 2008, the number of students Lauren Rauscher advises has grown considerably, from 376 students to 632.

Despite the significant increase in the number of majors, she makes it a priority to get to know students both academically and personally so she can best help them achieve success and be a mentor they can trust. She works diligently to accommodate students’ schedules, ensuring there is plenty of time for them to discuss concerns and create plans for success. She meets with students individually, in weekly new majors sessions and during walk-in advising hours.

Lauren Rauscher (c) with College of Liberal Arts Dean David Wallace and CSULB Interim President Donald Para.
Lauren Rauscher (c) with College of Liberal Arts’ Dean David Wallace and CSULB Interim President Donald Para.

Social, economic, and cultural factors shape student experiences, and being attentive to the barriers and opportunities they present for students is key for successful advising. More than 50 percent of students at CSULB require remediation in math, English or both; an overwhelming number (more than 90 percent) combine paid work with school; a significant number are first-generation college students; and many struggle with depression and anxiety.

“Conversations with many students in our department reveal that our students face public transportation issues to get to campus, some taking three buses each way from home to school,” said Rauscher. “Others are responsible for juggling significant family responsibilities while they move toward degree completion—caring for their own children, their siblings, their parents, and/or holding multiple jobs so that they can contribute financially at home.”

Rauscher has learned that other students are homeless and live out of their cars. And, given that the human development major is 95 percent young women, she frequently talks with students about their experiences with sexual assault and stress between gendered and cultural expectations of them and their own aspirations. These structural and cultural constraints have a significant impact on the path to degree completion and post-graduate plans. Rauscher strives to create open spaces for students to talk about these issues, create student-specific plans for success, and connect them with additional resources on campus for support, if needed.

She serves on students’ theses committees and often meets with students informally to discuss graduate school and their professional goals. Since becoming an advisor, she has written more than 200 letters of recommendation for graduate school, academic awards, scholarships and study abroad opportunities.

When not on campus, Rauscher serves as chair of the board of directors for Girls on the Run of Los Angeles County, a sports-based positive youth development program designed to educate and prepare preteen girls for self-respect and healthy living. To date, more than 30 CSULB students have participated in Girls on the Run as mentors, research assistants and interns.

Susanna Speirs Ali
Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award

Susanna Speirs Ali (c) with College of the Arts Interim Dean Chris Miles (l) and CSULB Interim President Donald Para.
Susanna Speirs Ali (c) with College of the Arts’ Interim Dean Chris Miles (l) and CSULB Interim President Donald Para.

When Susanna Speirs Ali was recruited to teach in the College of the Arts’ Metals and Jewelry Program in the late 1990s, she began to breathe new life into the discipline by creating a renewed sense of community. She reinvented the facility and designed courses that offered rigorous and compelling content. Fourteen years later, the program is thriving and attracting students throughout the country, while classes are full and often have waiting lists.

Colleagues credit Speirs Ali, who now heads the program, with turning it around. She is recognized as an outstanding teacher and mentor who has created an environment that accommodates a wide range of metal-working capabilities. Students now have the opportunity to work in one of the most diverse metals programs in the country that hosts a state-of-the-art facility. Access is available to jewelry benches, enameling kilns, a casting area, a large blacksmithing and sculptural metals area, and individual workstations for graduate students.

Speirs Ali has taught and developed more than 12 classes in the Metals Program and two outside of her discipline in the Foundation and Sculpture programs. Classes incorporate hands-on demonstrations, lectures and presentations, as well as class discussions and regular critiques that encourage peer exchange.

Speirs Ali’s dedication to students extends outside the classroom and lab, where she serves as faculty advisor for the Metal Arts Guild and, during the past five years, has been the primary sponsor of more than 27 graduate and undergraduate solo exhibitions, 10 on-campus group exhibitions and three off-campus exhibitions. In this capacity, she mentors students, oversees installation of the exhibitions, attends openings and evaluates student performance, spending as many as 10 weekends each semester on campus. She also regularly attends conferences and symposia with her students to deepen their connection to the field and increase students’ professional practice. Under Speirs Ali’s leadership, the metals and jewelry students’ excellent exhibitions are highly acclaimed—proof of the quality of her teaching and the vision she holds for her students and the program at large.

Young-Seok Shon
Distinguished Faculty Scholarly and Creative Achievement Award

Young Shon (c) with College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics' Dean Laura Kingsford and CSULB Interim President Donald Para.
Young Shon (c) with College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics’ Dean Laura Kingsford (l) and CSULB Interim President Donald Para.

Young-Seok Shon is exploring new ways of synthesizing nanomaterials and using them for a variety of technological applications that have implications for cancer diagnosis and therapy as well as waste water treatment.

A principal investigator for a National Institutes of Health project as well as research funded by the American Chemical Society—Petroleum Research Fund, Shon’s work on hybrid nanomaterials has provided many research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students.

Since 2006 he has advised five graduate and 44 undergraduate students, working to help students develop a logical approach to problem solving and an intuitive understanding of chemistry through research. He works closely with students to help them gain a clear understanding of the immediate and far-reaching goals of their projects. With his guidance they have co-authored 11 papers published in peer-reviewed journals and presented their results 18 times in national and international conferences—21 times at regional and local meetings. He has also served as research advisor for a high school student as well as seven community college students who were part of the summer Bridges to the Baccalaureate program.

Since joining the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department in 2006, Shon has given 51 presentations, 24 of which were made at national and international meetings. He has had 28 papers published in prominent chemistry journals, having received more than 90 citations to date, attesting to his prominent standing in the field of materials science and nanochemistry. He has also worked with CSULB physics and astronomy Assistant Professor Yohannes Abate, together having published three peer-reviewed articles in the past two years.

After Shon graduated from Sogang University in Korea in the 1990s, he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Houston and then was a postdoctoral research associate at Kenan Laboratories at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where his interest in the synthesis of nanoparticulates developed. He continued his work in this area while a professor at Western Kentucky University from 2001-06, just prior to coming to CSULB.