Excellence in Teaching Award Winners 2009-2010

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Dr. Anna Monfils is an Assistant Professor in the department of Biology, coming to CMU in 2005.  Dr. Monfils is being recognized for her enthusiasm for teaching, amazing organizational skills, and for encouraging student involvement in research.​

One former student wrote, “She really does love to teach!  She gets excited to enter a classroom and share her knowledge of the subject matter with the students in her classroom.  She has an outgoing personality and her passion for plant biology and systematics is clearly demonstrated when she teaches.”

A colleague commented that, “Dr. Monfils LOVES to instill excitement in students about the general field she teaches in as well as her specific area of research.  It is her enthusiasm for the subject matter that sparks many students to pursue this area.”

In addition to truly outstanding teaching and mentoring, undergraduates in Monfils’ lab have carried out scanning electron microscopy studies of flower and fruit diversity and a molecular phylogenetic analysis in this group. The continued and combined efforts of the students and mentor will ultimately result in a comprehensive systematic review of this group, which is essential to identify key species important for the protection, conservation, and maintenance of functioning wetland ecosystems.


Dr. Tracy Galarowicz is an Associate Professor in the department of Biology, coming to CMU in 2002. Dr. Galarowicz is being recognized for her ability to engage students through various interactive instructional approaches and for her meticulous organization and attention to detail in her teaching and course design.

A former student noted that Dr. Galarowicz “has the ability to encourage students in a way that fosters critical thinking skills while also creating excitement for her discipline.”

In support of the nomination, a colleague stated that Dr. Galarowicz “encourages intelligent classroom discussion on philosophical issues by researching and including national and world opinions and data on those issues into her lessons.”

Dr. Galarowicz brings her expertise and training in fisheries, ecology and conservation to the department of Biology.  Her teaching and research interests focus on the relationship between fish and their environment.   The Galarowicz lab examines the effect of abiotic variables such as habitat availability, and biotic factors like prey availability on fish growth, population dynamics, and habitat selection.  Dr. Galarowicz is a strong role model in her commitment to teaching, learning, and research.


Rick Sykes has been a professor in the School of Broadcasting and Cinematic Arts at CMU since 1996.  He offers his professional experiences and presents it in multiple formats, affording students the greatest opportunity to learn and understand.  He exhibits a natural excitement which is infectious in his classroom.  Mr. Sykes makes learning fun while offering the best techniques of becoming a successful communicator.

Students’ comments include that Mr. Sykes demonstrates that, “Teamwork and cohesiveness are keys to success in television and the professor made sure that everyone working on the newscast knew that the success of the show rested on our ability to succeed as a single unit.  He built a sense of pride and allowed the students to take ownership of the product, which produced higher quality programs and individuals.”

A colleague reflected on Mr. Sykes, “This instructor evinces an extremely effective and successful management style……He takes the time to discuss reasons for professional decisions, enhancing the learning environment well above standard expectations."


Dr. Christi Brookes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. She came to CMU in August 2004 and is being recognized for her creative and student centered approach to teaching, for promoting critical thinking, and for being a role model and mentor to her students.

One student noted that Dr. Brookes’ “greatest strength is her ability to make the material meaningful… by bringing in critical issues that pertain to the language like migration, politics, religion, culture and history.

A colleague commented “…a common thread in her classes is her enthusiasm, her natural French mannerism and way of engaging students not just intellectually, but socio-culturally and emotionally as well. Her goals are high for her students in all classes, and she effectively motivated them to go the extra mile.”

Christi is an active community member who voluntarily works in many other settings to increase awareness about social and humanitarian problems. For example, she participated in The Migrant Trail walk along the southern U.S. border, in support of immigration and human rights, issues that she brings back with her to the classroom to discuss them within a Francophone context.

In addition to the CMU Excellence in Teaching Award, Dr. Brookes is also the recipient of the Lorrie Ryan Memorial Excellence in Teaching Award.  This award is given each year to one CMU faculty member who inspires students through an exemplary commitment to community service and demonstrates a profound respect for others.



Dr. Martin Baxter is an Instructor in the Department of Meteorology. He has been at CMU since 2006 and is honored today for inspiring his students, for his instructional methods geared toward a variety of learning styles, for being an exceptional role model and for instilling enthusiasm in his students for synoptic meteorology.

Dr. Baxter’s instructional methods prepare students for professional careers in meteorology and field work. A former student wrote that (he) “was able to learn material not taught at the undergraduate level as well as valuable plotting and computing skills. I was given a chance to present my work at a national conference.”

In support for this award, a peer wrote that Dr. Baxter goes beyond his required teaching duties and “helps the students take part in a national weather forecasting contest, and has been the faculty adviser to the meteorology club.” Dr. Baxter helped form a large group of majors that is active both within the university and the community. Two of Dr. Baxter’s students won awards at a national weather conference in the past 4 years.  Students “actively seek out Dr. Baxter for advising and mentoring.”​​​​​

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