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UCR Honors Three for Excellence

UC Riverside Honors Three for Excellence

Non-Senate Awards Focus on Research, Teaching and Collaboration

(July 30, 2004)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- The University of California, Riverside has named three people the recipients of the 2003-2004 Non-Senate Distinguished Research and Teaching Awards.

For her role in combining the research and teaching functions successfully, Lynn R. Larsen, a lecturer and researcher in the Graduate School of Education, has earned the Research-Instruction Collaboration award. English lecturer Geoff Cohen, the academic coordinator for the Liberal Studies Program, earned the Distinguished Teaching award. While engineering researcher Dimitri Morikis, who studies the interactions of proteins and peptides, earned the Distinguished Researcher award.

The awards recognize lecturers, instructors or researchers. A separate awards program recognizes tenured professors who are members of the Academic Senate.

Dr. Larsen has been teaching as a lecturer and conducting research in the Graduate School of Education since 2001, having studied special education, reading and literacy while earning her doctorate at the University of Maryland. Before that she spent five years as a middle and high school special education teacher. Among other courses, Larsen teaches EDUC172, the only course that prepares teaching credential students for the Reading Instruction Comprehensive Assessment (RICA), a test required by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

“Dr. Larsen’s teaching in EDUC172 has resulted in a passage rate of 99 percent on the RICA for the students she has taught, a percentage higher than the state average,” wrote Sharon Duffy, professor and interim dean for the Graduate School of Education, in her nomination letter on behalf of Larsen. “We feel extremely fortunate that she is part of our instructional program.”

Athena Waite, director of teacher education, wrote: “I have read Lynn’s teaching evaluations; they are stellar. She cares about her students and demonstrates that caring by planning and teaching stimulating, content rich lessons. I also receive e-mails and testimonials from students who want me to know that they passed the high-stakes RICA because of her instruction.”

A recent student, Kristen Thomas, wrote: “I thoroughly enjoyed her class and feel prepared to teach Language Arts for the primary grades. I wanted to personally thank her for being such an inspirational teacher. She went above and beyond what the normal college professor does. From day one, I felt that she genuinely cared about how I did in her class.”

In addition to outstanding teaching, Dr. Larsen is involved in several research projects. In conjunction with a state-wide consortium of universities, she is involved in developing and using a performance assessment for teacher candidates called the G*STAR Electronic Portfolio, which allows them to highlight projects, lesson plans and assessments of their work as they progress through their programs. The electronic portfolios are stored on a central server and can be used during job interviews and into their years of teaching.

“Dr. Larsen has been a virtual pioneer in learning the G*STAR system and integrating it into her course design, curriculum and instruction,” wrote Dr. Linda Scott-Hendrick, director of the UCR Teacher Induction programs and the G*STAR federal grant.

“I bring passion to each and every class, and try to pass on the excitement and joy of teaching to every student that passes through my classroom,” Larsen said.

Geoff Cohen successfully balances teaching classes and seminars with other duties, such as helping to lead the CHASS Connect program, improving the connection between undergraduates in the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and their professors and classmates.

“No one in the English department has better rapport with our undergraduates than Geoff,” wrote George E. Haggerty, chair of the Department of English, in his nomination letter on behalf of Cohen. “His teaching evaluations have been consistently high.”

“Those in charge of the CHASS Connect program, in the first year of which Geoff taught a crucial basic course, insist that he is essential to the program,” Haggerty said. “He had great input for the organizers, and he was full of ideas about how to make the program successful.”

Haggerty says Cohen’s good marks from students are well earned. “This high level of teaching excellence has been throughout his tenure as a visiting assistant professor,” Haggerty said. “This is a dedicated instructor who puts his students first, and who is as knowledgeable and informed about 18th and 19th century literature as any of his colleagues; and who dedicates himself to his work at the university with uncommon vigor.”

Dimitri Morikis is an associate researcher in the chemical and environmental engineering department. His research involves a cross-disciplinary theoretical and experimental approach, involving biophysics, structural biology, computational chemistry and structural bioinformatics, to address questions on the structure, dynamics, interactions, and function of proteins and peptides.

“We use these relations to understand basic biological processes, to design proteins and peptides with enhanced properties and to rationally design potential therapeutic agents,” Morikis said.

Ashok Mulchandani, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, calls Morikis “an exceptional researcher,” and truly deserving of this award.

“I’m very honored and excited for this recognition from my own university,” Morikis said. “I will continue to follow my main lines of research, including a drug design project that involves the discovery of potential therapeutics, those that target auto-immune conditions.” Morikis says he will also continue collaborations with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University on various projects. “Riverside is a very promising place for future scientific research,” Morikis said.
Lynn LarsenEnlarge

Lynn Larsen

Geoff CohenEnlarge

Geoff Cohen

Dimitri MorikisEnlarge

Dimitri Morikis

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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