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Summer Session Faculty Spotlights

Meet some of the University of Nevada, Reno’s outstanding Summer Session instructors.

Patricia Ellison

Patricia Ellison is an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nevada, Reno. She earned a B.S. Microbiology and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Sheffield. She teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in biochemistry, and serves as an academic advisor to one third of UNR’s undergraduate biochemistry majors. Patricia will be teaching BCH 400: Introduction to Biochemistry this summer.

One of the best things for me about teaching is that I get to learn something new almost every day. In Summer Session, it’s more like three or four new things every day. Summer Session is intense and exciting—it feels like an epic journey my students and I take together, emerging at the end with a real sense of achievement and confidence in our abilities. —Patricia Ellison, associate professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Tom Harrison

Tom Harrison is a professor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, College of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno. He earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Furman University, and a M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from University of Florida. Tom currently serves as the chair of UNR’s Faculty Senate. Tom will be teaching CEP 761: Group Counseling and CEP 780 Law and Ethics of Counseling this summer.

To put it simply, teaching summer session is an intense and very rewarding experience. It is different from the regular semester. The intensity comes from meeting almost every day with the same students in the same place. This high frequency allows for more contact with students at a deeper level. My classes are usually taught in the early morning (8:00 a.m.), and we wake up together with coffee and discussion. Often, student are reeling from the material presented the previous day, and the early morning “coffeetime and discussion” gets us going again. We review and then embark on the next topic so that there is continuity from day to day. The students appreciate the intensity, too. In essence, we actually submerge ourselves for five weeks and then come up for air! We are all very happy and ready to relax at the end of the course. It is quite an experience! —Tom Harrison, Professor, Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, College of Education

Mark Pingle

Mark Pingle is a professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Nevada, Reno. He earned a B.S. in Economics at Southern Oregon State College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Southern California. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in economics. Mark will be teaching ECON 103: Principles of Macroeconomics, and BADM 730: Economics of the Firm this summer.

I enjoy teaching in the summer. The average student is more motivated, and the class size is normally smaller. More motivated students ask more questions and want to discuss economic issues, which also makes for a better class. One student’s motivation also feeds the motivation of others. The shorter and more intense schedule provides a focus that does not exist in the normal semester, and that focus also helps students learn. The intensity and shorter time to the next class also seems to encourage students to get to know each other more, which facilitates peer to peer learning and new friendships. —Mark Pingle, Professor, Department of Economics

Sonja Pippin

Sonja Pippin is an associate professor in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno. She earned an M.S. in Geography from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, an M.S. in Accounting from Texas Tech University, and a Ph.D. in Business Administration (Accounting/Tax), also from Texas Tech University. She has taught classes in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems at UNR since 2006. Sonja will be teaching ACC 789: Federal Income Taxation: Policy Issues, and ACC 481: Accounting Internship this summer.

The Summer Session is a great opportunity for students to catch up or get ahead with their coursework. In the case of my summer course, graduate business students will be able to take a graduate elective, which will free up their schedules and allow for more flexibility. Because most of our graduate students have busy lives with family and work obligations, this course is offered online with one non-mandatory face-to-face meeting and proctored exams. We will spend a concentrated period on various tax systems and tax provisions at state, national and international levels, and learn how these impact decision makers. Compared to other tax or accounting courses this class deals less with technical knowledge and formulas and more with policy and comparison of different business outcomes. Thus, all graduate students in all business majors will benefit. —Sonja Pippin, associate professor, Department of Accounting and Information Systems

Jennifer Ring

Jennifer Ring is a professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Nevada, Reno. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. She teaches classes in European and American political theory, US women’s political history, identity politics, and the politics of sport. Jennifer will be teaching PSC 354: Politics and Women this summer.

The warmth of summer translates into a more relaxed, enjoyable learning environment. This is amplified in an online setting: the classes are a little smaller, my attention is focused on the one class I’m teaching, rather than divided between several classes in the regular academic year. And the online format affords students the flexibility to engage in the special learning opportunities summer offers. You might travel, experience new job opportunities, new challenges…while finding time each day to sit quietly with your laptop and books, and focus on your course at Nevada. It’s a really pleasant and rewarding way to learn. —Jenny Ring, Professor, Political Science Department

Ann-Marie Vollstedt

Ann-Marie Vollstedt is a lecturer in the College of Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. She earned a B.S. and M.S in Mechanical Engineering, an M.S. in Secondary Science Education, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno. She teaches undergraduate classes in engineering with an emphasis on the design process, mechanics, robotics, and computer programming. Ann-Marie will be teaching ENGR 241: Statics in Mini Session this summer.

I love teaching Statics and especially in the summer when the class is much smaller than traditional semesters and we can focus more on active learning. There is a unique sense of community and comradery in the classroom as everyone works together towards a common goal. Summer session also allows for more time to help students individually and for me to get to know my students. I think the short session allows for more focus on the topic, which can be a great benefit to students. —Ann-Marie Vollstedt, Lecturer, College of Engineering