Foundation Outstanding Letter of Appointment Instructional Faculty Award and Exceptional Letter of Appointment Instructional Faculty College/School Awards for spring 2024

One individual named Outstanding LOA and four others were named Exceptional LOAs this semester

The University's Quad facing the Mackay statue.

Foundation Outstanding Letter of Appointment Instructional Faculty Award and Exceptional Letter of Appointment Instructional Faculty College/School Awards for spring 2024

One individual named Outstanding LOA and four others were named Exceptional LOAs this semester

The University's Quad facing the Mackay statue.

The Faculty Senate’s Campus Affairs Committee has recognized the Foundation Outstanding Letter of Appointment (LOA) instructional faculty recipient and four LOA instructional faculty members with Exceptional LOA Awards for spring 2024. These awards are funded by the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation. 

The awards are given after a careful review of nominations, and they honor and acknowledge excellence at work by the recipients. Each individual embodies The Wolf Pack Way with their commitment to using what they have learned and providing it for the benefit of others.

Eligible nominees include those on an LOA contract who exemplify the University’s standards for excellence and service to students and show exemplary individual achievement, contribution and performance in their instructional role responsibilities and other related duties.

Winners receive a $1,000 monetary award and are recognized at the Honor the Best Ceremony each May. 

Foundation Outstanding Letter of Appointment – Robert Eugene del Carlo

Robert del Carlo

Robert Eugene del Carlo, Ph.D., has been named the Foundation Outstanding Letter of Appointment Teaching Award for spring 2024. He is an LOA instructor with the McNair Scholars TRiO Program and the Biotechnology undergraduate and graduate programs within the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources. This is in addition to his bioinformatics and protein biophysics research in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science under Marjorie Matocq, Ph.D.

del Carlo began as an instructor at the University in 2022.

“The mission of the McNair scholars is to increase the proportion of doctorates that are conferred to individuals coming from low-income, first-generation, underrepresented backgrounds,” del Carlo said. “My course teaches students the necessary skills to hit the ground running in graduate school, such as how to choose a research project, write a funding proposal and submit it to the Nevada Undergraduate Research Award. Earning grants is a key determinant of one's readiness for graduate school as it shows the student can conceptualize and communicate the research as well as identify a societally important question and convince someone that the research is worth funding.”

Since he began teaching this course, his students have earned over $55,000 in undergraduate research funding, and he is waiting to see if that number will climb to upwards of $90,000, which he will know in mid-May 2024.

“This is a legacy I am very proud to have contributed to, changing the face of the scientific infrastructure in the United States,” he said.

He has also started to teach BIOT319, a course on the controversies surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  The course has lectures on Mondays covering the overarching view of GMOs, uses Wednesdays to discuss peer-reviewed articles much like a graduate-style journal club and has an entirely student-run debate on Fridays.

“Every week, students are randomly assigned to participate in a cogent debate, and the class votes democratically on whose arguments were most convincing (the winners get their very own GMOs!),” he said. “At the end of each debate, we debrief on what worked well and what could have been improved, adding to a running list of successful debate strategies that the students can use to advocate for biotechnologies in society.” 

del Carlo is honored to receive the Outstanding LOA award.

“Being recognized for my teaching this year is truly meaningful because teaching does not come naturally to me,” he said. “I really put a lot of work and effort into curating an environment where student professional development can bloom. Anyone can put together a PowerPoint and ask students to memorize a bunch of facts, but it takes painstaking labor to transform those facts into a memorable story that sticks with the students and inspires them to learn the material, not for a grade but for their wherewithal as doers in the world. 

“At the end of the day, I am not just trying to share the laws of nature with my students, I am endeavoring to light new torches for the next generation of scientists and scholars to carry as they advance the relay race of our human pursuit of knowledge. This teaching style arises from viewing myself as a mentor, which is all the more exciting as this year's award comes hot on the heels of being awarded for excellence in mentorship at the 2023 Honor the Best ceremony. This year's ceremony, however, will be slightly more special because my former doctoral advisor who taught me how to be a mentor and teacher, Dr. Normand Leblanc of the Pharmacology Department, will also be honored this year as a Foundation Professor. Being honored together just shows that investing in our students trains them to become our colleagues.”

Overall, del Carlo said, “The University is a wonderful, cohesive environment that fosters collaboration, personal growth and an altruistic spirit that will drive societal change. Contributing to the very environment that raised me as a scientist and mentor is an endearing, full-circle moment to enjoy.”

Exceptional Letter of Appointment awardees

Additionally, individuals who received Exceptional Letter of Appointment awards include the following individuals:

Erica Dietlein

Erica Dietlein.

Erica Dietlein earned the Exceptional Letter of Appointment (LOA) College of Liberal Arts Award for spring 2024. Dietlein teaches “Philosophy and Film,” “Bioethics,” and “Core Humanities: The Modern World.”

“I put a lot of extra "oomph" into designing my classes,” Dietlein said. “The classes I teach are often one of the few classes in the humanities my students take since many are majors in STEM disciplines, so I try to make the experience something my students get as much out of as possible. This may be one of the few times my students can safely and productively talk about things such as abortion or modern sexuality with their peers, which are hot-button topics that can be difficult to navigate critically. This award, to me, means these efforts are being recognized, which is important to me as an LOA because the nature of my position is ephemeral.”

Dietlein has found the ethos in the Department of Philosophy to be a positive, transformative force on their teaching.

“The wide spectrum of techniques and insight from the faculty here has encouraged me to continue experimenting with my work,” Dietlein said. “The students similarly come from a variety of backgrounds and their spectrum of experiences and responses in the classroom has made me feel like the time I spend experimenting with different pedagogical techniques is worth it.”

Nathan Lian

Nathan Lian.

Nathan Lian earned the Exceptional Letter of Appointment (LOA) UNR School of Medicine Award for spring 2024. Lian teaches courses in pharmacology and clinical skills.

“I am humbled to be nominated by a group of amazing leaders in the Physician Assistant (PA) Studies Program at the UNR School of Medicine,” Lian said. “This award demonstrates how much the program values their colleagues and their dedication to both the success of their students and educators. I'm very happy to be part of this innovative group and continue to look forward to witnessing the growth of our program, students and the School of Medicine.”

Lian finds working with the students to be the most rewarding part of being an LOA with UNR Med.

“I love those ‘aha moments’ in the classroom when the concepts I teach ‘click’!” he said.  “As a clinical pharmacist practitioner in emergency medicine at the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System, being an LOA with the University also allows me to provide more clinical applications and therapeutics to those I teach, especially as our students gradually transition towards clinical practice. I am happy to be part of the PA Program because the leadership there really invests in their instructors. They involve me in several meetings and provide me with the opportunity to use my skillset and knowledge to complement their program. Because of this, I am truly grateful to be a part of the PA Program at the UNR School of Medicine.”

Joshua Padilla

Joshua Padilla.

Joshua Padilla earned the Exceptional Letter of Appointment (LOA) College of Liberal Arts Award for spring 2024. Padilla teaches several sociology 101 courses throughout the year and a 400-level sociology course: “Latina/os in the United States," which is a new course for the University.

Padilla is honored to be recognized.

“I am surrounded by hardworking colleagues who give their all to teaching and improving the lives of Nevada students,” Padilla said. “I try my best to maintain the standard set by others, and for me, this award is a token of thanks that makes all the hard work worth it." 

The most rewarding part of being an LOA for Padilla is working with people who are motivated to be exceptional.

“Being around the students motivates me to be a better person and professional,” he said. “It was my professors who motivated me to take education seriously, and I remember that every time I go before a class." 

Devrin Lee

Devrin Lee.

Devrin Lee was also awarded an Exceptional Letter of Appointment (LOA) for the College of Engineering, Computer Science Award for spring 2024. Lee has won this award before and is honored to have earned it again.

“Over the last six years, it has been my pleasure to help prepare students for the workforce and try to provide guidance and advice they can use in their future careers,” Lee said. “I hope I made a positive impact and helped students prepare for their future working in the software industry."

Nominations for these awards can be submitted on the Foundation Outstanding Letter of Appointment Instructional Faculty Award webpage.

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