Faculty Awards

The University of Washington Honors Program recruits amazing faculty from all majors and colleges to develop and teach unique, leading-edge courses across many areas of knowledge. These courses engage students in experiences, research and conversations that challenge all parties to be more nuanced thinkers who value multiple perspectives.

Honors faculty continue learning and developing fresh connections and methods of engagement in many ways: rooted in their home departments, in field work, and with the support of special awards that recognize the incredible value teachers bring to our community of lifelong learners.

Curriculum and Community Innovation Scholar

This appointment is made possible through generous gifts from donors to support faculty time to develop and teach groundbreaking curriculum while engaging Honors community students, alumni, faculty and staff in events and projects beyond the classroom.

Amy Piedalue – 2023-2024

portrait of Amy Piedalue

Dr. Amy Piedalue (she/her) is a researcher, feminist scholar and Affiliate Professor of Geography, who currently works in the tech industry as a Senior User Experience Researcher in the field of responsible AI. Her scholarly work spans the fields of critical human geography, gender studies, and South Asian studies, with a recent focus on applying intersectional and anti-racist feminist scholarship to AI ethics and governance.

Amy is also a creative writer, with two short stories recently published in the anthology What Happened to Annabell? (84th Street Press). An avid fan of sci-fi, fantasy and speculative fiction, she has taught Honors courses exploring these genres as critical sites of analysis that help us to unpack and reflect upon contemporary social issues, injustices, and anxieties. A longtime member of the UW Honors community, Amy was a student in the program as an undergraduate, and then an advisor and instructor while doing her PhD in UW Geography. She is teaching a new Honors course in 2023: ‘Could ChatGPT Teach this Class?’, which introduces and explores the societal impacts of the expansion and advancement of AI technologies.

Past Curriculum and Community Innovation Scholars

Felicia Ishino

Felicia Ishino – 2023

Portrait of Felicia Ishino

Felicia Ishino is the Executive Director of Sankofa Impact, a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to confronting racism and resistance through place-based learning experiences. She has over 20 years of experience in educational settings ranging from elementary schools to higher education. With her passions for history, immersive learning and social justice, Ishino empowered students to become agents of change in their communities.

Ishino’s Spring 2023 Honors course, Locating Racism and Resistance, raised awareness of historical events impacting systems of racism and oppression in the United States.

More About Felicia Ishino

Ariana Cantu

Ariana Cantu – 2022

Ariana Cantu selfie from her kayak on Lake Easton

Ariana Cantu is a popular lecturer in UW’s School of Social Work with an MSW in Social Work and Administration. She has extensive experience teaching and counseling diverse populations and facilitating anti-racism and equity-centered practices. Cantu is committed to intersectional social justice and used her award teach and develop new curriculum that grounds students in grassroots community activism. Cantu teaches students from all backgrounds how to communicate research and recommendations using a hands-on, project-based approach. Her Honors seminar, Community Inclusion and Equity in the Changing Public Realm, critically examined changes in local neighborhoods in an effort to support collaborative equity and inclusion efforts in Seattle and King County.

Velma Veloria

Velma Veloria – 2019-2021

Velma smiling in front of trees

Velma Veloria, Director of Advocacy and Mobilization for the Equity in Education Coalition, joined the Honors Program in 2019 as our first Curriculum and Community Innovation Scholar.

As the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the Washington State Legislature, Veloria contributed her a rich history of grassroots leadership and advocacy expertise. During her two-year appointment, Veloria created courses about civic activism and human trafficking, engaged students in cultural exploration of Seattle’s International District, and lead conversations around to get involved and make change.

Joff Hanauer Honors Professorship

In 2007, Northwest Businessman Jerry Hanauer established an endowment in the College of Arts and Sciences in honor of his son, Joff Hanauer. Among other things, the endowment provides for a Joff Hanauer Honors Professorship in Western Civilization, the first professorship in Honors.

The Hanauer Professorship recognizes a faculty member whose research and teaching address issues pertinent to our civilization. Hanauer Professors teach and participate in the life of the Honors Program, lending valuable perspective to Honors initiatives and community conversations. Hanauer Professors serve on the Honors Advisory Council, mentor students beyond the classroom, and participate in events. The generous gift that funds this award underscores the importance of Honors as an interdisciplinary catalyst at the University of Washington.

LaShawnDa Pittman – American Ethnic Studies; Sociology – 2022-2026

LaShawnDa Pittman (she/her), UW Associate Professor of American Ethnic Studies and Adjunct Associate Professor of Sociology, addresses the coping experiences of socially marginalized women, including Black women raising a second and third generation and those living with poor health outcomes. Her other research interests include social stratification and inequality; urban poverty; race and ethnicity; gender and families; research methods; public policy; and health disparities. Dr. Pittman is also the founder and director of the Black digital humanities project, Real Black Grandmothers. Members of the UW Honors community might remember Dr. Pittman from Global Challenges events in 2015 and 2022, where she shared her perspectives on public health and displacement, respectively. Dr. Pittman published a groundbreaking book in 2023: “Grandmothering While Black: A Twenty-First Century Story of Love, Coercion and Survival.” Visit Dr. Pittman’s personal website to learn more about her scholarship and research.

More About LaShawnDa Pittman

Past Hanauer Professors

Daniel Bessner

Daniel Bessner – U.S. Foreign Affairs2020-2022

Portrait of Daniel Bessner

Daniel Bessner is an associate professor in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and was previously the Anne H.H. and Kenneth B. Pyle Professor in American Foreign Policy.  He is also a non-resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and a Contributing Editor at Jacobin. Bessner’s Hanauer appointment reflected his intellectual leadership, energetic and innovative teaching style, and impressive commitment to improving popular understanding of the history, challenges and opportunities of U.S. foreign policy. Bessner’s continual desire to create an intelligent, compassionate world where all people are treated equally guides his contributions to scholarship and public discourse. His impressive library of published works, which have appeared in venues such as The New York Times, Washington Post, and Guardian, may be found on his website.

More About Daniel Bessner

María Elena García

María Elena García – CHID; Anthropology2018-2020

MaríaElena García

María Elena García is associate professor in the Comparative History of Ideas program and the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. She received her PhD in Anthropology at Brown University and has been a Mellon Fellow at Wesleyan University and Tufts University. Her first book, Making Indigenous Citizens: Identities, Development, and Multicultural Activism in Peru (Stanford, 2005) explores Indigenous and intercultural politics in the Andes. Her second book, Culinary Spectacles: Gastro-Politics, and Other Tales of Race and Species in Peru (under contract with the University of California Press), examines the intersections of race, species, and capital in contemporary Peru. 

More About María Elena García

Bill Talbott

Bill Talbott – Philosophy2016-2018

Bill Talbott

Bill Talbott has taught philosophy at the University of Washington since 1989. He focuses on moral and political philosophy, especially the philosophy of human rights, and epistemology.

In 2011, Talbott won the UW Distinguished Teaching Award. He has been a member of the Steering Committee for the UW Center for Human Rights since the Center’s founding in 2009 and he is a co-founder and co-principal investigator of the tri-campus research cluster on Human Interactions and Normative Innovation (HI-NORM), which is part of an international network of scholars doing research related to human rights.

Robin Stacey

Robin Stacey – History – 2014-2016

Robin Chapman Stacey

Robin Chapman Stacey (ret.) is a specialist in medieval history and law, particularly of early Ireland and Wales. She has been at the University of Washington since 1988, and is the author of a variety of books and articles on topics pertaining to Celtic studies. Her research has been supported by grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies, and she is a past winner of the UW’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

Her most popular classes included “Myths and Mysteries of the Middle Ages;” “Celtic Civilizations;” “Medieval Women,” and “Reading Tolkien,” a class that she developed originally for Honors students.

José Antonio Lucero

José Antonio Lucero – Jackson School of International Studies – 2012-2014

José Antonio Lucero

José Antonio (Tony) Lucero is Chair of Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the principal organizer of the 2012-13 John E. Sawyer Seminar in Comparative Culture at the University of Washington, funded by the Mellon Foundation. A graduate of Stanford (BA, Political Science) and Princeton (MA/PhD, Politics) Lucero has also studied at the Universitá di Firenze and the Colegio de México. He teaches courses on international political economy, cultural interactions, social movements, Latin American politics, and borderlands.

Located at the intersections of political and cultural analysis, his research examines the encounters between Western and Indigenous political projects in the Americas and has been supported by external grants from funders including the National Science Foundation, Fulbright, the Ford Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. Lucero is the author of Struggles of Voice: The Politics of Indigenous Representation in the Andes, a work that puts canonical Western theories of political order (including those of Hobbes, Burke, Gramsci, and Foucault) in dialogue with the praxis of indigenous social movements.

He is currently working on research projects on the cultural politics of (1) conflicts between Awajún/Wampis Indigenous communities and the filmmaker Werner Herzog in Peru (2) human rights activism, religion, and Indigenous politics on the Mexico-US border. He is co-editor of theOxford Handbook of Indigenous Peoples Politics (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) and co-author of several works with fellow UW Professor María Elena García (CHID), the most recent of which is their son José Antonio Simón Lucero-García (future UW Class of 2033). 

Ken Clatterbaugh

Ken Clatterbaugh – Philosophy – 2010-2012

Portrait of Kenneth Clatterbaugh

Professor Ken Clatterbaugh has served as Chairman of the Department of Philosophy since 1996. His current scholarly interests include: the development of philosophical ideas about causation, especially at the beginning of modern science; how social movements come into being and why they fade away; and the interaction between religion and civil society.

His books include: The Causation Debate in Modern Philosophy 1637-1739; and, Contemporary Perspectives on Masculinity, Men, Women, and Politics in Modern Society. He is currently at work on a satirical book about religion. Conversations with undergraduate students are the favorite parts of his day. He will be serving as the Joff Hanauer Professor in Western Civilization for 2010-2012. 

Leroy Searle

Leroy Searle – English; Comparative Literature – 2008-2010

Portrait of Leroy Searle

The first holder of the Joff Hanauer Honors Professorship in Western Civilization is Leroy Searle, a professor in the Departments of English and Comparative Literature. Professor Searle’s areas of specialization include American Literature, Computer Aided Instruction, and Literary Criticism and Theory. Like Heracles at the crossroad in Greek mythology, Leroy had to make a choice after college: the study of genome science or English literature. Although he chose the latter, his breadth of interests, including science, computer programming, the arranging and performance of music, not to mention motorcycle maintenance, makes him a great model for thinking across and beyond academic disciplines. He offered his inaugural course in Honors, “Traditions of Justice,” in spring of 2009 and focused on the central place accorded to the idea of justice in the intellectual and cultural traditions of the West, with attention paid to justice as an ethical and religious concept, as the foundation for the rule of law, and as reflected in literature and art.

The Honors Excellence in Teaching Award

Honors students determine the annual recipient of our “Honors Excellence in Teaching Award” in recognition of the knowledge, enthusiasm, and dedication these special instructors and mentors bring to the classroom.

Oliver Fraser (astronomy) – 2024

Oliver Fraser, department of Astronomy, teaches a very popular science communications course, Storytelling in the Sciences (Honors 220) in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program. He also supports the astronomy department at UW by teaching lecture-based and asynchronous-online Astro 101 courses and training students to observe in Astro 481. He is very active in the department’s planetarium programs, the UW in the High School program and the Astronomy Education Clearinghouse.

Learn more about Oliver Fraser

Nadra Fredj (Honors) and Steven Karceski (sociology) – 2023

Sometimes there’s a tie in the number of HETA nominations and we’re able to celebrate two remarkable Honors faculty in a single year. Nadra Fredj teaches Honors’ autumn intro course, HON100 and also leads a spring seminar preparing Honors Peer Educators for their important role facilitating sections of HON100. Steven Karceski leads sociology majors through their unique journeys to earn Departmental Honors. His teaching focuses on sociological theory, political sociology, undergraduate research, and statistical programming.

Learn more about Nadra & Steve

Jon Herron (biology) – 2022, 2020, 2017, 2014, 2003

Jon Herron is without question one of the most beloved Honors professors in the history of our program. Whether you’re already a fan of Dr. Herron or you could just use a spark of joy in your day, you will want to click below! Watch Jon bat away compliments for 15 whole minutes! Enjoy the secret comments he makes about Honors students in this very public video chat.

Watch Dr. Heron’s Award Video

Jake Cooper (biology) – 2021

Dr. Jacob Cooper, Department of Biology, overcomes a difficult year of teaching online school and excels in delivering enthusiasm to his students. With a special focus on educational equity and game theory, Dr. Cooper engages students in activities and modalities that make learning fun.

Learn more about Jake Cooper

Moon Draper (biology) and Charity Urbanski (history) – 2019

Interdisciplinary Honors/biology professor Moon Draper and Departmental Honors/history professor Charity Urbanski were tied in nominations for our annual teaching award in spring of 2019. Students cited their passion for the subject matter, flexible style that includes many ways of learning and individual student perspectives and willingness to commit extra time and attention outside of class to guarantee success for those motivated to take them up on it.

Learn about Moon Draper and Charity Urbanski

Joel Walker (history) – 2018

Dr. Joel Walker, an Associate Professor of History and the inaugural holder of the Lawrence J. Roseman Endowed Professorship at the University of Washington, dazzles students with his demanding, high-charisma, multi-faceted approach to history, earning him this year’s coveted Honors teaching award. Through his courses, Walker has inspired hundreds of UW Honors undergrads to care deeply about history, to communicate effectively and creatively, and to open new horizons for their own reading, travel, and thinking.

More About Joel Walker

Past Honors Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients

  • 2017-18
    Joel Walker
  • 2016-17
    Jon Herron
  • 2015-16
    Clare Bright
    Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies
  • 2014-15
    Theo Myhre
    School of Law
  • 2013-14
    Jon Herron
  • 2012-13
    Frances McCue
  • 2011-12
    Andrew Loveless
  • 2010-11
    Zev Handel
    Asian Languages & Literature
  • 2009-10
    Lisa Schultz
    Art History
  • 2008-09
    Eugene Edgar
  • 2007-08
    Stewart Tolnay
  • 2006-07
    James Allen Morrow
  • 2005-06
    Mary Pat Wenderoth
  • 2004-05
    Bob Dumas
  • 2003-04
    Steven Herbert
    Law, Societies, and Justice
  • 2002-03
    Jon Herron
  • 2001-02
    Clarke Speed