Distinguished Teaching Award


Award Category


2020 Distinguished Teacher Award


Nominated for excellence in teaching and/or curriculum development.

Maximum Award Recipients

  • 1 Faculty/CE Award (Associate or Full)
  • 1 Instructor Award
  • 1 Teaching Assistant Award

Nomination/Application instructions:

This award is self-nomination or LAWR affiliated individuals can nominate eligible members of the LAWR community. Submit a nomination letter (1-page maximum, 0.5” margins, 12 pt. font, PDF) describing why you (self-nomination) or the nominee is deserving of the award. Include your (or the nominee’s) name and official title in the letter. Letters of reference cannot be provided by an individual who is receiving a letter of reference from the same individual for a different award (i.e., no quid pro quo). Eligibility: Limited to current LAWR members or those within six months of affiliation/appointment with the department.

Note: Submit all materials to awardsLAWR@ucdavis.edu by 5:00 pm (PST) on January 15, 2023. The awards committee reserves the right to nominate individuals for awards, withhold an award when no applications are received, and/or increase the number of awards when applications are equivalent in quality. Individuals can receive more than one award when eligible. Awards will be announced in Spring 2023.

Award Recipients

Emma ForesterThe 2022 Distinguished Teaching Award for Teaching Assistants is awarded to Emma Forester. Emma is a Ph.D. student in Geography in Rebecca Hernandez’s Lab. Emma prioritizes building a community within each group of students she has the opportunity to teach. Students have commented that “she always made me feel so comfortable, and even excited, to participate in discussion”, “created a space that was welcoming, accepting, and centered around exploring the material”, and “was honestly the best TA I have had for any course at Davis.” Emma has served as a TA for ESM 120, LDA 150, and ESP 167..


Past Award Recipients 2020

Sanjai Parikh The 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award is awarded to Dr. Sanjai Parikh. Dr. Parikh is recognized for his commitment to teaching and dedication to students. He focuses his teaching to deliver both foundational and applied knowledge while challenging students to develop their critical thinking skills. In 2020, Dr. Parikh enjoyed teaching Environmental Soil Chemistry (SSC 102/202) and Soils in our Environment (SSC 010), with students commenting “great teacher, very caring”, “Prof. Parikh is amazing!”, “the best professor I had in UCD”, “he was so excited about soil it made me want to come to class”, “he cares that students learn the material”, and “such a great presence on my screen this quarter”. Students also appreciated his well-organized lectures and easy to navigate and content-rich course websites.


Past Award Recipients 2019

Teaching Assistants

Jessica Chiartas The 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award for Teaching Assistants is awarded to Jessica Chiartas. Jessica is a Ph.D. candidate in the Soil and Biogeochemistry Graduate Group in Toby O’Geen’s Lab. She is receiving this award due to her extensive knowledge in soil science, ability to transfer that knowledge in creative ways to her students, and her passion for science communication and teaching (SSC205 summer field class).


Nazanin Akrami The 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award for Teaching Assistants is awarded to Nazanin Akrami. Nazanin Akrami is a Ph.D. student in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry in William Horwath’s Lab. She receives this award due to her great dedication to her class (SAS014). She designed the class discussion carefully to address independent and critical thinking and incorporating global perspectives. Her students appreciated that she was passionate about building their confidence.



Randy Southard The 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award for Faculty is awarded to Professor Randy Southard. Dr. Southard has demonstrated excellence in delivering the soil science teaching program, teaching both undergraduate and graduate classes. In the classroom setting and in his field course, Dr. Southard's instruction and courses are consistently rated very high. As reflected by these very high ratings, Dr. Southard devotes substantial time and effort to class preparation, with students commenting that Dr. Southard's classes are among "the best classes they have taken... ". The faculty and students praise Dr. Southard for challenging students to think "outside the box". Teaching is Randy's strength and perhaps most significant contribution to the department's legacy.