- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Elvira Galvan Hack, staff advisor for students in the Animal Biology (ABI) major, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and ABI master advisor Robert Kimsey, forensic entomologist and lecturer in the department, are drawing acolades for winning major advising awards from Region 9 of NACADA, the Global Community for Academic Advising.
Hack won the category, Excellence in Advising Award, Advisor Primary Role. Kimsey won a certificate of merit, Excellence in Advising, Faculty Advisor category. The region covers California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Honora Knopp, academic advisor for undergraduate academic programs in the dean's office, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, won the Excellence in Advising Award, Advising Equity Champion.
They will be honored at the Region 9 conference, set April 23-25 in Palm Springs.
Elvira Galvan Hack
Hack, a 17-year academic advisor, was hired in October 2007 as the new undergraduate staff advisor for the animal biology major, then located in the Department of Nematology.
“Elvira is likely the best academic advisor ever,” Kimsey wrote in the application. “Not only is she completely conversant with all the rules and regulations of the major, but understands the latitude of flexibility built into their application in a very human way. She is connected with all the administrative functionaries necessary to efficiently accomplish any task in a timely manner. For the confused or troubled student, she is the first and last resort for the solution of problems not only of an academic or administrative kind but those of a deeply personal nature as well. She keeps them on track, outlining their options, helping them decide on their future professions, and the direction their life should take. She has been invaluable to me as the master advisor. She really does care about a student's fate. Moreover we have had great fun doing these tasks together.”
Hack describes her philosophy of advising:"My overall philosophy is that students should feel welcome, respected and treasured. I ensure that my advising office is a warm, friendly, and an inviting place, an all-inclusive place where students can feel both comfortable and safe. They can trust me: they can trust me to listen, they can trust me to be heard, and they can trust me that they will be understood, supported and valued. I maintain an open door policy. I am here to provide them with advice, assistance and tools at a time when they need it the most. If they are experiencing a problem, I make time for them immediately, no matter the hour. I assure them that it is better for them to seek assistance now, than for them to head home and worry about it for hours or days. I emphasize how important self-care is because, frankly, they can be so hard on themselves. In the classroom, they may struggle with the instructor, content, assignments, grades and peers, but in my office, it's a positive experience. I assure them that they belong here, that they are appreciated, and that they are celebrated like family. My students know that I care. For example, I know that many students develop food insecurities due to monetary or time restraints. Thus, I stock a table with healthy snacks and encourage them to “drop in and grab a quick snack” in between classes or when they are working on research projects in their lab."
Students highly praise her work, dedication and kindness. “During my first quarter as a transfer student, I went through some extreme life changes and emotional rollercoasters,” one student said. “I would end up in her office crying my eyes out and in distraught, but she always calmed me down and helped me reach out for other help to get me through my rough patch.”
Another student described Elvira “as by far the most helpful, kind and encouraging adviser I have met at UC Davis. Being a first-generation college student, I require extra help in understanding and executing graduation requirements and other criteria for my future career goals.”
Kimsey, master advisor for the ABI major since 2010 and an ABI lecturer since 2001, “excels at teaching, advising and mentoring,” wrote nominator Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “He sincerely cares about each student, and incredibly, remembers their conversations and their interests.”Kimsey wrote in part about his philosophy of advising: "In a broad sense, advising at the undergraduate level requires a good and objective listener, broad experience in life, a source of diverse perspectives to tackle any potential problem, an ability to put oneself in the other person's place, and really caring about and enjoying other people."
Kimsey's teaching philosophy: "I think that humans learn best together, where one person demonstrates the process or disseminates the knowledge to solve a problem to another person, and then together they solve the problem. The problem may be proximal and practical or abstract and conceptual. Following instruction, the teacher may participate with groups of students to solve problems, and there exist many other variations on teaching that adhere to this simple theme. But the principal components remain the same: demonstration or dissemination of knowledge followed by cooperative application. This is likely the most ancient of teaching concepts, and to the extent recent innovations in teaching method return to this simple process and replace simple lecturing, it continues to be the most effective."
Kimsey is known for expertly guiding students toward career paths, helping them meet challenges and overcome obstacles.
“I view Dr. Kimsey as the epitome of what a university professor and student advisor should be,” wrote doctoral student Alex Dedmon, who has worked with him for 10 years, first as an undergraduate student in 2009 and now as a doctoral candidate. “Over that time, he has filled many roles in my life and career--a mentor, teacher, advisor, major professor, and friend.”
Kimsey continues to draw accolades from Rate My Professors, an online student forum:
- “Dr. Kimsey is by far one of the best professors at UC Davis. His class never fails to entertain! You do need to put in the work to do well but it is very worth it! Dr. Kimsey truly cares about his students and wants to see them succeed and find a path that best suits them. Strongly recommend!”
- "This was the best class I've taken at UC Davis. You can tell that Dr. Kimsey really cares, and puts a lot of effort into his class.”
Both Kimsey and Hack are recipients of other major awards this year. Kimsey won the 2019 UC Davis Outstanding Advisor Award. Hack was honored at the< a href="https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=31402">2019 Staff Assembly's Citation for Excellence Program, receiving an honorable mention and cash award in the highly competitive Individual Service Award category.
Both Kimsey and Hack shared the 2019 Eleanor and Harry Walker Advising Awardsfrom the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, for top faculty advisor and top staff advisor, respectively. The awards honor excellence and innovation in academic advising.
NACADA' s vision is to recognize that "effective academic advising is at the core of student success." Its mission is is to promote student success by advancing the field of academic advising globally. The organization provides opportunities for professional development, networking, and leadership in its diverse membership,
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
What an honor and so well-deserved!
Yang will receive the Outstanding Faculty Academic Advising Award from NACADA, also known as the Global Community for Academic Advising, at its Sept. 30-Oct. 3 conference in Phoenix, Ariz. He earlier received the 2017 Faculty Advisor Award of Excellence in NACADA's Pacific Region 9, comprised of California, Nevada and Hawaii.
The accolades flow.
“Professor Yang is dedicated to helping students link their academic studies to research and other careers,” said associate dean Susan Ebeler of Undergraduate Academic Programs, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “ He has developed innovative mentoring programs that help students develop as scholars and scientists and he is committed to enhancing diversity and retention in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. He has made exemplary contributions to student success in our college and campus-wide and it is great to see his contributions recognized.”
Yang, an associate professor who joined the UC Davis faculty in 2009, teaches Insect Ecology and Field Ecology. He holds a bachelor's degree (ecology and evolution) from Cornell University, 1999 and received his doctorate from UC Davis in 2006.
He is known for fostering creative and critical thinking, and challenging his students to succeed by linking their academic studies to research and other goals.
“Professor Yang epitomizes what makes a great professor: his command of the subject matter, his ability to stimulate discussions and involvement, and his kindly concern for their education, welfare and success,” said nematologist Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “He engages and challenges students in his lectures, in the lab, and in the field and encourages them not only to expect success but to pursue their goals.”
“His mentees not only include undergraduate and graduate students, but high school students and postdoctoral scholars and beyond,” Nadler said. “He attends to the unique needs and interests of each student, respecting their perspectives and ideas. Mentorship, he finds, is really about helping students identify the questions that they want to ask. His success is their success."
An important part of his advising is his work in the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology (RSPIB), a campuswide program co-founded by Jay Rosenheim, Joanna Chiu and Yang. Aware that some of the most important skills for research biologists cannot be taught in big lecture halls or even in lab courses, they set out to help students learn cutting-edge research through close mentoring relationships with faculty. The program crosses numerous biological fields, including population biology; behavior and ecology; biodiversity and evolutionary ecology; agroecology; genetics and molecular biology; biochemistry and physiology; entomology; and cell biology. The goal? To provide academically strong and highly motivated undergraduates with a multi-year research experience that cultivates skills that will prepare them for a career in biological research.
In addition to RSPIB mentoring, Yang mentors many undergraduates in his lab. He has welcomed and mentored students from UC Davis and from around the country with the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program and the UC Davis-Howard University Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Ecology and Evolution Graduate Admissions Pathways (EEGAP) program
In the past year, Yang mentored 15 undergrads in his lab in studies that included: the nonconsumptive effects on monarch development to see if parasitoid avoidance behaviors in early development have a long-term cost for monarch development; the factors that contribute to herbivory by generalist herbivores on milkweed; the effects of a recently observed plant foliar fungal pathogen on milkweed on monarch growth and development; the costs of switching milkweed species for monarch larvae; and the density dependence in larval and adult blue milkweed beetles.
Former student Allyson Earl, now a researcher in Guam, credits Yang with shaping her academic career: "I had the pleasure of working under Louie Yang for the last year of my undergraduate degree at UC Davis as one of his research assistants. I watched as he worked tirelessly with several other student assistants in the lab on personal projects focused on our study subjects, Monarch butterflies. His mentorship style in these projects was one that guided students to draw their own conclusions rather than handing them answers, leading them to ask more complex questions and develop themselves as better students and scientists. I can say with confidence, he not only nurtured my desire to study the intricacies of ecology, but also to pursue a career in this field, without his guidance and support I would not be where I am today."
Yang also launched the Monitoring Milkweed-Monarch Interactions for Learning and Conservation (MMMILC) Project in 2013 for high school students in the environmental science program at Davis Senior High School or those associated with the Center for Land-Based Learning's GreenCorps program. They monitor milkweed-monarch interactions in a project funded by the National Science Foundation. Yang and UC Davis undergraduate and graduate students serve as mentors.
Established in 1983, the NACADA Annual Awards Program for Academic Advising honors individuals and institutions making significant contributions to the improvement of academic advising within higher education. Its membership totals more than 11,000.