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Jaworski and Wilcox Honored for Teaching Excellence with 2014 Kroepsch-Maurice Awards

Diane Jaworski, Ph.D., Professor of Neurological Sciences (left), and Rebecca Wilcox, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pathology (right) (Photo: Erin Post)Diane Jaworski, Ph.D., Professor of Neurological Sciences (left), and Rebecca Wilcox, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pathology (right)


The Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Vermont has announced that two faculty in the UVM College of Medicine have received a 2014 Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award in recognition of their overall excellence in instruction of UVM students. The recipients are Diane Jaworski, Ph.D., professor of neurological sciences, and Rebecca Wilcox, M.D., assistant professor of pathology. This is the first time in the award’s 27-year history that two College of Medicine faculty have been granted this award in the same year.

Among the Kroepsch-Maurice Award’s criteria are: use of learning experiences outside the traditional classroom; capacity to animate and engage students; innovative teaching methods and/or curriculum; commitment to cultural diversity; ability to motivate and challenge students; and excellent advising.

Each Kroepsch-Maurice recipient receives $1,000.

Jaworski, who teaches both undergraduate and graduate neuroscience students, as well as medical students at the College of Medicine, joined the UVM faculty in 1995. Each fall, she teaches undergraduates in the Human Anatomy & Physiology (ANPS 19) course, and in the spring, she teaches in the first-year medical student Neural Science course, which is part of the Foundations level of the Vermont Integrated Curriculum (VIC). In addition, Jaworski participates in courses for students in the Neuroscience Graduate Program.

Lauded for her ability to make her subject material easy to understand, one of Jaworski’s nomination submissions stated that “Dr. Jaworski's passion for the brain and how it works is inspiring.” Another nomination letter shared that, despite the tendency of science lectures to be difficult to teach and dry, “Dr. Jaworski is the best science lecturer I have ever had in my four years here at UVM – the examples she gave for certain diseases and health problems were very moving; you could feel the entire lecture hall of 200 people hanging onto every word she said.” Jaworski, who earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Texas Women’s University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neurobiology at Yale University School of Medicine, is a two-time recipient of the American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) Gender Equity Award, presented by medical students following completion of the Foundations level of the VIC.

Wilcox, an anatomic pathologist at Fletcher Allen Health Care, teaches in the UVM College of Medicine Nutrition, Metabolism, and Gastrointestinal System (NMGI) course in the Foundations level of the VIC. A member of the College of Medicine faculty since 2009, she received her medical degree from Oregon Health and Science University and completed an anatomic and clinical pathology residency and gastrointestinal pathology fellowship at the University of Chicago Hospitals.

A teacher skilled in providing instruction that translate readily to clinical practice and help prepare students for medical licensing exams, Wilcox was described in one nomination letter as “enthusiastic about what she is teaching, has a real-life aspect to her lectures . . .  and explains things well.” Her nontraditional lectures – in the classroom or in the lab – were described as “definitely NOT taught from a textbook.” One example of her innovative approach includes co-teaching with surgeons to highlight how closely surgeons and pathologists work together and how their individual roles contribute uniquely to the patient treatment team.

Both Jaworski and Wilcox have both been actively involved in outreach education to visiting groups – including participants of the Vermont Brain Bee, Girls Science Discovery Day, and miscellaneous middle-school and high-school classes – in the anatomy and pathology labs respectively.

Among the list of College of Medicine faculty who have also received this prestigious award are: Barry Heath, M.D., professor of pediatrics (2011); Mario Trabulsy, M.D., associate professor of surgery (2010); Doug Johnson, M.D., professor of microbiology and molecular genetics (2008); Steven Shackford, M.D., professor of surgery emeritus (2005); Ellen Black, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurological sciences (2001); Jean Szilva, M.D., assistant professor of neurological sciences emerita (1997); and Gerald Silverstein, lecturer of microbiology & molecular genetics emeritus (1993).

Established in 1987, the Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award memorializes Robert H. and Ruth M. Kroepsch and her parents, Walter C. and Mary L. Maurice. Robert H. Kroepsch served as registrar and dean of administration at UVM from 1946 to 1956. His wife, Ruth, graduated from UVM in 1938 and her father, Walter Maurice, graduated from UVM in 1909. All four of them were teachers.

Learn more about the Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award.