Professor Jom Hammack Selected as 2011
Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Winner

Jom Hammack and Provost Jane Knodell
Jom Hammack and Provost Jane Knodell
Assistant Professor of Psychology Sayamwong (Jom) Hammack has been selected as one of four recipients of the 2011 Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award given annually by the University to recognize faculty for excellence in instruction. This year's awards were signed by President John Bramley and the event was hosted by the Provost's Office. They memorialize 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 1946-56. His wife, Ruth, graduated from UVM in 1938 and her father, Walter Maurice, graduated from UVM in 1909. All four of them were teachers.

Letters of nomination for Jom include the following excerpts:

 

Professor William Falls, Chair of the Psychology Department

I have observed Jom's teaching on several occasions. While Jom is quiet and rather soft spoken, his lectures are dynamic and full of life. He has an incredible ability to take extraordinarily difficult material and make is accessible to students. A good example is his course in Biopsychology. This course, required of Psychology majors, had often been met with dread by psychology majors who may be labeled as 'biology phobic'. With incredible organization and enthusiasm, Jom has succeeded in making this course popular. Students have remarked that this course was "nothing like the expected", "gave them a new perspective on psychology", 'caused them to become interested in neuroscience", or "was their favorite course". I have reviewed the material Jom presents in the course and I can certify that the course is very rigorous and does not shy away from presenting the most challenging and difficult concepts. Jom just has a way to make these concepts accessible.

 

Professor Lynne Bond, Psychology Department

Jom is extremely conscientious about engaging students in questioning the material they are dealing with, identifying contradictions, and posing problems that require solving. I have been especially struck by the frequency with which he researches answers to new questions that students have raised. He has a clear policy to state when he doesn't know an answer and to find the best answer he can before the next class.

 

Ariel Moser, class of 2011

Dr. Hammack's excellence as a Professor really stems from his approachability. He is such a kind advisor who happens to have expert advice. He's deeply respected by his students not because he's intimidating, but because he genuinely cares about the subject he teaches, his research, and his student's understanding and involvement in the subject.

...I have never seen Professor Hammack dismiss a student's interest in any topic. In fact, he embraces that and insists that we help him shape his courses.

 

Margaret Kocho-Schellenberg, Psychology Incoming Graduate Class of 2010

The simplest way to make plain Dr. Sayamwong (Jom) Hammack's teaching ability is to merely tell you that I had him as a professor for Biopsychology as a sophomore in college, then decided to work in his lab as a volunteer, then as a paid employee and now I am continuing with him for my graduate studies.

...I started working in his lab and learned more than I would have been able to in any class. I learned a lot about how a lab runs and behavioral neuroscience, but also about different career routes available in psychology, and he encouraged me to experience different aspects of psychology to help me figure out what exactly I wanted to do. He was also good at pushing me to experience things in the lab that many undergraduates don't have the chance to do... Without Jom's help I may not have realized that I wanted to go to graduate school, he really opened my eyes to the world of research.

 

Justin Van Backer, First-Year Student, UVM College of Medicine

Because of his dedication, I felt more motivated to ask questions that with another professor might go unanswered. When the professor is as enthusiastic about the subject matter and learning process as Dr. Hammack was, I felt inclined to put in the extra effort and felt enabled to explore the topics we were discussing more deeply. The commitment that Dr. Hammack shows to his students, in addition to the joy he gets from the subject matter is exceptionally apparent.

...I routinely had to power-walk to my next class because I stayed afterwards to ask questions about neuroanatomical structures or NMDA receptors' reliance on AMPA receptors for depolarization.