Making an Impact: College of Arts and Sciences Spotlights Four Faculty Members
Through teaching, research, and service, our faculty are making an impact on student lives, on our community, and on the world. From music to biology to Spanish, these four faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences are helping their students become lifelong learners.
“If I have any goal in teaching, it is to foster a lifelong interest in learning—especially as it relates to biology, cells, and microbiology,” said Alexandre, associate head of the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology. “I hope to leave the students with a greater thirst to learn and perhaps a more educated perspective on the power of knowledge.”
Alexandre’s research demonstrates how microbes “think.” Her research seeks to characterize, at the molecular level, the strategies used by bacteria to adapt to changes in their surroundings.
During her lectures, she has the students practice the concepts they are studying by using real experimental data and scenarios.
“With anything you have to practice and repeat; it’s no different with science,” she said. “Practicing the concepts using real experimental data or real-world scenarios regularly helps students with problem solving and engages them more into what we are studying.”
Her approach works. In 2010, she received the Outstanding Teaching Award in her department and also the Outstanding Teaching Award from the college.
Her innovative educational STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) outreach to local teachers and students was featured by the National Science Foundation in 2011. The outreach program brought UT students to teach classroom science experiments to kindergarten through twelfth grade students.
“The program was a success because the UT students were excited to build that relationship with the young students,” said Alexandre. “The younger students wanted to learn because someone closer to their age was explaining it in an interesting way to them.”
She has hosted precollegiate research scholars in her lab as well, where rising high school seniors conduct original research in a UT laboratory with a pair of trained mentors, one from UT and the other from the high school.
If there’s a mantra in Gordon Burghardt’s classes, this may be it.
Burghardt, professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, studies the development of behavior and the roles of genetics and experience. His work focuses primarily on reptiles but he also looks at other species, including black bears and monkeys.
His recent research has been studying how animals—including lizards, turtles, fish, and spiders—play. He’s also studying the intelligence and cognitive abilities of reptiles.
He wants his students to develop an appreciation of human and animal behavior, nature, and evolution. He also wants to instill in them a curiosity and a love of learning.
“My main goal in teaching is to encourage students to think deeply and thoughtfully about the subject matter. I want them to value reading original scholarly and research sources and be able to apply them to issues we face today–scientifically, culturally, politically, and more,” he said. “My hope is that many years after students leave UT, they will still value and use the knowledge, concepts, and applications we covered in class.”
Burghardt has earned a reputation as an excellent teacher and mentor, and his research has attracted decades of funding from many sources, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
In 2013, he received the College of Arts and Sciences inaugural award honoring a distinguished research career of at least twenty years at the university. He is an Alumni Distinguished Service Professor and was named Macebearer in 2005, the highest honor bestowed on a faculty member by the university.
He tries to leave some class time for discussion, even in large lectures.
“I hope that students learn as much from my presentations as I learn from listening to their dialogues,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan, the Lindsay Young Professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages and the director of the Language and World Business program, focuses his research on the literature of the Spanish Middle Ages and the early evolution of the Spanish language.
For the past decade, he has been researching seven caves that were made into churches during the seventh century in the region of Cantabria in northern Spain. Kaplan’s research compares the architectural features of these rock-cut churches to Visigoth masonry churches built in northern Spain during the same century.
Through this research, which includes groundbreaking analysis of Latin inscriptions found within and near the rock-cut churches, Kaplan argues that the Spanish language, Castilian, was formed in Cantabria during the early Middle Ages.
He discusses his research to help inspire students.
“I find that students are inspired to develop their own research projects when they see first-hand how critical approaches can be tools for reaching and communicating new conclusions,” he said. “It is very important to disseminate the wonderful notion that learning is a lifelong process.”
The National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship awarded Kaplan a fellowship in November. He received more than $25,000 for his book project, Saul Levi Morteira, Spinoza’s Enlightened Rabbi: A Critical Edition of Obstaculos y oposiciones contra la religion christiana.
The book sheds new light on the intersection between Dutch Christian Hebraism and Jewish apologetic writing. The grant will enable Kaplan to produce a critical study and translation into English of an unedited manuscript that is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Collection at the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam.
Moore, professor of music education and James A. Cox Endowed Chair, teaches kindergarten through eighth grade classroom music and third through eighth grade choral music to undergraduate students in the School of Music. She also guides graduate students conducting research in general music, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, and multicultural music.
“I hope my students acquire an affection for their students and understand the importance of addressing their overall needs through engagement in music,” said Moore.
Moore was born to teach—literally.
Her father was pastor of a Presbyterian church in Decatur, Alabama. Her mother was the church pianist and choral director as well as an elementary school teacher—a talented vocalist and musician who instilled a love of music in her daughter.
Moore began her teaching career at age five, when she would gather friends in her backyard to have “music class.” She earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Talladega College, a master’s in music education from Vanderbilt University, and a doctorate in music education from the University of Michigan.
Last spring, Moore was named a Lowell Mason Fellow, the highest honor bestowed by the National Association for Music Education.
She is also serving as the College Marshal, the highest honor bestowed by the college. These tributes are fitting as this year will mark her grand finale. She will retire this summer after thirty-five years at UT.
Moore has established the National Symposium on Multicultural Music at UT, a biennial event that highlights music cultures of the world through workshops, performances, and research.
She is the author of “Musical Culture of African American Children in Tennessee” in the Oxford publication The Musical Culture of Children, comprising five books and a DVD.
She has served as clinician and guest conductor for music organizations in forty-four states and has presented sessions at International Society for Music Education conferences in eight countries.
She has been honored with numerous awards, including the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award and the Tennessee Music Education Association Hall of Fame Award.
C O N T A C T :
Katherine Saxon (865-974-8365, email@example.com)