Faculty award winners, dress in regalia, include (from left) Matthew Stoneking, Kelly Culhane, and Matthew Michelic.
Faculty award winners honored at Commencement include (from left) Matthew Stoneking, Kelly Culhane, and Matthew Michelic. (Photo by M.C. Kinney Photography)

Three Lawrence University professors—Kelly Culhane, Matthew Michelic, and Matthew Stoneking—are recipients of the university’s 2024 teaching awards. They were honored at Commencement on June 9.

See coverage of Commencement, including a photo gallery

Kelly Culhane, assistant professor of chemistry, received the Excellence in Teaching for an Early Career Faculty Member Award.

A biochemist, Culhane joined the faculty in 2021. She has taught such courses as Biochemistry I and II, as well as General Chemistry. Much of her research has focused on G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), a family of receptors important in processes such as vision, stress response, mood regulation, bone strength, and blood sugar regulation. Her research focuses on understanding how hormones and G protein interactions affect receptor conformations and thus activate distinct signaling cascades. Prior to coming to Lawrence, Culhane worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota.

Peter Blitstein, provost and dean of faculty, read a citation in presenting the award to Culhane: "In your short time at Lawrence, you have worked with colleagues to revise the curriculum for the biochemistry major and taught the introductory chemistry sequence and First-Year Studies. Your pedagogy is centered on active learning that prepares students to work together doing science. As a member of the inclusive pedagogy committee, you have taken a leading role in supporting the teaching development of your colleagues. And you have mentored some 15 students in independent research in your laboratory."

Matthew Michelic, associate professor of music, received the Excellence in Teaching Award.

A teacher in the viola studio, Michelic has been an integral part of the Lawrence faculty since 1987, teaching courses in musicology, music theory, and music pedagogy, among others. Michelic also has led by example, performing with the Lawrence Chamber Players, Cantala Choir, Concert Choir, Percussion Ensemble, LU Symphony Orchestra, and Wind Ensemble, as well as with numerous symphony orchestras throughout the country. He is retiring at the close of the academic year.

Blitstein said of Michelic: "Your contributions to Lawrence have been extensive and varied, not only in the viola studio but also in musicology, music theory, and chamber music.  Your pedagogy is informed by the acronym ALICE: Affirm, Listen, Inspire, Challenge, and Empower. You strive to truly see and affirm the unique personhood of each student as creative artists and as individuals. This close attention to the nurturing of each student individually personifies the ideal of teaching at a music conservatory and liberal arts college."

Matthew Stoneking, Alice G. Chapman Professor of Physics, received the Excellence in Scholarship/Creative Activity Award.

Stoneking has spent much of the past decade splitting his professional time between the Lawrence campus and a physics research institute in Munich, Germany, all in pursuit of a novel kind of plasma. The experimental plasma physicist has brought his Lawrence students into the research process almost every step of the way. In 2022, Stoneking was the recipient of a three-year $431,200 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), funding that allowed him to expand his research on thermal equilibrium in non-neutral plasmas. The grant funded, among other things, internship support for Lawrence students, the purchase of equipment and lab supplies to build a new experiment in Youngchild Hall, and the costs of travel to Germany to work with collaborators at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics. Stoneking has been on the physics faculty at Lawrence since 1997.

Blitstein said of Stoneking: "Your expertise in this field is nationally and internationally recognized, with no less than five NSF grants to your name. With more than two dozen peer-reviewed publications in leading journals and over 100 co-authored conference abstracts, you are one of Lawrence’s most prolific scholars."