The outstanding faculty and staff of the University of Washington Tacoma are celebrated each year through awards recognizing distinguished teaching, research, community engagement and service.
This year the university and campus honor Dr. Danica Sterud Miller for her teaching, Dr. Eric Madfis for his research, Lauren Wugalter for her community engagement, and Jeff Fitzgerald and Josh Carper for their service.
Distinguished Teaching Award Recipient: Dr. Danica Sterud Miller
Dr. Danica Miller is an Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences Division of Social & Historical Studies. Her Ph.D. is from Fordham University in New York City, where she did her dissertation on how Native American writers have engaged with the ways in which federal laws attempt to limit Native American tribal sovereignty. More recently her focus has shifted to the history of Puyallup tribal resistance and sovereignty.
UW Tacoma is located on the ancestral homeland of her people, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. Perhaps it is fitting, then, that a major focus of Dr. Miller’s recent work is the revitalization of the Lushootseed language, the indigenous language of the Puyallup people. She has developed—in collaboration with the Puyallup Tribe and the UW Tacoma Professional Development Center—a two-week, intensive immersion in the language and culture of the Coast Salish peoples from Skagit to Nisqually, including the Puyallup people, called the Lushootseed Language Institute.
Of her work with the Language Institute, a nominator wrote that it “has proven invaluable to American Indian UW Tacoma students, connecting them to their cultural heritage, which has largely been erased by mainstream cultural systems. But this work also performs the larger job of engaging UW Tacoma with its local community in ways that are meaningful and crucial. This program is not a one-off reading or workshop, but rather an intentional collaboration between students and community. This is rare at UW Tacoma, and perhaps the most valuable kind of work a professor can facilitate in her job.”
Dr. Miller has created and teaches three new courses that are critical components of a new minor in American Indian Studies. She weaves into these courses—in American Indian literature; contemporary Native American art, literature and film; and Native American literature and federal law—a Coast Salish educational method that highlights experience, storytelling, repetition and application.
The committee that recommended Dr. Miller for the award noted that “her teaching not only highlights an underrepresented field of study, but engages students in a search for deeper understanding of their lives as their lives relate to their own and other cultures.”
Distinguished Research Award Recipient: Dr. Eric Madfis
Dr. Eric Madfis is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice in the Social Work & Criminal Justice Program. His research focuses on the causes and prevention of school violence, hate crime, and mass murder. As a nationally-recognized expert on school violence, he has spoken to audiences across the country and around the world about his research, including at the 2015 United States Congressional Briefing on School Safety and Violence Prevention in Washington, D.C. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Northeastern University in Boston, where he was a Research Associate at the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict. He often teaches courses on criminological theory, sociology of deviance and social control, criminal homicide, juvenile justice, and diversity and social justice in criminology.
His work has been published in American Behavioral Scientist, Critical Criminology, Homicide Studies, The Journal of Hate Studies, The Journal of Psychology, Men and Masculinities, Social Justice, The Social Science Journal, Violence and Gender, Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, and in numerous edited volumes. His book, The Risk of School Rampage (2014, Palgrave Macmillan), explores how threats of multiple-victim rampage shootings are assessed and prevented in American public schools. He also served as co-editor (along with Dr. Adam Lankford) of the February 2018 special issue of American Behavioral Scientist on "Media Coverage of Mass Killers."
Dr. Madfis has been interviewed by and/or has had his research featured on ABC News, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, NPR, The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The Boston Globe, Live Science, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Newsweek, Politico, Psychology Today, Salon, Slate, Time, Vice, and many other local, national, and international outlets.
Distinguished Community Engagement Award: Lauren Wugalter
Lauren Wugalter is a lecturer in chemistry in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arizona, and a Master of Science degree from the University of Washington, both in chemistry.
Previously Lauren was a chemistry instructor at Tacoma Community College. At UW Tacoma, she teaches chemistry and society, a three-course sequence in general chemistry, and one course in the organic chemistry three-course sequence.
In 2016, Lauren began a fateful connection with Peace Community Center in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. The Center was founded in 2001 by congregants at Tacoma’s Peace Lutheran Church, and offers programs for youth at the elementary, middle and high school levels, and outreach and mentoring for college students. In a letter of support, a community partner noted that “Lauren has been a tremendous ally in building connections at UW Tacoma and supporting our missions of college readiness for Hilltop youth.”
The community partner goes on to note that “At [Tacoma’s McCarver Elementary School], she led ‘Mad Science’ enrichments to a group of second through fifth-graders, bringing in lab coats and goggles for a meaningful, exciting learning experience.
“She had a constant group of UW Tacoma students and faculty members working one-on-one or in small groups with our students,” said the community partner. “She collaborated with math faculty to lead a joint ‘Math-Science Leadership’ enrichment activity one month. Lauren exudes positivity and an excitement about science that is infectious for our young learners. She is the embodiment of a community partner!”
Distinguished Service Award: Jeff Fitgerald and Josh Carper
Jeff Fitzgerald is a writing consultant in the UW Tacoma Teaching & Learning Center, but he consistently “far exceeds his job description,” according to one of his nominators for the Distinguished Service Award. “That is why he has so many repeat students seeking his help and guidance. Students consider him a friend, a mentor, and counselor. Many consider him a strong influence in their lives, attributing their academic success to him,” said the nominator.
Josh Carper, who works with UW Tacoma’s Information Technology team, “provides inspirational service to the UW Tacoma community through his proactive approach to technology,” according to one of his nominators for the Distinguished Service Award. “He reaches out to the community on a regular basis to listen to their needs and find solutions. This approach is valued in a technological environment that is always changing.”