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Stanford Report, May 21, 1997

Three honored for teaching with Bing Fellowships

Three faculty members have been selected as Bing Fellows in recognition for their excellence in teaching.

The new fellows are David Beach, professor (teaching) of mechanical engineering; Albert M. Camarillo, professor of history; and Sharon R. Long, professor of biological sciences.

The awards are for a three-year term and carry a stipend of $10,000 a year. Fellows can use one-third of the money for any purpose, while two-thirds is designated for the support of projects designed to improve teaching or the curriculum.

The fellows were selected from nominations made by faculty in Humanities and Sciences, Earth Sciences and Engineering. Final recommendations to the provost were made by a committee consisting of the deans of the three schools. The awards are funded from a $5 million endowment made by Peter and Helen Bing in 1991.

David Beach

Since he started teaching at Stanford in 1974, Beach has worked his way up through the ranks from teaching specialist to professor with only a master's degree. He managed this by specializing in courses that integrate design and manufacturing. He teaches the Manufacturing and Design course in mechanical engineering, and co-teaches courses in Precision Engineering, Computer-Aided Prototyping, and Integrated Design for Marketability and Manufacturing, a joint activity of mechanical engineering and the Graduate School of Business. He also directs the Manufacturing Systems Engineering program, a collaboration between the mechanical engineering and industrial engineering departments.

Beach describes his approach to teaching as "non-traditional." He attempts to create an environment that assists students in learning how to design and manufacture mechanical devices through the Product Realization Laboratory that he has created. The lab provides students with the mentorship, space, incentive and tools they need. Among the products that students have produced in the lab are a wearable computer, a racy, double-action lever wheel chair, and a pocket-sized refrigerator to carry drugs that must be kept cold.

In 1995, Beach won the Walter J. Gores Awards for excellence in teaching, which honored him for "his dynamic vision in establishing the Product Realization Laboratory, an extraordinary learning environment where students are eager to learn, and where they are encouraged to transform ideas into reality."

Beach received his bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering product design from Stanford in 1972. He worked at Hewlett-Packard and Mattel Toys before embarking on his teaching career.

Albert M. Camarillo

A specialist in Mexican American history and widely regarded as the principal trainer of the next generation of scholars in Mexican American studies, Camarillo teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in U.S. history, with an emphasis on Chicano culture and on race and ethnicity in the 20th century. Past director of the Chicano Fellows Program and the Stanford Center for Chicano Research, and former chair of the University Committee on Minority Issues, Camarillo currently is director of the new Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity program.

In 1988 Camarillo received the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for outstanding service to undergraduate education, in recognition of his leadership in creating an environment in which ethnic diversity is welcomed on campus. He also was cited for exemplary service to residential education and for imaginative service-oriented research concerning the impoverished and homeless of Santa Clara County.

Three years ago Camarillo also received the Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in teaching. With the addition of the Bing Award, Camarillo becomes the first faculty member to have received these three major awards that the university bestows.

Camarillo joined the Stanford faculty in 1975, after having held faculty posts at Yale University and the University of California-Santa Barbara. His research activities have focused on the Chicano experience, primarily in the barrios of Santa Barbara and Southern California in the period 1848 to 1930. His work relies on both traditional sources and more recent oral histories and census materials. He has used this material to present data about different minority groups in a comparative way.

Sharon Long

Long has been named a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a MacArthur "genius" fellow. Though she studies the roots of legumes, plants like alfalfa and wisteria, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute recruited her as an investigator in 1994, and she is both a professor of biological sciences in the School of Humanities and Sciences and a professor by courtesy of biochemistry in the School of Medicine. The reason: Long is a pioneer in studies of how plants and bacteria work together for mutual benefit, fixing nitrogen from the air and converting it into a valuable nutrient. Her research has shown how the genes in alfalfa "talk" to those in its symbiotic bacterium to initiate changes in both. Insights about that conversation may shed light on mysteries of human health, including disease invasions and cancer.

Among the awards that Long says make her proudest are two Dean's Awards for teaching from the School of Humanities and Sciences. She has long been involved in curriculum reform, working to redesign biological science courses at Stanford and serving on the National Research Council's Committee on Undergraduate Science Education. She has been one of the strongest proponents of the interdisciplinary Science Core, and is a member of one of the three faculty teams designing and teaching the first experimental version of this three-quarter introduction to science for non-science majors.

Long said recently that she has been thinking about teaching in new ways since she began work on the new Science Core project and on Science Teaching Reconsidered, a new handbook published by a National Research Council committee on which she serves. "I had never thought so much about the difference between telling what you know and teaching it," she said.

Long joined the Stanford faculty in 1981 after serving a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. She holds a B.S. from Caltech and a Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology from Yale. SR