Tag Archives: Faculty Spotlight

Faculty Spotlight: Jennifer Quinn


UW Tacoma SIAS Faculty Member and Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Jennifer Quinn, has committed to walking 10,000 steps a day!

Dr. Quinn got a FitBit two years ago and it has drastically changed her lifestyle.  She went from walking 2,000 steps a day to a goal of walking 10,000 steps a day.  Dr. Quinn also  promotes her healthier lifestyle by her outlook on math and how it can be utilized.  She is currently illistrating a young adult novel that “integrates that beauty [beauty in people] with the functionality of math”.

To read more about Dr. Quinn’s healthy lifestyle and her current book project, please visit The Whole U for the full article “Faculty Friday: Jennifer Quinn

Faculty Spotlight – Dan Shugar


Dan Shugar is a new assistant professor to UW Tacoma Sciences and Mathematics (SAM).

Dan Shugar is a geoscientist, who studies Earth surface landforms and the processes that shape them (“geomorphology”). Most recently he worked as a postdoctoral research fellow (2011-2015) at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. His research combines fieldwork, geomatics (GIS and remote sensing), laboratory analysis, and numerical modelling, and has included studies of landslides and glaciers in Alaska; permafrost, landslides and lake evolution in Yukon; sea-level change, landslides and glacier change in British Columbia; river erosion in Ontario; river turbulence in Argentina and landslides in Nepal. The incredible geography of the Pacific Northwest, and the teaching and research opportunities that will bring is the main reason Dan is excited about joining SIAS and UWT.

Dan is the proud father of 3-year-old Ansel and 3-month-old Juniper, and has been happily married to his wife Jen for 10 years. Dan is an avid backcountry skier, rock climber, backpacker, and photographer. He and Jen are excited to have their girls grow up in the Pacific Northwest, with the Cascades and Olympic Mountains in their backyard.

Faculty Spotlight – Maureen Kennedy

Kennedy-Maureen UWT Assistant Professor

Maureen Kennedy is a new assistant professor for UW Tacoma Sciences and Mathematics (SAM).

For her graduate work, Maureen Kennedy developed a simulation model of branch morphogenesis for old-growth conifers. She used multi-criteria optimization to discover branch morphologies that represented alternative optimal solutions to the problem of longevity under growth constraints. She has since applied multi-criteria optimization to the problem of fuel and fire management under multiple ecological and social priorities. Maureen continues to conduct quantitative research in model uncertainty assessment, in understanding spatio-temporal patterns in fire history data, in employing spatially explicit analysis to evaluate fuel treatment efficacy during wildfire, and in estimating non-linear growth and yield models for sustainable forest management.

Maureen is excited to continue her research and teaching at UW Tacoma. When not teaching or conducting research Maureen spends much of her free time walking and jogging with her dog in their NW Seattle neighborhood. She and her partner can often be found riding their bicycles around Seattle, or spending their Saturdays at restoration sites throughout the Mountains to Sound Greenway, volunteering in trail work, tree planting, or invasive species removal. They also enjoy the ample opportunities to hike or kayak on local trails and waterways.

Faculty Spotlight – Emily Cilli-Turner

Cilli-Turner-Emily UWT Lecturer

Emily Cilli-Turner is a new lecturer to UW Tacoma Science and Mathematics (SAM).

Emily Cilli-Turner’s research focuses on questions in undergraduate mathematics education. She investigates the thought processes of students in a transition to proof course and determining effective ways to teach students to prove in mathematics. She is also interested in flipped classroom pedagogy and has studied students’ attitudes and achievement in a flipped statistics course.

She is very excited to join SIAS because it is a tight-knit community of scholars and many resources are provided to help faculty become the best teachers they can be. She is also excited about the new mathematics major. She enjoys hiking, backpacking, biking and walking her dog.

Faculty Spotlight – Haley Skipper

Skipper-Haley UWT Lecturer

Hayley Skipper is a math lecturer within Sciences and Mathematics (SAM).

What was your favorite class as an undergrad?

This is a tough question. Of course I loved most of my math classes and math professors which made me switch from majoring in Economics to Mathematics! If I can pick more than one, I’d choose Statistics, Sociology, and Ballroom Dance as a few of my favorite classes.

Tell us about an interesting job you had in the past.

In 2009-2010, I had several part-time jobs: Going door to door collecting data for the 2010 Census, an on-campus instructor at a technical college, an online instructor for 2 other colleges, and a ballroom dance instructor for Arthur Murray.  That was a fun and busy year being able to be paid to do my favorite activities: teaching, collecting data, and dancing!  Maybe the next reality TV show could be, Dancing with the Mathematicians

Faculty Spotlight – Jim Gawel

Gawel-Jim UWT Associate Professor

Jim Gawel is an associate professor with Sciences and Mathematics (SAM).

What kind of a student were you? As an undergrad I worked late night shifts in the pizza place on campus, and so I was often tired in my morning class, General Chemistry.  The professor was one of the least inspired teachers I have known, and so I would sit in the back of class in a 300 person lecture hall in hard wooden fixed seats and fall asleep.  I would wake up sore and get nothing out of being in class, so I taught myself chemistry from the textbook.  I strive to NOT be that teacher!

What was your favorite class as an undergrad? It was actually a marketing class for engineers taught by the guy who invented digital circuits.  In a 300 person class we would know everyone’s name by sight by the second week of class.  It was probably my favorite class because he was the most amazing teacher!

What was a gratifying teaching moment? Every time I see a student succeed after working hard; doesn’t matter whether that is on a test, doing research in the field, or finally getting their diploma on stage. That is what I live for, that is why I teach!

What research are you working on now? I am collaborating with other former grad students from my same lab at MIT (Parsons Laboratory, Environmental Engineering), now at UW Seattle and University of Colorado, to understand the environmental chemistry and potential biotic impact of arsenic (from the ASARCO plant in Ruston) that was deposited in lakes in Pierce and King Counties.

Tell us about an interesting job you had in the past. I was a water engineer in the Peace Corps in Kenya right after I graduated college.

Faculty Spotlight – Erik Tou

Tou-Erik UWT Lecturer

Erik Tou is a new lecturer to UW Tacoma Sciences and Mathematics (SAM).

In addition to teaching, Erik Tou serves as Chief Historian of the Euler Archive, a scholarly organization devoted to the collection, digitization, and translation of the works of 18th century Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler. His research covers a wide range of topics, including the mathematics of juggling, zeta functions, and the Gaussian integers. Erik is excited to join the growing university that is UW Tacoma, and to help build the new math major into a successful and active program. He lives in Tacoma with his wife, Lizz, and son, Asher.

Faculty Spotlight – Joan Bleecker

Bleecker-Joan UWT Lecturer

Joan Bleecker is a new lecturer for UW Tacoma within Sciences and Mathematics (SAM).

As a graduate student, Joan Bleecker studied model cell membranes composed of just a few different lipid (fat) types to see how changing lipid structure affected lipid organization along the membrane. As a chemistry lecturer at UW Tacoma’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, her goal is to teach students to 1) use intuition to understand chemical concepts, 2) observe how chemistry relates to the natural world, 3) work collaboratively and ask for help, and 4) use assessment to improve performance.

Joan is passionate about helping students overcome roadblocks to their success. As a graduate student,  she was a founding member of a women in sciences group at the UW Seattle and she is deeply committed to improving diversity and increasing the number of women and people of color in science.

Joan grew up just across the bridge in Gig Harbor and have been amazed to see the incredible growth around UW Tacoma. When she is not sciencing, Joan enjoys swing dancing, hiking, cooking, reading, listening to podcasts, and she recently took up ice skating. She is also a big fan of TED Talks.