Citations for the 2015 Pinanski Prize winners

Barb Beltz

Anyone who has taken a class with Barbara Beltz knows that neuroscience is full of tweetable lines. “Serotonin is life!” and “A neuron is a neuron is a neuron,” are among her favorites.

Professor Beltz is the Allene Lummis Russell Professor of Neuroscience and a founding member of Wellesley’s successful neuroscience program. She is known for her engaging style in the classroom. One student said she “invites and encourages students to think deeply about topics, to develop their own opinions, and to ask her whatever they might want to know.”

Meanwhile, as another student put it: in the lab, Professor Beltz “leads a professional research team with a style that can be expressed as ‘No excuses with a maternal flare—and she does it with class, integrity, and patience.”

Professor Beltz believes in giving her students autonomy—with a bit of guidance—when it comes to their research, helping them become independent scientists with their own opinions and ability to critique the work of others. Among her neuroscience faculty colleagues, Professor Beltz is known as the Mother Bear. One faculty member said: “She provides all of us with the guidance and motivation we need to be successful, all the while looking after us as well. Barb is the rare mentor who can very effectively provide non-judgmental support during difficult times and simultaneously push one to improve and be the best teacher/scholar that one can be.”

For motivating her students and colleagues—and for being a stalwart champion of neuroscience at Wellesley—we are proud to award the Anna and Samuel Pinanski Teaching Prize to Barb Beltz.

Wini Wood

Winifred Wood will do whatever it takes to support her students. Sometimes that means buying coffee at 5 a.m. for her thesis students. Sometimes that means opening her home to independent study students. Always, it means putting her students first.

Professor Wood is a senior lecturer in the writing program and co-director of the Cinema and Media Studies Program. She challenges students while inspiring them.

One student said: “Wini pushes you to do better, and shows you that she truly believes you can do better. By the time we reached senior year, we accomplished things we didn’t think possible just because we didn’t want to disappoint her, and we wanted to make her proud.”

Another student said: “I struggle with writing because I am dyslexic and [Professor Wood] has always… [taken] the time to explain to me what other professors have overlooked. She has made me brave.”

Professor Wood is known for her influential courses, —including her class on documentary films and one on Alfred Hitchcock—and for her commitment to mentoring students outside of class.

As one student said: “Wini is the reason I love my major at Wellesley, and she is a huge reason why I feel I have a place on this campus.”

For always believing in her students—and for encouraging them to believe in themselves—Wellesley College is proud to award the Anna and Samuel Pinanski Teaching Prize to Wini Wood.          

Phil Kohl

When students take a course with Professor Philip Kohl, they learn more than just anthropological facts. They learn that attaining knowledge is more important than attaining a good grade.

One student said: “Faculty like Professor Kohl highlight why students are passionate about researching anthropological topics, studying abroad, or even considering the depths of culture on our microcosm of a campus.”

In other words, Professor Kohl, who is the Kathryn Wasserman Davis Professor of Slavic Studies and Professor of Anthropology, is known for making his subject matter come alive.

This is especially true in his course, Anthropological Perspectives on the Middle East.

One student in the class commented: “Coming from Saudi Arabia, I have learned to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the region’s history and culture, serving as a resource to my peers while learning from each others’ viewpoints and also challenging my own assumptions.”

No matter if he is doing fieldwork in the Middle East, co-leading a Wintersession trip to the Republic of Georgia, or meeting with students in person or over Skype, Professor Kohl always makes himself accessible to students. And, students said, that accessibility is critical to their success—both at Wellesley and beyond.

For his commitment to teaching, to deepening our cultural understanding of the world, and to exciting students about anthropology, Wellesley College is pleased to award the Anna and Samuel Pinanski Teaching Prize to Phil Kohl.