Meet Cheng Thao!

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Dr. Thao joined the UW-Whitewater faculty from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he recently served as a visiting lecturer. His teaching experience includes classes such as computer applications, database development, and assembly language programming. He has impressive technical skills including a comprehensive understanding of programming and scripting languages as well as a wealth of experience with software development.

 

What is his favorite thing about UW-Whitewater so far?

The campus is beautiful.  The environment is very friendly.  The faculty and students feel like family.  The First Year Program made me felt welcomed.  My involvement with the students through student organizations allows me to know the students better.  On Thanksgiving dinner with the Southeast Asian Student Organization, the students packed me lots of food to take home.  They always invite me to their activities. 

What made him want to teach?

When he was young, he did not think about teaching. His father was a teacher in a refugee camp in Thailand and indirectly influenced him to become a teacher.  He believes that by teaching he can contribute more to society.  He can serve as a role model for students who share similar background especially those who are the first generation to go to college or former or children of refugees.  He also discovered that he liked teaching while he was in graduate school.

What is his approach to teaching and what can students expect in the classroom? 

He uses both lecture and in-class exercises that allow students to apply the skills they are learning. Sometimes these exercises involve team work. He enjoys challenging the students. He wants the students to be ready for the real world by pushing the students to solve difficult problems.

 What is something that students would be surprised to learn about him?

Most students probably do not know that he was a former refugee from Laos.  He spent a decade in a refugee camp in Northern Thailand.  He arrived in the US at the age of 14 with a third grade education and spoke some English.  Because of his background, his experiences in high school and in college are very different from most students.

What is one experience that occurred during his undergraduate or graduate school experience that made a definite impact on his approach to his academic career?

His teaching is influenced by his former professors. One example of this is that he doesn’t use PowerPoint in his lectures.  Dr. Thao adopted that approach because he enjoyed his professors’ lectures and the way they made him apply the concepts through practice and projects. 

What does he like to do outside of work?

He likes spending time with friends, and family.  He likes the outdoor and often goes mountain biking.  In the winter, he skies.  Last winter, he went to Colorado for a ski trip at Copper Mountain.

 

Meet Patrick O’Brien!

Patrick CU

Dr. O’Brien joined the faculty at UW-Whitewater from the University of Colorado at Boulder where he taught courses such as Introduction to Sociology, Drugs in U.S. Society, and Deviance in U.S. Society. His areas of interest include criminology and delinquency, social control, and social psychology. He has been a member of the Society for the Study of Social Problems since 2005.

 

Now that you have completed your first year as a faculty member at UW-Whitewater, can you share one reflection in the year?

I am very lucky to have found myself here at UW-Whitewater.

 What is his favorite thing about UW-Whitewater so far?

The people – because everyone is very nice and accommodating. The university is not too large and the communication is very open and the students are great as well.

What made him want to teach?

Dr. O’Brien grew up in a teaching family.  Both of his parents are teachers. He enjoys being in the classroom, the energy, and the ability to break through traditional beliefs and thoughts.

What is his approach to teaching and what can students expect in the classroom?

 He uses both lecture and in-class exercises that allow students to apply the skills they are learning. Sometimes these exercises involve team work. He enjoys challenging the students.  He likes to keep the classroom laid back so that the students feel comfortable talking about any  topic, and to ensure that there is a definite sense of respect and that students feel they are treated fairly. Additionally, students will encounter lectures that lead into tangents where Dr. O’Brien gets very animated about the subject matter. 

What book would he recommend to his students?

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway because it’s a book he has read multiple times and it’s fantastic literature.

What does he like to do outside of work?

 He enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants and bars as well as seeing live music, hiking outdoors, riding around on his motorcycle, and enjoying the sunshine.

Meet Sasha Karnes!

KarnestrimmedDr. Karnes comes to UW-Whitewater with graduate and undergraduate teaching experience from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her Ph.D. research focused on psychology and exercise physiology with her dissertation titled “Motivational Interviewing for Physical Activity Promotion.” Recent professional experience includes serving as a program evaluator and clinical coordinator for Midwest Rehabilitation Associates.

Now that you have completed your first year as a faculty member at UW-Whitewater, can you share one reflection on the year?

I am struck by how much my students inspire me and give me energy.  Even though this year I have endured many sleepless nights because of the two young people in my life, through my students I find that each day I am overflowing with enthusiasm for my role at UW-Whitewater. 

What is her favorite thing about UW-Whitewater so far?

The friendliness of the students and campus community.

What made her want to teach?

While Dr. Karnes was in her doctoral program, she had opportunities to give teaching a try, and found that she enjoyed it quite a bit. She likes to be able to pay it forward – take what she’s learned from her mentors and provide it to her students in a similar way.

What is her approach to teaching and what can students expect in the classroom? 

She prefers to be a facilitator rather than a teacher. She tries to guide students to find answers on their own and explore their own ideas instead of telling them what to get out the course. They can expect that she will provide the tools to learn. She likes to ask students to find a scholarly article to bring to class to share with their peers and have a critical discussion with the class about concrete topics in their specific areas of interest.

What is one experience that occurred during her undergraduate or graduate school experience that made a definite impact on her approach to her academic career?

The most impactful experience was very early in her undergraduate career as she explored a career in psychology. Dr. Karnes had very strong mentorship from a doctoral student mentor who she worked with as a research assistant.  It was here where she learned how much she enjoyed research and saw the value in being an academic.

What book would she recommend to her students?

GIMP by Mark Zupan and Tim Swanson.  It’s about a college athlete’s journey to accepting his new identity as a quadriplegic. The book helps students to see that when embraced, adversity can lead to personal growth

What is something that students would be surprised to learn about her?

She plays on a recreational roller derby league and used to play it competitively.

What does she like to do outside of work?

She has two young children, family, and rescue dogs that she likes to spend time with.  She is also a jogger.

 

 

Meet Deanna Guthrie!

Deanna Guthrie.  (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)Dr. Deanna Guthrie came to UW-Whitewater in 2013 from Loyola University in Chicago where she served as an adjunct professor in the School of Social Work. Her professional experience includes serving as director of a counseling program for interns and disadvantaged youth, working as a clinical social worker, working with siblings of children with disabilities through a support group, and working with autistic children. Dr. Guthrie has identified her goal as a professor to “ensure that my students apply themselves and realize their optimal learning potential.”

 

Now that you have completed your first year as a faculty member at UW-Whitewater, can you share one reflection on the year?

The biggest thing I learned this year, is that with all of the different responsibilities faculty members have, it is not possible to do everything perfectly and also have a life outside of work. I have learned a lot about achieving work-life balance and how important that is and will be in the future. 

What is her favorite thing about UW-Whitewater so far?

The way that the university encourages and promotes building relationships between students and faculty.

 What made her want to teach?

She’s always loved school. The main thing that drew her to teaching was the ability to learn herself and to also help foster that passion in others. She’s been in clinical social work for seven years so now it’s been great to get the opportunity to help students develop those skills themselves.

What is her approach to teaching and what can students expect in the classroom?

Her approach is incorporating as many different types of learning as possible, including a variety of different modalities such as discussions, case examples, videos, lecture, and experience from the field to apply to multiple learning styles. She strives to be organized and clear about course expectations.

What is one experience that occurred during her undergraduate or graduate school experience that made a definite impact on her approach to her academic career?

As an undergraduate, she worked with a professor on an undergraduate research project where she ran her own research study.  The experience of doing undergraduate research and developing the mentoring relationship with the professor had a significant impact on her.

What book would she recommend to her students?

Play Therapy: The art of the Relationship by Garry L Landreth. She specifically recommends it to all students interested play therapy because it gives a good overview for working with children and building relationships through their play and how that can lead to change.

 What is something that students would be surprised to learn about her?

She used to be a dancer and was in a dance company in high school.

What does she like to do outside of work?

Spending time with her husband and her dog, and she likes to go to events in the city of Chicago where she lives.

Meet Zach Oster!

Zach Oster.  (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

Dr. Oster came to UW-Whitewater in 2013 from Iowa State University where he served as a research and teaching assistant, and from Grand View University where he was an adjunct lecturer. His professional experiences include designing, implementing, and conducting initial testing on a system for automating satellite downlink operations through the U.S. Geological Survey. His research interests include formal methods for specification, analysis, and verification of requirements and design preferences in component-based and compositional software systems.

Now that you have completed your first year as a faculty member at UW-Whitewater, can you share one reflection on the year?

Most people, including students in my introductory courses, view computer science as “writing program code”, which is true in the same way that a carpenter’s job is “cutting pieces of wood and attaching them to each other”: there’s more to it. The real challenge of computer science is to take a problem that seems simple to us as humans, break it down into a sequence of small steps that a computer can understand, try out that sequence of steps to see if it really does solve the problem, and then repeat the process as you figure out which steps you forgot to include. (It turns out that teaching computer science involves a similar process!) It’s a different way of thinking, and it can be hard to grasp for those who are new to computer science. Once students grasp this idea, though, many of them quickly see how creatively and intellectually rewarding computer science can be. Guiding and seeing this process of discovery is part of what makes teaching so rewarding for me.

What is his favorite thing about UW-Whitewater so far?

That people are friendly and welcoming. And that people enjoy working together to get exciting things done.

What made him want to teach?

He’s always liked learning and being able to show people how to accomplish tasks.  It’s also rewarding to witness people figure things out – going from not understanding various topics all the way through to comprehension.

 What is his approach to teaching and what can students expect in the classroom?

Dr. Oster’s approach is to begin by building a strong foundation of basic ideas that will continue to grow as new concepts are introduced. He uses lectures interspersed with in-class labs to allow students to try things out and promote optimal learning integration.

What is one experience that occurred during his undergraduate or graduate school experience that made a definite impact on his approach to his academic career?

His first year of grad school was a real challenge and he had to learn how to ask for help. Students sometimes need to be invited to ask for help and he tries to always keep that in mind, especially in introductory classes. He is very open to questions and reaches out to students when necessary.

What book would he recommend to his students?

The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks. Jr. It has a lot of content relating to project management and how it can go wrong as well as interesting anecdotes relating to software engineering.

What is something that students would be surprised to learn about him?

He has played the clarinet since the fifth grade and was a double major in computer science and music as an undergrad.

What does he like to do outside of work?

He enjoys playing music, reading, and taking walks.

Meet Chandra Waring!

Chandra Waring.  (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)Dr. Waring came to UW-Whitewater in 2012 after earning her Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut. She has taught courses on social problems, white racism, and ethnicity and race. Her areas of specialization include racial and ethnic relations; minority and multiracial families; qualitative research methods; and media and gender. In 2012 she earned 1st place in the the Association of Black Sociologists Graduate Student Paper recognition.  Below are some observations on her first year at UWW and other interesting information!

 

Now that you have completed your first year as a faculty member at UW-Whitewater, can you share one reflection on the year?

Absolutely, I feel like I was a sponge this past year because I learned so much! I spent the first semester getting acclimated to Wisconsin and to my new position as an Assistant Professor, with 160 students! I spent the second semester figuring out ways to have more balance (i.e. exercise, mentor a student, write/revise, plan fun activities and volunteer).  It’s really important to me to have a full life, that way I enjoy each component that much more—because I have healthy breaks from each. Also, my cohort is great! We had plenty of social gatherings where we could vent, laugh and learn from each other so having that community to tap into as fellow newbies was very beneficial.

What is her favorite thing about UW-Whitewater so far?

 She feels really welcomed at UW-Whitewater.  It also is a good fit for her because everyone that she has met is very genuine and down to earth as well as supportive and fun to be around.

What made her want to teach?

When she was four, she was able to witness her mother homeschooling her brother, and distinctly remembers watching them and wanting to be a part of that process. Because of the brief homeschooling experiences in her youth, she was very excited to go to school, and she had very positive experiences with her teachers. At each grade level, she felt a connection and desire to teach at that level. When she reached college she found that professors were truly able to be engaging with their students and decided that was where she belonged. 

What is her approach to teaching and what can students expect in the classroom?

 Dr. Waring’s approach is to be unorthodox. On the first day, she tries to do something different, including fun, eclectic ice breaker questions. Her approach is very student- centered. She enjoys doing hands-on activities (e.g. using course material to construct a twitter message or a postcard) students wouldn’t expect so that they are excited about class. She brings personal experience into the classroom, so that students are able to relate to the examples more clearly and remember more easily.  

What is one experience that occurred during her undergraduate or graduate school experience that made a definite impact on her approach to her academic career?

 During her freshman year, she had a professor who was passionate, smart and not easily impressed. In grad school, she had a lot of sharp professors who did activist work and who were very connected to the community.  It was very inspiring to work with these professors because they excited her intellectually and made her want to be a part of that process for other people.

 What book would she recommend to her students?

 And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini because when she began reading it she couldn’t put it down. The writing is absolutely beautiful and the story is such a classic example of the human condition.  It creates a strong sense of empathy toward the characters.

Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss because it’s a very quick read that really puts life into perspective and gives you tools to deal with pain, failure, and other aspects of life. It’s particularly helpful for young adults learning to deal with life in a new perspective.

 What is something that students would be surprised to learn about her?

 She has taught students who are now professional athletes in the NBA and NFL. She also once rode an elephant. 

What does she like to do outside of work?

 She likes to exercise, loves to travel, crochet, meditate, read, write, and attend concerts.

Meet Jeff Olson!

JOlsonDr. Jeff Olson earned his doctorate at The Ohio State University. His doctoral dissertation is titled, “The Evolution of Urban-Rural Space: The Case of the U.S. Midwest.” His research experience also includes serving as a research fellow with the Appalachian Ohio Forest Research Group.  He joined the Geography and Geology Department faculty in August, 2013.  Jeff is also a proud UWW alum! Below he offers some reflections on his first year at UWW as well as other interesting stuff!

 

Now that you have completed your first year as a faculty member at UW-Whitewater, what is one reflection about your first year?

 Being a first year faculty can be exhausting, and it’s a crash course on what I do poorly in and out of the classroom. It will obviously take me time to become as good at handling teaching 4 classes at a time as I need to be, but the work is worth it when I see students improve their knowledge and skills.

What is his favorite thing about UW-Whitewater so far?

He really enjoys the students here.  He especially enjoys when people come in during office hours.

What is something that students would be surprised to learn about him?

That he actually feels bad when he has to be harsh, and he doesn’t enjoy it.  Dr. Olson believes it is good to be straight-forward about negative things and that hiding the truth from people doesn’t allow them to improve where they can.

What made him want to teach?

 When he was at UW-Whitewater as an undergrad, he had some very good professors and gained several important experiences.  He was an assistant in the Geography labs, was able to work on GIS mapping, and was employed by a consulting firm. At The Ohio State University, he found out he had the ability to communicate complex ideas in an easy to understand way. Teaching is how he learned to focus his energy.

 What is his approach to teaching and what can students expect in the classroom?

 His goal in the classroom is to show students how much they can learn by challenging them with new ideas and concepts. He uses interactive activities that require students to reflect on the course material. In upper level classes he teaches quantitative analysis, writing skills, high-quality mapping, and the ability to deal with diverse data sets.  He is a demanding instructor because he believes that students should continuously improve on the quality of work they do in order to prepare themselves for life and work after graduation

 What is one experience that occurred during his undergraduate or graduate school experience that made a definite impact on his approach to his academic career?

 The experience of being a Resident Assistant in the dorms for three years gave him an appreciation for some of the challenges students face as well as examples of what students are able to often overcome and be successful.  This experience also helped him realize that he wanted to continue working with young adults.

 What book would he recommend to his students?

The Milagro Bean Field War by John Nichols, because it’s an entertaining and engaging novel that is a commentary on land use and social relationships that covers a number issues like geography, power and resistance.

What does he like to do outside of work?

He enjoys playing with his Doberman named Ruxin, working out, binge watching Breaking Bad, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, spending time with his friends, and coming up with new mind blowing assignments for his classes.