2021 Hanson-Dow Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching

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Professors Johnny Pang and Anish Nag have been named the recipients of the 2021 Hanson-Dow Award for Excellence in Teaching.  

The Hanson-Dow Award for Excellence in Teaching was established in 1986 as a means to celebrate outstanding teaching within the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. The award recognizes our ladder and non-ladder faculty members for their efforts in classrooms and laboratories, in overseeing undergraduate student research, and preparing exceptional teaching materials.  

These awards are normally presented to our faculty at our annual departmental awards ceremony, which has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pang Johnny TWIC 0About Dr. Johnny Pang

– The undergraduate laboratory courses at UCLA serve thousands of students each quarter – ensuring that these lab courses run smoothly is no small feat. Johnny plays a large role in guaranteeing that Chem 14BL, Chem 14CL, Chem 20L, and Chem 30AL meet the high standards of the undergraduate curricula of UCLA. On his own time, Johnny frequently investigates potential improvements to the experiments, especially if he has noticed that the current setup impedes student learning. Moreover, Johnny then shares these resources with his colleagues to ensure that their students get the most out of the experiment as well. 

“Johnny is an engaging and approachable instructor, and his students do not hesitate to stop by his office to ask for assistance,” said nominator Professor Jennifer Casey. “While it can be difficult to get to know students in a large lecture format, Johnny manages to interact with all of his students. He does this by attending every single one of his lab sections (around 30 lab sections total each week – this means that Johnny is frequently on campus from 8am to 8pm). He provides an inclusive and welcoming learning environment for all of his students – and his students rightfully love him for this reason.”

Besides being an excellent undergraduate instructor, Johnny has dedicated himself to preparing our teaching assistants to be better educators. “This highlights what truly makes Johnny remarkable – Johnny is invested in the well-being of others, whether it be his students, his teaching assistants, or his colleagues,” Casey said. “Johnny is the type of person who always has a smile on his face, who is eager to have a chat in the stairwell, and who remembers things like spouse’s names, donut preferences, and vacation plans. Our department is definitely enriched because of the presence of Johnny. He is an exceptional instructor – his dedication to providing UCLA undergraduates with a meaningful lab experience is unparalleled. It has been a pleasure and an inspiration to work with Johnny and I cannot imagine a better candidate for this award.”

“Dr. Pang’s contributions to the department’s teaching and academic administration during the past two years, where instruction has been both in-person and remote, more than justify Department recognition with the Dow-Hansen award,” said nominator Dr. Arlene Russell. “I believe that Dr. Pang’s outstanding teaching, his insightful leadership, and his commitment to the department’s instructional excellence, deserve recognition.”

To learn more about Dr. Pang, visit his website

Nag%2BAnish%2B2019About Dr. Anish Nag – Since the start of his appointment as a Boyer Teacher-Scholar in 2019, Anish has been teaching Chemistry 14D, Organic Reactions and Pharmaceuticals – two lecture sections in the Fall 2019, two in Spring 2020, and two and Winter 2021 quarters. He also conducts postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Professor William Gelbart. “Anish is a remarkably effective teacher who earns extraordinarily high rankings from his students and is deeply admired as compassionate and understanding,” wrote Gelbart and co-nominator Professor Charles Knobler in their nomination letter. “From the very start Anish has proven to be a truly extraordinary teacher who garners overwhelming praise from essentially all of his students.”  “Dr. Nag has definitely been the best professor with whom I’ve taken a course during my time at UCLA so far,” said nominator undergraduate student Kulveer Setya. “He brings great passion and dedication into his learning and interactions with students, learning assistants, and TAs. He is an exceptional teacher with a level of knowledge that I honestly have not seen before. Along with his brilliance, however, he is humble, and he takes out the time to share his knowledge with others.” “I honestly went into organic chemistry absolutely terrified thinking I would never do well or even enjoy it,” said nominator undergraduate student Aly Kong. “However, because of Dr. Nag’s incredible teaching and the wholesome environment he has created within his class, I not only have a greater appreciation for chemistry itself but have become a better person.” To learn more about Dr. Nag, visit his website.

About the Hanson-Dow Award for Excellence in Teaching

Each year this award is presented to one or two faculty members (ladder and non-ladder) of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry for outstanding teaching. The award was established in 1984, funded by a generous donation from alumnus William J. (Bill) Hanson (A.B. ’41, M.S. ’43 Jacobs) with a matching donation from the Dow Chemical Company. Hanson worked for Dow Chemical for many years and was responsible for establishing this award, which recognizes the impact our faculty have on UCLA chemistry and biochemistry students.

Previous Hanson-Dow Award for Excellence in Teaching Awardees

2020 Jennifer Casey & Jorge Torres

2019 Alexander Spokoyny & Heather Tienson-Tseng

2018 Zhao Li

2016 Anastassia Alexandrova & Anne Hong-Hermesdorf

2015 Sharon Neufeldt

2014 Joseph Loo

2013 Patrick Harran 

2012 Sarah Tolbert

2011 Neil Garg

2010 Craig Merlic

2009 Catherine Clarke 

2008 Steven Kim

2007 Heather Maynard 

2006 Laurence Lavelle 

2005 Stuart Cantrill & Yung-Ya Lin

2004 Todd Yeates

2003 Albert Courey 

2002 Benjamin Schwartz 

2001 Marjorie Bates

2000 Steven Hardinger

1999 Harold Martinson

1998 Emily Carter

1996 Steven Clarke

1995 Emil Reisler

1994 Charles West & Jeffrey Zink

1993 Mario Bauer

1992 Michael Jung

1991 Michael Jung

1990 Richard Kaner

1989 Betty Luceigh

1988 David Farrelly

1987 Kyle Bayes

1986 William Gelbart

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.