2022 Hanson-Dow Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching – Margot Quinlan

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Biochemist Professor Margot Quinlan receives the department’s 2022 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.  

This year two faculty members received the 2022 Chemistry & Biochemistry Hanson-Dow Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. Professor Margot Quinlan and Professor Hung V. Pham were recognized at our annual departmental awards ceremony on May 13, 2022.

“Margot is one of our department’s best teachers and is an inspiration to the students who have taken her classes and who have been mentored directly by her,” wrote nominator Professor Joseph Loo.

Quinlan’s main undergraduate teaching is Physical Biochemistry (Chem 156), a course that many biochemistry majors find to be challenging because of its emphasis on the physical principles of experimental methods used in biochemical research. She receives glowing evaluations from the students, who appreciate her considerable efforts that allow them to understand and learn the material. She also teaches in our core graduate student biochemistry class (Chem 269).  More recently, Quinlan has taught Chem 14B, General Chemistry for Life Scientists, an introductory chemistry class, with over 300 students enrolled, receiving top student ratings.

Moreover, “Margot is an effective, highly dedicated, and very much liked mentor to undergraduate students in her research lab,” Loo said. “Comments from her current and former trainees (undergraduate, graduate, postdocs) are overwhelmingly positive and praise Margot for creating an inclusive and welcoming environment in the lab, for her patience in teaching theoretical concepts and experimental techniques, for instilling in them the feeling that they could be successful, and for championing their career trajectories. She is a highly effective mentor that not only cares deeply about their preparation for careers in science, but also about their well-being.”

Among her many efforts to promote diversity in the sciences, Quinlan is a co-PI of the NIH-supported UCLA Maximizing Student Diversity (MSD) Program and is the faculty director of the Biomedical Sciences Enrichment Program (BISEP), a summer program in the Undergraduate Research Center (URC)-Sciences created by Professor Richard Weiss over 20 years ago. This is an intensive summer program (six weeks) for freshman underrepresented among sciences students. For most students this is their first research experience and it prepares them to enter UCLA research labs thereafter. Quinlan helps select the program students, is involved in teaching and mentoring them, evaluates their progress, and contributes to updating the program. 

In addition, Quinlan was selected as one of the inaugural faculty fellows of the Center for Diverse Learning in Science (CDLS). “Margot is a terrific role model for female students joining her lab and has created an encouraging environment for diverse trainees,” Loo said.

Quinlan obtained her B.A. from Reed College in 1991. She then spent two years in Germany doing research at the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg. She went to graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania where she worked with Professor Yale Goldman and received her Ph.D. in 2002. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF with Professor Dyche Mullins until 2008 when she joined the faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA.  The long-term goal of her group is to understand the role of the cytoskeleton in cell polarity, with a focus on early development, using a combination of advanced biochemistry, microscopy, and genetic approaches.

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

  • 2022 Hung Pham, Margot Quinlan
  • 2021 Anish Nag, Johnny Pang  
  • 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