Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award
The Western Alumni Association has partnered with the Office of the Provost to request nominations from WWU alumni for the Outstanding Faculty Mentor of the Year Award. A “call for nominations” is sent to all alumni in the WWU alumni database, inviting them to submit the name of a faculty member who made an impact on their life as a student and describe in detail why that person deserves this distinguished recognition.
Heather Davidson - Communications Studies
Heather obtained her BA in Communication Studies and her MEd. in Adult and Higher Education from WWU (2009, 2012). She returned to her alma mater in 2014 as non-tenured faculty in the Department of Communication Studies and has since served as a leader, mentor, and support system for thousands of students. She has served as a Community Engagement Faculty Fellow, a DEI workshop facilitator, and is known as a campus leader for her use of empathy to enhance positive student outcomes. Her facilitation of over 10,000 hours of service-learning in the Bellingham community has fostered employment connections between numerous alumni and local employers. She also developed and directed the student-led #WeAreWWU campaign, raising over $50k in support of Western programs, scholarships, and student services. Countless graduates have found meaningful employment and post-graduate programs because of her mentorship and recommendations on their behalf, many of whom nominated her for this honor. Though she was recently informed that her contract will not be renewed due to seniority and departmental needs, she is grateful to take this final laurel with her as her professional journey continues to develop.
Brian Hutchinson - Computer Science
Brian began his academic career at WWU, where he earned a trio of degrees (BS Computer Science, BS Linguistics, MS Computer Science), before heading to the University of Washington to earn MS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering. He returned to WWU's Computer Science Department as faculty in 2013, and accepted a joint appointment in 2017 as a scientist in the Computing and Analytics Division of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The work in his research group is highly interdisciplinary: he and his students work with domain experts to use machine learning to tackle important scientific problems arising in astronomy, biology, climate science, education, linguistics, materials science, oceanography, and many other domains. His group also works on fundamental machine learning research, including adversarial machine learning and few shot learning. He is passionate about mentorship in all forms: he has mentored over 70 undergraduate and master's research students; he mentors department TAs and graders as the department's first TA Coordinator; he has helped to organize and run the College of Science and Engineering TA Training program; and he co-founded and served as the first chair of the CS department's Student-Centered Learning Committee, designed to support junior faculty's growth as effective instructors.