Published: Sept. 16, 2022

These faculty are being recognized for their outstanding records in teaching, service and leadership

Five non-tenure-track faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder have been named teaching professors of distinction, the college has announced.

These teaching professors, who range from historians to biologists, are being recognized with the college’s highest honor for their exemplary teaching and participation in the university community. They were chosen by their peers and confirmed by previous teaching professors of distinction.

This year’s winners are:                            

  • Christy Fillman, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB)
  • Pamela Harvey, MCDB
  • Ruth Heisler, integrative physiology
  • John Keller, astrophysical and planetary sciences and Fiske Planetarium
  • David Paradis, history

“Professors Fillman, Harvey, Heisler, Keller and Paradis all exemplify faculty who are not only devoted to their students and learning, but who are constantly exploring new ways to reach their students,” said Bud Coleman, the college’s associate dean of faculty affairs and initiatives.

“The College of Arts and Sciences is proud of our faculty, and we want to reward and acknowledge excellence in Teaching. CU Boulder is a Tier 1 Research Institution that also embraces the ideal of being Tier 1 in Teaching.”

Christy Fillman

Fillman received her PhD in MCDB at CU Boulder, where her research focused on proteins involved in mRNA degradation. She began teaching in MCDB in fall 2007 and is a member of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s SEA-PHAGES Program, which aims to get undergraduates interested in the biological sciences through hands-on learning opportunities.

Fillman teaches the Phage Genomics Lab, which provides students with an authentic research experience early in their college careers and the Introduction to Genetics course, which is required of all MCDB majors. To enhance student understanding of core concepts in genetics, she has developed and implemented many active-learning and group problem-solving activities.

As the departmental coordinator for Learning Assistant Program since 2017, she helps faculty implement peer academic support in large introductory courses furthering the academic goals of the MCDB department to incorporate active learning as an essential element in the curriculum.

Pamela Harvey

Harvey joined the MCDB faculty in 2014. She completed a PhD in Neuroscience at Tufts University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in 2009 before doing a postdoc with Leslie Leinwand at CU Boulder. Since joining the faculty, she has co-developed and teaches several lower- and upper-division course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) as well as a course that provides pedagogical training to undergraduate teaching assistants in these CUREs.

In addition to teaching, Harvey oversees an undergraduate research lab where students engage in year-long independent study projects that focus on understanding the genetic basis of complex adult-onset neurological diseases.

Ruth Heisler

Heisler is a teaching professor of distinction in the Department of Integrative Physiology with a strong interest in science education and promoting student success. Since joining the CU Boulder faculty in 1996, Heisler has been actively involved in teaching and designing curricula for a variety of courses and served as the department’s associate chair of undergraduate affairs from 2017 to 2021.

Her greatest contributions were steering the department through the many challenges of offering a complete curriculum during COVID semesters that supported both faculty and student needs; and undertaking a multi-year effort to update the integrative physiology curriculum to better support the interests of the growing number of majors and provide a more streamlined path to graduation.

Heisler has received the BFA Faculty Recognition Award and ASSETT Award of Excellence as an Outstanding Teacher for Technology. She is co-author of several educational books, manuals and programs. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with anyone who will join, good food with friends, and just hanging out with her husband and two teenage sons.

John Keller

Keller is the director of Fiske Planetarium and a teaching professor of distinction in astrophysical and planetary sciences. Keller is a planetary scientist with research interests in occultations, astronomy education and teacher preparation. He is PI and Co-PI for multiple NASA and National Science Foundation-funded projects to get people interested and involved in space science.

Previously, Keller was professor emeritus from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, where he directed the Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education and ran the STEM Teacher and Researcher (STAR) Program, which provides paid summer research experiences at national labs for aspiring science and math teachers.

After obtaining a BS in Biology and an MA in Education from Stanford University, Keller taught high school science in the Bay Area for five years. He completed an MS in Astrophysics from the University of Colorado and his PhD in Planetary Science at the University of Arizona where he worked for the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission.

David Paradis

Born into a large family in Kentucky, Paradis had the opportunity to work in a variety of environments, including a pig farm, a monastery, a salt factory and various businesses as a software engineer. He was grateful for the opportunities that his family afforded him and felt a strong urge to give back at a young age.

By the age of 30, he decided to leave the software industry and to embrace a career in higher education. Teaching was always more than a job for him. It satisfied something deep inside him, Paradis said, and for that opportunity, he’s grateful to his family, colleagues, mentors and students.