2016 Teacher-Scholar Awards

February 3, 2016

The 2016 Teacher-Scholar Award is given to to faculty who early in their careers have earned the respect of students and colleagues for their devotion to and skill in teaching, and whose instruction is linked to and informed by their research and creative activities. Supported by the Office of University Development.  

Joshua Yumibe

joshua.pngHaving arrived at MSU just three years ago, Joshua Yumibe has already reinvigorated
 the university’s longstanding commitment
 to the study of film and media and was instrumental in developing and launching the new B.A. in Film Studies at MSU. Under his guidance, the program focuses on cinema in its industrial and artisanal forms and provides a distinctive, in-depth grounding in a central medium of our globally networked visual environment that teaches students 
to engage the cinematic arts in ways that integrate filmmaking and critical studies.

Yumibe’s teaching combines passion for his subject, innovation, and intellectual rigor. From “Introduction to Film” to core courses in film history and film theory to advanced seminars on the evolution of color cinema aesthetics and technologies, and cinematic modernism and modernity, his classes are designed to encourage students to put film history and film theory in dialogue. He encourages active class participation by requiring students to post responses to class screenings and discussion questions electronically.

Yumibe’s research in film history and theory is internationally recognized. His groundbreaking book, Moving Color: Early Film, Mass Culture, Modernism, examines the earliest color films of the silent era—decades before The Wizard of Oz. In 2013, it was honored by the Cinémathèque française and by the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, which noted that “this inspiring book presents a vibrant history—[and] brings a startling moment in cinema’s genealogy to life.” In 2012 he was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Grant that funds the study of the chromatic modernity of the 1920s. His most recent collaborative book is Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema with a foreword by Martin Scorsese (2015), which among other accolades has been reviewed in The Atlantic and featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Yumibe’s dedication to film culture and history are also manifest through the variety of events he has organized at MSU, from bringing to campus renowned producer Christine Vachon and coordinating numerous lectures with filmmakers and scholars at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum to organizing outreach efforts with the Traverse City Film Festival and the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Yumibe’s critical engagement with, and promotion of, film culture at Michigan State exemplifies the dynamic range and depth of the university’s teacher–scholars.

Sean Valles 

sean.pngSean Valles is a philosopher of medicine, specializing in evidentiary and ethical issues 
in population health sciences. He has written a variety of papers for interdisciplinary journals, with audiences including philosophers, historians, physicians, and biologists. He connects broad philosophical and historical questions to specific policy decisions facing modern organizations or physicians and makes incisive recommendations for improvements in practice.

Valles’s work includes analyses of the theoretical assumptions in evolutionary medicine, the rhetoric in debates over the regulation of new genetic tests, and critiques
of the misuse of race concepts in public health programs. His superb scholarship has attracted national and international attention among both philosophers and medical practitioners, and he has garnered very signi cant funding from the National Science Foundation.

Valles uses his interdisciplinary approach 
to research to design humanities courses for science students. His courses help students to think critically about the philosophical, historical, and social aspects of science and medicine, such as the evidentiary standards used in testing pharmaceutical safety. Through his 2013–14 MSU Lilly Teaching Fellowship, he used learning goals from the University of California, Berkeley, Understanding Science model for teaching the nature of science, incorporating that content into an existing course, “Introduction to History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science,” as a means of enriching a cohort program for freshmen with low math placement scores.

Valles’s commitment to ensuring the excellence of his teaching is ongoing. Not surprisingly, he takes a scholarly approach 
to education by mastering new pedagogical techniques, engaging with scholars and teachers from other disciplines, and regularly translating his research interests into the classroom. He has been involved in successful grant proposals to acquire federal funding to develop interdisciplinary environmental science programs to conduct systematic, critical analysis of ethical concepts in the context of current environmental issues. He also co-founded the Consortium for Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering. He has advised numerous philosophy graduate students on obtaining external funding, and has played a crucial role in curriculum development in Lyman Briggs. He is currently Co-PI on an NSF-funded interdisciplinary project, developing and evaluating ethics curricula for environmental science graduate students, and is currently pursuing a variety of collaborative projects with epidemiologists, STEM education scholars, and social scientists in the United States and Europe.


Orginally published on MSUToday.