Four faculty members receive 2020 CHSS Faculty Excellence Awards

Author: CHSS Communications
September 25, 2020

SF State’s College of Health & Social Sciences presented its Faculty Excellence Awards at the College’s Virtual Fall Opening Meeting on August 20. These awards were established to underscore the College’s deep commitment to excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.

Excellence in Teaching Award (Tenured/Tenure-Track)

Linda Platas, Child & Adolescent Development

Linda Platas

Associate Professor of Child & Adolescent Development Linda Platas received the Excellence in Teaching Award for tenured faculty in recognition of her broad range of accomplishments. Her primary areas of research are child development, early childhood education, early math and literacy development, professional development and teacher education, and the formation and implementation of early childhood public policy.

Platas has taught nine courses in child development, curriculum, early childhood education, professional development, research and public policy in the Department of Child. & Adolescent Development. Her experience includes 14 years of working directly with children and families as a teacher and director of an early childhood program.

Internationally, she has worked on preschool and early primary grades population-level child assessment and classroom observation instruments. She has also worked with ministries of education in low-resource countries on school readiness, curriculum development, early math and literacy assessments, and classroom quality measurement.

She serves as an expert in international meetings on early mathematics and literacy development for UNESCO, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, and other non-governmental organizations. She is also a member of the Expert Panel that developed the Early Grades Math Assessment (EGMA) for USAID, the Technical Advisory Group for Child Development and Learning for UNESCO, and the Development and Research in Early Mathematics Education (DREME) Network.

Excellence in Teaching Award (Lecturers)

Deborah Craig, Public Health

Deborah Craig

Deborah Craig of the Department of Public Health received the Excellence in Teaching Award for lecturers. She received the strongest nomination from students for lecturer faculty regarding the exemplary quality and impact of her achievements in pedagogy. Her background is in public health, teaching, writing, technology, music and the visual arts, and she currently teaches writing and LGBTQI health in the Department of Public Health at SF State. She also produces documentary films about health issues, such as HIV/AIDS and LGBT aging.

Craig has designed “LGBTQI Health: Health Disparities and Sexual/Gender Minority Communities,” an undergraduate health education course that focuses on how stigmatization of queer communities contributes to health disparities, and “Introduction to Public Health,” an overview of public health advances and public health concepts — with a focus on health disparities — geared specifically toward the post-baccalaureate pre-medical students in SF States’ Health Professions program.

She also teaches “The Health Education Profession,” an undergraduate Health Education course that provides an overview of the health education profession and emphasizes writing and analytical skills.

Excellence in Service Award

Sheldon Gen, Public Affairs & Civic Engagement

Sheldon Gen

Associate Professor Sheldon Gen of the School of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement was awarded the College’s Excellence in Service Award for his dedication to service activities that impact student success and enhance the SF State community. His courses cover public policy processes, civic engagement in public policy, policy analysis, program evaluation, environmental policy and education policy. He also advises MPA students in the public policy and environmental administration emphases.

Gen has been instrumental in serving in ways that impact student success, most significantly through his work on the Teagle Initiative at SF State, which supports enhancing student success through curricular revisions. He served as a faculty lead for this initiative in his own department and was then selected to lead this initiative throughout the CSU system. 

He has also been instrumental in promoting sustainability education. He led the development of a Student Sustainability Investment Fund and the development of an associated course. Through this course, and a $250,000 allocation to the fund, students will be able to direct the investment of real funds for sustainability initiatives.

In addition, he is an Advisory Board member of the Funding the Next Generation project, which has brought community expertise onto campus. This project has been linked to six different MPA course sections and provided students with opportunities to analyze municipal budgets, assess political settings for children's funds and explore alternative funding streams for children. 

Excellence in Scholarship Award

Emma Sanchez-Vaznaugh, Public Health

Emma Sanchez-Vaznaugh

The College presented Professor Emma Sanchez-Vaznaugh with the Excellence in Scholarship award for her support of student-initiated research that evolves above and beyond the requirements for a degree. A social epidemiologist and professor in SF State’s Department of Public Health, Sanchez-Vaznaugh is also affiliated faculty at SF State’s Health Equity Institute and the Center for Health Equity at UCSF.

Her extensive research has focused on critical social justice issues in public health based on factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and local community factors. She has been a generous mentor to many students in her department, and several of them have been authors on publications and presentations. Her recent research has been funded by the NIH and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and involves studies on temporal changes in the fast food environment near schools, the influence of policies that regulate food and drinks in schools on racial or ethnic obesity disparities, and decision-making focused on physical activity strategies in schools.