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UT Southwestern Academy of Teachers honors outstanding educators of 2020 and adds seven new members

SWAT Award Winners 2020
The UT Southwestern Academy of Teachers (SWAT) recently honored six UTSW faculty members for teaching excellence in 2020.

Delayed by the pandemic, the 15th Annual UT Southwestern Academy of Teachers (SWAT) Reception and Awards ceremony was held earlier this year to honor six UTSW faculty members for teaching excellence in 2020.

The annual ceremony is sponsored by SWAT, a group of elite UTSW educators who strive to provide an academic and organizational environment that fosters excellence in teaching at all levels, rewards superb teachers, stimulates innovation in education, and promotes scholarship in education.

“So much changed for everyone in 2020; the Southwestern Academy of Teachers is proud to be able to honor these outstanding educators. We have an enormous pool of teaching talent at UT Southwestern, and these individuals are well-deserving of their honors,” said Mary Jane Pearson, M.D., President of SWAT, a Distinguished Teaching Professor, and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“This past year raised many roadblocks to education. Lessons learned will help us all in moving forward with the teaching that we all love,” she added. “SWAT was proud to present an online abbreviated educational symposium this year at which these awardees were honored. We look forward to celebrating teaching excellence at UT Southwestern live and in person in 2022.”

The faculty members honored for outstanding teaching in 2020 and their awards are as follows:


Man in white shirt outdoors

Katherine Howe Muntz Award: Gary Iwamoto, Ph.D., Professor of Cell Biology

Named in honor of the late Dr. Muntz, a former UTSW faculty member, the award recognizes excellence in the overall instruction of gross anatomy – particularly the laboratory part of the course.

“I am doubly honored to receive this award. The recognition by the students is of course extremely gratifying, but I am also honored because I knew Kathy very well and I am very much aware of what she personified. She was an outstanding teacher and researcher,” said Dr. Iwamoto, a repeat honoree.

After earning his Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis, Dr. Iwamoto was recruited to UTSW by the late Jere H. Mitchell, M.D., at the time head of the Weinberger Laboratory for Cardiopulmonary Research. Dr. Iwamoto had been affiliated with Dr. Mitchell, Professor of Internal Medicine and Physiology, and the Weinberger lab for 43 years and the two published multiple studies investigating the neural control of circulation in exercise.

Dr. Iwamoto said each student learns the subject of anatomy in different ways. “There are shapes and textures to be considered in addition to the three-dimensional nature of the body. All this has meaning, which cannot be conveyed only in words and must be second nature to the students,” he said. “The key to instructing this subject is finding what works in the case of each student so that the structure under study has real meaning. Importantly, this subject benefits from a team approach in its instruction.”


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Outstanding Educator Award – Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences: Chad A. Brautigam, Ph.D.

Dr. Brautigam is Professor of Biophysics and Microbiology. After earning a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Yale University in 1998, he joined UTSW as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of 1988 Nobel Laureate and Regental Professor Johann Deisenhofer, Ph.D., where Dr. Brautigam published findings on the structural biology of neuronal proteins and blue-light photoreceptors. In 2003, he joined UTSW’s Structural Biology Laboratory as a research scientist, advancing until his ultimate promotion to Professor.

When the Department of Biophysics was founded in 2012, Dr. Brautigam was tasked to lead the department’s Macromolecular Biophysics Resource, a core laboratory that focused on providing services, training, and education. In addition to directing the core, he teaches biological chemistry and molecular biophysics and serves as an instructor at biophysics methods workshops domestically and abroad.

“I think the key to being an effective educator is to put oneself in the place of the student,” Dr. Brautigam said. “If one can view educational materials through the eyes of someone who hasn’t learned or encountered the subject yet, it allows for the refinement of subject matter and approach to maximize understanding on the part of the student.”


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Outstanding Educator Award – Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences: Kimberly Reynolds, Ph.D.

Dr. Reynolds is an Assistant Professor of Biophysics and a member of the Lyda Hill Department of Bioinformatics. After completing a Ph.D. in biophysics at UC Berkeley, she joined UT Southwestern as a postdoctoral researcher and went on to start her own lab in 2014.

Now a Moore Investigator in Data-Driven Discovery funded by a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation grant, she uses statistical analysis of genome and protein sequences drawn from thousands of organisms to distill out general patterns describing the organization of cellular systems. These statistical models are tested for their ability to explain, predict, and design cellular behaviors in the lab.

Dr. Reynolds teaches mathematical and computational approaches to biological problems, with the idea that math can provide a precise, quantitative language for describing biology. She is the Chair of the Computational Biology Graduate Program Curriculum Development Committee.

“The key to being an effective educator is remembering what it feels like to not know a particular concept,” Dr. Reynolds said. “This requires a commitment to rewind, put yourself in the place of the students, and show them through the tricky parts – and connect them to the parts that are interesting and inspiring.”


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Outstanding Educator Award – Medical School Clinical Educator: Stephanie Brinker, M.D.

Dr. Brinker is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine. After receiving her initial medical training at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, she completed her residency training in internal medicine and a fellowship in hypertension at UTSW.

She practices internal medicine in the William T. and Gay F. Solomon General Internal Medicine Clinic and Parkland Center for Internal Medicine, serving as co-Director of the Women’s Health Clinic. Dr. Brinker also practices at Parkland Memorial Hospital on the medicine ward service, empowering and guiding residents and medical students in their care of patients. Additionally, she serves as a mentor in the Academic Colleges and co-Director of the Internal Medicine Clerkship.

She likens medical education to making a cake.

“Our students come into Medical School with different ingredients. Some had careers prior to medicine, while others are straight out of undergraduate programs. Some come from privileged backgrounds, and others have faced enormous challenges prior to matriculating. Their ‘bake’ times vary. Some students quickly master competencies, while others require more time and feedback,” she said.

“The job of a medical school is to ensure that students are all ‘fully baked’ – i.e., competent, entrustable physicians. Educators must provide learners tools for growth, rubrics to measure their competency, and honest feedback and guidance in their professional identity formation. Above all, we must ensure learners feel seen, supported, and valued,” she said.


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Distinguished Biomedical Science Educator Award: Alisa Winkler, Ph.D.

Dr. Winkler, Associate Professor of Surgery and a Distinguished Teaching Professor, has taught anatomy to medical and health professions students since 1990.

“There are several attributes that I believe are helpful to being an effective educator. Being knowledgeable about a topic is a given, but even more than what you can teach others is being receptive to, and finding joy in, what they can teach you. Thus, you are really learning together as a team, not in a strictly one-teacher and one-learner relationship,” said Dr. Winkler, the recipient of a Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2017.

“Patience, flexibility, and adaptability are important. Perhaps most of all, however, is a sincere concern and interest in your learners as individuals: who they are now, where they are coming from, and what vision they have for themselves in the future. With this in place, you can contribute toward helping them to reach their present and future goals,” she added.


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Distinguished Clinical Educator Award: Craig Rubin, M.D.

Dr. Rubin is Professor of Internal Medicine, a Distinguished Teaching Professor, and Master of Seldin College. After graduating from New Jersey Medical School, he completed his residency training in internal medicine at UTSW. In 1985, Dr. Rubin joined the Department of Internal Medicine and became the lead physician in a health services research trial sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation studying the effectiveness of comprehensive geriatric assessment. He later became the first Chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and now is Director of the Mildred Wyatt and Ivor P. Wold Center for Geriatric Care.

Actively involved in patient care, teaching, and research, Dr. Rubin has published in numerous peer-reviewed journals in the areas of medical education, age-related osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and comprehensive geriatric assessment.

“My focus on medical student and resident training has been to create a supportive and safe teaching environment concentrating on evidence-based medicine while stressing compassionate and empathetic care,” Dr. Rubin said. “One of the most gratifying aspects of my career is to witness the academic and clinical successes of the trainees and faculty I have been privileged to work with.”



UT Southwestern Academy of Teachers adds seven new members

Group of people masked and standing together
Class of 2021 SWAT inductees (from left): James Cutrell, M.D., Thomas Dalton, M.D., David R. Karp, M.D., Ph.D., Kevin Klein, M.D., Natalie Lundsteen, Ph.D., Dan Sepdham, M.D., and Jason Zafereo, M.P.T., Ph.D.

The UT Southwestern Academy of Teachers (SWAT) recently welcomed seven outstanding educators to its latest class of inductees: James Cutrell, M.D., Thomas Dalton, M.D., David R. Karp, M.D., Ph.D., Kevin Klein, M.D., Natalie Lundsteen, Ph.D., Dan Sepdham, M.D., and Jason Zafereo, M.P.T., Ph.D.

SWAT members are recognized as educators who strive to provide an academic and organizational environment that fosters excellence in teaching at all levels, rewards superb teachers, stimulates innovation in education, and promotes scholarship in education.

“SWAT is proud to welcome these new members for 2021,” said Dr. Pearson, President of SWAT. “They have already demonstrated their talents in education across campus, whether at the UT Southwestern Medical School, Graduate School, or School of Health Professions. We look forward, as does the entire campus, to learning and growing with them in pursuing the UT Southwestern mission of excellence in education.”

SWAT members are nominated by Deans, Center Directors, Department Chairs, and current Academy members, with membership based on sustained excellence in one or more areas: teaching, instructional development and curricular design, advising and mentoring, educational administration and leadership, and educational research. Members have at least seven years of teaching experience at UT Southwestern and actively participate in ongoing SWAT-related activities. An induction celebration is planned at the SWAT Educational Symposium early next year.

Learn more about the Class of 2021 SWAT inductees:


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James Cutrell, M.D.

Dr. Cutrell is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Program Director of the Adult Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine fellowships. In both 2015 and 2018, he received the Infectious Diseases Divisional faculty teaching awards.

He is also the Medical Director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship program at UTSW and currently serves on UTSW’s COVID-19 Recovery of Operations Committee and COVID-19 Vaccine Scientific Review Committee. In addition, he is an inaugural member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Medical Education Community of Practice Executive Committee and serves as President of the Texas ID Society.

“An educator should be curious about how they can tackle new questions or do things better, never satisfied with the status quo. This insatiable curiosity leads to the creation and acquisition of new knowledge that can then be disseminated to move the educational field forward,” Dr. Cutrell said. “Second, an educator should also be humble, recognizing that they can always improve and that they should learn from the best practices of others by modifying behavior to reflect new knowledge and insight.”


Man wearing a lab coat and blue tie

Thomas Dalton, M.D.

Dr. Dalton is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine. His clinical interests center on acute care of the older adult, perioperative care for older adults undergoing elective surgery, and building interprofessional teams to help older adults and their families navigate the health care system.

“Teaching, for me, is about sparking the desire to learn as much or more than telling learners what they need to know,” Dr. Dalton said. “The best learning happens when the motivation to learn comes from within and the role of the teacher becomes one of facilitation.”

Dr. Dalton’s work within the Academic Colleges – as a Mentor and now as Director – has been his most rewarding.

“Building, evaluating, and improving a curriculum focused on clinical skills and professional development is immensely fulfilling, and seeing students buy in and strive for excellence constantly renews my own sense of purpose,” he said. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with other passionate teachers on our campus within SWAT to fulfill the education mission of UT Southwestern.”


Man wearing white lab coat

David R. Karp, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Karp is Professor of Internal Medicine, Chief of the Rheumatic Diseases Division, and a leader in the Center for Translational Medicine. He also directs a multicenter, National Institutes of Health-supported clinical trial involving anti-malarial therapy to prevent lupus in people at risk for the disease.

After 30-plus years at UTSW, he views the best part of his job as teaching medical students, residents, and rheumatology fellows.

“I get to experience all facets of undergraduate and graduate medical education,” Dr. Karp explained. “As a Sprague College Mentor, I work with medical students from Day One at UT Southwestern until graduation. I get to introduce our residents to the great field of rheumatology and hope to recruit some of them into our specialty. As the current President of the American College of Rheumatology, I am immensely proud of the fact that our rheumatology fellowship is one of the most sought after in the country. It is a great honor to be recognized by the Southwestern Academy of Teachers.”

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Kevin Klein, M.D.

Dr. Klein is Professor of Anesthesiology & Pain Management and Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery. He also serves as Councilor for the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and on the Student Promotions Committee and, in 2018, he received the Leaders in Clinical Excellence Institutional Service Award.

A past President of the Dallas County Medical Society, he said the highlight of his presidency was delivering the Hippocratic oath to the UT Southwestern Class of 2019.

“What an honor it is to be inducted into the Southwestern Academy of Teachers! I have been at UT Southwestern my entire medical career, so this is home, and it is indeed heartwarming to be acknowledged by my family of teachers,” Dr. Klein said. “I am an anesthesiologist and teach medical students while caring for patients undergoing surgery. My goal as a teacher is to have patients, surgeons, and nurses all feel their experience is enriched because a medical student was involved.”


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Natalie Lundsteen, Ph.D.

Dr. Lundsteen is the Assistant Dean for Career and Professional Development in the Graduate School, where she provides teaching and mentoring to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. She also is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and a Distinguished Teaching Professor.

She previously advised and taught postdocs, graduate students, and alumni at Boston University, MIT, Oxford University, and Stanford University. In addition, Dr. Lundsteen is a Past President of the Graduate Career Consortium and an appointed member to the National Coalition of Higher Education Organizations for the Advancement of PhD Career and Professional Development.

“I am engaged in national conversations and initiatives around graduate education and career development, including conducting research on evidence-based educational practices and innovations for STEM Ph.D.s,” Dr. Lundsteen said. “My research interests have always been rooted in the intersection between academic learning and practical experience, and I hope to be able to share my higher education expertise with SWAT colleagues.”


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Dan Sepdham, M.D.

Dr. Sepdham is an Associate Professor and Vice Chair for Academics in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. He also is the Site Director for the Southwestern Health Resources residency track at Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

Initially, he had no interest in pursuing a career in academia and spent six years as a U.S. Air Force flight surgeon.

“Ofttimes, however, life takes you places you never thought you would go. While I consider it an honor to have cared for those who defend our nation, it is an equally profound privilege to participate in the formation of tomorrow’s physicians,” Dr. Sepdham said. “I am grateful to have been accepted into the Southwestern Academy of Teachers, and I hope my contributions enable many others to achieve their dreams. John G. Kemeny said: ‘It is the greatest achievement of a teacher to enable his students to surpass him.’ This is my hope for all those I teach.”


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Jason Zafereo, M.P.T., Ph.D.

Dr. Zafereo is an Associate Professor and Director of Research in the Department of Physical Therapy. He is part of the interdisciplinary team performing clinical care and research at the Eugene McDermott Center for Pain Management at UTSW, and he teaches in the professional doctorate and post-professional residency programs in physical therapy.

“The single most important reason why I teach is to contribute to the development of my students and profession,” Dr. Zafereo said. “Teaching has afforded me many opportunities and honors for which I am grateful, including leadership roles in the Academy of Physical Therapy Education, receipt of teaching awards from my Department and school, and, most recently, election to the Southwestern Academy of Teachers. But what gives me my greatest sense of joy and fulfillment as a teacher is seeing students develop to their maximum potential, especially those who may have needed additional guidance along the way. As mentors and role models, teachers truly can change students’ lives, and I am humbled and honored to have been gifted with this incredible privilege and responsibility.”

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