School of Public Health lecturers, professors receive Teaching Excellence awards

June 7, 2017

More than 60 UC Berkeley School of Public Health educators who received high student evaluation marks for their instruction during the Fall 2016 semester were honored recently with the School’s Committee on Teaching Excellence (CoTE) award.

Among the recipients of the Fall 2016 semester’s Committee on Teaching Excellence (CoTE) awards are Lia Fernald, for Nutrition in Developing Countries (PH118), and Robin Flagg, for Introduction to Health Policy and Management (PH150D). The classes are distinct—Flagg’s Intro to HPM is a required core class, while Fernald’s Nutrition in Developing Countries is a specialized elective.

Although the classes represent different aspects of public health, both teachers demonstrate teaching excellence.

As a child, Fernald saw pictures of a famine in Ethiopia and developed a passion for global nutrition. After completing a BA in Biological Anthropology, a PhD in International Health, an MBA in Health Care Management, a Fulbright scholarship, and more than a decade of teaching at the School, Fernald’s passion has deepened.

Lia Fernald

“Not only is she a great professor of the content, but she is someone who really cares about her students’ futures, passions, and dreams,” says Marie Salem, a student in PH118. “She is a very achieved public health professor and researcher, and as aspiring health professionals, we can all learn a lot from her.”

Flagg took a less direct route to the front of the lecture hall.

In 2009, Flagg began teaching undergraduates at Berkeley, taking over Intro to HPM from Emeritus Professor Helen Halpin. At the time, Flagg had an accomplished real-world career in the health policy field, which included time in the Peace Corps, a stint in the White House under the Clinton Administration, and service as director of policy at the California Medical Association (Medi-Cal).

Joe Lee, one of Flagg’s former students, says he appreciated her professional experience and expertise in health care.

“Her style of teaching is engaging, and I found her academic curriculum to be practical and empowering,” Lee said, remarking specifically on how Flagg has her students adopt nuanced perspectives, often different from their own, for class exercises and debates.

Flagg was a student herself while settling into her role as a lecturer. She received her PhD from Berkeley in Spring 2014.

“That year, I was studying for exams while I was giving exams,” Flagg said. “At the commencement ceremony, I had 200 students getting their BA, and they all screamed for me when I received my PhD.”

Because of that connection, Flagg says she sees something in common between undergrads and PhD students—a commitment to curiosity and willingness to explore theory.

“I see my students get inspired when they discover how and where they want to make a difference,” Fernald said.

To receive a CoTE award, both instructor and course must receive a median score of 6 or higher on a 7-point scale on evaluations and have five or more enrolled students. The course must also include formal evaluation of student performance and have at least 70 percent of evaluations returned. Courses must be formally recognized by the Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee (all courses) and the Senate Committee on Curriculum and Instruction (permanent courses).

The following professors were also honored with the CoTE award:


Sandrine Dudoit

Maureen Lahiff

Lexin Li

John Marshall

Maya Petersen

Mark J. van der Laan


Community Health Sciences

Norman Constantine

Jason Corburn

Julianna Deardorff

Lori Dorfman

Lia Fernald

Sylvia Guendelman

Kim Harley

Denise Herd

Seth Holmes

Cheri Pies

Ndola Prata


Environmental Health Sciences

Asa Bradman

Charlotte Smith

James Seward

John Balmes

Martyn Smith

Sadie Cash Costello

Ellen Eisen

Suzanne Teran

Justin Remais

John Balmes

Stephen Rappaport



Jennifer Ahern

Jack Colford

Paul Gertler

Rohini Haar

Sandra McCoy

Arthur Reingold

Craig Steinmaus

Eric Stover


Health Policy and Management

Robin Flagg

Zeba Iman Nazeeri-Simmons

Anthony Iton

Ann Keller

Kimberly MacPherson

Jeffrey Oxendine

James Robinson

Hector Rodriguez

Stephen Shortell

Harry Snyder

Patricia Wakimoto


Infectious Disease and Vaccinology

Gertrude Buehring

Peter Daily

Sangwei Lu

Lee Riley

John Swartzberg

Sarah Stanley



Stefano Bertozzi

Jennifer Lachance

Cathy Kodama

Jaspal Sandhu

Charlotte Smith

Karen Sokal-Gutierrez


Online MPH

Aiyana Johnson


Joint Medical Program

Lela Bachrach

John Balmes

Jennifer Breckler

Carey Eberle

Lori Freedman

Susan Ivey

Kris Madsen

Aisha Mays

Daniel Montes

Kent Olsen

Ann Stevens

Karen Sokal-Gutierrez

John Swartzberg

Gustavo Valbuena