Each year, the Dean of the College of Letters & Science offers four awards recognizing outstanding performance, service, and contributions by staff members and professors who serve as academic advisers to undergraduate and graduate students.
Persons honored with an L&S Academic Advising award are exceptional advisors. Recipients have demonstrated exemplary performance both in terms of their positive impact on students and through distinctive contributions to their department, unit, and/or the College of Letters & Science.
We salute and offer congratulations to the winners of the 2022-23 awards:
L&S Academic Advising Services
Whether a student needs math placement recommendations, is seeking the best practice for chemistry sequences, or contemplating the implications of a complex policy or decision, Academic Advisor Erica Haas is known for her expertise and catalogue-like knowledge of university policy. Mixed with a passion to provide excellent student service, Haas’s advice is continually sought after by students and co-workers alike.
“Erica has a special way of seeing where other people are coming from, understanding their perspective, and adapting to meet where people are at in a way that also provides structure and challenge,” said Sara Rodock, Academic Advising Assistant Director. “I would confidently state that Erica is one of the most exemplary advisors in L&S and across campus.”
Using a compassionate approach to provide insight to unique or difficult cases, Haas provides an individualized experience for every student with whom she meets. She provides top-notch academic advice and is a strong advocate for the needs of the individual student.
“She's been amazing as an advocate for transgender and disabled student voices,” said Yuca Lebron, a student who previously worked with Haas. “I still go to her for questions even if she's not my official advisor since declaring majors. I’m also a first-generation student and indigenous, and I appreciate how much consideration she takes for students with intersectional identities trying to navigate UW–Madison on their own.”
Haas’s advocacy and dedication isn’t exclusive to her students, as she is also a strong voice that works to improve experiences for fellow advisors, as well. As a co-chair of the Bioscience Advising Team (BAT), Haas organized a training session with faculty from the Departments of Integrative Biology, Chemistry, and Math, which allowed the bioscience advising community to hear from faculty who are teaching the students they advise.
“The information sharing, course knowledge, and questions posed created learning for us all,” said Lauren Foley, a BAT co-chair. “Erica facilitated the panel skillfully using her years of advising expertise to bridge understanding between instructors and advisors.”
Vivek Sivan was a student who met Haas early in his college career. While helping Sivan navigate his academic journey, which consisted of majors in two different schools, he says that Haas had a big impact on his overall experience as a student at UW.
“She reminded me that I belonged here and everyone at UW was rooting for my success,” he said. “Her advice has stuck with me ever since and helped me shape a wonderful academic and social environment on campus.”
Undergraduate Academic Advising Associate Director
Department of Economics
Among her students and team in the Department of Economics, Academic Advisor Alicia Johanning is known as an advocate. Whether she is working to make students more aware of the resources available to them, creating new projects to address issues within the department, or engaging with students to make sure that their academic needs are met, she works tirelessly to ensure the best experience for everyone.
One of the students Johanning has helped, Nikki Nair, said that Johanning has changed her college experience for the better. Nair, a second-year economics major and an Indian American woman, said she felt like the odds had been stacked against her in a field that is predominantly white and male. Johanning helped Nair navigate her classes and connected her with the department’s DEI Committee, on which Johanning serves.
“Because she takes time to know her students as people first, she knows the unique disadvantages I face, and she treats me with the utmost respect,” said Nair. “The way she is able to provide practical recommendations while recognizing and validating my experiences is truly remarkable.”
Johanning’s advocacy within her department extends beyond the one-on-one advising sessions with her students. She often works proactively to find resources that can be of use to all students in the Department of Economics. She was a driving force for the creation of the Pathways Project in Economics, which seeks to increase representation in the field by strengthening mentorship between faculty and students with underrepresented identities, and created a partnership with University Health Services to host a mental health specialist for an undergraduate-focused program in the department.
“Alicia’s work engages with students throughout their career at UW–Madison, and she tackles issues that are local to the department and inequities seen across the field of economics,” said Madison Hartup, an Economics Academic Advisor and Carly Siewert, an Economics Undergraduate Program Coordinator, in a joint-nomination letter. “She is a pivotal player in making the Department of Economics a better home for undergraduate students.”
The work that Johanning has done — whether it be advocating for better accommodations for McBurney students, highlighting student needs within the DEI Committee, or simply being a compassionate advisor — has not gone unnoticed by her students. Although students are not assigned to any specific economics advisor, Alicia is specifically requested for advising appointments time and time again.
“She is the compassionate, welcoming, and authentic advisor everyone wishes they could have,” said Nair. “Alicia makes me feel seen and heard in a way that I’ve never experienced with an academic advisor.”
Department of Physics
On the sixth floor of Chamberlin Hall, there is always a chair for students outside Physics Advisor Dan McCammon’s office. Lines of students regularly appear outside his door to seek his advice; often, this line includes previous students who come back to visit, years after graduating.
McCammon is a highly effective advisor who is known for his expertise on requirements and classes within the department. His students appreciate his patience, compassion and dedication, as well.
“Dan’s guidance extended far beyond anything that could be gained from studying the UW–Madison course guide,” said Katiya Fosdick, a former student who graduated with a B.S. in astrophysics in May of 2022. “Dan knew what I, as an individual, valued, and what I wanted out of my physics education at UW–Madison. He uses his knowledge, skills, and energy to optimize the major program.”
Despite the demands of advising, McCammon maintains a research program with a strong international reputation. His lab emphasizes high sensitivity/high precision electronics and precision mechanical design, all within a cryogenic environment, and it has been the setting in which he has mentored more than 220 students — most of whom have gone on to graduate school and successful careers. Although the lab requires specialized training and supervision, McCammon is diligent in creating a meaningful experience for the students that he mentors.
“Dan has mastered the process of bringing smart but inexperienced students up to speed, so they can contribute to a state-of-the-art astrophysics research lab,” said Thad G. Walker, a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Physics and the Chair of the Faculty Recognition Committee.
McCammon also works in ways that many students may not recognize, but which has an astronomical effect on their education. As an advisor who works closely with all types of students, he serves as an advocate to ensure that the physics major is available to a wide variety of students. He is currently the chair of the department’s undergraduate major course committee and is leading the delicate faculty discussion to relax some requirements to broaden the appeal of a physics major to a wider range of students. When a group of students brought their concerns about a certain class to his attention, McCammon worked alongside them to make sure that the issue was addressed.
“It would have been easy for him to dismiss our concerns and side with the professor teaching the course,” said Fosdick. “But Dan believed us. He recognized and expressed that the pedagogy being employed was harmful to the learning of students, and the right thing to do was to help us.”
While McCammon’s contributions to students’ classroom experience is extensive, he also ensures that the larger experience they have at UW is full of support and resources. Every Thanksgiving, McCammon invites students into his home for a family-style dinner to ensure that people who couldn’t travel home had a place to go for the holiday.
Fosdick is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Physics at MIT, where she conducts research at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. She said that her relationship with McCammon was influential to her college career at UW and will continue to influence her work in graduate school and beyond.
“Dan helped me adopt a positive and confident mindset when I started college at UW–Madison,” she said. “This mindset made a huge difference in my perseverance, work ethic, and success when taking courses and doing research as an undergraduate student.”
Department of Anthropology
Professor Amy Stambach joined L&S in 2016 as a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and, across the past seven years, has contributed to graduate and undergraduate students’ success in the Department of Anthropology. Within the department, Stambach advises six primary graduate students, four secondary graduate students, and, recently, a stellar honors undergraduate major. Despite her busy schedule, her students say that Stambach is always willing to go above and beyond to talk with them and meet their needs.
In addition to devoting hours weekly to reviewing, discussing, and helping to improve students’ dissertation proposals, qualifying examination papers, chapters, and articles, Stambach seeks out opportunities and resources to benefit the students in her charge. She organized a graduate grant and ethnographic writing group for her students, collaborated with other faculty, staff, and student representatives to create a “Jobs Beyond the Academy” talk series, and facilitated a faculty speaker series in 2022 with her students in mind.
“Her ability to understand the unique needs of each student and tailor her approach accordingly has been remarkable,” said Shahana Munazir, a Ph.D. candidate in the department. “It has enabled me to grow as an independent thinker and researcher.”
Stambach has also made significant contributions to her field of study. With more than two decades of ethnographic experience in East Africa, her research on gendered and generational schooling in East Africa and the influence of faith in schooling systems has been widely recognized and cited.
Stambach is also a key advocate for her students in a variety of other ways and is committed to advancing diversity within the department. Last year she was among a group that petitioned for the department to create a more welcoming environment, rethinking ways the department reflects anthropology in its public spaces.
“Recognizing that the scope and focus of anthropology includes broad attention to the comparative study of cultures … as well as the rigorous analysis of contemporary issues, Stambach has taken an admirable lead, and expended considerable time and energy, working to find a way to connect the past and the present with a future for our graduate and undergraduate students,” said Katherine A. Bowie, the Cultural Section Chair and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of Anthropology.
Tyler Hook, a 2022 NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellow and Doctoral Candidate
in Cultural Anthropology and Educational Policy Studies, said that Stambach’s dedication has not only been recognized, but deeply felt among students.
“She has been encouraging and supportive in creating safe spaces for students to share their personal and professional experiences, ensuring that these words aren’t simply heard, but valued and reflected in broader changes to the department,” he said.
See the full list of past L&S Academic Advising Awards at this link.