Steve Margulis, professor of civil and environmental engineering – is among six across the campus who have received a 2016 UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award.
The award, first handed out in 1961, recognizes extraordinary teachers who have made a significant impact on their students through classroom teaching and curriculum development.
Margulis, who joined the UCLA faculty in 2002, teaches undergraduate and graduate classes on hydrology and numerical modeling. He’s the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department’s vice-chair for graduate affairs.
Over several quarters teaching an introductory hydrology course, Margulis did not find a textbook that perfectly fit the course.
“I tried many things, including using ones that didn’t quite fit what I wanted to cover and ones that could be used as a reference across multiple courses,” he said. “All of this was in the context of rising textbook prices.”
Spurred by those issues, and a desire to experiment with new ideas of what a textbook should provide, he created a free, open-access electronic textbook, that contains multi-media material and modeling tools in addition to fully covering course topics. In offering the textbook publicly, colleagues at many other universities have adopted the book for their courses.
Margulis noted that the best part of teaching at UCLA is working with the bright students who bring enthusiasm to the classes.
“I try to convey to students that I want to push them hard so they can achieve great heights, perhaps even more than they expected of themselves,” Margulis said. “For this to be successful, though, students need to be both highly capable and very willing to participate in what is asked of them. I find our students to generally have both.”
Also receiving the award this year is Mark Goorsky, professor of materials science and engineering. This is the first time that two engineers have received the honor in the same year.
The recipients of the 2016 distinguished teaching awards will be honored in fall quarter at UCLA’s annual Andrea L. Rich Night to Honor Teaching ceremony. Selected by the senate’s committee on teaching, winners receive an honorarium of $6,000.