May 17, 2002
Volume XXXV, No. 20




UTHSC's Vaughan joins ranks of Piper Professors

PHOTO (L-R) Dr. Brian Herman, chair of cellular and structural biology (C&SB); Dr. Mary Vaughan, 2002 Piper Professor honoree from C&SB; Dr. George Vaughan, her husband; and President Cigarroa share congratulations at a May 3 ceremony. Dr. Vaughan received $5,000, a gold pin and a certificate for her achievement.

The nooks and crannies of the brain are the special teaching domain of Dr. Mary K. Vaughan, who was honored May 3 by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation of San Antonio. The longtime associate professor of cellular and structural biology at the Health Science Center is so good at explaining the brain's functions and anatomy to everyone from fourth-graders to medical students that she was selected as one of 10 Piper Professors of 2002 for the state of Texas.

The award, which includes a certificate, gold pin and $5,000 honorarium, is one of the highest recognitions of teaching excellence in Texas colleges and universities. Dr. Vaughan will receive her award on Friday from Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, Health Science Center president.

"My teaching runs the gamut from community service in elementary, middle and high schools to professional courses and laboratory sessions with medical, dental and allied health students at the Health Science Center," she said. "I love to teach industrious students who have eager minds. The age group does not matter. What matters is the joy of discovery."

Dr. Vaughan mentors young students through the Health Careers Opportunities Program, helps judge academic decathlons, gives numerous school presentations and has participated in Meet the Scientist presentations at the Witte Museum. She is director of the Medical/Graduate Neuroscience course at UTHSC and is a lecturer in several other courses.

Nominated by her department chairman, Dr. Brian Herman, and her Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences colleagues, she is the ninth Piper Professor from the Health Science Center. "My chairman and colleagues have been extremely supportive of quality teaching in this department," she said. "I feel honored to join a select group of Piper Professors from the Health Science Center."

Past UTHSC honorees are Drs. Carlos Pestana, 1972; John Preece, 1978; Robert Huff, 1980; Terry Mikiten, 1985; Joyce Schwartz, 1992; Linda Johnson, 1995; Nan Clare, 1998; and D. Michael Foulds, 2000.

The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation established the Piper Professor Award program in 1958. Ten awards are given annually to the well-rounded, outgoing teacher, devoted to the profession, who has made a special impact on students and the community.