Dr. Sandy Marquart-Pyatt wins ASA ESS Teaching and Mentorship Award

July 6, 2020

Dr. Sandra Marquart-Pyatt is this year’s winner of the Section on Environmental Sociology’s Teaching and Mentorship Award! Dr. Marquart-Pyatt receives this award for her extensive record of excellence in teaching and mentorship. 

As one of her former students underscores, Dr. Marquart-Pyatt has “extraordinary commitment to pedagogical training and support beyond regular teaching responsibilities.” In selecting her as the recipient of this honor, the awards committee noted with admiration that Dr. Marquart-Pyatt’s record indeed confirms this statement. She has taught environmental sociology for several years, including with a particularly innovative approach to using quantitative sociology courses as a vehicle for exploring socio-environmental dynamics. As one awards committee member noted, “her approach to using quantitative analysis to explore environmental themes is novel to me and something I really appreciate. Next time I teach stats, I want to approximate this level of work. It is extremely impressive, and still stands out to me;” another added, “as someone who also teaches stats, to see the level of detail in her syllabus and assignments stood out to me. I know how much time and work that takes. Looking at her, I have a lot to do to approximate [that level of pedagogical excellence myself].” In addition to her noteworthy course design and intention, the awards committee was moved to hear from students and colleagues about the engaging, respectful, and dynamic classroom atmosphere Dr. Marquart-Pyatt facilitates as a teacher. As one nominator explains, “students are quickly acclimated to the non-hierarchical structure of her classroom – something that she asserts subtly yet definitively with her presentation of herself and her prepared materials. Her lectures and handouts are replete with her unwavering enthusiasm, and she openly welcomes students’ critiques as an essential part of a collective learning process. The most unique part of her instructional approach is her attentiveness to each student; soon after meeting you, she will know your name and a positive attribute that she will bring up again and again to affirm your presence in the classroom.” The awards committee was also impressed by Dr. Marquart-Pyatt’s dedication to pursuing teaching opportunities outside of her regular load, including with the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. 

In addition to teaching, the awards committee readily acknowledges Dr. Marquart-Pyatt’s record as a mentor. In her own words, “promoting the next generation of scholars means using your platform to allow them to thrive…ensuring everyone’s voices are heard, recognized, and validated.” Students concur, explaining that, “what is most remarkable about Dr. Marquart-Pyatt’s mentorship is that she is able to maintain, for each student, a sense of history. She knows about your frustrations, your evolving research interests, your accomplishments, as well as important details from your personal life. She has a way of making students feel seen.” The awards committee was especially pleased to hear from underrepresented students that Dr. Marquart-Pyatt’s approach uplifted them as welcome, capable, and expert thinkers in academic spaces they expressed otherwise feeling marginalized in. As a nominator of hers explains, “what we need, as students of color, is to be engaged with at the level of our ideas, rather than pared down to our racial and gender identities. Across her multiple roles as a classroom instructor, a research supervisor, a dissertation committee advisor, or a Graduate Program Director, it is clear to us that Dr. Marquart-Pyatt understands this. She has committed to being kind, to sharing her privilege, and to celebrating our successes as ours and not hers.” We noted additional examples of Dr. Marquart-Pyatt’s incredible service to students and the discipline throughout her nomination packet, from advocating for graduate student stipend increases to providing detailed responses to desk rejects as editor at the International Journal of Sociology. 

 Dr. Marquart-Pyatt was nominated by current and former students Riva Denny, Matthew Houser, Hui (Chloe) Qian, and Jennifer Lai.