The Dean's Teaching Awards were established in 1992 to honor outstanding contributions in student education in medical school programs.

These awards are selected by a committee of faculty that have previously been honored for their excellence in teaching, and, as such, are the medical school's only peer-selected teaching award.

Criteria for selection of awardees includes:

  • Excellence in education, including teaching technology, evaluation methods, administrative efforts, etc.
  • Extraordinary and sustained dedication and effort on behalf of student education
  • Demonstrated high level of teaching effectiveness
  • Innovation in education

The Dean's Research Mentorship Award was established in 2011 to honor individual University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health faculty members who have performed exceptional service outside of the classroom as research mentors for medical students. 

Selection criteria includes:
  • Extraordinary and sustained dedication in support of student research mentorship
  • Demonstrated high level of research mentoring effectiveness, supported by student research scholarship and evaluations

2018 Dean's Teaching Awards

Barbara Duerst photo

Barbara Duerst, RN, MS

Duerst joined the Department of Population Health Sciences in 2006 as deputy director of the MPH Program. Since that time, she has become the Director of Public Health Education and Training. She has served on a variety of educational leadership committees, which includes, most recently, the Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education (CIPE) Advisory Committee as well as the Academic Affairs Leadership Team.

In addition to these leadership roles, she has been a dedicated course instructor for numerous courses in Population Health and has also mentored students completing capstone projects as part of the Public Health Pathway of Distinction.

She received her baccalaureate degree in nursing from Edgewood College and a Master's Degree in Community Health Nursing and Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jamie Hess photo

Jamie Hess, MD (Madison)

Hess joined the Department of Emergency Medicine in 2012, and has served in multiple education leadership roles for both undergraduate and graduate medical education. She initially started as the Director of Resident Education, overseeing and designing the residency curriculum, and has since assumed the role of Director of Medical Student Education, where she has served as the Clerkship Director for both the M3 Basic Emergency Medicine Clerkship and the M4 Advanced Subinternship for the past five years.

In addition, Hess collaborated with the Acute Care Block Design Team to integrate Emergency Medicine into the new Phase 2 Acute Care block for the ForWard Curriculum. She is also one of the founding co-directors for the Phase 3 Internship Prep Course and most recently assumed the role of SMPH Director for Quality, Patient Safety and Interprofessional Health longitudinal curriculum threads.

Hess received her BA from Middlebury College and medical degree from Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

Kenneth Merkitch Jr. photo

Kenneth Merkitch Jr., MD (La Crosse)

In 1988, Merkitch joined the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Gundersen Health System in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, after completing his residency. Over the years, he has dedicated much of his time to teaching SMPH medical students and providing leadership in areas critical to the education mission.

His major contributions include serving as the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine (WARM) La Crosse site director, the La Crosse site Primary Care Clerkship (PCC) director, and now the La Crosse site block director for the Phase 2 blocks Care Across the Lifecycle (CALC) and Chronic and Preventive Care (CPC).

Merkitch is known for his creative and innovative teaching methods that help to engage students as well as inspire faculty. Most recently he has used this enthusiasm for education to help transition the new ForWard Curriculum to students at Gundersen.

He received his BS and medical degree from Northwestern University.

Jason Stephenson photo

Jason Stephenson, MD (Madison)

Stephenson joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin in 2012. During his time at UW, Stephenson has become a pioneer in innovative teaching across the spectrum of medical students, residents and faculty education. He has developed novel teaching and assessment tools as well as award winning teaching exhibits at the national level.

Stephenson has taken on numerous leadership roles as the Director of Medical Student Education for the Department of Radiology as well as a member of the Curriculum Content Subcommittee and former chair of the Education Policy Committee. Currently he is the Integrated Block Leader for the Phase 1 Mind and Motion block; designing and implementing the course for the new ForWard Curriculum.

Stephenson received his BA from Stanford University and his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine.

2018 Dean's Award for Excellence in Medical Student Research Mentorship

Nasia Safdar photo

Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

Safdar is an associate professor in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health’s Department of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, and plays an important role in the VA Hospital, Department of Medicine and UW Health infection control. Safdar follows a highly structured, goal‐driven approach to mentoring, with a special emphasis on evidence‐based research. Her research program focuses on preventing health care‐associated infections. She is the principal investigator on 10 grants, including awards from the VA and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Safdar has facilitated a campus‐led mentoring workshop and helped plan the UW-Madison mid-career faculty mentoring program. In addition, she helped develop department‐wide training programs for investigators who host medical students for summer research. Nationally, she has been honored with the 2017 President’s Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the 2017 Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America Midcareer Investigator Award, among other awards.

Safdar earned her medical degree at Aga Khan University Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan.