Faculty Merit Awards for Excellence in Research, Service and Teaching

Shoeib, Soliman and Reimer are distinguished by their excellence and dedication
Shoeib, Soliman and Reimer are distinguished by their excellence and dedication

The three faculty members who received the faculty merit awards for Fall 2014 come from different disciplines, but share a common vision for enhancing their fields and being of service to their students and the community at large. These are:

Tamer Shoeib, associate professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, who received the Excellence in Research and Creative Endeavors Award

Iman Soliman, executive director of the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) program and recipient of the Excellence in Academic Service Award

Michael Reimer, associate professor of history and recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award

Shoeib has been working on personalized cancer treatment as an innovative alternative to the one-size-fits-all approach of chemotherapy. “Our main focus is to better understand the mechanisms by which chemotherapeutic drugs work, with the ultimate goal of providing personalized chemotherapy treatment for patients,” said Shoeib. “This would potentially increase the efficacy of the drug while decreasing the occurrence of side effects and lowering cost. The personalized approach to therapy is a promising step that has the potential to change the way we think about chronic diseases such as cancer, and to revolutionize the treatment of these diseases.”

Happy to have received the award, Shoeib noted, “I feel very honored to be nominated and even more so to receive such a recognition from AUC, where clearly there are many others who are very deserving of such an award.”  

When the CASA program moved to AUC Tahrir Square in 2010, the main challenge Soliman and her team faced was separation from the Department of Arabic Language Instruction, where most of the program’s technological and pedagogical resources are located. There was also the daunting task of physically setting up the infrastructure needed for the program before the students’ arrival, from creating office space for faculty and staff to preparing purchase orders for the technical equipment. “And when we thought we were out of the woods, the revolution erupted, raising a whole new host of logistical and security challenges, from interruption of the classes owing to repeated campus closures to the need to find space in Zamalek for classes to secure stability of the academic program,” said Soliman. “Our main goal was striking a balance between offering the students a meaningful learning and cultural experience while ensuring their safety and security.”

For Soliman, the award was a pleasant surprise, since she was only doing her job. “I did not anticipate this honor,” she said. “I was gladly surprised when I was nominated and felt really appreciated. I have a great passion for what I do, which is sharing my language and culture with other cultures of the world. It is my main driving force as I served ALI, CASA and AUC.”

Teaching at the University for more than two decades, Reimer has a deep commitment to his students. His main focus is enriching the student experience, whether by creating entirely new courses or redesigning existing courses to ensure the assignments are challenging and stimulating. “Different courses lend themselves to different kinds of enrichment,” explained Reimer. “In Arab history courses, I often take students to Bayt Sihaymi, an Ottoman-period house near Khan al-Khalili. It reminds them that history is about people living in families, in this case families who had property, business, neighbors and lots of servants. I ask students to analyze the house and compare it to their own, using it as a medium for understanding people who had their own distinct ways of organizing life and meeting its challenges.”

“Throughout,” Reimer continued, “my aim is to humanize history, to make them see history as a dynamic discipline. It’s not a collection of static ‘facts’ but an open, ongoing investigation into past lives and societies, which can only be understood by using multiple lenses.”

Highlighting the importance of undergraduate research, Reimer said that it gives students practical skills that they will use throughout their lives. “In many jobs,” he noted, “they will be asked to do research into problems they have little or no knowledge about, to draw conclusions and formulate recommendations based on that research.”

“Grateful but humbled” to be awarded, Reimer noted that teaching is a “team event.” “I owe debts to many people,” he said, “including my own teachers who’ve inspired me; many fellow AUC faculty; my great colleagues and our excellent staff in AUC’s history department; AUC librarians I’ve worked with; the Center for Learning and Teaching, with its stimulating workshops; the Undergraduate Research program, encouraging and funding student research; and, not least, many fine students who’ve rekindled my own excitement about learning.”