Carlos Baiz and Shelley Payne Earn Prestigious Teaching Awards

May 26, 2021 • by Esther R Robards-Forbes
Portraits of Carlos Baiz and Shelley Payne

Two College of Natural Sciences faculty members were named the winners of prestigious national and state teaching awards this spring.

Carlos Baiz, assistant professor of chemistry, was named a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar for 2021 after being chosen from university faculty around the U.S.

Shelley Payne, professor of molecular biosciences and director of the LaMontagne Center for Infectious Disease, won the Minnie Stevens Piper Professor Award, an award given to one UT Austin faculty member annually recognizing outstanding college professors from Texas.

Baiz is one of 16 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholars, who are all within the first five years of their academic careers. The award recognizes individuals who have created an outstanding independent body of scholarship and are deeply committed to education. Each Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar receives an unrestricted research grant of $100,000.

Baiz and his team study the structure, dynamics, and self-organization of proteins and lipids in biological membranes. Their work lies at the interface between physical chemistry and molecular biophysics. They develop and use a combination of tools based on infrared spectroscopy, spectroscopic models, and structure-based computer simulations.

Baiz is also a member of the CNS Diversity and Inclusion Committee as well as a member of the Chemistry Graduate Admissions Committee.

Payne's research interests are in genetics and regulation of virulence factors of gram negative pathogens, including Shigella and Vibrio cholerae. Payne is also the Marie Betzner Morrow Centennial Chair in the Department of Molecular Biosciences and a Distinguished Teaching Professor, and she serves as an Advisor to the Dean for Diversity and Inclusion.

"We are so proud of Dr. Payne and thrilled to see her recognized for her superior teaching and advancement of our students' learning during what has been an especially challenging year for all," said senior vice provost of faculty affairs, Tasha Beretvas. "We are also very grateful to the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation for their support for teaching excellence through these awards. And we acknowledge the honor that one of our faculty member's receiving this award reflects on The University of Texas at Austin."

The Piper Professor Award was established by the San Antonio–based Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation in 1958 and honors 10 professors per academic year for their dedication to the teaching profession and for their outstanding academic, scientific and scholarly achievement. Each Piper Professor receives a certificate of merit, a gold pin and a $5,000 honorarium.

Selection is made on the basis of nominations; each two and four-year college and university in the state may submit only one nominee annually.

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