Psyched Up about Teaching: Nicole Y. Weekes

Article excerpt

Title: Assistant Professor, Psychology, Pomona College, Claremont, Calif.

Education: Ph.D and M.A., Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles; B.A., Psychology, Boston University

Age: 35

When Dr. Nicole Weekes was a new assistant psychology professor at Pomona College in California, her then-department chairman, Dr. Richard Lewis, noticed long lines of students outside of her office.

"That either meant that she was very popular with the students or that they were having extraordinary problems in her classes," Lewis says. "Fortunately for us it was the former. Her teaching evaluations were off the charts."

Since she arrived at Pomona in 1998, Weekes has made her mark as a teacher and a researcher. Last year the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) named Weekes the California Professor of the Year for the Advancement of Teaching. The award recognizes an outstanding undergraduate instructor who influences the lives and careers of students. Another accolade for Weekes came in 1996 at UCLA when she was chosen Graduate Woman of the Year in the Department of Psychology. The same year Weekes also was named the Shepherd Ivory Franz Distinguished Teaching Assistant of the Year.

Many scholars remember the exact moment when a professor's words or a passage in a book ignited their career interest. For Weekes, whose interest is neuropsychology, that moment came in an undergraduate psychology course at Boston University.

"At first I was interested in the id and the ego. But when I learned about physiology and neurology, I wanted to understand the brain," she says.

Weekes, 35, is a native of Los Angeles, the daughter of a lawyer and a pharmaceutical saleswoman.

After graduating summa cure laude from Boston University, Weekes moved back to California to obtain her master's and doctorate in psychology at UCLA. Today she teaches introductory and upper-level undergraduate classes, including "Psychological Approaches to the Study of People," "Foundations in Neuroscience," "Human Neuropsychology" and "The Biological Basis of Psychology."

Her most recent research has been the connection of psychological and biological stress. …