Joel Ross

Spotlight Image

If you ask Joel Ross, an Informatics doctoral candidate in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS), his thoughts on being named a 2012 Most Promising Future Faculty Member, he will tell you that "teaching is the most important role of the university--to prepare students to make future contributions to knowledge and society." The Most Promising Future Faculty Member, is an annual UCI award that recognizes excellence across three key areas: teaching, research, and service. 

Using a combination of active learning styles to engage his students with course content, Joel works to help undergraduates solve tough problems with creative thinking. "My goal in teaching is to encourage critical thinking--how to ask the right questions and look below the surface of what is obvious," he notes. "As a grad student at UCI, I've developed that goal and the methods to reach it by engaging and helping students think creatively to solve difficult problems." He has been instrumental in the development of the structure of several courses as well as course activities, and exams—"performing my own active learning where I'm learning to teach," he observes.

Joel received his M.S. in Information and Computer Sciences from UCI in 2009 and is a 2011-2012 Pedagogical Fellow in the UCI Teaching and Learning and Technology Center (TLTC). In his role as researcher, Joel has focused on how interactive and collaborative technologies shape social interactions and increase social knowledge among other things. To date, his research efforts have led to three journal articles, seven publications, and two technical reports - demonstration of his love and passion for his work.

"During my time at UCI, I've learned to think about ways to find out how we can make the world a better place--what are people's problems, and how can we help solve them?" Joel recognizes that research is also an excellent place to engage and teach undergraduates, helping to train them in the kind of thinking required to make novel contributions to knowledge, such as in their own graduate careers. When doing research, Joel's' guiding question is always: 'So what?' - a question one of his teachers asked him a long time ago. What is the significance, and why is it important? "This is basically what drives my own critical thinking," he points out.

Over the past five years, Joel has participated in scores of research demonstrations to campus visitors -from potential students to international dignitaries. Most recently, he ran the Teaching Assistantships (TA) Professional Development seminars for 43 incoming ICS graduate students. He was responsible for the planning, organizing and execution of the two-day workshop on what makes for a great TA.  

Joel understands the importance of ensuring that students are equipped with the knowledge they need to succeed. During the seminar, he stressed the importance of research. "Research is an excellent place to engage and teach undergraduates, helping to train them in the kind of thinking required to make novel contributions to knowledge, such as in their own graduate careers," he notes.

When it comes to service, Joel takes it seriously. He sees service as an active community of researchers, scholars, and teachers.  "Supporting new TAs, reviewing papers, teaching the concept of service- all of these components are critical to giving back to the academic community that fosters great teaching standards."  

As of this fall, with his doctoral degree in hand, Joel will begin his new role as an Associate Professor at the University of Puget Sound where he will be teaching Computer Science - putting into practice all that he has learned here at UCI.

Spotlight for Print.